Lamp Shade Types

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When you are looking for a replacement shade the options can sometimes seem confusing. This guide is not exhaustive, but through it we hope to answer most questions.

There are a number of “types” of shades used on lamps, and as hanging shades. The two main categories are “hard back” or laminated shades, and “soft back” or handmade fabric shades. From the outset it needs to be said that all lampshades are “hand made”, the laminated shade has a high level of machine work in its construction, but is still constructed and finished by hand.

Laminated Shades are the more popular shade type, offering a contemporary look. Typically, a laminated shade is straight sided (the top and bottom measurements are the same) or tapered (the top dimension is smaller than the bottom).

The most common construction for a laminated shade is a fabric bonded to a card or poly backing, glued to a wire frame. The edge of the shade is typically “rolled” around the wire (called a rolled edge) or a “cuff” of the fabric is made and attached to the bottom edge (called a cuffed edge). The majority of our laminated shades are “rolled edge” as we think this looks the neatest.

Handmade or soft-back Shades are the other main category of lampshades we offer, and are by and large more traditional. The standard, most simple, shape is usually referred to as the “empire” shade. This shade is a simple “waisted” shade made from panels of fabric, cut on the “bias” and sewn together to form the shape of the shade. This is stretched over the frame, sewn or glued into place. Most of these shades are lined, and have a “cuffed” edge. The straight “empire” shade can be given a different look with a scalloped frame.


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