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Easy-to-Make Arts and Crafts Lamps and Shades

Easy-to-Make Arts and Crafts Lamps and Shades

by John D. Adams

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Fashionable in the early twentieth century, Arts and Crafts-style lamps are popular again in the twenty-first century. The elegant simplicity of these useful furnishings will inspire craftworkers to try their hand at the handsome projects described in this instructive manual.
First published nearly a century ago, this step-by-step guide--with measurements for


Fashionable in the early twentieth century, Arts and Crafts-style lamps are popular again in the twenty-first century. The elegant simplicity of these useful furnishings will inspire craftworkers to try their hand at the handsome projects described in this instructive manual.
First published nearly a century ago, this step-by-step guide--with measurements for sixteen projects--shows how to turn simple, inexpensive materials into a wide range of beautiful and functional Arts and Crafts projects, among them portable table lamps, reading and piano lamps, a dining room dome, a lantern, a shade for a droplight, and wall-hanging lamps, as well as a newel post lamp, and an electric candle sconce.
Antique collectors, historians of American style, and lovers of vintage furnishings will also find invaluable information in this collection of now-rare lighting fixtures.

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Easy-to-Make Arts and Crafts Lamps and Shades

By John D. Adams

Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-17462-4



LET us first consider a one-light portable lamp—a lamp suitable for a desk or small table. The first thing to do is to lay out the pattern for one of the sides of the shade, which should be done on a flat and rather heavy sheet of paper, after which it should be carefully cut out with a sharp knife. A sheet of cardboard, 16 by 18 in., should now be procured. The reader should be cautioned against trying to work with too heavy a grade of cardboard. Select a moderate weight and test it by lightly scoring one side with a knife and bending it to a right angle, the knife mark always being on the outside of the bend. If the cardboard is cheap and short-fibered, the fact will be evident when so tested. Place the paper pattern on the cardboard and mark it off with a sharp pencil. Then move the pattern over one space, that is, move it until one edge exactly coincides with the outer pencil line of the first position, and mark off again, continuing the operation until the fourth and last side has been marked off. In this manner we obtain the complete pattern on our sheet of cardboard as shown. The dotted lines indicate those that are to be scored with the knife for bending, and the full lines those that are to be cut clear through. It is advisable that the cutting be done over a hardwood board, and in making the first pass with the knife do not press too hard, as the hand or straight edge is more apt to slip at this stage than when the cut has reached some depth. Any rough or torn edges should be smeared with glue and sandpapered when dry. When all the cutting has been done, place the line of bend directly over the sharp edge of a table or board and the straight edge over that portion remaining on the table, then bend gradually all the way along. The last edge of the fourth section has a connecting strip which should be covered with glue and then fastened to the first edge of the first section. The extra strips at the top and bottom should finally be bent inward to a horizontal position and fastened with a paper fastener at each corner. The corners of all bends should be reinforced with passe-partout tape. The entire framework is now to be painted a dull black, which, in anything but broad daylight, will be invariably mistaken for the usual iron work. Select some paper of the desired shade and color, and before attaching it, try the effect after dark by bending it around a light. Sometimes two or even more thicknesses may be necessary. Generally, in a tapering shade like this, the upper portion, which is nearer the light, appears brighter than the lower portion, in consequence of which a very pleasing and attractive blend from a lighter to a darker shade is obtained.

In making the stand, prepare the square base first, and then glue on a square block at each corner, taking due care to keep all corners sharp and square. An 1½-in, square hole should be cut in the center. The main post, which will require some little care, can be worked out in the rough by means of a small scroll saw. When the top and the proper taper have been formed, work out the tenon on the lower end to fit the square hole in the base, after which cut the small mortises for the handle, and bevel the edges. The making of the handle will be largely a matter of penknife carpentry. Make the two horizontal pieces first and fit them to the main post, after which carefully mark off the position of the handle proper, where a notch should be cut in each to half the depth. After notching out the vertical piece of the handle in a similar manner, the entire handle may be fitted together and made fast with glue. A hole should be drilled through the cen-ter of the main post for the wire, and four pieces of light brass or iron are to be procured and fastened to the top of the post to support the shade. If a sufficiently long bit is not at hand, take the stand to the nearest electrical shop, have the hole bored, and the socket, plug and cord all attached.



IN this two-light portable lamp we have an excellent design for the center of the library table. The shades are deep and the lamp is hung well up, so that anyone writing, drawing, or doing any sort of work requiring the use of a table, will find that the light is thrown just where it is required, while the eyes are completely shaded. The shades are of a much used pattern, and those that do not care to undertake the construction of the stand will find them very useful in hiding the common unshaded and glaring drop lights, so harmful to the eyes.

The shades are constructed in the same general manner as the one described in the previous chapter. Procure a piece of tough cardboard about 12 by 24 in. Lay out the pattern for one side with a sharp pencil on a piece of thick paper, and then cut it out with a sharp knife. Apply the paper pattern to the cardboard and mark it off, then move it one space and mark off again, continuing the operation until all four sides are drawn out, as shown. It will be noted that the last edge has an extra strip, which is for the purpose of connecting the first and last sections together. There are also extra strips along the top and bottom of each section. The dotted lines indicate those that are to be merely scored with the knife for bending, and the full lines are those that are to be cut clear through. When ready to bend into shape, place the line of each bend over the sharp edge of a table, hold the portion on the table down with a piece of wood, and then gradually bend along the entire line. The two ends may be fastened with paper fasteners or by glue, in which case means should be provided to keep the connection tight for an hour or so until set. Bind the corner edges of all bends with passe-partout tape. The extra strips on the lower edges should now be bent inward and connected at the overlapping corners with paper fasteners. The extra strips at the top are then to be bent inward and fastened to a square of cardboard closely fitted into the top from underneath. In the center of this square cut a hole 1 5/8 in. in diameter, and near each corner push the knife blade clear through. Cut out four strips of tin, measuring ¼ by 1½ in., and fasten them to the top through the slits made with the knife, in the manner shown in the detail view. All this is for the purpose of connecting the shade to the existing socket, which should now be placed in position and the four strips of tin fitted closely around it, and when the shade is ready to be hung up for good, bind tightly with a piece of light cord. It only remains now to place the colored paper on the inside. As the effect when illuminated cannot be judged by daylight, the paper should be tried after dark, and if it proves too light use two or more thicknesses.

Start the construction of the stand with the base, which, after having been trimmed off squarely and beveled on top, should be fitted on the under side with a little block at each corner. The second base block should now be squared up and an oblong mortise cut for the end of the center post. Glue this block in position, and then proceed with the cross bar at the top. Shape this up to size, and then cut an oblong mortise in the center, after which the center post should be prepared. After planing up to the proper taper, make a tenon at each end to fit the mortises already made in the base and top bar. Before putting these three pieces together, provision should be made for the wires. The simplest way is to pass the cord from each light directly through the end of the top bar and connect them together so as to form a Y with a single cord running to the source of supply. The better way is, of course, to entirely conceal the wires and have the cord leave the lamp from underneath the base. This method necessitates the boring of rather long holes, a matter which, in the absence of the necessary tools, can be readily disposed of at the nearest electrical shop.



IN this mission chandelier we make use of the same design of shade as in the two-light portable lamp described in a previous chapter—shades of paper and cardboard and nothing more; and as for the wood work, let not its seeming massiveness frighten the reader from undertaking its construction, for the timbers are not solid—they are all built up of light boards nailed together.

When the woodwork is stained to match that of the room, and the shades are painted a dull black around the framework and lined with an appropriate color of paper, the effect is very attractive, even in daylight, which is often more than can be said of colored glass shades. If a warm green tone of paper is used, when illuminated, the upper portion will appear almost an orange, which will gradually taper off into the true green at the bottom of the shade. After ordinary green tissue paper is used for some time, this effect becomes more pronounced, due to some effect that the greater heat of the upper portion has on the paper.

The method of making this form of shade having been already described, nothing more need be said in this regard except to suggest that the same outside dimensions may be retained while the simple cross bars may be replaced with any simple design or pattern required. Occasionally a simple monogram is capable of being concealed in an artistic manner, or else the main motif of the stenciling used on the walls or frieze may be used as a model.

The woodwork should start with the ceiling plate, which is simply a square piece with beveled edges, upon which is fastened a square block. Procure from the mill two or three lengths of ½-in. dressed lumber. From the height of the ceiling, determine the necessary length of the center post, and then simply make a long narrow box, or rather square tube, 3½ in. to the side, of this length. Then make another one, 28 in. long, so as to form two of the horizontal arms in one piece. Two shorter sections must then be made for the two remaining arms. It is absolutely imperative that all the ends of these wooden tubes be perfectly square, which will necessitate a liberal use of the steel try-square.

Next prepare four square blocks, 1 in. thick, of such a size as will exactly fit into the ends of the wooden tubes—that is about 2½ in. Nail and glue one to the center of the ceiling plate. The remaining three are to be attached to the long horizontal section at its middle point and on three of its sides. The object of these blocks will now be apparent. Slip each of the short horizontal sections over a block and make it fast—this forms the horizontal cross. Now set the center post on the third block and make it fast.

Finally set the ceiling plate bottom side upon the bench, and then slip the upper end of the center post over the small block and secure it firmly. This completes the assembling of the larger pieces. At all joints use glue and wire nails, the heads of which should be deeply set and puttied over. Procure a short piece of 3 by 3-in. stuff, and work up one end to a dull point as shown, after which saw off a slice so as to form a little block. Repeat the operation until five blocks have been made, four of which are then to be used in closing up the open ends of the four horizontal arms. These short sections of "end" wood render the deception quite complete, as the chandelier looks as though it were composed of solid timbers with specially shaped ends. The fifth block is to be attached at the center, below a second block of the same size as the main timbers.

On account of the hollow nature of the structure, the wiring will be found a very simple matter, provided it is attended to before the end blocks are nailed in position permanently.



IN the construction of this dome, we introduce an entirely new feature—the wooden chain, the making of which will, at first sight, strike the reader as a very tedious and lengthy operation. But such is not the case, for our chain is merely an imitation one and is as stiff as a stick. Such chains are now quite largely used in mission-finish interiors, and may be used to hang almost any form of shade. The method of making them is as follows:


Plane up a strip of ½ by 1½-in. stuff, as long as the required chain, and then cut ½-in. square holes every 3 in., as shown at A in the detail sketch, after which cut ½-in. square notches in the sides. Next plane up one or two ½-in. square strips, and cut them into 2½-in. lengths. Place the strip A on the bench and fasten on the little blocks in a row, each block occupying the space between two square holes, as indicated at B, where the attached blocks are shown black. Now turn the strip over and attach a similar row of blocks on the other side, and our chain is complete. Use glue and two wire nails for each block.

For the shade, a piece of cardboard measuring not less than 27 by 30 in. will be required. On this draw a circle of 11½-in. radius, and then step off six 10-in. chords around it—10 in. because our shade is 10 in. on each of its six sides. From each of the 10-in. points draw radial lines to the center, and then draw lines parallel to these at a distance of 3/4 in. on each side. The lines of the six oblong side panels should now be drawn in, due care being taken that the ends of each panel are at exactly right angles with the 10-in. chord that forms its upper side. The dotted lines in the pattern drawing indicate those that are to be merely scored with the knife for bending, and those that are drawn full are to be cut clear through. Do not attempt to cut too deep with the knife at the first passage, as the hand is apt to slip. The matter of scoring with the knife had better be tried on a piece of the cardboard, as the mark should be no deeper than is necessary to get a good sharp bend. Bend at all the different places before joining the two ends. This bending is best done by placing the line of bend directly over the sharp edge of a table or board and holding the portion on the table down with the straightedge. Any rough or torn edges should be smeared with glue and sandpapered when dry. When all is ready, connect the first and last of the triangular faces with glue. If the cardboard is inclined to be porous, give all the joints a preliminary coat of glue to act as a filler. The shade having assumed its dome shape, bend down the side panels and connect the adjoining edges of adjacent sections with passe-partout tape, which should also be applied to the connection already made. Go over the entire frame with the drop black. A hexagonal block is now to be prepared, and the six flaps at the top of the dome should be bent inward and fastened with glue and tacks to the under side of the hexagonal block. This completes the shade proper, with the exception of the colored paper triangular panels. If a leaded-glass effect is desired, select some simple design like that shown, and draw it out with the drop black, or still better, with aluminum paint. Among the better class of shades the grape design is often found, and if the reader is something of a water colorist, the decoration of this shade will afford an excellent opportunity for a little talent along that line. In any event, use paper that comes in flat sheets, as rolled paper never can be made to look real flat unless it is dampened and placed in a letter press. The penetration of the light almost always exceeds one's expectations, which makes it advisable to experiment a little before attempting anything elaborate. After the proper color has been obtained, the intensity can be altered by adding one or more thicknesses of paper, or else by the addition of a sheet of heavy drawing paper. For ordinary purposes, a three-light outlet should be procured and fastened to the under side of the hexagonal block, the wires running up the angles of the wooden chain. This completes a very attractive lamp.



WHILE the making of this lamp will require some little time and considerable care, there are no particularly difficult features or anything requiring the use of special tools, and the amateur craftsman, with his saw, plane and jack knife, will be able to work it out from start to finish, and that at a total cost of hardly one dollar.

Start the construction with the baseboard, taking particular care to get the "end" wood smooth and perfectly flat. Next prepare the two 5-in. blocks, and after trimming them up to size, accurately mark off the positions of the four mortises for the ends of the four corner posts. These four posts should now be smoothed up, cut to a length, and a tenon formed on each of the ends to fit the mortises already made. Four little mortises should then be cut in each of the posts to receive the ends of the eight crosspieces to which the small vertical slats are attached. Fit the top and bottom blocks and the four corner posts all together, and determine the exact length of these crosspieces, which should then be gotten out and tenoned to fit the mortises already made in the corner posts. If all these pieces fit properly, proceed with the putting together. Attach the lower block to the base with glue and screws, set in from below. Connect the corner posts with the crosspieces, and fit the latter to the lower block, after which the top block should be placed in position. Use glue and a few small wire nails at each connection. The three slats for each side should now be attached, using a large-headed brass nail at each end. On top of the whole, fit a block measuring ½ in. thick by 3½ in. square, and make the four bracket arms that support the shade, which are then to be fastened with glue and a screw in each one.


Excerpted from Easy-to-Make Arts and Crafts Lamps and Shades by John D. Adams. Copyright © 2005 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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