Up – Cycle a Lamp Shade in Crochet Glitz and Glam

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Lamp Shade Upcycle

This beautiful cane lampshade used to sit atop a large table lamp that belonged to my grandmother. My grandmother stated that the lamp was a “decadent” purchase that she made in the 1920’s. Over the years, the lamp had degraded and had been discarded. But the shade escaped the trash heap. By the time that I received the shade; the caning and the leather binding was brittle and torn in several places. The cost to repair was well beyond my skill level and well beyond my budget. However, the cost of upcycling was well within my skill level and well within my budget.


Here are the steps that I used in the upcycle process. Of course, with any creative endeavor, there are an infinite number of possibilities and potentials that can be explored.

  • I removed the cane and the leather binding. Removing the glue was quite an undertaking. Apparently “they” knew how to make glue back in that time. After several episodes of glue – goning, scraping and sanding, I decided that the glue that remained had earned its right to live on through the upcycling.
  • Since the remaining glue left some uneven surface areas on the lamp shade’s frame, I decided to cover the frame instead of going for the repaint option. I have seen many cute designs where lamp frames have been covered by strips of fabric. While I am a fan of the cottage chic styling; I wanted to celebrate this frame’s design and era by going toward the subtle glitz of “late Victorian parlor.” Crochet seemed to fit that bill.
  • I worked two strands of size 10 metallic crochet thread together. Using a size “E” hook (3.5 mm) I worked single crochets around the vertical stays. Since crochet thread has a tendency to “relax,” I worked the stitches very close together and with a tight tension. I didn’t keep an exact stitch count, but I did maintain an approximate stitch count per section to maintain evenness of appearance. (note that one design option would be to create swags between the stays. This would be easy to do with the single crochets and you would want to keep track of the stitch numbers to ensure an even swag) To help keep the vertical stitches from sagging, I hooked around to beginning stitch of each swag as I did the single crochets of the top ring. I repeated this with the last single crochet stitches with I single crocheted the frame’s bottom ring.
  • The final upcycle of this shade was the placement of the “jewelry.” I could have gone wild with swaging vintage beads, crystals and assorted adornments. But I had to keep in mind that I was going for “late Victorian parlor,” not “late Victorian brothel.” I stacked some crystals (from a broken necklace on a jewelry headpin and stitches them in place in the valleys of the bottom curves.

Currently I have this shade atop a blue hobnail lamp that I purchased at a church rummage sale back in the 1980’s. BUT, at some point, I would like to make the shade into a pendant lamp with a great Edison bulb at its center.   I am certain that this upcycle won’t have the durability that the original design had, but I am glad that I could “save” a beautiful piece of design history (the lamp frame) from the landfill.

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