DIY superhero lampshade: inspired by Graham & Green birdcage lamp

If you read my first ever blog post of our downstairs toilet makeover you probably saw a glimpse of my DIY birdcage lampshade, inspired by Graham and Green’s bird cage lampshade. The original was designed by Mathieu Challières and comes with the designer price tag of £495, they can also be found in The Conran Shop, and Graham & Green for a princely sum too. Luckily this style of lampshade is perfect for a DIY and that is exactly what I did here.

Today however,  I wanted to show you something rather more original/fun that I designed myself (dont worry it wont cost you £495…)
Last Autumn my twins had turned three and were ready to transition from cot beds in their shared bedroom to separate boy/girl rooms with single beds. I asked them their opinions of what they wanted their rooms to be like when they were older, and then covertly redecorated their new rooms over two days. Alas, Max never quite got a lampshade as I could not find anything inspiring that would fit his personality/style and thus he had a bare bulb-a-swinging for months!


Pretty cool eh? I thought so and so did the little man in my life. You dont need much to be able to make one of these. I also make (and the birdcage lamps) them so if you would rather just buy one please get in touch.

What you need :-

A redundant lampshade – best type for these are with parallel sides (not tapered) as it makes wrapping the mesh easier/neater looking. I found a tired two tier shade in one of Deal’s many excellent charity shops for under £5.

Wire Florist  Mesh – I used this – Amazon £7.00 + p&p

Sandpaper – fine grit, I already had this but you can pick it up for a few pence per sheet at a local DIY store.

Primer Spray Paint – I already had some but you can buy at B&Q/Amazon/Ebay for around £5

Spray Paint – I already had a red one but you can buy at B&Q/Amazon/Ebay for around £5

Superhero figures – I already had the figures and they are around 9 cm tall. You can find them in most toy stores or ebay. £5-10

Needle nose pliers

Wire Cutters

Glue gun – if you haven’t got one just buy one, you wont regret it. I have this one   £7

Nylon threadhere  £1.75

Basically you need to rip any existing material from the exsisting lampshade you have chosen to use. This often leaves a gluey gunk on the wire rings you will have remaining after the fabric demolition . I used soap and water and a good sanding to remove this residue, leaving the rings nice and clean/smooth.
Once my top and bottom rings were clean I unrolled the florists mesh and bent it around the circumference of the hoop until it over lapped where it met.  I then carefully snipped the required length ensuring I allowed  enough overlap  to use the raw edge wire to wrap around the other raw edge to close the gaps and fix the cylinder together.

I then snipped the mesh to my desired height, again allowing for using the bottow and top squares as wrap over to fix in place at the bottom where the rings attach. Then using the pliers I  cut the first strip of wire off to allow me to use the raw edge to wraps around the hoop to secure in place.

I worked around the perimeter of the hoop, making sure the wires I twisted were as tight and neat as I could manage. Be careful, the spikes of the raw mesh are needle sharp (I stabbed myself several times!). Clothing can also get snagged so perhaps wear old clothes unless you are super careful. (I would recommend wearing gloves).

Once the top hoop was secured to the mesh and I was  happy with the shape/fit I carefully repeated the technique on the bottom hoop carefully closing the join on the long side as I went. As my shade was a double tier clearly I repeated this twice.

Thats the fiddly hard part done!


Next up you will need to prime the wire work especially if the hoops are plastic coated wire to help the real paint adhere to the structure.  Short blasts of spray primer are best, keeping the nozzle about 30cm from the object to avoid drips. I did this outside on a dry day, by laying the rings on cardboard, waiting for each light coat on one side to dry and then turning them over. You don’t need a heavy coat for the primer, just an even one.


Once the primer is dry you can get to the fun bit and get your coloured spray. I had red to hand and I applied two light coats to mine which covered well, again keeping the nozzle of the spray the recommended distance from the wire. Below you can get a better idea of how the wires are attached as I didn’t take any photos of the wrapping process (I didn’t plan on blogging about this)


Okay,  so once this stage is over,  leave the newly sprayed lampshade to dry and cure for as long as you can, or as long as the tin stated is required. In my case this sat like this for two weeks waiting for the time to move to the exciting bit.


I didnt know I would start a blog a this stage, sorry, there are only a few pictures to document how I made this; basically for the fun step I took my little superheros and mocked up where I wanted them positioned for battle. I tried to make the characters  seem to interact with one another and varied their levels and body positions. Once I was happy with all that faffing, I used my hot glue gun to glue the characters in place with blobs of glue on the soles of their feet and in their little fists which grasp the wire mesh quite nicely too. Captain Americas’ shield and Thors’ hammer were also glued in place to save them falling out of their hands later in life. I hope you can see, but Superman there is actually suspended in flight …this was achieved by carefully threading the invisible nylon thread around his body and neck and then fastened to the cross wires in the top ring to fasten him in the typical ‘superman’ pose. It was fiddly but you’ll get there in the end.

 Yes, that’s dust but it helps show you the nylon more clearly ! 😉

I hope you got some lampshade inspiration from either the birdcage lamps or the superhero cage. I would love to see any of  your own takes on this; I think my daughter wants a fairy magic version now too. Watch this space….


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