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Book Recycling: Lampshade Project

Updated on August 14, 2014
The finished paper-craft lampshade project
The finished paper-craft lampshade project

Recycling: A Philosophy

Originally I posted this project over on my Wordpress (The Homely Coder), but it was so successful that I thought I'd post it over here. It's ironic, in a way, since this is a project about recycling and I've recycled this project from there... Anyway, enough of my musings.

Recycling is, I believe, an important part of modern life. We can't afford to keep throwing things away - landfills are getting full, and incineration and other waste disposal methods have their environmental concerns.

To top it off, if you're like a lot of people, you can't just throw away a book. If your local charity shop/thrift store has stopped accepting books, like some have, here's a handy way of recycling a book you no longer want into something pretty.

This project also makes a really good present, if you can pick up a copy of a book cheap that means a lot to someone - I recently made a Harry Potter fan a desk lamp using this technique and an excess copy of Book 3 that I had lying around.

Without any further ado, let's get making!

An old copy of Pet Cemetery, and a pencil
An old copy of Pet Cemetery, and a pencil
A plain, fabric lampshade. I bought new, but you can use old
A plain, fabric lampshade. I bought new, but you can use old

The Components

For this project, you need a few basic things which can be found in just about any household:

  • An old fabric lampshade
  • An old, no longer needed book
  • A pencil
  • A glue-gun
  • A decorative hole-punch (optional)

The fabric lampshade needs to be clean and dust-free, so start by giving it a wipe down with a damp cloth and leaving it to dry somewhere warm.

You must, MUST be prepared to cut the pages of the book and remove pages from it. Hardback books are easier to remove the pages from, but a paperback will do just fine.

Glue-gun glue is essential because, once hardened, it will not be affected by the heat of the light (and there's nothing worse than your work melting in front of your eyes!)

A pencil is used to trace patterns onto the book pages before cutting around them. If you're into paper craft/card-making and have a large, decorative hole-punch lying around, you can use that instead.

Step 1: Pattern Drawing

Decide what pattern you want the paper shapes on your lampshade to have. I used butterflies and moths as an inspiration, but you could use flowers, animals, or abstract shapes to name but a few.

Either find a pattern on the Internet you like to copy or draw around, or draw freehand (which is what I did) onto the pages of your book. You might find it easier to rip the pages out of the book before starting this step.

Cut around each of the patterns you've drawn, being careful to make them as crisp and as even as possible.

Step 2: Glueing

If you've used butterflies as an inspiration, turn up the edges of their wings so that they are 3D against a flat background (you could also do this with flowers, etc, just use your imagination) - we don't want to glue the entire thing to the lamp, as this will be flat and dull, we only want to glue a part of it to give the pattern some 3D relief.

Heat up your glue-gun according to the manual. When ready to use, place a blob of glue into the centre of your shape (for a butterfly, I put a line of glue down the centre body). Working quickly to make sure the glue is still hot, transfer your shape onto the lampshade and press to secure.

Take care when working with hot glue, as it will stick to your skin and burn if you get it anywhere near yourself. You might find it beneficial, if you have problems keeping your hand steady, to work in a pair of thin leather gloves.

Wait until your glue is dry, which shouldn't take more than half an hour, then you're ready to put your lampshade up somewhere where everyone can enjoy it!

Could you throw away a book?

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There are lots of ways to make this project unique:

  • Try staining the paper with a little bit of food colouring mixed with water. Leave the stained book pages to dry before cutting out your shapes for a fun multi-coloured design perfect for a kid's bedroom or playroom
  • Mix and match your shapes - perhaps you could mix butterflies with flowers, geometric shapes with more freehand ones, or any other combination your imagination can come up with!
  • Match the colour of the lampshade to your room, if you're buying a new lampshade, and stain the paper to match


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    • The Homely Coder profile image

      Liz Felton 3 years ago from Essex, England


    • flatsindwarka profile image

      flatsindwarka 3 years ago

      wow it nice