Lampshade Buyer's Guide
Match the Lamp Base
Compliment the Base
Lampshade Sizing Rules
Measuring a Lampshade
Choosing the Right Fitter
Choosing the Right Drop
Considering Bulb Heat
Glossary of Lamp Shade Terms
Simple designed straight-sided shades that usually feature a bottom width 3-4 times larger than the top, resulting in a shade that emits most of the light from the bottom.
Distance from the top of the shade to the center of the fitter.
Drum and cylinder shades typically feature vertical or near-vertical sides and differ mainly in their proportions. Drum shades tend to be wider and cylinder shades tend to be taller. In some cases the difference between them is hard to distinguish - a tall drum shade may be similar to a short cylinder shade.
Simple designed straight-sided shade that usually feature a bottom about twice as wide as the top.
A artificial shade fabric with a texture similar to leather, often accented with real or faux leather stitching.
An ornamental decoration made of ceramic, metal, stone, crystal, wood, etc. used to securely fasten the lampshade to the harp.
The metal structure that attaches the shade to the lamp base. The most common type is the Spider Fitter which resembles a spoked wheel and connects to a harp with a finial. A Clip-On Fitter features metal loops allowing the shade to attach on top of the bulb. Larger clip-on shades are designed to attach directly to a standard Edison bulb, while smaller chandelier shades have smaller loops to fit a candelabra bulb. An Uno Fitter is designed with a larger center opening which fits snugly on the socket. Slip Uno Fitters feature a large drop and rest on the socket of a table lamp. Threaded Uno Fitters actually screw on to the socket so it can hang downward, typically on down-bridge floor lamps.
A feature of the thread used to make a lamp shade, where sections of the thread are thicker or more frayed than others. When woven into a lamp shade this produces areas that are a different texture or color. This added dimension of texture is usually most visible when the light is shining through the shade. The degree of flecks ranges greatly from subtle to eccentric. Some shades will feature a second thread for the purposes of adding texture and dimension. Silk and Shantung shades often feature natural flecks or nubbly areas.
Slope-sided shades of varying degrees. Floor shades feature steep sides. Empire shades feature a medium slope and are typically in proportion for table lamps. Coolie shades feature the most gradual slope with a smaller top diameter and wider base, ideal for particular styles of lamps.
The metal structure of a lamp shade which maintains its shape and extends toward the center of the shade in the form of a fitter. The fitter is a part of the frame and in many cases is the only visible part of the frame. The frame is often outlined covered by a trim. Some lamps ship with a collapsible-frame shade where the vertical struts collapse and can be locked in place upon installation, re-expanding the shade.
A vertical/flat band around the top and/or bottom edge of a lamp shade. This can take the form of tassels, beads, crystals, loops, braids, rope, lace or an extension of the main shade. The gallery is usually vertical and sometimes moves freely, but at rest forms a band around the shade, as if a `viewing gallery` or `decorative wall` around the shade. Sometimes a shade will feature a gallery or band around the top of the shade.
A form of braid used to accent the edges of a lampshade. The gimp may also be referred to as braiding, rope, cord or other decorative term. Popular gimp styles feature a figure eight pattern.
A stiff backing applied to the inner surface of a lamp shade to keep its shape over time. During the creation of a hardback lampshade, the fabric is laminated over a stiff but bendable backing material, typically a plastic such as a styrene. The hard backing helps the shade to keep its form, prevents drooping or warping, and extends the life of the shade. With a hardback shade it often becomes unnecessary to use extra metal framework running between the top and bottom of the shade, since the backing maintains the shape. This removes the shadows or blocks to light caused by the presence of vertical framework showing through the shade.
A vertical U-Shaped metal support used to attach the shade to the lamp base. Harps are typically 6-12” high. Changing the size of the harp often helps your shade fit better.
A leaf-like scroll pattern that is printed or embossed into a fabric, used to make a lampshade. `Jacquard` is a classic design having been used for many centuries. Jacquard shades feature leafy-scrolling patterns.
The actual body, typically made of crystal, brass, ceramic, resin, stone, etc. The base is wired with a socket and cord.
Decorative covering, usually fabric, used to diffuse and direct the light from the bulb. A properly chosen shade will enhance the base and bring out its best features without competing with it for attention. (The life of the party can also use it as a hat late on a wild evening.)
An additional surface applied to the inside of a lamp shade, used to filter or reflect light. A reflective lining such as gold or silver helps to reflect light away from the shade surface and focuses it out of the top and bottom. This keeps the outer appearance of the shade the same color and tone as when the light is off. This is useful for dark or black shades that you want to stay dark-looking even when the lamp is on. It also prevents the shade from absorbing some of the light, increasing overall light output. A reflective lining also hides the appearance of a bright-spot from the light bulb, as seen through the shade. Other types of lining include plastic, linen and other fabrics, each with its own degree of diffusing and reflecting light. Some linings allow some light through while also increasing the output through the top and bottom of the shade.
Vertical pipes of material running up the outside edge of a lamp shade. Piping is a hollow pipe made of fabric, usually flattened and applied to the shade surface, but sometimes also made from braids or solid tubes. The piping accentuates the shape of the shade particularly in areas that are flat and void of features. A shade with piping typically features several pipes arranged evenly around the shade, or spaced attractively. Piping can conceal joins in the underlying shade surface and can create surface tension to help maintain the shape of a shade over time.
Where the shade fabric folds back on itself creating a pleat. There are many forms of pleating creating different patterns, pleat sizes, edging and shapes. Sometimes the top and bottom of the side of the shade is stitched into place creating flat pleats, while the pleats may also proceed all the way to the top and bottom creating a sawtooth edge. Pleats can form straight lines or fan designs.
An open-top bowl usually in the shape of a hemisphere and often made of frosted, opaque or colored glass. It sits on the socket along with the harp and causes the light to be deflected, diffused and reflected upwards. The glass is usually frosted/opaque to diffuse the light through the sides of the shade and to direct most of the light toward the ceiling for indirect lighting. It also disguises the bright center of the light bulb to reduce glare and present a more `even` light. Ridges on the reflector spider fitter allows the top of the shade be centered over the bowl and kept from slipping. Reflector bowls usually come with the lamp base.
A small metal cylinder used to raise the shade. Usually 1-2”, a riser screws in to the top of the harp and the shade sits on the riser and the finial screws on top of the riser. Risers are an alternative to changing the harp to properly fit your shade.
The variegated contour of the top and/or bottom edge of a lamp shade. The shape of the scallop suggests the shade material is draped and hanging. Scalloped edges are often offset by fancy trims, tassels and beads.
A heavy lamp shade fabric with a rough nubby surface, made of spun wild silk, rayon or cotton. Non-silk shantung is intended to be an imitation of silk.
The measurement from the outermost tip of the top edge of a lamp shade, to the outermost tip of the bottom edge, on a diagonal and in a straight line. We use the slant height to describe the `height` (length of the side) of the shade. The slant height is easily measured outside the shade, even when the shade is installed, and should be measured in a straight line regardless of any curvature in the shape of the shade. Bell shades are just as easily measured, measuring in a straight line from top to bottom, ignoring the curved surface. (Since most shades do not have vertical sides, it is difficult to get an accurate vertical measurement, usually requires the shade to be removed from the lamp. It is easier and more intuitive to measure the outside of the shade on the slant from top to bottom.)
Metal receptacle at the top of the lamp base that holds the bulb and usually contains the switch. A slip UNO fitter or a harp generally sits beneath the socket.
The shape of a lamp shade when viewed from above or below is typically a circle, but can be other shapes. Oval shades are popular and are wider than they are deep, requiring two diameter measurements for both the top and the bottom to describe their shape. An oval shade adds an extra dimension to your lamp. Shades are also found with square perimeters, rectangles, hexagons, indented/cut-corners and many other styles.
The way that a lampshade is finished and the surface contained around the top and bottom edges of the shade. The trim creates a more pleasing profile, conceals the edges of the main shade materials, highlights the shape of the shade and buffers the edges of the shade against knocks or damage. The trim also hides the metal frame of the lampshade which runs around the edges of the shade. Some shades such as certain types of pleated shades may not have any trim at all, to show off their jagged edges.
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At Dolan Designs we have been dedicated to designing and producing our own unique lighting fixtures and updated interpretations of traditional styles since 1993. What you will find in each and every one of Dolan Designs’ products is an attention to detail that you expect to find only in the most expensive collections.
The reason for this constant dedication is very simple; Patrick Dolan is involved in every step of every product from conception to manufacture.
At LampsUSA & Dolan Designs we believe that a beautiful fixture is the combination of perfect balance, proportion, fit, and finish. To achieve this it takes a singular vision and viewpoint – great fixtures cannot be designed by committee.
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