vintage lamp shades


I love vintage lamp shades. I pick them up wherever I can find them reasonably priced. Barn sales, church rummage sales, thrift shops, flea markets, or garage sales.

I don’t like to pay a lot, especially if the lamp shades need “love”. I look primarily for solid color cloth covered shades in white or cream that are not torn or shredded. I prefer old linen, cotton, or silk shades. I will note if shades are of a newer vintage and polyester I tend to leave those for other people. I am not a fan of polyester or rayon lamp shades.

Sometimes these vintage lamp shades will have a water stain or two on them. If the fabric is silk, cotton, or linen you can either tea stain (which you can also do to old table linens as well, incidentally) or dye them to give them new life.

Tea staining means literally brewing tea bags in hot water, letting it cool slightly and either sponge paint the lamp shade with tea, or paint it on with an arts and crafts paint brush. Do not overly saturate the shade with tea liquids or it may fall apart.

I will sometimes tea stain a couple of times for a particular shade, but I let the shade dry in between tea applications. Use a plain old regular tea. I just use tea bags that are filled with black tea (like Tetley or Red Rose). Green tea doesn’t work for this.

You can also paint or sponge color on that you use to dye Easter eggs – yes, food coloring. Just prepare the food coloring in a bowl like you were going to dye eggs and again use a sponge or paintbrush to apply to the lamp shade.

Food coloring/ Easter egg dyes give a different look than traditional dye, giving off more of a “wash” like a water color effect. The shade in this post is one I did. I took this photo with a mobile phone so color isn’t quite what it is in person which is a pale blue / aqua wash. I further dressed up the shade with some bits of wired ribbon I had hanging around.

Anyway, just a fun and inexpensive way to get new life out of an old lamp shade. You can also use traditional fabric dye mixed in a bowl and painted on as well.

Important to note if you do this arts and crafts project, cover your work surface with something like a plastic shower curtain or plastic sheeting.

I will also look for shades that have a funky pattern or something if I have a specific use for them, like a smaller shade for a converted oil lamp. Those shades I look for in more pristine condition as they won’t be dyed or re-trimmed.

Thanks for stopping by on this stormy evening!

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