All You Need To Know On How To Dye A Lampshade

Having a well-lit house is not only refreshing but quite appealing to the eye. Expert interior designers around the world make sure to install creative lamps throughout the house. They provide ample lighting and a warm aesthetic to the space. Whether it is a standing lamp, wall-mounted lamp, or table lamp, it can instantly add character to any room.

Lampshade on the roof

Most lamps come with a paper or fabric lampshade that allows the light to disperse evenly in the room. Unfortunately, after several years of usage, these shades slowly start fading or accumulating dust. When this happens, most people think about replacing the lamp cover, which can cost them quite some pounds. But why spend cash when you can make your own lampshade? Or if you don’t want to make one, you can just dye an old one.  So, if your lampshade has started looking old and discoloured, it’s time to give it a new life using vibrant dyes

What kind of paints to use?

When it comes to painting a paper or fabric lamp cover, you have a variety of options available. Of course, you can always stick to the basic watercolours and fabric paints to add some colour to your basic lamp cover. However, if you want to diversify your palette, here are the five kinds of paints you can play with. 

  1. Fabric dyes
  2. Acrylic paints
  3. Powdered dyes 
  4. Fabric printing inks
  5. Spray paints

You can even use natural colourants like tea, coffee, turmeric, and red wine if you want to experiment a little. They will give a soft hint of colour on the surface as they are chemical-free and wash off easily

Things to keep in mind

If you are familiar with dyeing fabrics, like dyeing your carpets or a sofa,  or other materials at home, this might be an easy job for you. However, when dyeing your lampshade, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind.

Acrylic paints and brushes on a wooden table

  1. Check what material your lamp cover is made up of. Most of the shades are made up of cotton, linen, silk, or parchment paper that are quite easy to dye. However, if it is made up of any synthetic fabric like supreme satin or polyester cotton, you need to buy specific dyes for them. 
  2. Make sure you are not using any oil-based paint as they are more susceptible to catching fire. Most lamps use bulbs that can heat up to a great extent. Therefore, it is ideal to use water-based paints and dyes to dye lampshade.
  3. If your lamp cover is made up of any delicate material like silk, then do not use bleach to get rid of previous dyes. It can easily ruin the surface of the fabric by slightly dissolving the natural fibres. If it is important to bleach your silk shades to get rid of any discolouration, then use a mixture of soda ash and hydrogen peroxide in warm water. Neutralise the silk with a few tablespoons of vinegar mixed with water to stop the bleaching process. 
  4. After dyeing your lampshade, make sure to keep them away from direct sunlight. Most fabrics and dyes fade quicker when they come in contact with harsh sunlight. So, if you want to elongate the life of your lamp covers, keep them far away from the windows. 

Here’s how to dye a lampshade: Step-by-step guide

Are you ready to get started? Let’s see what you need to do!

Four desk lamps with lampshades

Things you’ll need

To start this project, you will require a few dyeing supplies. You can easily purchase them from your local craft store or find them in your existing art supplies stash. Here is what you’ll need: 

  1. Old lampshade
  2. Large container 
  3. Warm water
  4. Fabric dye 
  5. Salt
  6. Rubber gloves 
  7. Paper towel
  8. Wooden stick
  9. Paintbrushes 
  10. Measuring cups

Once you have gathered all the supplies and have selected the colour of your choice, it’s time to give your lamp cover a complete makeover

Step 1: Protecting the surroundings

Start off by protecting your surface with a paper towel or plastic sheet. Cloth dyes can cause permanent stains on some surfaces so, it is best to protect your surroundings. Next, put on a pair of rubber gloves to avoid your fingernails getting stained. You can also wear an apron to protect your clothes. However, we suggest changing to your old t-shirt for this project. 

Step 2: Water temperature

In a large tub or bowl, depending on the size of your lamp cover, add partially hot water till the container is half full. The water should be around 60°C to dissolve the salt and dye properly. If your tap water is not warm enough, you can heat it on the stove or in the microwave. Anything above 60°C can damage the fabric and alter the quality of the dye.

Step 3: Making a dye solution

Next, dissolve half a cup of salt and fabric dye into the water. Use a wooden stick to mix everything properly. Poorly mixed dye solution will cause uneven patches on the fabric. Several kinds of dyes are available in the market, like Rit and Dylon, that you can easily get your hands on. While adding the dyes, make sure to go through the instructions on the back of the packaging for the exact measurements.

Painted lampshades

Step 4: Dipping the shade the right way

Now slowly submerge the entire shade in the dye bath and let it soak for 10 minutes. This time is enough for the dye to coat the surface evenly. However, dip the lamp cover again until it’s fully coated if you notice any uneven patches. If you want a darker colour on your shade, you can leave it in the dye for more than 20 minutes

Step 5: Washing the dye colour off

When you are satisfied with the colour, take the shade out and wash it thoroughly with cold water. Keep it under cold water till the water runs clear, and you are left with a brand new looking lamp cover. Avoid doing this process in a light-coloured ceramic sink to prevent staining. 

Step 6: Letting the cover dry

Allow the lamp cover to air dry overnight. There you have it, a beautifully dyed lampshade that you can decorate your house with. Put it back on the lamp base and enjoy your DIY lamp cover. With the help of this easy tutorial, you can give a new life to your lamp covers. 

Different lampshade dying ideas

Not a fan of dying your lamp cover in one solid colour? Don’t worry; we have plenty of ideas for you! Here is how to add more life and texture to your lamp cover:

1. Ombre dip dye

Add a beautiful ombre effect by dip-dyeing your lamp cover. Make a dye bath like mentioned above and dip half of your lamp cover in the solution. Let the colour bleed upwards to create a seamless gradient. This beautiful ombre lamp cover will add a boho touch to your space. 

A painted lampshade on a table in seaside home design

2. Stencil art

You can also use stencils to paint beautiful patterns on your lampshade. Cut out a pattern of your choice on a piece of cardboard and attach it to the lamp cover with masking tape. Use acrylic paints along with fine paintbrushes to paint the stencilled image onto the shade.

3. Block print

If you love traditional fabric art, then block printing is what you need to try out. Take a light coloured or white lampshade and remove the fabric from the frame. Lay it out flat on a table and start printing using patterned wooden blocks and fabric printing ink. It will be a perfect addition to set an elegant yet fresh aesthetic for your room. 

4. Tie-dye

You can also give your lamp cover a vibrant makeover by using the tie and dye technique. Remove the fabric from the shade frame and tie it in the pattern of your choice using strong threads or rubber bands. Dip it in a dye mixture and take it out once the fabric has absorbed the colour. Wash it and leave it to dry. Put your tie-dye fabric back on the frame, and there you have it, a funky lampshade.

a purple, a red and an orange lampshade hanging from a roof

Lamps set a well-lit, soft mood throughout the house. Therefore, it is important to keep your lampshades in optimal condition. Not only will it keep your house looking beautiful, but it will also increase the efficiency of your lamps. So, what are you waiting for? Gather your supplies and get started with this DIY project.

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