Friday, June 22, 2007

Lampshades & Painting: 101

Several of you asked about learning how to cover a lampshade, so here's a quick little tutorial on how I did mine. It's really pretty easy, not rocket science by any means. Above you'll see the toile shade & the seam where it came together in the back. This seam can be folded under and using fabric glue, pressed into place. The seam will then be at the back of the lamp. On this shade I cut the fabric to go just around the top & bottom of the lampshade & then covered the raw edges with trim on top & bottom.
Here's a square shade I covered in our master bedroom. Same method, seam to the corner & folded under & glued down with fabric glue. I'll go through all the steps below. If you are adding trim, you don't have to be as careful, as the trim will hide a lot of little mistakes. You can see with a check like this, your seams will not match up in the back, but it will look fine from the front. On this shade, I cut the fabric a little bigger than the shade & wrapped it inside & glued down. Again, covered with trim at the bottom & none at the top. You can really do whatever you'd like, trim or no trim.
Silk one finished. You can see just a little bit of wrinkling. If you put enough spray adhesive, it should smooth most of the wrinkles out. Not a big deal. See, the checks look good here from the frontside, which is the side you are most concerned about.
Underneath the lampshade, you can see where I turned the edges under & glued them down.
OK, let's get started! First, you'll need some sort of paper to make a pattern with. Tissue paper is fine, craft paper, anything big enough to hold your lampshade completely. Make sure your paper is big enough (tape pieces together if necessary) that when you place the lampshade on it & roll it completely around the diameter (staying flat on the surface as you're rolling), that you'll have enough paper to complete the circle. Make sense?? Then, you'll place the shade down & either cut it exactly to fit your shade or make it a bit bigger to overlap...either way works, again depending on if trim is being used. Trace your pattern (top & bottom of shade) as you are rolling the lampshade all the way around, making sure to meet where you started from & make the pattern big enough that you can trim any excess. You don't want to skimp & end up cutting your fabric too short.
Your shade will roll all the way across the paper as you are tracing the pattern. Once you complete rolling the lampshade,it will look like a circle.
And your pattern should end up looking something like this, only twice this size. I didn't use a large piece & the pattern should end up looking like a circle with a hole in the middle. Next, you'll put the pattern on your fabric & cut the shape out. If you have a patterned fabric, it won't match up at all, but something without a pattern will be fine. I just don't worry about the matching part (like the toile or check) & put that to the back of the shade where it won't be seen.

Now, you're ready to use the spray adhesive (pictured below). This works great for keeping fabric in place & you can still move things around with no problem. Just spray the shade really well with the spray adhesive (might want to go outside for this). Place the fabric in place and start smoothing it out. If it wrinkles, work the wrinkles out and keep moving all around the shade until it's in place. It takes a little bit of work, but you can pull it off & keep working it if you need to. After you get it all smoothed out, then go back with scissors & start trimming the edges. Again, make it even with the lampshade top & bottom OR overlap and glue down from the inside. Trim it out with some trim & fabric glue (pictured below) and you've got a whole new look for an old lampshade. These shades I used were flat fabric or those paper shades you see around. Those work really well for adding fabric if they are flat to begin with.

Here's my bunny lamp again. See how I added fabric from my window treatment & added some special trim to it. A designer look for a fraction of the cost!
Kitchen Window Treatment
Fabri-Tac fabric glue (great stuff, JoAnn's has it!), Spray adhesive, & Sophisticated Finishes Blackened Bronze which I'm about to tell you about. This is great stuff too!
Someone asked about painting shiny brass. YES! It can be painted very easily. Here's one of the light fixtures that was in our house when we moved in...they were all shiny brass. I'm in the process of changing them out to bronze. Some of them I've found already bronze at yardsales & have picked those up for cheap & others, I've painted with craft paint or the above product, Sophisticated Finishes. Either way works well. This particular fixture was shiny brass & I used satin black spray paint, then added bronze over the top with bronze craft paint, mixed with another rusty color called Burnt Sienna. You just spray the whole thing black, let dry, then daub on the craft paint with a damp sponge until you get the bronze look you want. Very easy project! I have changed so many things over the years from shiny brass to black or bronze. Edited to add: If the brass is something that you will be touching, then use a spray primer on it before you spray it black & do the bronze finish on it. Things hold up really well if you don't touch them, but items that are handled are subject to chip (like door knobs). So the primer will help it stick better.

Like this bunny! Remember, I found this at a yardsale & it's shiny brass.
No more! I used the Sophisticated Finishes Blackened Bronze on this one. I wouldn't totally recommend using this on shiny brass for a big thing, like a light fixture. The spray paint method above works best for larger items. SF works great on smaller things. You can find Sophisticated Finishes at Michaels & I'm not sure where else. I had to buy a craft kit (with 2 other colors) to find the color I wanted, but they do carry larger bottles of other colors. I love this Blackened Bronze!
This is the old ceiling fan from my old house in GA. It too was shiny brass & white. I used the spray paint method above for this too. Took the whole fan down, painted it all & hung it back up. You know the old fan I'm talking about...shiny brass & white, which is all over the place still! It really made a huge difference in this old thing. Changed out the glass globes to the pretty alabaster-type ones too & that always looks better.
Here's another lamp before & after. This one's in my foyer & as you can see above it was a bright gold. I used Sophisticated Finishes in Blackened Bronze on this too. It wasn't brass, but some sort of resin material, so the SF sticks to it very well. Looks much better, don't you think?

So, that's my quick little tutorial on lampshades & painting things! It's a great way to update some old things you have laying around the house. Start looking around & you will probably have something you can paint. I do it all the time! Picture frames, lamps, anything brass or gold can be painted to whatever you want it to be. It's such a frugal money saver & a great way to get a new look!

Paint it or cover it!

Andrea at SouthernHeart tagged me for some Southern Thangs, so I'm gonna add my list here. Some of these may have been covered. I got a little help with these, but they are oh, so true!

In the South:
  1. A true Southerner makes friends standing in line. We don't do "queues", we do "lines". And when we're in line, we talk to everybody.
  2. A true Southerner never goes snipe hunting twice. (I really did have this done to me growing up, anyone else?!)
  3. A true Atlanta Southerner knows that all directions start with "Go down Peachtree" & includes the phrase "when you see the Waffle House" & when you're in Cobb County, all directions begin with "go to the Big Chicken". (this one is totally true...see pic below!)
  4. The North has double last names, the South has double first names.
  5. You may hear a Southerner say "ought" to a dog or a child. This is short for "y'all ought not do that" and is the equivalent of saying "No!"
  6. If there is the prediction of even the slightest chance of snow, we must go to the grocery store. It doesn't matter if we need anything or not, we just have to go and pick up bread & milk.
  7. It is not a shopping cart, it is a buggy.
  8. "Jeet" is actually a phrase meaning, "Did you eat?" (a personal favorite of my hubby, LOL!)
I should have just included this pic of the Big Chicken in my post originally (See #3)! You really have to get a visual of it to really appreciate the magnitude of this thing. I grew up a few miles from the Big Chicken, so it's always been a part of my life. This landmark started back in the 60's as a chicken restaurant, which eventually went out of business & was sold to KFC in 1974. They kept it as is & it was finally renovated in 1996, with the help of Pepsi. Back in the early 90's, there was talk of tearing down the Big Chicken & those of us who grew up with it launched a campaign to save it & we won! There was actually voting, help from polticians, the whole nine yards, but we who have a soft spot for the Big Chicken prevailed & here she stands to this day!

Hope you had a good laugh! We are pretty predictable down here in the South!

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33 friends stopped by:

Adriann said...


Thanks for the tips! I will try some of them. I love the southern tag. You are so right in southern will make friends in the grocery line. I'm a transplant from California and I have just fallen in love with the South and the especially people like you that are the epitome of "Southern Hospitality." Have a nice weekend!


PAT said...

Rhoda, I love your list!

I had forgotten about Snipe hunting!
The milk and bread thing holds true for here, as well!


the feathered nest said...

Rhoda, Thanks so much for taking the time to do this post! I printed it out and I'm going to give it a try. I have so much toile material!

Your Southern Thangs list was so funny! So true about the Big Chicken (I should take a picture so everyone can see what we're talking about)!

I still don't get the milk and bread thing though. What am I suppose to do with that? Besides, usually the power goes out- so what do you do with your milk then. I've never understood it LOL!

Have a great weekend!

sandi @ the whistlestop cafe said...

I love your southern list... I went snipe hunting once as well! I knew I ought not! I've got my list up.

I'm off to Michaels. We have a beautiful 10 year old home, but everything is brass colored. I've changed out kitchen knobs, faucets, and fixtures. But those fans and light fixtures in the rest of the house... I'm thinking a pewter will work!
Shhh~ don't tell anyone.

Francie of The Scented Cottage said...

Great tutorial Rhoda!
We lived in California for many (too many) years. We then moved to Pensacola,FL and the first time I went to the grocery store I got greeted, smiled at and yes'md...then I chatted with some folks in the parking lot for about 15 minutes. I went home and said to my SweetiePie "I am SO happy to be back in the South" it is truly my home sweet home.

Lynne said...

I enjoyed your lamp covering lessons. I have a couple of lamp shades that I might try. And the Atlanta directions - right on! You really have to live here to understand the Big Chicken!

Sue said...

Oh Rhoda, I'm so excited that you posted this tutorial. I'm supposed to be heading up north right now but just stopped by quickly to check out a couple of my favorite bloggers and am bombarded with good stuff. Can't wait to get home Sunday night to study your post. Have a great weekend.

Anonymous said...

Rhoda, thanks for the excellent tutorial on covering a lampshade. I plan to do two next week.
I lived in Marietta for over 30 years, and I am very familar with The Big Chicken. In fact I even made a cardboard one for the school spring play where I taught art.
Love your blog.

Southern Heart said...

Rhoda, great tips! I have quite a few items for which I need to use those, and your instructions were great! Thank you, too, for your comment about my photos. I save them from just about every commercial decorating site I thought involved, really, more of an "isn't that pretty?" and then click "save". ;) I have way too many and expect my computer to crash under the burden at any minute.

I loved your list!! :) I especially laughed about the grocery stores during any forecast of snow (they close schools for anything over 1/2", too), and about the double first names. My son, having gone to college in MS, is quite charmed by the girls having two first names, and said that if he has daughters, his will be named that way, too (he hopes to stay in the South to live, too). I'm sure that I will have a granddaughter named Mary Grace or something similar (which will be fine with me!).

I enjoyed your post today.

Love, Andrea

Rosemary said...

Thanks so much for the lamp tips. I'm sure they will be put to good use.
Love your list!
Being from California, I really find it interesting and funny.
Have a great weekend,

KKB said...

Hi Rhoda, I haven't ever commented on your blog but read it regularly! Love it! Thanks for the great lampshade tips! I can't wait to try one! Can you also use the spray adhesive on fabric shades?

April said...

Hey Ro, Love the brass paint stuff. Im gonna do it this weekend. I'll send you the b & a's. I'm going to sell this house soon and dont what to spend $ for someone else! love,love cousin/friend

Rhoda said...

I'm glad y'all are getting inspired to go & paint something or redo a lampshade! There are so many things you can to these days to update things.

KKB, thanks for finally posting! I love it when lurkers come out & talk, LOL. Yes, you can definitely use the spray adhesive on fabric shades. Whatever you are covering up can be sprayed & the new fabric put right on top. Doesn't matter if it's paper or fabric, it will stick.

I'd love to hear from some of you who do some makeovers.

A big Hello to my cousin April!


~Becca~Bluebird Rose said...

I loved reading your southern list! Though I am from the Midwest, my parents were both from the south, so I can relate to much of this!

Susie Q said...

What a wonderful tutorial! You are amazing and so creative!

Loved your list..I am Southern by blood, Yankee by birth so I DO know all about the wonderful things ya'll have been writing about! I have had a good chuckle reading them all!


Leslie said...

I am new to your blog and am enjoying your entries. Great ideas! And by the way, here in SC we are known to "mash" buttons, and "cut" off lights.

Anonymous said...

Hi Rhoda.....

Thanks for the tips...your posts are always inspiring.

Being from the NE I don't know a thing about "snipe hunting" and sometime pls. explain the Big Chicken. I do know shopping when a storm is in the forecast though...we call those shoppers "panic shoppers" of which I am one...LOL

I always enjoy visiting !!!

Happy Yardsaling,

Kathy =)

Jill said...

Love the Southern Thangs...funny though... some of the same things are said up here in Nebraska...but of course...I would never consider myself a northerner....we are the midwest...the Heartland!
I have visited the south many times...absolutely Love it!

Betty said...


Enjoyed reading through the tips for covering the lampshades, (it's been awhile since I've covered one) and I do want to try the bronze paint....

I counted 33 lamps in our home....I leave several small ones on all the time.....

Thank you for the complimentary comment on my grandmother's picture and the blue and white dishes....

Thank you for the good wishes on our 47th anniversary and I hope you had a nice one as well......Betty

Suzanne said...

Rhoda~ That is so sweet of you to take the time to post on how to create these beautiful shades.
And the list is so funny...yes, growing up in TX, I knew all about snipe hunting! lol
And my Mom (Mary Beth) is the only one of her sisters (Freddie Mae, Dixie Ray) who didn't give her children double first names! Have a great weekend.

Niesz Vintage Home said...

All of your lampshades are gorgeous! I especially like the bunny lamp!

I have several around the house that I've covered with vintage fabric and trimmed with buttons.
It makes for a quick and easy transformation.

Thanks for the aged bronzing technique. And I loved your Southern Thangs. LOL

justabeachkat said...

Hi Rhoda

We've had company for a week now so I haven't commented as often as I like to do, but I'm reading quickly blogs I like every chance I get. I've really enjoyed these last two posts about lamps. I too love lamps and I love having light in every room. I start turning on lamps as soon as I get up in the morning and they pretty much stay on all day. I was curious so I counted mine and I have far. LOL Loved seeing your tutorial and your southern list was so true! Hope you're having a wonderful weekend.


wisteriagirl said...

Hey Rhoda! What I want to know is, where did you find your kitchen window treatment or did you make it? Love it!

Betty Jo said...

Goodness! You did a lot of work on this incredible post. Thank you so much for taking your time to give us such wonderful tips. I sooooooo enjoyed reading your southern thangs, as I'm a southerner too. I'm still laughing over the snipe hunt. I fell for it the first time when I was sixteen--but not the second time. I've written some southernese on my blog too. xoxo

OldBagNewTricks said...

Rhoda, I am from Southern Ohio, where ALL our teachers are from "down home" (Kentucky) -- so I feel like an honorary southerner. I know this because I make friends in the grocery store line too. I am charmed by this post -- thank you.


PamperingBeki said...

Thank you so much for the brass tutorial! I needed it. :)

Sophie Honeysuckle said...

Rhoda- I loved the southern tag-ever since I read Gone with the Wind, I have wanted to visit your part of the world! Love the big chicken too!

annewithane65 (Kim) said...

What great ideas for recovering lamp shades...I love how yours turned out!

HeatherJ said...

Thanks for the tutorial Rhoda! I have a shop full of lampshades that need some help. I will get right to it.

Belle-ah said...

"Fabri-Tac fabric glue (great stuff, JoAnn's has it!), Spray adhesive"...yes...those are a few of my favorite things...that and hot glue!!! (((hugs)))

Trudi Morgan/Alwine said...

Where do you purchase sophisticated finishes. I've looked at Hobby Lobby and they did not have it.

HeatherJ said...

Hi Rhoda,
Thanks for all the great tips. I'm covering a lampshade, and I will show you the final results next week. I was also thinking about painting my horrible brass lights outside the house. Is it easy to remove light fixtures, or is this something I should have Hubby do? Thanks!

Beaufort Belle said...

Rhoda, I absolutely love the lamp makeovers! What a takented decorator you are!

By the way, I have tagged you for a meme.

Jennifer @ Beaufort Lookout