Flea Market Finds: Made in the Shade

Im so happy to welcome back the always impressive Matthew Mead for another smart project. This time he is sharing a how-to of turning some found treasures into a custom lamp in a few easy steps. If you like his simply beautifully classic style, be sure to check out his new book-a-zine, Flea Market Finds.


Lamps are special to me; they are a three-dimensional focal point in a room. They draw the eye up and have a stylish presence in both shape and texture. Lamps are a standout in a room and in design, and something that is so personal to me. I often like to create a lamp out of a found object. The flea market recently yielded two mercury glass bottles (which I think were thermal liners for something). I am always drawn to mercury glass because of its beauty and reflective quality and I thought the bottle shape would be perfect for a desktop lamp.

I purchased the mercury bottle for $9, which is an amazing steal. At the same market, I found a base for my lamp (a wooden platform often used to show off a ginger jar) and painted it black:

I like to make sure my lamps are attractive and “finished” looking, and this base was just the perfect final touch. I then looked for a graphic floral pattern to make a shade and for some appropriate gift wrap at a card store. Wall paper or even fabric would work just as well.


You can find these at a lamp supply store or puchase them online here.

For this project, I required a threaded rod, socket set, cord set rubber stopper and vase cap to adapt the top of the bottle to a stationary setting for the finished socket. The cord comes off the socket itself, so there was no need to drill a hole in the bottle.

Several washers screw onto the threaded rod after the stopper to hold the entire apparatus in place.

Once together as a unit, the rubber stopper socket set fits snugly into the bottle hole and the vase cap hides the unattractive stopper.

Next I used liquid nails (epoxy would work, too) to attach the base to the bottom of the lamp. Let dry according to the manufacturer's directions.

The base is a sturdy and stunning looking lamp base.

Next I turned my attention to the shade. I measured my lamp to decide on a size and style of shade and drew an arc on craft paper to create a template.

I traced the template onto my paper and cut out the shade. It is really a very easy process.

Next, I used a product called a pressure-sensitive styrene, which is basically a vellum-like material with a sticky surface on one side. I peeled the paper from the styrene, laid my gift wrapping paper arc on it, and then cut out the arc once again. The styrene provides body to the gift wrap and creates a durable lampshade.


To create the finished shade, I simply attached the arc to the lamp shade rings (which were provided with my arc and style shade). Clip the arc to the rings using bull dog clips.

Attach clips to both top and bottom so that you have a complete looking shade. With a pencil, mark the seam of the shade along the vertical line of where the paper meets.

Remove the bull dog clips and place glue along the underside of the pencil mark.

Place seam end of paper just at pencil line, and smooth to adhere the seam.

Let dry 10 minutes. You are now ready to glue in the top and bottom rings. Place glue on the ring and place just inside of shade.

Wipe excess glue away if necessary and hold rings in place with several bull dog clips. Glue both top and bottom rings and let dry for 30 minutes or more.

To trim the shade you may use paper tape, ribbon, seam binding or vintage trim. I chose to make trim from the same gift wrap paper we used for the shade itself.

Cut long strips of paper about 2 ¾ inches wide to make a paper tape. Use glue to adhere tape to top and bottom of shade. Place paper tape on the edge of the shade in a manner where half the tape will horizontally trim the shade and the other portion with be glued and folded over under the edge of the shade.

Let dry thoroughly and attach to light bulb via a bulb adapter.

The final lamp is a crisp and updated lamp and shade that works well with colorful desk accessories, and will look as equally charming lit at night as it does in the daytime.


Thanks again to Matthew for sharing. For lots more check out Matthews blog and his great new book-a-zine, Flea Market Finds.


  1. Love this!  I definitely have some lamp shades that could use some love.  Thanks for posting!

  2. So pretty.You make it look so easy too.

  3. The lamp turned out great! I love the colors and the glass base was a great choice. Can't wait to try this project out myself. Thanks!

  4. I am so impressed I love it and the mercury glass base is gorgeous!!

    I hope you will Come and enter my amazing Cross Bottle Guy Giveaway! You will love it!

    Art by Karena

  5. Wow, beautiful! This is great information. I've been thinking about making a drum shade to hang from my ceiling, but I didn't know how to go about it until now. Thanks so much! I was wondering, though, what was the total cost to make this? 

  6. aquabuddhette11:22 AM

    So fresh and pretty!

  7. Janette@The2Seasons11:53 AM

    Remember when you selected some cute items at Joss and Main?  Well, I loved the terrarium so much that I bought it.  Finally, this week I got around to using it.  I am thrilled with the way it looks. ( I wrote today's blog about it).  So, anyway, you might want to tell the folks over at Joss and Main that I am one happy customer.

  8. Alexandra Jacobs12:05 PM


    I came across your website and found it
    very enjoyable. I just had a couple of questions so if you could e-mail me back
    that would be great!

  9. I will have to try this!  It looks GREAT!

  10. Artsnark4:10 PM

    excellent walk through. Thanks for sharing the process

  11. Lisa Rozario5:25 PM

    Perfectly outlined tutorial with great pics. Thank you!

  12. I love the contrast between the cutesy pattern and the slick silver base.  Unexpected and fun.


  13. Megan@twodelighted11:47 AM

    Love it!  The base is stunning.

  14. melinda ke6:05 PM

    Ooh, I like it!!!


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