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Painted Lampshades

Source: Martha Stewart Living, September 1996


The right lampshade can transform a room -- all you have to do is find it. Here's a simple way to make one instead. Start with an opaque white paper shade, and add paint, trim, or silver leaf. High-gloss oil-base paint gives the best results; thin it if necessary, and apply two or three coats to the outside of the shade, letting it dry after each. To add ribbon trim, cut ribbon to the circumference of shade, paint the edges of shade with craft glue, and lay the ribbon over the glue with the ends meeting at the shade's seam. The wide silver trim shown here is self-adhesive but stiff, so it can only be used on drum shades; it was scoured gently with steel wool to give it a matte look. Silver leaf can be applied inside a shade before you paint the outside.


  1. Use a paintbrush to spread a thin coat of gilders' adhesive. Pick up a sheet of silver leaf with a static brush to transfer it to the shade; add sheets one at a time, starting at the bottom and overlapping slightly, until the interior is covered.

  2. Use a soft cloth to rub the silver leaf gently, removing bits that don't adhere. Coat the silver leaf with acrylic spray to keep it from tarnishing.

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