Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A Promise Kept - a free tutorial

Can it really be 3 years ago that I made the promise to create a free tutorial on how I made my faux stained glass Tiffany inspired lampshade? I just checked, and indeed, it has been almost that long (just shy of 2 months), since I made that promise on this blog. How time flies when there are so many ideas to create! Part of why it took me so long to make the tutorial is that I rarely revisit old ideas, and when I do, it's generally (as you can tell) a long time later.

I have finally made another faux stained glass lampshade for the April 2015 PCAGOE challenge and this time, I documented my steps so that I can keep my former promise! Our challenge theme this month is "Cover something". So, when I was debating all the fun ideas floating around in my head and all the cool items I have stashed for the purpose of covering with polymer, I remembered that little promise I made. Luckily I also had a little lamp for which I had been meaning to make a new lampshade, so the timing seemed perfect.

In my studio, I have an old treadle singer sewing machine, and above it hangs the first quilt I ever made. On my treadle machine, I have a small little lamp that was a gift to me from my friend Amy. Amy is a potter, and she made this beautiful little lamp! When she gave it to me, she had crowned it with a little white store-bought lampshade. The lampshade was perfectly fine, but it just didn't seem to fit the arts/crafts style of the lamp and of the little nook where this piece sits in my room. So, I decided to make a faux stained glass shade to enhance this perfect little piece of pottery that is so dear to my heart.

Here's a before shot of my cute little lamp with it's original lampshade (plus a few of the other lovely pottery gifts from my friend Amy):

The tutorial is posted here free. This is a fairly simple project, but some knowledge of working with polymer is helpful. For this project you will need:


  • A glass lampshade (I find them at thrift stores, but you can get new ones at most hardware stores that sell lighting)
  • about 3-4 (2oz.) packages of translucent polymer clay (I use Premo)
  • about 1 (2 oz) package of black polymer clay (again, I use Premo)
  • cornstarch (helpful for blending seams and smoothing out areas)
  • a bonding agent (I use Sculpey bake n bond)
  • your choice of colors of alcohol inks
  • rubbing alcohol
  • a waterbased polymer sealer (I used an imported product that is similar to Finalcoat - I don't have the original jar and can't remember the name of mine... it was originally purchased to refinish a table, the remaining amount went to my studio)
  • A way to mount the lampshade (I will explain this further after the next photo)
  • A pasta machine or roller for sheeting polymer
  • An extruder gun with a small round hole disc and a half moon disc
  • paintbrushes
  • tissue blade
  • Round cutters (optional)

Notice the hole in the top of the glass lampshade above. We need to design a lamp holder, so that the lampshade will sit over the bulb. The very first one I made had a little harp and finial, so I needed  something that would allow the heat of the lamp to escape and would have a hole in the center for screwing onto the harp of the lamp, securing in place with the harp's finial. My solution to that first problem was to use a decorative brass stamping, similar to the ones above on the left. For this second lamp, there is no harp system. So, I detached the lightbulb clamp from the lampshade that had previously been on this lamp. I needed to devise a way to secure this lightbulb clamp to the lampshade, which wasn't difficult to do.

The lightbulb clamp would be secured between two layers of clay at the top of the shade, positioned as above. If you need to use a stamping for the harp system, you will want to cut or drill a hole into the center of the stamping that is large enough to allow the finial screw to come through. I happened to have a hole punch and dye set and that's how I made the hole in the stamping of my Tiffany lampshade. I believe you could also take a block of wood and a nail, hammer the nail into the center, then once you have a starter hole, gradually increase the size using different drill bits.

Here's a shot of that original Tiffany inspired lampshade so you understand what I mean by the difference in the hanging systems:

So, now we're ready to secure the hanging system. First I measure the top of the shade with my available round cutters. (I used Fat Daddio round cutters).

The smaller of these 2 cutters was perfect for the inner rim of the shade top, the larger one was just a bit larger than I had wanted, but worked fine. I made a sheet of translucent polymer and cut a large circle with the smaller cut out inside, like this:

I mounted this ring to the top lip of the shade. If you don't have round cutters, you can just lay a sheet of polymer over the top of your shade and using an Xacto knife, cut out the inner circle and then cut around the outer lip of the shade to achieve the same effect.

If using a metal stamping with the harp method, you may have to build up this area a bit more on the inside, as generally the metal stampings are smaller than the upper mouths of these shades. Just be sure that the metal stamping has support both underneath and above on the outer edges (about 1/8" to 1/4" overlap on the stamping). If you are using a bulb clamp as I am here, simply trim the edges so you don't have anything sticking out (I use a memory wire cutter for this as some metals will mar the cutting edge of cutters or pliers). Press the hanging system into the clay and use a bit of bake n bond to add strength to the seal.

I decided that I wanted a more decorative top than this, so I also added one of my metal stampings on top of this (to cover up the bulb clamp from the outside view). You'll see this in the second photo after this one. 

Add another ring layer just like the last, over top of this to secure the hanging system. It is now ready for it's first curing. Bake according to your polymer brand's instructions. 

Once the shade has cooled from it's first cure, you are ready to cover the rest of the shade. It helps to have something to rest the shade on for the rest of the process. I use a ball of crochet thread, as seen here (you can also see how the top looks before the first cure).

To cover the rest of the shade, you will need some sheets of polymer that are as wide as the shade is long. I used about 1.5 to 2 2oz. blocks to make my first sheet, on the 2nd thickest setting of my pasta machine. Because of the curve of the shade, it will take a couple different sheets blended together to cover the entire piece. Work with one at a time. First, cover the entire shade with a thin layer of bake n bond or liquid PC. You may need to use your fingers or a paintbrush to help you smooth it into a thin layer, and you may need to add some polymer clay thinning liquid if it is too thick. When this is ready, align the straight edge of the polymer sheet with the rim of clay at the top, wrap the sheet down and around the shade. You will have to trim off sides with your tissue blade. I try to trim at the point of the upper rim where the sheet edge stops touching, and straight down to the bottom of the shade.

Above, you can see on the right side where I've cut off the excess, the left side still needs to be trimmed (you can also see the metal stamping I added to hide the bulb clamp here). Be sure to smooth out as many bubbles as you can! If you find any bubbles you missed, you can prick them with a pin or your tissue blade and starting from the outside of the bubble work your way in toward the pin hole to let the air escape, then blend the clay with your fingertip to cover the hole. Add more sheets in the same way, and use your fingertips to blend the edges of where 2 sheets meet to create a seamless piece. On the bottom of the shade you will want enough clay to be able to wrap a small lip towards the inside (about 1/4"). Your seamless covered shade should look something like this:

At this point, I did a second curing - again, see your polymer manufacturer's baking specs. But if you are confident of your design and confident that you won't make the mistake of nicking the translucent layer with a fingernail or a tool, then you can keep it in the raw state.. Now we are ready to add the faux leading. Using your extruder, put the small round dye and the half moon dye together and extrude black clay (the result will be a small half round extruded length) {Thanks to Jan Montarsi for that tip, which he shared with me after seeing my Tiffany inspired shade). It helps to have an idea of your design. I began adding a design that I thought would work, but after I had 2 of the 4 quadrants completed, I decided I did not like it:

Luckily it was cured before I added the leading, so I just scraped off the areas I didn't like and started over:

Remember, if your translucent base was cured, you will need to use bake n bond or some other bonding agent to secure the faux leading. Be sure to put the flat side of the half round extruded lengths on the side that touches the lampshade. I decided that I wanted my design to mimic the design of my quilt that hangs behind this lamp, but I didn't want the entire shade to be covered in the pattern. This design suited my taste much more!

If you're worried about messing up parts that are finished, while working other parts, you can spot cure finished areas with a heat gun (just be sure you are happy with the design in the areas you spot cure!). If you use the heat gun, also be sure to keep it moving, too much heat at the same spot for too long can scorch the piece! I added a rim of black around both the top and the bottom of the shade, as you can see below:

Here's my fully cured shade with faux leaded design. Ready for color now! I use Adirondack alcohol inks, some rubbing alcohol and paintbrushes. I basically use these inks as though I were painting with watercolor. 

Because real stained glass often has variation in hue and intensity, the alcohol inks painted on the surface mimic the effect quite well. I just point the tip of the ink bottle on my brush till I have the amount I want on the brush, then paint the surface. When I want a change in value, I touch a lighter version or darker version of ink to the brush and let the colors blend together. When I want to use a different hue, I either clean my brush with rubbing alcohol or I use another brush. Any mistakes are easily cleaned with rubbing alcohol or just painted over with the color you want.

With this one, for a last spur-of-the-moment touch, I added some squirts of these sprayable inks that I just picked up at my local thrift store. I really liked the added touch it gave. After the inks were applied to my liking, I put the shade in for a final full cure for 30 minutes. (again follow your manufacturer's specs). Once the piece was cooled, I gave the entire piece a coating of water soluble poly-coat varnish in a low gloss/satin finish. 

Here are some more photos of the finished piece:

And here you can see the lamp with my quilt (inspiration for the design):

I am so pleased with how this turned out, I just love the way it looks with my quilt in the background! I hope you like it too, and I hope you find the project tutorial helpful!  Oh, and if you love the little lamp, check out my friend Amy's Facebook page: Amy Burk Pottery

Please leave me a comment and tell me what you think of my little lampshade, and of the tutorial too!  If you have any questions about any of the steps, please do leave a comment below, I always try to reply within one day!
If you make a faux stained glass lampshade of your own, be sure to come here and tell me how it went! A flickr, Facebook or pinterest link to where I can see your lampshade would be great too!
The voting for this challenge will open on April 1st (no fooling). ;)  I'll try to post a reminder here on the blog!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

March Forth and Vote!

The only day of the year that is also a sentence or command... March 4th. So I thought this command would be apropos to remind you about the PCAGOE vote! Voting is open (has been since the 1st) and will remain open until the 7th at midnight. Here's a peek at all the wonderful creations my guild mates created:

Okay, now March forth to the PCAGOE website and vote for your favorite 3 entries, remember, you could be randomly chosen to win a prize!