DIY Wire Lampshade Frame

Designer lampshades are often made in unusual shapes or sizes. When the mundane is transformed in this way, the lamp becomes more interesting, or a conversation piece, and that is often considered more valuable. One way to acquire unusually shaped lampshades is by making the lampshade frame yourself. Because most lampshade frames are made of wire, all you need are a few simple tools and objects and soon you will have frames you can cover and use for your lamps.

Bend wire with pliers

Step 1

Shop in your garden and house for objects you can use as pattern forms for your lampshade. Look at the pots you use for plants, large bowls, garbage cans, baskets or anything you think has an interesting or useful shape. For this example, consider a 10-inch terracotta garden pot.

Step 2

Turn the pot upside down on the work table. Select a wire you can bend -- usually between gauges 8 and 14. You want a wire that is stiff so that it will hold its shape, but soft enough for you to bend.

Step 3

Cut 6 feet of wire with wire cutters. Clamp the end of the wire with round nose pliers and bend the end around into a circle that is about the size of a nickel. Bring the circle around so that the end of the wire touches the circle. Bend the wire away from the circle and spiral the wire into a larger circle.

Step 4

Place the center circle over the center bottom of the pot and tape it to the pot with duct tape. Continue bending your wire spiral out to the bottom edge of the pot. Make a complete circle of the wire at the edge of the pot and duct tape the wire circle to itself and to the pot to hold it in position.

Step 5

Spiral bend your wire down the side of the pot to the bottom edge and circle the bottom edge with the remainder of your wire. Tape the bottom wires together and to the pot. This gives you a simple lampshade shape.

Step 6

Cut four pieces of 1/2 inch metal tape that is long enough to reach from the center nickel-sized circle to the bottom of the lampshade and back. Slide 1 inch of the tape ,adhesive side down, through your center hole and tape it to itself. Stretch the tape away from the center at a 90-degree angle, sticking the spiraling wire to the tape. Cross the first large circle of wire and down the pot to the bottom edge. Repeat this on all four sides. Remove duct tape as you work. You should have four pieces of tape hanging down.

Step 7

Lift the frame off the pot and turn it over. Press each metal tape back along the same path so that the tape sticks to itself and sandwiches the wire between the tape. Repeat for all four tapes. Wrap your top and bottom wires with metal tape and remove any remaining duct tape. Your frame is now ready for covering with paper, fabric, ribbons or any lampshade material.

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.