Lampshades serve a purpose beyond mere illumination; they are decorative elements that shape the aesthetics of a space. While fabric is a common material for lampshades, paper is another fascinating option with a rich history.

A rich history of paper lampshades

Paper lampshades can be traced back to the first century AD in China, where they began as paper lanterns. In Japan, similar lanterns have been used since the 11th century, often featuring a bamboo structure with shades made of silk or paper adorned with painted illustrations or symbols.

Although paper lampshades lost their popularity during the Victorian era in favour of elegant fabrics, they saw a resurgence in the 1940s and 1950s. Decorative lampshade-making during this period utilised materials like old parchment, manuscripts, and deeds. Today, paper lampshades are regaining popularity due to their unique charm and ability to enhance any space.

Choosing the right paper lampshade

Not all paper lampshades are the same, and considering the following factors will help you select the perfect piece:

  • Type of paper and thickness - The appeal of paper lampshades lies in how they diffuse light, an effect influenced by the paper's type and thickness. Lighter and more translucent shades result from lower grams per square meter (GSM) paper.
  • Designs - Paper's adaptability allows artisans to explore various styles in designing lampshades, from block printing to folding, paper cutting, marbling, painting, and illustration. Denser patterns mean less light passing through, while techniques like paper cutting create unique lighting effects.

Durability considerations

Despite their beauty, paper lampshades can be prone to damage. If torn, they may be challenging to repair. Those seeking a more robust option might prefer lampshades made of high-quality fabrics.

Looking for your ideal lampshade?

India Ink offers a broad selection of fabric lampshades featuring 100% Indian cotton fabrics skillfully fitted to metal frames. These colourful, high-quality lampshades provide a timeless and elegant appearance. Shop online or visit our location at Ferndale Nurseries in Cape Town.


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