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Papier-Mache Hat Lamp

Give your lamp a unique look by making a papier-mache hat lamp.

Project by Steve Hafliger.

Steve is no wallflower. He spent a couple of years as Miami radio’s "Lighting Steve the Psychic." His fun, flamboyant and completely unguarded personality is a great fit for the fun and creative craft of his choice--papier-mache lamps and lighting fixtures. He allows the cinema to light the way to his inspiration in the piece he shows off here. Inspiration for this dramatic hat-shaped lampshade was "My Fair Lady’s" Audrey Hepburn.


a rescued lamp base
silver leaf
mosaic pieces
silicone or "goop" glue
pull chain light socket
black tassel
decorative chain
black, white tissue paper
thin black, white artist's paper
hot glue gun and glue sticks
14- and 18-gauge galvanized wire
form from an old lampshade
wire cutters
glaze (5 parts varnish for acrylic paintings, 1 part water)
1" very soft brush or cosmetic brush
4 black ostrich feathers
piece of ostrich feather boa
white beaded fringe


1. Cut white tissue paper into 1- and 2-inch strips. Cut black tissue paper into 2-inch strips.

2. With 14-gauge wire and the lamp form, make a wire frame for the hourglass shape of the shade. Make a circle for the bottom and top, and vertical strands of wire to connect them.

3. Make another larger circle of the 14-gauge wire. This is the brim of the hat. Twist and bend the wire to a graceful curve (the upturned edge of the brim).

4. Across the edge of this brim circle, add a piece of the 18-gauge wire. This gives you a base to wrap on the curved edge.

5. Wrap all joints well with 18-gauge wire.

6. Use the 1-inch strips of white tissue paper to wrap the entire frame. All wire should be covered.

7. With the 2-inch strips of white tissue, begin gluing the paper to the hourglass frame to create the shade. Ignore the brim at this point. Glue the end, wrapping the strip around as you go. You will need at least three layers of this. The strips make it possible to get your curves and rounds--a single sheet of paper would be a wrinkled mess!! As you wrap the tissue, you will be going in different directions to build it up. The diagonals are the most effective for creating the shape smoothly.

8. Once the hourglass is wrapped, begin wrapping the brim, attaching the ends to the hourglass shape.

9. You should now have a full paper shade. With a VERY soft brush, paint on the glaze, both inside and out. Note: A soft brush and light touch is imperative or you will tear through the tissue.

10. After the white paper has dried, you now have your "blank." From this point on, you need to have the shade on your lamp with the light on to see what you are doing.

11. Paint the white blank shade with a coat of the glaze and, while wet, add the black paper. Again, do this in roughly 2-inch strips, in combination with 2- to 3-inch squares. With the lamp on, you can see the color saturation you are achieving and the neatness factor. Be sure to keep the color even.

12. Cover the very bottom of the shade (the part sticking out the bottom of the brim) in more of the white tissue.

13. When all is dry, add the artist papers--black over the black, white over the white. The thin tissue kind with fibers floating in it works best. At this point, your lamp is basically colored; this final layer of paper is a finer paper for a finer end result. With this final layer of paper, you want to tear 'chunks' of paper. Because of the nature of the paper, the tears hide the edges. You want no hard edges in this part. Layer two or three coats of the artist paper and let dry. The heat from the burning light bulb helps the drying process.

14. With the black tissue, form a large bow and the ribbon to go around the shade. Attach with hot glue and glaze.

15. When the glaze is dry and hardened, add tiny stripes of the white tissue. Use the glaze to glue them to the ribbon and bow. Form three or four flowers of the black tissue; glue around the base of the bow and glaze.

16. Glue the feathers from behind the bow going up the side of the shade. Glue the puff of feather boa around the flowers, falling off the edge of the brim.

17. Glue the fringe around the bottom edge of the hourglass shape. Note: The part sticking below the brim is the 'bonnet' that was worn under the hat. Glue on at least two layers of the fringe to get the fullness. With white tissue, cover the raw edge of the bead trim and glaze. You don’t want raw edges showing!

18. Silver leaf and varnish the lamp base you have rescued. When dry, glue the mosaic pieces. When this glue is dry, grout the mosaic.

19. Wire the lamp with the pull chain socket. Using the chain, attach the tassel to the pull chain.



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