How to Paint Glass Lamp Shades

    by Jeanne Paglio

    About the Author

    As an author and instructor in the arts, Jeanne Paglio has been writing since 2001 and has been an artist for over 25 years. Her articles have appeared in "Painting Magazine," "Quick & Easy Painting," and "The Decorative Painter." Paglio studied art and design at Rhode Island School of Design.


    Lamp shades make an interesting surface for painting. When the lamp is lit, the layered design shines and becomes even more beautiful. You can make your own decorated lamp shades using acrylic glass paints. In just a short time, your lamps will be the topic of discussion the next time you have guests over.

    Things You'll Need

    • Glass lamp shade
    • White vinegar
    • Paper towels
    • Paintbrushes (acrylic art brushes, small and medium)
    • Design pattern (optional)
    • Tape
    • Acrylic glass paint (your choice of colors)
    • Plate or palette

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    Wet the paper towel with the white vinegar. Wipe the outside of the glass lamp shade. Hold the glass lamp shade with a paper towel as you wipe it with the vinegar-soaked towel.Try not to touch the surface you plan to paint with your fingers or hands. Set it aside to dry.

    Shake the paint bottles well to mix each color inside. Pour each color onto the palette in a nickel-sized puddle. Make sure the colors don't run together.

    Cut the design pattern to fit inside the shade. You should be able to see the design through the glass. Tape it in place while making sure it lays as flat as possible against the inside of the glass surface.

    Pick up the foundation color of paint with a dry brush (no water is used when painting on glass). Apply the color in an evenly so there are no ridges in the paint. Let the paint dry completely before applying the next color or layer.

    Continue to paint the design, allowing each layer of color to dry thoroughly before continuing. When the design is finished, remove the pattern from the inside of the lamp shade and allow the paint to cure for at least 24 to 48 hours prior to use. Clean the brushes with soap and water when you are finished using them.

    • Some glass paints can be cured by oven-baking them at low temperatures.
    • Paint brushes can be wiped clean between paint applications and stored in a damp paper towel until ready to use.
    • Glass paint can be found in craft stores.
    • Practice painting your design on a scrap piece of glass before applying to the shade so you are better able to judge color layering.
    • Washing the brushes between uses will leave water in the brush and make color application less effective.

    Photo Credits

    • Hemera Technologies/ Images