Monday, July 1, 2013

Paint Stick Lamp Shade

My dad is quite the handy-man and with this project we worked side-by-side.

I can’t remember if it was him, my mom, or my sister that saw the idea first. It was a lampshade made out of paint stir sticks!

source: here

Then the brainstorming began. I’ve been looking for a REALLY LARGE drum shade to fit around my dining room chandelier. Finding one that large has been nearly impossible. And when I do find one that large, it’s expensive.

The dining room chandelier has never been my style, but it came with the house. Ever since I saw YoungHouseLove cover their chandelier with a shade, I knew that could be my least expensive alternative to buying a new chandelier.

Making the shade was not all that difficult. Tough part was asking for 80 paint stir sticks!! I ended up not needing that many, but that’s what I calculated.

My dad scored the paint sticks. He went by the hardware store and he got the 5-gallon stir sticks. I never thought of using those. They were perfect. I went to two more stores, said I needed 5, but would take ten. One store gave me all they had (nine) and the other gave me just five. At this rate, it would take me a whole year to collect 80.

This is where the story gets exciting. My mom, dad, and I were out running errands together. I was going to stop in a different hardware store to ask for sticks. Dad wanted to ask, too. He got to the paint counter before I did and he gave me the signal to leave him be.
Next thing I know, I’m with my mom and my dad comes around the corner with a handful of stir sticks!! I asked how many he had… 100! I asked how much did I owe him… no money. He told a joke about why he needed the sticks to the lady behind the counter. He said the sticks were for a sort of gag gift. He knew someone that had changed the color of their rec room enough times to keep the store open for a year. He said he was making two lampshades out of the sticks as a joke. Well, that person is me! Except it’s my master bedroom that has changed four times. The lady at the counter didn’t have time to ask a manager, and laughed at the joke, that she gathered all she could and handed them over. (bonus for going on a Saturday morning!) We owe her a picture!

As a frame for the sticks, I used a 23-inch embroidery ring. Twenty-three inches was exactly what I needed. I only need one, because the ring has two circles in it.

I primed the backs of the sticks to block the store advertisement and I thought the white paint would make the light from the chandelier bounce off of it.

I at first used staples to hold the sticks on, but my staples were too short. 

I then got itty bitty screws that I used along with wood glue.

Once all the sticks were on, I only had a small gap to fill.

Little JCrew was very hands-on with this project.

He copied everything I did.

He even took pictures of me.

To patch up the gap, I used my grandfather’s scroll saw to cut a paint stick in half.

It worked perfect!

I used painter’s tape to mark where to paint the bottom half.

I used the same shade on the Dining Room walls (Sherwin Williams – Portabella). It always scares me how different it looks in the can. It's an ugly light tan color.

I decided to paint the bottom half of the shade to make it look like I dipped the sticks.

Mr. JCrew liked the brown and green look! I had to let him down gently with the notion it was just green tape.

With the shade built, the next part was to attach it to the chandelier. This is where Dad came in to help. I had bought steel rods, but they were too thin. We then used a PVC pipe with a diameter of 3 inches. Cut a slit in it and threaded four holes.

Dad had a really cool gadget for that.

I then turned the blade backwards on my hack saw to cut the threaded rods to 11 inches long. (turning the blade backwards allows you to cut metal and not damage the blade.)

We slipped the PVC pipe onto the chandelier with the rods already threaded in.

Next up, attach the shade.

View from sitting in chair

The shade does block a lot of light from the room, but it lights up the table really well.

Reminds me of being at a restaurant. Very intimate setting. Creates a cool pattern on the ceiling, too!

When building the shade, it made me nervous with how big it was, but painted and hung, it makes the room feel taller.

I am really pleased with it. It hides the chandelier.

Breakdown of my costs:
23-inch embroidery hoop = $3.50 (Half off coupon at JoAnn’s)
80 Paint Stir Sticks = $3.25 (I paid for some)
PVC, threaded rods, nuts = $13
Paint sample = $3.50

TOTAL = $23.25

This was a fun project that I will always look at and smile. Listening to my dad tell us how he got the paint sticks just makes me laugh.


  1. I LOVE IT. you guys did an AWESOME job. I think I want one. :)

  2. That was so awesome :) I am an art teacher and I love to try new stuff especially those which can be used for home decoration. that is why I have ordered paint sticks from so that I can try these lamps as soon as possible. .


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