DIY: Zipping Up A Lamp Shade, Painting It With Colour!

I picked up a little glazed ceramic lamp base at the thrift store not too long ago, but had no idea what to do for a shade. Knew I wanted to DIY something, but not sure what.

And then I came across a tutorial by Courtney over at A Little Glass Box. A very cool idea that I hadn’t seen before.

First, I had to buy a cheapo shade, because I needed the frame to work with.

Home Trends Lamp Shade

And I knew from my DIY skeleton lamp shade that finding a thrifted shade to fit a small lamp was harder than you’d think. So I didn’t take the time to try and thrift one, but popped into Wal-Mart instead.

Even though the shade looks a little top heavy, I knew it wouldn’t be once it was taken apart.

And that’s because the bottom ring was only attached to the fabric, not the actual frame. I was going for a drum shape, so losing the bottom ring was exactly what needed to happen.

Can you see a drum evolving from this frame?

Frame of table lamp shade

No, not so much?

Next was cutting 1/4″ wire mesh to size for the new shade…

1/4" wire mesh

And attaching it to the frame with small plastic zip straps, to form the drum shape.

DIY Lamp Shade with Wire Mesh

And now the fun begins. Have you guessed how this shade is being created yet?

Here’s a peak…

Small Plastic Tie Strap Lamp Shade

That’s right. Staggered layers of zip straps will be used to fill in the mesh and create the shade! Crazy, I know.

You actually want to attach straps in every mesh square of the bottom row, and the very top row. It’s all the rows in between that are staggered.

Check out the layer of white!

White Zip Strap & Wire Mesh Lamp Shade

Looks kind of funky, don’t you think?

I really liked the layered colours of Courtney’s lamp in the tutorial, so I wanted to layer colours into my shade, too. But it meant spray painting zip straps!

So I figured out how many I would need in each colour, and counted them out. Yes, seriously, I did!

Zip Straps and Spray Paint

Did I mention, I bought a bag of 1000 small zip straps? And in total I used 575 of them, give or take a few!

I couldn’t figure out a fast and easy system to spray these puppies, so I just resorted to threading them – One. By. One. – 😐  onto fishing line, and then sprayed away, trying to cover both sides of the straps!


Make sure you spray the straps ahead of time, because they definitely need to dry overnight, and the longer they dry, the better. Otherwise the paint will rub and flake off too much when you’re attaching the straps to the mesh.

Here’s the colour layering in action.

DIY Lamp Shade with Zip Straps

One thing to keep in mind is not to pull the straps too tight. The ones you see sticking out have deliberately been pulled tight to anchor the mesh to the frame, but they were only temporary until they could be replaced with the blue straps.

Are you feel’n it yet?

Here’s a look at the finished shade…

DIY Zip Strap Lamp Shade

I know it looks a little ‘Dr. Seuss’, but hang on… you haven’t seen it turned on yet!

I used a small 60w clear bulb…

DIY Zip Strap Lamp Shade



And was blown away by how different this little lamp looks when it’s on!

I love the shadows it casts…

And check out the reflection on the lamp base.

Doesn’t it remind you of a White Sea Anemone in an ocean of blue?

Here’s one more look back at the lamp and shade in its ‘Before’ state…

Martha Stewart Lamp Shade

And the ‘After’ of the total shade makeover!

What do you think of my little Crazy for Colour project? Would you zip up 575+ straps to make one of these shades, too?

Today I’m joining in the party fun, and linking my project up here…

I want to thank these awesome ladies for being such great hosts!



Such a fun project! And so many more to do 🙂 Why not pop on over and check out all the other projects, too? Who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to do up your own crazy colour project… or maybe it’s just a crazy project. Seriously, zip straps turned into a lamp shade? Who knew???


All Photos by Sheila Zeller

43 Replies to “DIY: Zipping Up A Lamp Shade, Painting It With Colour!”

  1. WOWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW what an awesome undertaking and what FABULOUS RESULTS!!!! I applaud you — I am dumbstruck!!!! Talk about creativity to the 10th degree!!!! It looks FABULOUS and what a conversation piece it is! Thanks so much for sharing this project with us at our linky party!!! You rocked this one!!!! 🙂

    1. Awe, thank you so much, Andrea!
      The project was fun to do, and the lamp just makes me smile 🙂 I really think it has such quirky character, and I get a chuckle every time I turn it on!
      xo Sheila

  2. WOW, is right!! I have to admit, I’m not sure I’d have the patience for that project, but I absolutely love how you’ve ombred the color … the perfect finishing touch! Thank you so much for the button love and linking up. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Kara! Seriously, this project wasn’t as tedious as it sounds… well, okay, maybe the painting part, but overall it actually went pretty fast. You kind of get into a rhythm and the time flies by 🙂

  3. Wow! There’s no way I’d ever do this – you have the patience of a saint – but I think it’s awesome and it looks so pretty all lit up. Well done!

    1. The best part about this lamp is when it’s lit up – the shadows are so much fun, no matter where the lamp is placed. And in context and with the light off, it actually doesn’t look quite so Dr. Seuss!

  4. How clever! I love zip ties and have used them many different ways but never thought of this. I’m a bit lighting obsessed and that shade is so cool. Painting the gradation of color really added great impact, not sure if the form would be fully appreciated in all “clear plastic” … great idea. Thanks for the how to’s. I could see this on a ceiling fixture and being very dramatic … zillions of zip ties though!


  5. Shelia,

    I LOVE this! What an amazing transformation! I can’t believe it started out as zip ties and wire mesh!

    Thanks for linking up to the Color party!


    1. Thank you so much, Karianne! I so appreciate the linking up opportunities, because it’s incentive to push myself to try something new, and to finish it by a deadline! Thanks again for hosting 🙂
      xo Sheila

    1. Thank you, Kelly! It was so much fun to create, but what really surprised me was the drama of the shadows it casts at night. I didn’t know what to expect, and that’s what really blew me away…

  6. This is amazing Sheila! I love the way it came out and I was also wondering what it was going to look like half way through! You are so talented and find the best projects. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Awe, thanks so much Linda! And seriously, thank you for being one of the hosts of Crazy for Colour! I love these link ups, because they inspire me to get creative… and I know on your end it’s a lot of work. So, thank YOU!!!

    1. That’s what I thought, too! Who knew, feathers from zip straps!!! Thanks so much for pinning it, and again, for hosting the Colour party. It was so much fun to join in the fun 🙂

  7. Sheila! Thanks so much for your kind words about my interview. You are very sweet.
    I must say, this is the most interesting and unique lampshade I think I’ve ever seen. You, too, must be a creative soul! So fun, love it.

  8. WOW! That’s all I can say, it looks so COOL! I can’t believe you actually spray painted all those zip ties. And I love how you did it that was ingenious. I love the shadows it creates on the lamp base and all around it. Wonderful job! Happy to be featured along with you on Kelly’s Crazy for Colour party!

    1. Thanks Lisa! I have to admit, as I was zipping away I was seriously wondering just how this little shade was going to turn out. But once the lamp was turned on, that’s when the shade came to life 🙂 It still makes me smile at its quirkyy little personality!

      And… Congratulations on your feature, too! I really like your oars, so much, and was happy to see them featured!!!

  9. Wow. Just wow. Pure creativity and with such am awesome result!! So cool! It really looks like something out of a high-end design magazine!

    1. Hi Connie,
      Thank you for stoppping by!
      You know what, you’re the first person that’s asked me that, and I was wondering the same thing. So far it’s been great – the paint isn’t peeling away, and the plastic seems to be fine. So far, so good 🙂

  10. THAT is commitment! What a fantastic transformation!

    I’ve been looking for a way to create a shade for my Tiffany-style lamp, and the chicken wire is an awesome possibility! I bought my lamp at Goodwill for $2 today, and can’t wait to get started. Thanks for the idea – I’ve been stumped!

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