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[Stained Glass Gems] All About Making Glass Beads
November 14, 2009

Issue #011 All About Lampshades

Greetings to all of my stained glass friends. These Stained Glass Gems have been found during my frequent browsing and deep digging for helpful and or unusual stained glass web sites, as well as other information pertaining to stained glass. I have a long list that I will share with you over the months ahead. I do hope that there's a gem or two that will brighten your day and be helpful during your stained glass journey.

This month's ezine is about something I truly enjoy...making lampshades. It goes beyond the basic instructions for Making a Panel Lampshade that can be found on my web site.

Two Ways to Make a Lampshade

Green Lamp Blue Lamp

1. Panel Lamps
These shades consists of 4, 6, 8 or more panels.
The panels are constructed in a jig, on a flat surface.
When all of the panels are done, they are put together to form a lampshade.
There are variations that will give you tiered and dome shapes.
The blue lamp in the picture is an example of a dome shape.

Dragonfly Lampshade

2.Form Made Lampshades
Many of these shades are replicas of original Tiffany lampshades,
and some of them consist of hundreds, even several thousand pieces.
Don't worry, there are simple patterns also.

Form Lamp Under Construction

This is a form lamp being made in one of my classes. The top 1/4th isn't completed yet. The long panel, laying beside it is a panel made on a sectional form. There will be 8 panels total when it is finished.

There are 2 companies that make the forms: The Odyssey Lamp System, and the Worden System. Each of these web sits has full instructions. Have a look to see what making a lampshade on a form entails.

The Odyssey System uses fiberglass forms, with all of them being full forms. Their patterns are mainly copies of original Tiffany lampshades, and they have all of the accessories, fittings and hardware needed to make your lampshade as close to a Tiffany original as possible. The fiberglass forms will last for years, although once you spend 3 to 6 months making a 500 to 1000 or more piece lampshade, you probably won't feel like making another one just like it in the foreseeable future! You can go Here to see how many pieces are in each Odyssey pattern.

The Worden System uses styrofoam forms (reusable) to construct the lampshade on. Some of the forms are full forms, others are sectional. With the sectional forms, the lamp is constructed in 3 to 6 sections, then assembled into a complete lampshade. The forms and patterns are purchased separately because the forms are generic shapes and sizes, and there are quite a few patterns to choose from for each shape and size.

Worden patterns are mainly Tiffany style, not Tiffany copies, but there are quite few Tiffany copies available. I have made the B24-07 Hanging Head Dragonfly T (1000 pieces)several times. It takes a lot of work, but it's a beautiful lampshade and well worth the time.

Any of the patterns with a T after the name denotes that it is a Tiffany copy. To find out how many pieces are in a particular shade, click on the picture. You will go to a full page with specs about that shade.

Both Odyssey and Worden have a grid for designing your own, so you are not limited to their designs if you want to design your own lampshade and build it on a form.

Useful Tutorials

Designing a Panel Lamp

A very simple way to design your own panel lampshade is to find a pattern for a lampshade that has the shape and dimensions that you want. Copy the outline of one panel and draw in your own design. Just remember to measure the sides of the pattern (after you draw it) to make sure they are exactly the same length. If they are off, even by the smallest measurement, either the top or the bottom of your finished lampshade will be uneven.

If you want to design your own panel lampshades, here are two web sites with ways to calculate the dimensions. Panel Lamp Calculator 1 and Panel Lamp Calculator 2.

How to Use a Spider

Lampshade with spider

Here is a picture of the inside of a panel lampshade with a spider instead of a vase cap. I like using spiders if I want light coming out of the top of the lampshade.

To use a spider you will:
  1. Get the appropriate spider for your panel lamp. Three legged spiders are used for a shade with 3, 6 or 9 sides. Four legged spiders are used for shades with 4, 8, or 12 sides.

  2. Lay the spider across the top of the shade, making sure the center of the spider in the center of the opening.

  3. Mark each leg of the spider where it touches the inside edge of the lampshade.

  4. Take the spider off and bend each leg down (two pair of pliers work best) on the inside of each mark.
    If you start to bend on the outside of each mark, the spider will be too wide and won't fit inside the lampshade.

  5. Slide the spider inside the lampshade and determine where you have to bend each leg more or less to make
    the legs rest along an inside seam (where two panels join). Your ultimate goal is to have the spider all the way
    to the top of the shade with the legs resting firmly against the inside seams.

  6. Once you have the spider bent properly, you can cut off some of the leg that is bent down. You only need a
    couple of inches or less depending on the size and weight of the shade. The one in the picture has only about 1/4"
    sticking down, because the shade is very small and very light weight.

  7. Now you can solder the legs in place. Be careful when you solder them. They take a lot of heat to get to
    soldering temperature, and if you hold the iron on too long you can break the glass. If you want, you can tin the
    legs before you start soldering. They will attach a little easier and minimize the danger of breakage.

Where To Get It

Paul Crist Studios has a catalog of the hardware most often requested...mainly accessories such as caps and knobs. They have divided these lamp parts into two sections, one devoted to their extensive line of standard Tiffany hardware and another that covers a variety of other American makers.

Grand Brass Lamp Parts carries just about anything the serious lampshade maker would ever want or need.

National Art Craft has lamp parts and lamp making supplies, but be ready for a minimum order of $30. However, they have parts that are hard to find. There is also a wiring guide for anyone that wants to wire their own lamp base.

Tips and Techniques

This Reading Lamp is similar to lamps one of my students used to make. She would get used eye glass lenses from the local optometrist and do the following:

  1. Find a bowl that is the size and shape you want the shade to be. It doesn't matter if the bowl is hard plastic or metal.

  2. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil making sure the foil is firmly in place.

  3. Get an assortment of glass globs that would compliment the shade.

  4. Turn the bowl over so the bottom of the bowl is facing up (you'll be working on the outside surface of the bowl).

  5. Stick a vase cap in the center of the top (actually the bowl bottom) using Blue-Tac.

  6. Wrap some of the lenses with foil.

  7. Wrap some glass gems/globs with foil, Use clear or whatever color you want, and all one size or a variety of sizes.

  8. Starting at the top, place the lenses wherever they will fit without overlapping. Attach them to the bowl using Blu-Tack, the reusable putty used for posters.

  9. Solder the first row of lenses to the vase cap before you added any more lenses.

  10. Fill in the spaces with foiled gems/globs.

  11. Once the lenses and globs are in place, solder it all together. The gaps should be filed with solder.

  12. Lift the shade, including the aluminum foil, off the bowl, turn the shade upside down and pull out the aluminum foil and Blu-Tac.

  13. Solder the inside of the lampshade and bead solder the bottom edge. Clean, Patina and Enjoy!

Her shades were absolutely delightful and in great demand. She also made shades using just glass gems/globs. They were equally as charming.

Miscellaneous Stuff!

Here's how the lampshades are made that we see at WalMart, Target, and some lighting stores. I wouldn't enjoy making lampshades very much if I had to do this all day!

Best deals in art glass suppliesDelphi Stained Glass Supplies is a place where I have bought many supplies online and over the phone for many years. Some very helpful people work there, and I recommend Delphi as a reliable place to order your supplies. By the way, they sell lampwork supplies too.

"Make a Box With a Hinged Lid" is an ebook that will walk you through making a stained glass box. Read about what is included in the book and how it will simplify box making. You'll get 2 valuable free gifts when you order. "Make a Box With a Hinged Lid"

Have a look at How-To DVDs You're going to find hundreds of "How To" DVD's for rent. They have some very interesting stained glass tutorials which can be found at Glass

Do you need a pattern resizer or a design program? I can highly recommend Pattern Wizard and Rapid Resizer. They are reasonably priced and you get a fairly long free trial before you have to commit to paying for them. You have the option of buying one or the other or both.

Just in case you don't know, the Stained Glass Gems ezine is mailed out the third Sunday of every month. Be on the look out for [Stained Glass Gems] Issue 12 on Sunday, December 20th.

I want to encourage you to have fun and experiment with your glass. Try new things and different techniques. It's amazing what you can do when you "think outside the box."


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