Build a Tiffany Lamp | Make a DIY Tiffany Lamp

  • By: Michael
  • Date: April 22, 2022
  • Time to read: 11 min.
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Did you know that you can build your own Tiffany lamp to reflect your own taste and style?

All that building your own Tiffany lamp takes is to have a clear vision, find tiffany lamp patterns and a kit that’s easy to use, and explore the world of stained glass lamp molds.

Many of these techniques also apply to creating your own stained glass windows.

Once you’ve built your lamp you’ll need to keep it looking pristine. Check out my guide on How to clean a Tiffany Lamp

Build a Tiffany Lamp | Make a DIY Tiffany Lamp

Table of Contents

If you already have your own lamp and just need to make some repairs check out our guide on How to fix a Tiffany Lamp

Here’s our 4 step guide on how to make your own Tiffany lamp shade. 

Step One: Think About Your Tiffany Lamp

There’s a reason why Tiffany lamps have been so popular for so many years. They epitomize timeless elegance, evoke a romantic era, and with so many styles, shapes and sizes, so the right choice of one lamp can fit in with any décor.

OK, so there are many reasons why they are popular. And there are many different approaches to take when making your own Tiffany lamps. First, think about the color combinations and patterns you gravitate toward with real Tiffany lamps.

Choose your Lampshade Design

Are you looking for jewel tones or a more earthy feel? Are they emblazoned with flowers or animals or abstract geometric shapes?

This information will lead you to a wide array of Tiffany lamp patterns and molds to choose from; DIY Tiffany-style maps are usually made using a mold. If you don’t need a mold for your lamp, it’s generally called a flat panel lamp.

6 helpful things to consider when you create your own tiffany lamp project:

  • gathering the elements of a lamp you already have or the stained glass lamp supplies you plan to get to make your faux Tiffany lamp complete. 
  • There are many different options available to those building their own Tiffany lamps. The most common and likely easiest route is first finding an old lamp you’ll be transforming into the Tiffany lamp you desire.
  • You may have an old used lamp that has seen better days lying around the house or up in the attic. You may find a nice brass lamp at a thrift store to use.
  • To get started on your new Tiffany lamp and lamp shade, you’ll need some glass, a mold, and a pattern.
  • And you don’t need to have experience with crafting, construction, or even using tools.
  • Generally, glass working requires some basic tools, like pliers, a cutter, and likely a grinder and a soldering iron (which sounds scary but is not).

Step Two: Tiffany Lamp Molds and Patterns

The options continue when picking out what you like among Tiffany lamps molds. This is where it pays to invest your time in a little research.

Two commonly used molds are the Odysseys fiberglass molds and the H.L. Wordens Styrofoam molds.

Odyssey molds are available in full 360 molds, but Wordens come in full 360 forms or in sections.

The Worden System has many available patterns and is less expensive than other molds, but Odyssey molds are specifically representative of original Tiffany designs and are pretty much indestructible.

Odyssey is also usually better for heavy lampshades. In the Worden System, on the other hand, you chose your favorite pattern and then select a corresponding Styrofoam form.

There are numerous types of plastic and silicone molds to choose from, with sizes ranging anywhere from 7 cm to 92 cm.

Often patterns that include a “T” in their name are based on a real Tiffany design.

Step Three: All About the Stained Glass

Whether it’s real or a reproduction, stained art glass is what makes Tiffany lamps a Tiffany. Once you’ve picked your mold and pattern, the next step is looking for the best quality glass selection to use for your new lamp. 

Take some time to look for the right glass pieces for your lamp. Some Tiffany lamp makers are able to use the glass that came with the lamp they’re using (or re-using, rather) for their new Tiffany-style lamp (be sure to wash the individual glass pieces).

Otherwise, look for beautiful pieces of glass for the shade to reflect the beauty of your new lamp.

Top 8 Basic Processes for Creating a Stained Glass Tiffany Lamp Shade:

  1. Patterns cover the lamp’s actual size, divided up to delineate between individual pieces of glass as needed. Code numbers or descriptions are then added to each piece in the pattern to guide you when picking out and cutting the glass.
  2. Pattern pieces can be cut out of the overall pattern, traced onto the glass, and then cut out using a simple glass cutter.
  3. Sometimes you can even snap the glass to get the right size pieces you need. If you need assistance with smaller pieces of glass, pliers can be used to grip the glass when you’re cutting.
  4. Copper foil can be molded around the pieces of glass that will connect them together.
  5. Smoothing the rough edges of the pieces with an electric sander, if possible, is recommended for a perfect fit. Glass jewels, or beads, can come ready-made from several different glass suppliers.
  6. If you’re soldering, painting a chemical called flux over the copper foil outlining over the glass pieces will enable the solder to stick. Using a soldering iron, tin and lead solder are melted onto the foil, section-by-section.
  7. The sections are then laid down next to each other in the mold, which creates the shape of the stained-glass lampshade. After adding more flux, the sections are then soldered together.
  8. After removing the shade from the mold, the exterior is soldered as well. A glass or lamp supply store will be able to provide you with all the materials you need.

Step Four: The Finishing Touches

Once you’ve completed your shade, you can add decorative touches according to your taste. Commonly and traditionally, you may need a brass cap for the top that will be soldered onto the shade.

There are other types of caps available for purchase if needed, as well as filigree accents, reproduction bases, bulbs, and other types of hardware.

Sometimes, though, the bronze lamp base and other elements you already have are good enough to recreate your own Tiffany lamps.

With a brand-new, enchanting stained glass shade, and with a little help from a pattern, a mold, and your own creativity, all that’s left is to turn on your lamp and enjoy it for decades to come.

FAQS:

How long does it take to make a Tiffany lamp?

It might take anything from a few days to a few weeks to complete the process, depending on the lamp’s intricacy.

Tiffany lamps are not something that can be created on the spur of the moment! The wait is definitely worth it, as their look and workmanship are unrivaled.

What base should I use for a Tiffany Lamp shade?

There are a few different bases that you can use for a Tiffany Lamp shade.

Traditionally most bases are copper leaded.

The most common base is a harp, but you can also use a pedestal or an empire base. It all depends on the look that you are going for and the style of your lamp.

If you are looking for a traditional Tiffany Lamps look, then a harp base is the best option. A harp base has two metal legs that come up from the bottom of the shade and support a metal rod called a harp. The harp holds the shade in place and allows you to change the lightbulb without having to remove the shade.

If you are looking for a more modern look or want to contrast the base and shade, then a pedestal might be the best base for your shade. A pedestal is usually made of metal and has no legs. Instead, it looks like an inverted cup with holes on the bottom where you put the lightbulb through. This option works best if you also use a Tiffany style shade, but a regular lampshade will work as well.

An empire base is useful if you want to hang your lamp from the ceiling. Empire bases also come with no legs and an inverted cup design like a pedestal, but they are usually larger in diameter. A harp base can also be used to dangle your Tiffany Lamp, but it will sit lower to the ground.

No matter which base you choose, you need to remember that Tiffany Lamp shades are usually very heavy and need a sturdy base in order to hold up properly. Make sure that the lampshade is not too heavy for your particular shade or that you will be putting it on a strong enough base.

How do I attach my tiffany lamp shade to the base?

Attaching your Tiffany Lamp Shade to your lamp base should be fairly straightforward.

My blog How To Attach A Tiffany Lamp Shade will tell you everything that you need to know.

What equipment and tools do I need to make Tiffany Lamps?

This list is by no means comprehensive or exhaustive but includes most of the tools that are readily available for your Tiffany Lamp Project:

  • Glass cutter
  • Lead came
  • Soldering iron
  • flux
  • Solder
  • level
  • Tape measure
  • Scissors
  • Wire cutters
  • Ruler or a straight edge
  • Pliers
  • Chisels
  • Bench vise
  • center punch
  • Safety goggles
  • Leather gloves

There are also a few other items you might need that can be substituted, but it may be tricky or difficult to find substitutes. Some of these include: large rubber bands for holding the glass together while soldering, steel wire (for making clean curves), and beeswax (to coat the wire to keep it from oxidizing).

The glass cutter is probably the most important tool that you will need. It can be used to score the surface of the glass before breaking it.

There are multiple types of glass cutters, but the most popular is the wheel type. The wheel is run along the surface of the glass and will score a line. Once the line is scored, you can then apply pressure to the opposite end of the glass and it will break cleanly along the scored line.

A lead came is a thin metal strip that is used as a border or frame for stained glass projects. It can be cut with scissors to fit your needs. The lead is used to contain the molten glass while soldering so that it does not spill out and attach itself to anything else in your workspace (which would be disastrous). Soldering creates a lot of heat, and if the glass touches any other surface that is not protected by the lead or solder, then it will stick.

Flexible steel wire is another helpful tool. It can be used to create curves and to hold large pieces of glass together while soldering. The steel wire will prevent the solder from coming into direct contact with the glass which would cause it to melt.

A level is not a required tool but if you want your finished product to look professional, then it is a good idea to get one. Soldering is very difficult if you are not working on a flat surface, so the level will come in handy for this purpose. It will help you line up the pieces while soldering and keeping them level with each other.

Scissors can be used but it is important that they are heavy duty because if they are not, they will not be able to cut through the lead. Wire cutters are a must have and should be able to easily cut through the thickness of the lead came.

Ruler or straight edge is helpful for measuring and marking out your cuts.

Pliers can be helpful for holding things in place and for bending wire.

Chisels are used to remove excess solder and glass from the lead came after soldering.

A bench vise can be a helpful tool for holding pieces in place, but it is not a required piece of equipment for this project.

A center punch helps you keep your glass in place while drilling holes for hanging it.

Safety goggles are important because you do not want any chips or shards of glass to get in your eyes.

Leather gloves are another important piece of safety equipment because they will protect your hands from being burned while soldering.

Where can you find templates for Tiffany Lamp Shades?

Nowadays, creating a stained glass work of art, requires a lot more than just cutting the colorful pieces and pasting them together. At least if you want to create a lamp shade for your Tiffany lamps. You will need a pattern or a template first, so that everything fits together nicely at the end.

If you have tried an Internet search already, you might have noticed that there are quite a few places where you can find Tiffany lamp shade templates. A quick online search for “Tiffany lamp shade templates” or “Tiffany lamp shade patterns” will give you plenty of results.

One popular choice is to download a pattern from one of the many online stores that specialize in selling stained glass supplies. Some of these stores even have free patterns available for download.

Another option is to purchase a pattern book specifically devoted to Tiffany lamp shades. These books can be found at most art or craft stores, and they usually contain a variety of different patterns to choose from.

A third choice, and perhaps the best one if you are a true beginner, is to attend a stained glass class where you can learn how to create your own Tiffany lamp shade from an experienced designer.

Most of the above options are pretty straightforward and require no further explanation. But if you live in an area where such classes do not exist, or even when they do, purchasing a pattern book might be the best solution for you.

Although there are no printed instructions, it usually comes with an easy to follow diagram. If your lamp shade is small or of average size, you can get away with using just one pattern. But if it will be bigger than usual, consider making two copies instead of just one.

Where can buy find art glass for your Tiffany Lamp?

You can buy art glass for stained glass projects at many different places. One of the most popular places to buy art glass is from a stained glass supplier. There are many different types of art glass available, so it is important to do your research before you make a purchase.

Another option for finding art glass is to go online and search for pieces that you like. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you do this. First, make sure that the art glass you’re buying is suitable for use as stained glass. Also, make sure that the art glass pieces fit your budget. You may find some discounted or wholesale pieces online from certain websites.

Finally, you can also check with your local art glass studio. Often times, studios will have pieces that they are no longer using or that they are trying to get rid of. This can be a great way to get some unique pieces for your project at a fraction of the cost.

References

https://www.delphiglass.com/blog/how-to/tiffany-lamps-you-can-do-it

http://tiffanyartvilnius.com/photogallery/plastic-molds/

https://www.delphiglass.com/stained-glass-supplies/

https://onlinestore.timelesstiffany.com/CategoryProductList.jsp?cat=Worden