Tracing paper lampshade


Sometimes you can live in a house and something that was once an eye sore can slowly blend conveniently into the paintwork once other things take priority. Here is a perfect example. The lighting above the side entry to our house has never worked, the previous owners took the light bulbs, the fixtures, everything. To be fair it opens up onto the terrace from the dinning area which is a very bright space so it’s always been sufficiently lit.

Here’s the space before which was just used to house fire wood and coats.

Lightshade dodomaison sp

This lampshade didn’t take me long at all and is so quick that you could change the colour or type of paper regularly or even use some stiff material. I guess when I say quick I mean a decision made quickly after several years.

What you’ll need:

1 x rectangular sheet of acetate or tracing paper

Soft metal wire to make the large staples

Metal wire to attach the two rings together

2 x metal/plastic rings; one small and one larger

Washi tape to temporarily hold the lamp in place

1 X Energy saving light bulb


Roll your paper to form a cone shape aligning the edges of the wider end of the cone to create a continuous line.  Place a piece of tape to secure temporarily. (washi tape is best as it doesn’t rip the paper when you remove it.) Do the same along the length and tape down.

Now for the staples. Cut a strip of wire approximately 10cm, fold over one end by at least 1.5cm. At the back of the shade approximately 3cm away from the lower edge cut a small slit wide enough to pass the wire through. Place the folded edge of the wire through the slit. Make another slit approximately 6cm along and pass the wire through.

Turn to the inside and fold back to secure. It should look like a large staple. Do this along the length to join the sides. I only needed 2. You can remove the tape now.

For the outer metal ring cut a strip approximately 10 cm again folding under one end, cut a slit and place through then wrap around the top edge of the shade. This particular metal is really malleable and dents easily so I used a cup to get the basic curves first. Cut the second slit, pass the metal through and finish by folding in on the inside.

At this stage you can just place it over your lampshade ring, and attach the light bulb. I didn’t have a lampshade ring handy so I decided to make one.  This is really basic but quite useful so I thought I would include it. Its just 2 rings attached to each other using metal wire. The smaller ring just needs to be small enough to be placed in between the shade holder and the socket. The wider the outer ring the further your paper will be from the bulb.

Cut a long strand of wire and secure one end of it by wrapping it several times around the larger ring first. Then place the inner ring inside and loop the wire over again 2-3 times take it back out to the outer ring. Keep repeating this till the 2 rings are connected. You will place the inner ring in between the socket and the shade holder of your light.

Below shows the lamp unlit above a table in a different space. It shows more effectively just how sharp and crisp the silhouette is. On this one I covered the shade holder with some felt twine to disguise the white plastic and wire.

Paper lampshade b:w

The inspiration for this came from a local shop in town. I asked if I could take a picture because it looked so easy to make and just the solution I was looking for. Here’s the picture below. It looks great against the black wall perhaps that’s what I need to make mine stand out more. But not a bad comparison I think.


So there you go a simple, quick solution for a handmade paper shade.


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