How I Made My Tiffany Style Standing Lamp For SD Dolls

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.


DIY Damask Wallpaper

After picking this big bold WordPress theme to show off my photography, I had to come up with a picture for the header.  I’d just done my first photo shoot with the library and was so excited.  Trying to get the dolls, the furniture, the walls, the art, and god forbid don’t forget the floor, into the shot……was just tiring.  But, once I’d created a Steampunk outfit, hat, and goggles for Angie, I decided less was more.  She looks really cute in her new outfit and I like the humor and playfulness that Steampunk can add (when you’re not fighting giant squids , of course).  There’s plenty of time to do complex shots with lots of stuff to take in………but not there……not at the top of the page… least not for now.  A nice vintage looking damask wallpaper would be perfect.

The wallpaper behind Angie in the header photo I made myself with a rubber stamp I’d had for a couple of years.  It’s a nice little damask pattern by A Muse Artstamps, so I thought why not play a little and see what happens.  Using a sponge and watered-down paint in browns, pinks, greens and ecru, I pressed and dragged color it all over my paper to make it look as old as possible.  Don’t worry if it gets messy, especially if you want a really old look.  The more water you use, the thicker the  grade of paper you’ll want.  Since your first effort with the stamping might not turn out exactly the way you expect, if you can, cut up the base you’ve created and photocopy it so you don’t have to repeat this step again.  Each segment can be glued together before stamping.  Using a piece of wood as a guideline I brushed more watered-down paint onto the stamp and went after it.

The first version was done using a color that, in hindsight, was too dark…to much the color of her hat, which was visually lost.   I wanted a really old faded look.  Here’s the photo I took to check how it looked.  Although interesting, it was just too much.


Trying again with a really really watered down lighter version, I got a wallpaper that would stay in the background and not compete with all the other stuff in the shot.  Be sure to mix enough of the color you want to work with so you don’t run out midway through and have to remix.  Or, be a smarty pants and take notes on the recipe so you can reproduce it if necessary.  As you can see, from the uncropped version, I only created enough of it to get the shot, so it was a pretty quick process.

Steampunk Angie in the Library

I think she’s a young Victorian woman, waiting in the library, for her beau to pick her up in his new steam powered motor car….no…no wait….she’s a young Victorian woman waiting in the library for her new steam powered motor car to be delivered by the cute salesman.     Ciao!

Steampunkify My Doll

Steampunk Angie

I’ve been attracted to Steampunk since I first heard about it a few years ago on the web.  I fell in love with science fiction in junior high school, about the same time I was sure not to miss an episode of The Wild Wild West on TV.  In 1990 when I purchased a copy of “The Difference Engine“, on the advice of a friend who also worked at the library, I had no idea that this genre had a name.  Apparently this work, co-authored by Austin writer Bruce Sterling and William Gibson, was instrumental in bringing the concept into the public’s greater awareness.  (All photos are flickable to enlarge.)

I will also happily confess that two of my favorite shows have been “The Adventures of Brisco County Junior” (Brisco and Bowler were just too damn glamorous) and, more recently, WareHouse 13.  So, I like to think of myself as sort of mildly keepin’ up with “the comin’ thing”, as Brisco would say…..except for sewing clothes.  Have not sewn clothes much since I was a kid.  Mom was an excellent seamstress and taught me, but I’m kind of a slob who just hangs out in her workshop, messes with furniture & dolls, and digs in the yard…… so who freakin’ cares?  I do on occasion clean up quite nicely, and living in a casual town like Austin has its benefits.  To say I was surprised by the finished product would be an understatement.  With so many amazing doll clothiers out there, intimidation was my biggest problem, but Angie’s jacket turned out quit well and I’m sure I’ll try again.

I used the edges of a piece of vintage ribbon to get the teeny tiny pink ruffle at the cuffs and up the front and collar.   Those pieces are also lined with the pink silk of the skirt.  No, the skirt is not real.  I didn’t have enough fabric to make a real skirt, so I faked it for the camera.  The little striped cummerbund is silk and taken from a sample book of silk plaids.

I’m quite pleased with myself, but will again express my undying respect and appreciation for all those who work on a very small scale.  Angie’s 22 inches tall, which feels pretty tiny when you’re trying to set those sleeves.  I’m consistently blown away by doll makers, doll clothes makers and miniaturists of all kinds.  I don’t really know how they do it.

Besides the Victorian-esque outfit, the top hat and goggles are quintessential Steampunk.  The leather is from a tiny sample of Ralph Lauren leathers, very thin and supple (only the best for my Angie).  Polymer clay lens holders, plastic lenses tinted with permanent marker (rose colored, of course), and tiny watch gears complete her sweet but punked up image.  So much fun!  Thanks for visiting and please feel free to comment!