Woven Wood Lamp Shade

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I needed a new lamp. Coincidentally, I also needed a splash of color to brighten up a corner of my living room. So, I saw this beauty from Pomp & Circumstance and decided to DIY it myself.

Here is the inspiration:

Woven Wood Lamp Shade
So pretty, right?

Well, P&C gave some pretty good instructions, but I still had to do quite a bit of experimenting to get mine to look good, so I’ll include a few tips.

You will need:

  •  a lamp (opt for a wide lampshade over a tall one)
  •  very thin balsa strips. For my lamp shade, I used 6 or 7 strips. You’ll probably need more than you will think you need, so get a few extra.
  •  hot glue gun
  •  spray paint for the lamp base

I bought an $8 lamp from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. It was UUUUGGGGLY:

Woven Wood Lamp Shade
I sprayed a white base coat and then a couple coats of hot pink. Good. Easy. Perfect. Now for the lamp shade.

You’ll use the balsa strips to make the shade by bending and wrapping them around the lampshade. According to the instructions I read, you should be able to just carefully bend the balsa around the shade. Ok, let me clear something up: this may be true if you have a really wide lampshade. I thought mine was wide enough, but instead ended up with this:

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I tried bending the wood, but it was all like, “Nooooo.”

Boom. Back to square one. Just like that.

I was able to salvage one or two of the balsa strips, but mostly they were ruined (see above). So, I went back, got about 5 or 6 more strips, and google searched “bending balsa wood.”

Apparently, you can bend balsa with an iron or steam.  I tested both, and the iron seemed most effective. Just give a small section the once over to heat up the wood, and then — in small sections — use the steamer on your iron and iron a section, carefully bending the wood as you go.

Woven Wood Lamp Shade

Iron the strip the way you would iron a sleeve: lots of steam and just go straight down the strip. Bend the wood up after you have gone over the section. This extra step isn’t as quick as just bending the wood around a lampshade, but it will save you so much frustration and money, I promise.
Once you’ve bent your pieces, just use a hot glue gun to glue them to your shade. I definitely suggest gluing the top and bottom pieces last to make sure all the ends are covered and everything looks nice and neat.

I noticed, after finishing and lighting my little buddy up,  that the wood just glows when the lamp is on. So pretty! But the more overlapping you have, the less the light shines through. So! — lesson learned: You should definitely do your best to overlap as little as possible! I know it is the nature of the design, but, you’ll know what I mean as you start wrapping. I took small pieces to fill in gaps, but it would definitely look best (when the lamp is on) if you wrapped it better than I did.

Voila!

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