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Lamp Shade Material Selection

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Forum topic by PPK posted 01-09-2018 03:33 PM 800 views 0 times favorited 15 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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PPK

1114 posts in 926 days


01-09-2018 03:33 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question resource tip

Hi all,

I’m looking for some input on how to make a lamp shade. I want to make an Arts and Crafts lamp. I think I’d like to start with a table style lamp first, and perhaps make a floor lamp too. I have no worries about making the base or wiring the fixture, but I don’t know to make the shade, or where to source the shade material. I think the mica or stained glass are both really nice looking options. I’d like to stay away from plastics or papers. I do use good ‘ol hot halogen or incandescent bulbs still often :-) Any advice?

How do you cut mica?

I like this kind of lamp…

-- Pete


15 replies so far

View Ripper70's profile

Ripper70

1113 posts in 1025 days


#1 posted 01-09-2018 03:38 PM

Try here:

http://www.ashevillemica.com/category/lampshade-mica

-- "You know, I'm such a great driver, it's incomprehensible that they took my license away." --Vince Ricardo

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tomsteve

808 posts in 1336 days


#2 posted 01-09-2018 03:54 PM


How do you cut mica?

- PPK

youtube may be your friend on this

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1308 posts in 279 days


#3 posted 01-09-2018 03:57 PM

nice project !!

Edit: if this is your first lamp project, you could purchase the blank shade off the internet
and add your own wood accents and do the base yourself as it is less problematic.

I know that the first suggestions will fall towards the glass panels used in Stained Glass windows
and Tiffany style Lamps.
you can make the glass in 4 pieces and frame it up then make the middle applique muttons as an additive.
or – if you have the tools, make each piece like the stained glass windows and use different colored panes.
you are teetering on the line of a stained glass with soldered joints art project vs an all wood project.

the one downfall that comes to mind is if you use all wood in your lamp shade, I would not use any kind
of heat producing bulbs (for obvious reasons).

you cut mica with scissors, utility knife or an exacto knife. it is like cutting tough cardboard.
it is shaved off a rock like shaving veneer off of a log . . . it comes off in large, multi-layered flakes.
do the google and YouTube search: “How to cut and mold decorative lampshade mica”.

.

-- some people are like a Slinky - - - pretty much good for nothing. But still make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs.

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2250 posts in 1339 days


#4 posted 01-09-2018 05:42 PM

I’ve got several mica shade A&C lamps in my projects and Tom has some nice information in his posts.

Hot bulbs will darken the mica so keep room for clearance or use LEDs. The mica seems to come in sheets that are large enough for one shade per sheet (18” x 36” or so). I cut mine by tracing the profile with a pattern and cutting on the bandsaw, but the first few were cut with a utility knife and straight edge. Basically make heavy scores and snap the waste material off. Mica is very flakey so be careful!

Be sure to purchase mica that is 0.030” thick or more

View cut50's profile

cut50

12 posts in 3145 days


#5 posted 01-10-2018 04:14 PM

I have used pine, yellow cedar, and douglas fir for shades, plane wood as thin as you can, then sand thinner, hold up to lite and wow.On mine the top of the shade is open and the bulb was about 3” away from shade, it`s like a chimney.And I`ve used 100 watt bulbs and left on for over 24hrs with no fires.
The lamps look great on or off, the more wood grain colors the better.Also hard to take photo of, try it you`ll like.

-- FUN IS GOOD Smithers BC

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PPK

1114 posts in 926 days


#6 posted 01-10-2018 04:50 PM



I have used pine, yellow cedar, and douglas fir for shades, plane wood as thin as you can, then sand thinner, hold up to lite and wow.On mine the top of the shade is open and the bulb was about 3” away from shade, it`s like a chimney.And I`ve used 100 watt bulbs and left on for over 24hrs with no fires.
The lamps look great on or off, the wood grain colors the better.

- cut50

Huh! Really interesting. Thanks for all the replies and tips, all!

I need to make sure that whatever I do, it’s fairly sturdy… I’ve got some young ‘uns that are hard on furniture. How does mica stand up to balls or stuffed animals or toys being thrown at it?

-- Pete

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splintergroup

2250 posts in 1339 days


#7 posted 01-10-2018 04:58 PM

Mica holds up well. If you scrub too hard when dusting it will flake, but overall it’s sturdy stuff (it is a rock ya-know 8^)

It’s made by basically gluing lots of mica flakes together and pressing them flat, so I’d guess that the strength comes more from the person pressing it than anything else.

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1308 posts in 279 days


#8 posted 01-10-2018 05:25 PM

I remember as a kid when a cedar tree fell in a storm.
my father made a LOT of stuff out of that tree.
one item in particular that I always remember is a bedside lamp for my mother.
He shaped a “tear drop” piece of wood then cut very thin strips on the bandsaw.
just as Cut50 describes: “plane wood as thin as you can, then sand thinner”
he stitched the panels together with thin copper wire and turned a base for it on his lathe.
probably a 25w bulb, but my mother really loved it. of course, the wood panels
warped over the years and took on their own personality, but she still loved it.
it disappeared decades ago – but I would still like to make one just for posterity.
go to Pinterest and search for: “wood veneer lampshade” . . . lots of excellent ideas.

nice work, Cut !!

Pete – not too much will survive rambunctious younguns !!
you might want to reconsider and buy a $12 lamp at Home Depot. (just kidding).
something that you make yourself, if it survives, will be treasured by your children
years down the road. having something survive until they are 30 years old may be the challenge.
good luck !!

.

-- some people are like a Slinky - - - pretty much good for nothing. But still make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs.

View AandCstyle's profile

AandCstyle

3149 posts in 2374 days


#9 posted 01-10-2018 10:58 PM

Pete, I think mica is the way to go. However, be certain to wear a respirator when you cut it. I cut it with my table saw. FWIW

-- Art

View Laughran's profile

Laughran

74 posts in 2045 days


#10 posted 01-12-2018 10:34 AM

which shade of mica is used for lamp shades?
the lite amber.dark amber or the stained amber?
thanks

-- David

View Dave Polaschek's profile

Dave Polaschek

2595 posts in 699 days


#11 posted 01-12-2018 12:04 PM

If you want to get real fancy, Pete, Gaytee Stained Glass down here in Minneapolis do beautiful work, and I’ve always had a good experience working with them (I’ve bought replacement glass for lamps from the 20s and 30s there).

-- Dave - Minneapolis

View John Smith's profile

John Smith

1308 posts in 279 days


#12 posted 01-12-2018 04:00 PM

David – the color of a residential lampshade will be decided by the room it is in and its use.
look at the lampshades sold at the Big Box Stores. the styles and colors are all over the map.
this is strictly a personal choice on your part (and your wife’s input).
I personally lean towards “Earth Tones”. tans, ambers, browns, beach sand, mulch, cement, etc.
while others lean towards seasonal colors.
Blue – winter
Pink – summer
tans – autumn
white – no special concerns.

in my personal opinion, mica sheets are not sold in its raw form for residential use
outside of the type that is used in vintage wood burning stoves.
raw mica is split off of a rock in sheets and is clear(ish) to light grey in color.
during the manufacturing process, dyes and stains are mixed in with the resins
to give it the desired colors in large stable sheets.

I have an uncle in Alabama that had a small gold mine on his property back in the 1930s.
the gold played out and just as they were prepping the mine to close it for good,
they struck a strong vein of pure mica rocks. this is when WWII broke out and
mica was in high demand for the War Effort. After obtaining a government contract,
they made more off of the mica mine than all the gold they ever found.

.

-- some people are like a Slinky - - - pretty much good for nothing. But still make you smile when you push them down a flight of stairs.

View PPK's profile

PPK

1114 posts in 926 days


#13 posted 01-12-2018 04:54 PM

Huh! Really interesting about the gold/mica mine, John!

Thanks Dave for the link to the stained glass place. Maybe I’ll switch gears and build a church… We DO need a new church out here actually ;-)

-- Pete

View Laughran's profile

Laughran

74 posts in 2045 days


#14 posted 01-12-2018 08:00 PM

ashevillemica.com has 18×36 sheets of mica for lamp shades in a number of colors
I know that I want the amber but they have 3 choices, light amber’ dark amber and stained amber
So I was wondering what color other people have used with their shades

-- David

View splintergroup's profile

splintergroup

2250 posts in 1339 days


#15 posted 01-12-2018 08:23 PM

I used “light amber” for my two sets of project shades, bought the stuff on eBay

I also used “dark” amber on a floor lamp in my projects.

The “light” allows for a nice glow through the shade and is what I’d recommend. The “dark” offers almost no light transmission.

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