How to Make Fiberglass Lamp Shades

Fiberglass lamp shades were particularly popular in the 1950s. The sides of the lamps were often bright colors with mid-century modern designs such as kidney-shaped lines. The edges of the lamps were laced to the frame with lanyard in complementary colors creating a faux mica look that was both a little bit rustic and a little bit space age. Replicate this look in the color you want for your own '50s-style lamps.

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Fiberglass shades with laced lanyard on a retro lamp base

Step 1

Select the lamp frame you want to cover. Typically, 1950s lampshades are drum shaped, square or rectangular. Some are double-level shades with a smaller and larger shade paired together.

Step 2

Place sheet fiberglass on the work table. Sheet fiberglass for lamp shades is sold by the yard in a wide range of colors.

Step 3

Add kidney, boomerang and other '50s era designs using acrylic paint and a thin paint brush to add drama to your '50s retro shade. Some shades also had splatter effects and often such patterns were two tone. Allow the paint to dry and spray the fiberglass sheet with a matte finishing spray.

Step 4

Place your frame on the fiberglass and cut out the panels you need. For example, if you are using a rectangular frame you will cut out four side panels in two sizes.

Step 5

Punch holes 1 inch apart along all edges of the fiberglass using a hole punch.

Step 6

Place a fiberglass panel along the side of the frame. Starting in a top corner tie lanyard into a knot. Lace the lanyard around the frame and through a punched hole keeping the lanyard snug across the top of the frame. Position the next panel onto the frame when you reach the corner. Lace down the side of the first and second panels lacing through both panels and around the frame. Lace across the bottom. Position the third panel adjacent to the first panel and lace up the second side of the first panel. Continue the same lacing around all sides of each panel.


F.R.R. Mallory

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.