Lamps are very nice accessories for doll photography and I am a standing lamp junkie, so….. After making a few, I decided to try a Tiffany style standing lamp. ( All photos are clickable to enlarge.) They have been made, and continue to be made, in a wide variety of shapes and colors. This is a great DIY project and is really not difficult. This particular post is about a electric lamp, but this same style can be created with LED lights. Having never done anything like this with polymer clay, starting with the shade itself seemed like a good idea.
Scouring my house and shop to find just the right shape for a mold took a while. Finally, I decided to use a brass container (minus the lid) because the size was close to what I had imagined and would work best with my bookcase for photography. First, I covered it with a layer of translucent polymer clay and baked at the prescribed temperature. I made a drawing of the design and started applying clay.
The first translucent layer was a little bit fragile and developed some minor cracks (click on the above photo and the cracks will be obvious), especially after I cut a scalloped edge around the top. Well…. it was the top when I started. It was intended to be more of a torchiere. That’s where the light is reflected up. Below, you can see the hole I cut for the pole and light bulb to fit into, but plans change. Concerned that the bulb would stick up too tall and show in photos, the scalloped edge became the bottom part of the shade. You’ll see in a minute what I did with that hole.
Tiffany lamps are “leaded glass”. Copper polymer clay was used for the “lead” on this lamp and slightly different shades of translucent polymer were used for most of the panels. A google search of Tiffany lamps will reveal that most use pale colors to allow the light from the lamp to show through, but not all. There are very dramatic shades that use darker colors and have very ornate designs. I noticed that most of the translucent panels varied slightly from almost white to subtle shades of pale orange or tan. I mixed some variations, including some areas that appear a little blotchy and not mixed completely, which was a common look in the vintage pieces I studied.
You can see I’ve been cutting away my pattern as I progress around the piece and using it as a pattern to lay on the clay and cut each piece as accurately as possible. Everything went well for a couple of turns around the shape, but after adding the next level, I realized I’d have to make some changes. No problem! I’m adaptable, and you can still see that hole in what is now the top of the shade.
Now you can start to see more variation in the translucent clay and the addition of a bit of color in the accents. The copper “lead” spirals slightly around the globe as I’d planned, but the details on the lower section were created “on the fly”, if you know what I mean. Stuff happens.
This work took two to three hours. Perfection is not necessary unless you’re making a very geometric style shade. Even then, don’t drive yourself crazy because the finished shade will look just fine….especially in photos. I smoothed out as many fingerprints as possible and used a lucite rod to finish. Remember, it’s supposed to be lead and separate from the “glass” panels, so don’t drag the clays into each other.
In the finished photo above, you can see little swirls of color in the translucent panel next to the blue accent…..very Tiffany lamp like. You can also see the cap and finial I created for the top to cover that hole! Now we get to create a pole and base. You can see a closeup of my base here. I decided to use a piece of copper pipe for my pole. Using an ammonia compound created from the many recipes available on the web, I gave it that fabulous funky bluegreen aged look of copper. After numerous photo shoots, it has started falling off a bit with too much touching, but I still like it and can touch it up when needed.
In the above photo, you can see the sequence for stringing it all together. The electrical cord, socket and bulbs can be purchased in the lighting department of any major hardware store. Click on the photo to enlarge and see my circle of plexiglass already installed between the socket and the bulb and on which the shade sits. The small piece of copper clay at the top of the poll is a transition piece between the copper pipe and the socket. For lamps using LED lights a dowel is used exactly like shown in my other posts.
Voila! The finished lamp plugged in and ready to go. Please feel free to ask any questions and I would love to see your work. Thanks very much for visiting.