The Look for Less: Wordy Lampshade

published Mar 11, 2011
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

I spotted the “Well Defined Ensemble Lamp” on a recent trip to Anthropologie. The textural feel of the collage of words contrasts nicely against the recycled glass base for a sort of modern-vintage appeal (incidentally, I’ve decided if Emily Henderson were to perform a “style diagnostic” on my apartment that would be her prognosis).

Unfortunately, at $388 this piece is well out of reach for my limited budget. While I lack the skills to recreate its beautiful base, creating a similar lampshade is a simple afternoon project.

I decided to makeover the shade on an existing lamp in my apartment. The drum-shaped shade was one I purchased for $8 at Cost Plus. The relatively uniform shape of a drum shade is easiest to work with when you’re wrapping something around it. The only other materials I purchased were a Webster’s compact dictionary coming in at $6.50 and Elmer’s white glue for $2.50.

The technique is decoupage 101. I started out by tearing the pages into large strips and deciding how I wanted them to be laid out. Next I diluted the glue with water at a roughly 1:1 ratio. Starting at the base of the shade I applied the glue directly to the surface of the lamp with a flat edged paintbrush and smoothed the paper in order to eliminate any bubbles. Once the paper was in place I brushed thin layers of glue over it until it became slightly transparent then removed any excess. I repeated the process, layering the next piece over the edge of the first while trying avoid overlapping too much in order keep shade from becoming opaque. Once I reached the top edge I trimmed off the excess length and folded the paper over the rim. I continued to layer the pieces this way until the shade was covered.

It took me about 2 hours to complete this project and it cost a total of $18 in materials if you include the lampshade. The lamp now sits on a corner of my desk in front of my bookshelves and I like the way it incorporates a literary element into the design.