Karal Studio

Regular Geometry lamp shades tutorial


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Most lamp shades are designed with regular geometry, that is, a few simple shapes that are repeated many times to form circular, 3 dimensional lamp.
The skill you need to master here is accuracy with cutting and assembly....


The lamp shade below could be described as a typical example of a straight forward lead light lamp.
It has three layers and is ten sided, 30 pieces in total, however it only has three template shapes.

Lamp shade
Yes, this one is joined with lead canes rather than copper foil and solder.

This one below only has 5 template shapes, however with 20 sides per layer, it becomes challenging to achieve accurate 3 dimensional continuity,..... come together right... :-)

copper foil lampshade

Tips for success

* Accurate design drawings.
If you are planning on drawing our own lamp shades, then you must do a great job with the technical drawing. I have a tutorial on this, please refer to here for details....

* Accurate templates for cutting glass.
If you cut the glass pieces "out of wack", the layer will not close together properly and your lamp shade construction efforts will likely fail! Using templates is worth the effort of building and using them. There are detailed instructions for this here....

* Glass cutting must be spot on!
There is no room for carelessness and if any shape is cut poorly, it is worth the effort to cut another one perfect. Better still, just cut them all correctly the first time.
If for example the template I'm working from is one mm out of skew and the lamp has ten sides. That little skew could add up to a huge gap and become a real headache. So do try your very best to get each shape right....

* Join pieces together accurately.
Build up the lamp shade one layer at a time. Edges need to meet each other perfectly and be just lightly spot soldered together at the correct approach angle. All soldering during 3D assembly is kept to an absolute minimum in case the joins need to be parted for a position adjustment.

* 3D assembly techniques
There are several methods available to achieve the 3 dimensional build. There are molds, jigs, edge taping, and string hauling. Different lamp designs determine the method you'll use to get your build done. It quite simple really and once the first layer is closed, adding more layers can proceed without a problem.
Molds. These allow you to form very detailed Tiffany lamps; also irregular / free form structures.
Jigs. Are simple arrangements that hold the glass in position a specific angle and ready for soldering.
Edge taping. Is to layout a group of pieces, tape the joining edges then lift the group into 3D.
String hauling. Is to edge taping with the addition of a gang of strings that lift the group into 3D.

* Establish the lamps shape integrity.
One tack soldered layer of the shade is a delicate object. Attempting to lift it off the bench now risks serious damage to the soldered foils and a possible collapse. So, do not lift the shade until you've attached a second layer and the outside lengthwise foils have been bridged.

Watch these two videos below and all will become clear for you.

Youtube Video Episode
3D Assembly of lamp shade. String haul method

Youtube Video Episode
Adding the crown.

last edited page 24th Nov. 201
More to come....