Friday, 5 July 2013

DIY - Japanese Paper Maché Lamp Shade

This DIY project is super easy and the results are totally custom.  The patchwork motif is a classic going back centuries.  These days patchwork is having a bit of a renaissance showing up not only in its familiar residential application but also in commercial interiors.  There is an easy comfort about the patchwork look and it is so versatile.  Using Japanese paper gives this project a delicate elegance.

What you'll need:

Paper shade lamp - I like the Ikea Väte series
A variety of Japanese Paper patterns (Chiyogami or Katazome-shi)
Paper maché paste (white flour and water)
Sharp scissors

Step 1.  Select Your Lamp Shade

The easiest approach to this project is to choose a plain paper shade like Ikea's Väte series.  They are ready to go and really inexpensive.

Step 2.  Select Your Favorite Japanese Paper Patterns

Find a supplier of Japanese paper near you.  For those in Stockholm try Kreatima or Ljunggrens.  In Toronto you should check out The Paper Place on Queen West across from Trinity Bellwoods.  The best types are Chiyogami or Katazome-shi as they are incredibly beautiful yet equally sturdy.  Avoid the thinner tissues.  They'll break once wet with paste and you won't see the designs on your shade when the lamp is on.  Most suppliers of Japanese paper have a selection of many of the patterns cut into smaller squares which gives you so much more to choose from.  Your patterns are up to you but while they should of course contrast, they also need to jive with each other somehow (sharing a common colour for example).

 Step 3.  Cut The Paper into Smaller Segments

This is really easy to do.  Take the small squares and cut them diagonally down the middle.  Do this as many times as you like until each segment is the size you prefer.  Don't cut them too small as you will lose the beauty of the paper's pattern.  I also cut thin strait strips which I used along the edges of some of the segments for visual interest.


Step 4.  Mix Your Paper Maché Paste

The amount of paste you'll need depends on the size of your lamp.  You can always make more as you go.

In a bowl mix the white flour and water until you get a paste consistency.



Step 5.  Stick the Paper Segments to the Shade

Dip the segments in to the paste making sure to cover the entire segment.  Then smooth them to the shade wiping away the excess.  Continue until the shade is covered.  As I mentioned, you can use strait strips to run along some of the segment edges for visual interest or to clean up some gaps that may have occurred.  I also used the strips to finish the top and bottom openings of the shade.

And that's it!  Let it dry and you are ready to use your unique new lamp. 

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