The String Lamp Shade is making a comeback! Make a DIY Retro String Shade for your floor lamp or pendant light! It's easy and inexpensive with only three things to make it you probably already have them in your house!
The spaghetti swag lamp was very popular in the 1960s. It was made from spun acrylic Lucite and was usually found hanging in the corner of the living room. It was available a variety of bright, bold colors. Since Mid-century modern is making a great comeback in home interiors, I thought it would be fun to design and create my own DIY String Lamp Shade. Instead of a hanging light, I made one to fit a floor lamp that can be moved from room to room. This is a great way to customize a new lamp with a base that you love. Here's how you can make one to!
To Make a DIY String Lamp Shade You will need:
- Floor lamp base with a harp
- Kiddie bouncy ball, 24 inches in diameter (You’ll be popping it, later on, so opt for a cheap dollar store version—don’t borrow it from your kids!)
- Mod Podge
- 2 spools of cotton twine (I used #9 x 300 feet, but any size will work)
- Disposable gloves
- Drop cloth
- Fender washers
- Clear spray lacquer
- Petroleum jelly (optional)
- Spray paint (optional)
Step One To Make DIY Retro String Lamp Shade: Prep
This is a very messy project, so protect your work surface with a drop cloth and wear old clothes and disposable gloves. Draw a circle on the ball that matches the diameter of the widest part of your lamp’s harp. This is the area you’ll need to keep clear when winding the string around the ball. Then, pour some Mod Podge in a shallow dish. If you have an old aluminum pie plate that works perfectly.
Step Two To Make DIY Retro String Shade: Wind the String
Run the string through the Mod Podge. I found it easiest to dip my gloved hand in the Mod Podge and then coat the string. Start winding the string around the ball in a random pattern. Make sure it goes in all directions, but avoid the circled area at the bottom. Keep going until you’ve used up two spools of string. If you prefer a denser look, add more. There are no fast rules!
Step Three To Make DIY Retro String Shade: Set the String and Remove the Ball
Allow the string to dry. Depending on the humidity, it can take up to 48 hours. Once it’s dry, puncture the ball with a knife to deflate it, then cut out the circle at the bottom. Gently loosen the ball from the string. The Mod Podge string will be flexible, not hard. I didn’t have any trouble separating the two, but you can coat the ball with petroleum jelly before you start. Note: the ball will be very slippery!
If necessary, use a wooden spoon or spatula to (gently) push any indented areas back into place.
Set the shade on top of a bowl and allow it to dry about 24 hours. Spray it with a coat of clear lacquer to harden it completely. I like the natural color, but feel free to use spray paint to color it to match your decor.
Step Four To Make DIY Retro String Shade: Attach to Lamp
The shade will need a small flat surface to rest on so that it stays in place. Stack fender washers on the screw on the lamp harp (where you would screw on the finial). Place the shade on the washers.
Voila, instant Mad Men look! It’s that easy to personalize a store-bought lamp. I love the texture when the light is off, but it’s really spectacular when the light is on.
Interior designer Merri Cvetan heads up MEC Design Studio in Wisconsin. Merri combines her love for design with a strong interest in do-it-yourself projects. She writes about creating stylish decor for Home Depot. If you are researching floor lamps for your own home, you can visit Home Depot’s website for a wide selection here.
If you love working with Mod Podge then see how to make this Mod Podge and Glitter Desk Tool Organizer or these Mod Melt Bulletin Board Pushpins. Also check out Mod Podge Rocks for lots of other amazing projects!