I created paper-wrapped pendant lights for an artful gallery wedding last year. The lampshades are super simple to make—easier than wrapping a birthday present! Keep reading for a paper wrapping how-to so that you can craft your own shades to style at home or hang above a summery party table.
Paper-covered lampshades are one of my favorite easy party details. The full, voluminous shapes have great visual presence, draw your eye to a focal point in the room, and can be quickly re-covered with new paper to mix up your look. Perfectly straight drum shades are the easiest to re-cover (just trim and roll), but I like the custom look of a slightly flared fixture. For the art-gallery wedding, I started with this modern marble-patterned wrapping paper.
• Basic flared lampshade (with a fitting for a cord kit)
• Wrapping paper or wallpaper
• Blank paper
• Binder clips
• Scotch tape
1. Create a paper template by wrapping a blank sheet of paper around your lampshade. Use small binder clips to align the paper with the bottom edge of the shade. If you’re using a flared lampshade, it’s likely that the bottom edge won’t stay perfectly aligned; just fold the edge of the paper under and clip it in place. This first step should only cover about half of the shade. Move on to step 2, and we’ll come back to the other side.
2. Crease the paper over the top edge of the lampshade. Use a pencil to loosely trace both the top and bottom edges of the shade. After you’ve outlined both edges, unclip the paper and trim along the lines you’ve marked. This should give you a half template with a slight curve. Re-wrap the template back on the shade (securing it in place with two pieces of tape) and repeat steps 1 and 2 with another sheet of paper to make a template for the other side. Once you have two curved pieces, simply secure them together with scotch tape.
3. After securing the two traced pieces together, you should have a large curved blank template. This is the step where I like to write on the outside of the template in big letters “this side down.” It’s a little reminder that the outside of the template should be placed down on the patterned wrapping paper when transferring it to make the wrap.
4. Lay out your wrapping paper, pattern-side up. Place your newly created template down onto the pattern side (this is where your scribbled reminder will help). If your patterned sheet is not large enough to accommodate the template, tape another piece to extend the surface area of the pattern. Trace around your template with a pencil and cut out the shape with scissors. Wrap the patterned piece onto the lampshade and secure with tape or glue. I prefer to use scotch tape—it makes it easier to remove the paper if I need to re-cover the shade, and it holds surprisingly well.
• Accessorize your shades with a light cord kit! My favorites are from the Color Cord Company and come in unique finishes and colors.
• I like to store my templates in paper tubes. This way, I can quickly recover pendant shades with new paper for a fresh look.
• Try this with wallpaper, wrapping paper, or even coated artist canvas with hand-painted patterns.
• When choosing a patterned paper, look for all-over prints that are forgiving. For instance, stripes work beautifully on a straight drum shade, but when you use them on a flared shade, the wrapped lines will have an irregular meeting point at the seam.
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