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Stenciled Lampshade

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 2008


Ever-so-slightly off-center circles in white and pale blue dress up an earth-toned lampshade. This project works best with a straight-sided lampshade, such as a drum shade, covered with paper-backed book cloth, which won't buckle when painted. Before starting, measure the shade's circumference to see if it will accommodate even repetitions of the circle template. If there is an overlap at the seam, shift it out of sight.

When stenciling, pat the sponge in a dab of paint, and blot excess on the palette. Then apply paint in thin coats, taking care that it doesn't drip or pool, until the area is covered. If a design requires several colors, use a separate sponge for each. You may opt to adjust a paint's transparency or mix hues.

Resources: 53-inch-wide Cialux Book Cloth in Taupe, Giant circle template, by Chartpak Pickett. 3M Spray Mount Artist's Adhesive,


  • Paper-backed book cloth

  • Drum lampshade

  • Pencil

  • Craft knife (or scissors)

  • Cutting mat

  • Cardboard strip

  • Draftsman's circle template

  • Drafting tape

  • Small sheet of glass (palette)

  • Palette knife

  • 5 to 7 ounces each of acrylic paint in white and blue

  • 2 natural sea sponges

  • Matte medium

  • Spray glue

  • Clothespins

  • 1/2-inch-wide seam binding or twill tape

  • Craft glue


  1. Lay book cloth, paper side up, on a flat, covered surface. Roll lampshade along cloth, tracing both sides of the arc with a pencil. Cut out arc with craft knife on cutting mat or with scissors.

  2. To establish a border between circles and shades bottom edge, affix a cardboard strip to the edge of draftsman's template near the row of large circles using drafting tape; strip should be as wide as template and 1 1/2 inches tall.

  3. Lay book cloth paper side down. Place template in lower-left corner of book-cloth arc, aligning cardboard strip's bottom corners with arc's edge.

  4. Prepare palette with white paint. Use 1 sponge to apply paint to stencil's largest circles. Let dry 3 minutes.

  5. Shift stencil to right, spacing circles evenly. Stencil as in step 2. Repeat until band of white circles is complete.

  6. Prepare palette: Mix 1 part blue paint and 5 parts matte medium with palette knife.

  7. Flip template over (make sure white paint on reverse is dry), and place in lower-left corner of book-cloth arc, aligning strip's bottom corners with arc's edge. Use second sponge to apply blue paint to largest circles (slight overlap will occur). Let dry 3 minutes.

  8. Shift stencil to right, adjusting for desired overlap. Paint as in step 2. Repeat until band of blue circles is complete.

  9. Apply spray glue to paper side of book cloth. Starting with 1 end of arc, wrap it around shade, smoothing so edges line up. Affix clothespins to shade's top edges until glue sets. Let dry 10 minutes.

  10. Attach seam binding or twill tape to shade's bottom edge with craft glue, leaving a 1/4-inch overhang. Fold this under; secure with glue for a smooth edge. Repeat on top edge.

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