June 8, 2011

How to dye a lampshade


A while back I found a pair of these ceramic figurine lamps, likely made in Japan during the 1950s.  They have brass bases and depict a man carrying flowers and a watering can and a woman holding a basket of flowers.  I thought they were fun and liked the bright colors of the figures' clothing.  However, I was not really into the color of the lampshades.  They were in okay condition but looked a little dingy, so I decided to experiment with dyeing them.

Here are the two lamps and shades before I cleaned them up. 

I started by vacuuming the shades and the figures; then I got out a damp cloth and gently wiped the dust and dirt off the lamp.

For dye, I mixed together two Dylon colors: amazon green and ocean blue.  There was no big reason why these were chosen.  My son and I went to the fabric store and he chose one color and I chose another.  He was set on blue lampshades and I wanted green, so we compromised, bought one packet of each, and mixed them together.

Supplies you will need for dyeing fabric:

A bowl, bucket, or stainless steel sink
Packages of dye (look at package to see how many you will need)
Warm water
Spoon for stirring
Rubber gloves
Measuring cups and spoons
A place to let the fabric drip dry (and a dye-proof surface underneath to catch any drips)

 First we mixed together the two colors of dye, being careful to use an equal amount of each.

Then I followed the directions on the dye packet and washed the lampshades and left them to dry a little bit in the sink.

In the meantime I mixed together the dye with the recommended amount of warm water in a large stainless steel bowl.

I then added the salt (it's a good idea to measure it out ahead of time) and more warm water to the needed depth.  Keep mixing until all the grit of the salt and dye is gone.

I added the first lampshade to the dye.  It didn't cover the shade completely, so I rotated it periodically.  Set a timer and be prepared to stand there and stir for a while.

 After the dyeing time was up, I washed out the remaining dye and repeated the whole process with the second lampshade.

Here they are drying in the kitchen sink.  The colors obviously look more muted than the packets of dye would lead you to expect.  This is partly due to the lampshade fabric (the dye takes better on natural fabrics) and to the amount of water I used to dilute the dye to help cover the lampshades.

Let the fabric dry for a while (it look mine a good day to completely dry out).  The color did even out more as it dried, although there are still a few places where the dye is uneven (which I expected since this is old fabric and probably synthetic of some kind). 

So here is the finished product:



What do you think?  I think they look much better, and I'm pretty happy with the shades.  I may eventually replace them, but I like the shade and size, and the blue-grey color goes well in my house.

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