September 13, 2012

Make It: DIY Photo Lampshade

Photo crafts are some of my favorites.  My daughter's elementary school held a dinner/fundraiser/auction each year, and every year I was tasked with making the item that represented her grade.  I always aimed for something that would be different - never seen before - that would bring in the big bucks at the auction.  This particular year I found success with the photo lampshade.  The lamp and shade sold for over $2,000.  Yowza!

I chose to use black and white photos for this project, although color would work just as well ... or sepia.  When the lamp is turned on, the photos shine providing a wonderful treat!  This photo craft would make the coolest ever baby or wedding gift.  For sure, handmade gifts are the best! 

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  • 1 Lampshade, with four straight sides.  I bought mine at Lowe's.
  • 1 Lamp base.  This one came from Target.
  • 1 Low watt bulb
  • 5 Sheets of overhead transparency film for a copier, or more for in case you make an oopsie [Tip:  Because this stuff is expensive, buy individual sheets from Staples, Kinko's or your favorite printer.  You can even use their copier to print your photos.  Don't buy transparency film for the ink jet as it's too flimsy.]
  • 4 Sheets of vellum
  • Scissors
  • Fine lined Sharpie-like marker
  • One piece of white paper
  • Small round hole punch (smaller than the holes found in notebook paper)
  • Black plastic gimp string (cheap stuff that kids at summer camp use to make lanyards)  
  • Green tea (or wine) and snacks (optional)


1.  Take shade apart - I took the shade apart, being careful not to rip it, so I could use one panel/side as my pattern.

2.  Make a pattern - Using the old lampshade, make a pattern that you will use for each of the four sides of the lamp.

3.  Acquire and resize photos - I mooched photos from my daughter's teachers and resized them so that they would fit my panel pattern - one photo per panel.   I made them all black and white.

4.  Print photos - Using my laser printer, I printed each photo on transparency film made for copy machines (one photo per transparency sheet).  The side facing the lamp will be the printed side so consider this when printing in case you first need to reverse the image.  

5.  Trace and cut out your photos - Using your pattern from step 4, trace around, being careful not to mark within the cutting area, then cut out your four transparency photos.  Cut inside the Sharpie marker lines.  [Tip:  You can also use this pattern to make one see through pattern from transparency film so it's easier to see where you need to draw around/cut].

6.  Cut out vellum - Using the same pattern, cut out 4 identical pieces of vellum.  These will line your photos.

7.  Make a punch pattern and mark it - Using your pattern once again, cut out one sheet of white paper.  Use a pen to measure and mark where you will punch the holes. 

8.  Punch your holes pattern - True confession:  At the time I made this lampshade, my very first, I did not own a small hole punch so I used a two-tined barbecue fork to punch my holes.  Word to the wise, use a teeny hole punch (smaller than notebook paper size).  It's so worth the five-ish bucks you'll spend.

9. Punch your holes - Punch your holes in your photo transparencies and vellum.  Take your time.

10.  Stitch - Place photo transparency ink side down on top of vellum.  Make sure all your holes are punched and line up correctly.  Use black plastic gimp string to stitch your film and vellum to the shade's wire frame.  Refer to the photo above.  Tie your stitches off in tight knots.

11.  Add a low wattage light bulb, turn on and ENJOY! 



Anonymous said...

Hello can I reference some of the material here in this entry if I reference you with a link back to your site?

ivylanedesigns said...

Sure thing!