Candle Shades

Candle shades



Use candles and silk or paper candle shades to light a room, especially when entertaining, to give the most light without casting shadows.


The making of decorative lamp shades was a favorite women’s pastime in the late Victorian era.  When electricity was introduced at the end of the nineteenth century, many called it a “fad” and found that the strong light cast shadows.  Using lamps with shades was a preferred method of lighting a room – especially when entertaining – to give the most light without casting “unbecoming” shadows.  As the craze for decoration took hold, these decorative lamp shades were quickly imitated in miniature for the adornment of fairy lamps and candles.  These candle shades were made of both silk and paper – some in the shape of flowers, others in silk fitted over a frame with an over-frame of filigree silver.

lamp shades

Many were ornamented with lovely paintings, glittering jewels, fluffy laces and clusters of ribbon or artificial flowers.  Candle shades were used with a small inner shade or chimney of some material like isinglass or asbestos – something that was not inflammable, thus eliminating the danger of the shade being burned. They were a charming decoration when softly shading the candles for the banquet table, ball room or on any occasion where an effective light was desired.  Women who entertained a great deal kept a number of different designs on hand, so that they could change the decorations of their tables at any time.


lamp shades


The above illustration depicts a rose pink candle springing from a half opened cluster of ferns in shining silver which contrasts well with the deep pink of the silken shade. The candle holder is securely attached to the oval fernery which forms the base. The flower holders on either side are of deep rose colored Venetian glass with silver standards. The shade shown is perhaps one of the easiest to manufacture, and may be of crepe paper or silk.  Ice crêpe is also very pretty for this style of art work as it is very crinkly and has almost an accordion pleated effect.  When transparent fabrics such as chiffon or mousseline de soie are used for the shades, they should be mounted on very thin Bristol board cut circular in shape and joined in the back by tiny brass nail-heads.

lamp shadesHere is a charming little Empire standard and shade in a simplistic design.  The standard is of porcelain, creamy in tint like the Royal Worcester china, and the decorations, which are slightly raised, consist of Napoleonic wreaths, bow-knots and   heads.  The raised work is tinted.  Sunk in the standard is a nickel receptacle for ferns, and to the bottom of this is secured the filigree silver candle holder. The shade used in this instance is accordion-pleated yellow mousseline de soie decorated with garlands of hand-painted flowers in water colors and finished top and bottom by a ruche of deep cerise mousseline.

The shade is mounted on a Bristol-board foundation. When painting the chiffon or mousseline de soie, it is well to have it pleated first, and paint it afterwards by stretching the fabric out straight and pinning it to an inverted pasteboard box or lid; thus the material is literally suspended in the air and may be painted with ease and rapidity. If done in water colors it will dry quickly, and as soon as removed from the box will regain its pleated condition.  The third view shows a very pretty and ornamental affair. The fernery or flower-holder is of silver; two dainty little bisque cupids perch on the brink and the base, which is also of silver. The candle-holder in the center is entirely concealed when the bowl is filled with ferns or flowers. A very quaint little shade decorates the candle.  It is finely wired top and bottom; and then mounted on a wire frame. The material used is Nile green China silk decorated with a trimming of tiny silk balls.


A shade of bristol-board covered with shell-pink petals made of French tissue paper, crinkled and pasted one over the other until it resembles a flower in full bloom. The ruche at the top is held in place by a satin ribbon simply knotted in a bow at one side.

This is a decidedly rich and effective candlestick and shade. The candle holder is of silver arranged in a leaf-like form and crowned by a shade of Moorish design. It is made of satin covered cardboard painted in a scroll design and thickly set with small imitation gems.  The fringe ornamenting the edge is composed entirely of crystal beads in every imaginable color.

The butterfly is an especially pretty design for an Easter candle shade. Four cardboard butterflies joined together by their wings and mounted on a wire frame form the shade. The wings are painted and set with mock jewels and the bodies are of bits of cotton wool covered with satin.

Another new and brilliant little shade is the one made of crepe paper neatly inserted in brass frames and decorated with dainty little Japanese figures of rice paper.  Gay bows of yellow satin   ribbon securely hold the sections in place.  This shade is mounted on a frame similar to those used for lamps.

The single candlestick is of wrought iron and brass. A shade of bright scarlet satin set with different colored jewels and outlined with gold thread, makes a glittering and appropriate capping for the bright red candle, which is securely held in place by the brazen tail of the diminutive dragon.

Above is an extremely dainty candle-holder of bisque. The shade is of rose-colored silk.

 From The Standard Designer, 1897