A Simple Guide to Making an Oven Melted Plastic Lamp Shade

Give your free time creative purpose

Learn the secret to making a gorgeous plastic lampshade… that DOESN’T look like plastic!

And that’s no easy task… because plastic, despite all it’s benefits, always looks like plastic!

Except… drumroll please… when you cut it into strips and melt it in the oven. Then something wonderful happens, the plastic becomes glass like, relecting light in all directions. See below…

Melted plastic lamp shade
It was heading for the bin... now it's on my sideboard!

What will I learn?

1) That you don’t always need a ruler… even when you think precision is required, sometimes wonky is more charming.

2) To be less precious.. even when you think precision is required, sometimes wonky is more charming.

3) How to visualise numbers in imaginative ways… most dice just have dots… here’s an opportunity to be far more creative.

Step by step guide

If you’d like to try your hand at making your own ‘melted’ plastic lamp shade here’s some detailed instructions.

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LEARN how to transform the stuff around you into fun and useful things:

Printable artwork
Trim bowl
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 1

Use scissors to trim the rims off eight clear plastic disposable bowls (1) and a craft knife to cut a hole in the base (2). Take what’s left of each bowl and cut thin strips around the sides, leaving a gap at the top (3).

Bake in oven
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 2

Rest each bowl on a drinking glass and heat in the oven (4) until the strips go wavy, I went for 90secs at 170°C (5).

Chop up
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 3

Cut the sides of the bowls into a series of short sections (6) and trim off the rims using scissors (7).

Overlap & stick
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 4

Take a 2 litre soda bottle and cut out a straight section using a craft knife (8). Glue the wavy short sections around the straight section using hot glue, working your way up from the bottom, overlapping each row as you go (9).

The lid
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 5

Place the shade onto a piece of tin (I got mine from an old biscuit tin) and draw around the inside with a pencil or pen (10). Draw another circle 6mm outside of the traced circle, and cut it out using tin snips (11). Snip the edges into short tabs, going no further than the traced circle (12) and bend them down using pliers (13).

How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 6

Use sand paper to remove the paint from the surface of the lid. Push the lid down into the shade (14) and secure it with blobs of hot glue (15). Cut a 6mm strip of tin, long enough to wrap around the outside of the shade. Remove the paint using sandpaper and hot glue it around the outside of the shade (16).

Wire support
How to make a Melted Plastic Lamp Shade and light: illustration 7

Use wire (1.5mm galvanised) to make the shade support. Create a ring large enough to fit snugly in the shade (17) and join it with struts (18) to the plastic collar from the light fitting, using hot glue to secure it into position (19).

To fit the shade screw the plastic collar onto the light fitting and then simply rest the shade onto the wire ring.

Please note: Because the light shade is made of plastic I’d advise using a low energy bulb – one that doesn’t get too hot.

Materials

  • Old biscuit/sweet tin
  • 8 disposable plastic party bowls
  • 2 litre plastic soda bottle
  • Glue gun
  • Craft knife and scissors
  • Pencil or pen
  • Tins snips and pliers
  • 1.5mm thick wire

Give it your own unique twist

The technique of ‘baking’ plastic in the oven can create lots of amazing effects. Try experimenting with different types of plastic, some will almost melt, others like the bowls used above simply warped and twisted.

Written by
Photo of Scott Bedford
Scott Bedford

Maker, Illustrator and Author