Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lampshade transfer { inexpensive DIY shade }

I'm all in to transfers lately.  Mostly because they're an inexpensive way to make something ordinary, look beautiful.  My latest project was an image transfer on to a lampshade.

I've been wanting to do this for a while, but I really get nervous, and lampshades aren't cheap if you mess up.  I saw a few tutorials about using Citrasolv, but I didn't go that route.  I started to freak out about the long term affects of having a chemical sitting on a shade that would be heated.  I've had some experience with Citrasolv and the smell is very strong.  Supposedly that comes out once you wash the item, but you can't wash a lamp shade and I didn't know how long the chemical smell would linger. 

I also wasn't too sure about the type of lampshade that would work best.  I love drum shades, but I worried that trying to get an image on a curved surface may distort it.

Anyway, here is what I learned about adding transfers to lampshades.  Please leave a comment and share if you have any tips too.

I started off with a very ordinary lamp shade that I got for $5 from a discount store.  The important thing here is that the shade is completely fabric.  There is no inner plastic liner in this one.  This was important to my success, and I'll show you my craft fail later in the post to prove it.

Next, I found an image on etsy and purchased a digital download.  I chose a bee motif from Graphique. I'm a big fan of their images, prices, and quick service.  I printed the image out on Avery light fabric transfer paper with my ink jet printer.

I cut around the image leaving about a 1/8" margin around the design.  I set my iron according to the transfer instructions and stuffed my shade with towels.  Heat and pressure are what makes the image adhere to the shade.  The towels give you a little extra backing and when you need pressure, and you can put your hand in and push from the back protected by towels.

Going slowly, I ironed on the transfer.  Pushing from the back and pushing down with the iron as much as I could, keep ironing until the paper is easy to pull off and the image remains { below }.  It will start curling and almost start to come off itself.  Take your time.  This takes longer than you think because it's tough to apply pressure.  I put a transfer on each side of the shade.  Here's a tip:  I started with an "all over" iron to set the design so it wouldn't shift.  I then focused my iron on a few inches of the transfer at a time and worked from one side to the other.

Now on to why it's important to use a fabric shade with no liner.  Here is my craft fail with a fleur de lis design.  I melted the shade liner { below }!

Here is my finished product.  The large inside areas on the image have a slightly different sheen due to the transfer.  When you turn the light on the shade, you cannot tell.  (Sorry I forgot to take a pic with it displayed on a lamp that was turned on). 

I didn't have, and haven't heard of, any issues with transfers on shades melting.  I wouldn't use a 120 watt bulb in the lamp just to be safe, but if the transfers require very high heat to set, I'm confident they can handle a 40 watt bulb over extended periods of time.

Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. This is fabulous! Love your creativity. Visiting from Home Stories A to Z.
    :) crafty texas girls

  2. Thank you girls! I love the coffee bean bag upholstered bench on your blog this week too!

  3. Thanks! Took a while to figure out, but I did it finally!

  4. You know Ms. Emily, most people find it hard to show their failures...thank you for doing this so that your students can learn. I so appreciate it! You did great! ~Elizabeth

  5. Thanks Elizabeth. I figured I might as well get at least a picture out of my shade before I tossed it. Oh well, I really liked that drum shade too! Hopefully it saves someone else $15 :)

  6. Hi Emily, this is gorgeous.,
    Cheers Fiona