Thanks to a wide assortment of patterns, molds and instruction, its easy for hobbyists to make Tiffany style lampshades. We should mention right away that when we refer to Tiffany Style Lamps, were talking about lamps that are made on a mold (or form the terms are interchangeable). If a mold isn't needed, the lamp would be considered a Flat Panel Lamp.
Making Tiffany style lamps is actually quite similar to making stained glass windows. The main difference is that after youve cut and foiled the pieces for your lamp, you solder them together on a mold, instead of on a flat surface. This is what gives the lamp its rounded shape. Most of the pieces in a Tiffany lamp need to be quite small to conform to the rounded mold. Thats why this type of shade, by its nature, has a considerable number of pieces. Most popular designs have about 150400 pieces, although some require nearly 2000. Obviously, another difference between Tiffany lamps and most windows is the amount of time required to complete the project. These lamps can be time consuming.
The only supplies you need to get started on your first Tiffany style lampshade are a mold, a pattern and some glass. As far as tools go, all you need are your basic glass working tools (cutter, pliers, soldering iron and, hopefully, a grinder). No special or unusual tools are needed.
There are several different types of lamp molds available. The most common are the H.L. Wordens styrofoam forms (either in sections or full 360 forms) and Odysseys fiberglass molds (full 360 molds only). Each type of mold has its advantages. The Worden System is less expensive and has many patterns available. The Odyssey molds are virtually indestructible and focus on reproductions of original Tiffany designs.
Once youve decided on a mold and pattern, youll want to select the most beautiful glass you can find. Dont pinch pennies here if youre going to spend all this time and energy on what will likely become a family heirloom, spend the extra $20, $30 or $40 on great glass. Years from now, when youre still admiring your masterpiece, youll be glad you did.
While all lamp systems include good instructions, youd be wise to check with your supplier to see if any appropriate classes are offered for lampmaking. You might be more comfortable making your first lamp knowing theres an experienced lampmaker looking over your shoulder. Your supplier or instructor can also help you with reinforcing, hardware and electrical considerations.
We hope that if youve been putting off making a Tiffany style lampshade, this little feature might help you get started. Dont be afraid to go for it and send us a picture when youre done!
Image from Making Tiffany Lamps Book.
Reprinted with permission from Stained Glass News. All rights reserved.www.StainedGlassNews.com/Subscription.