Stiffened Yarn Light Shade

Stiffened Yarn Shade

Modern decor is definitely on the upswing! The use of simple forms and shapes is popular in furnishings and even more exciting as lighting. I am a designer at heart and especially enjoy when I can control most aspects of the final design. The sphere shape is perfect and makes a great light shade. Follow along as I show you how I made a new light for a special person.


The materials needed for this project/tutorial:

  • string or yarn of desired thickness ( I used baby weight yarn)
  • stiffening agent (I used Mod Podge Stiffy)
  • pendant light kit (similar to this)
  • blow-up/inflatable beach ball or inflatable bouncy ball


How to Make a string/Yarn light shade:

Be prepared; it’s a messy job! Blow up you form (I used a beach ball) as it was the largest deflatable sphere I could find. I suppose you could also use a yoga ball! Balloons tend not to be perfect circles.  Check out your socket size and check if it will allow replacement of bulb through the hole. If not, you could plan to have an extra “hole” near the top for bulb replacement or an open bottom.


To make sure that the form becomes stiff enough, you want to make sure that it has enough of the stiffener, therefore soak and squeeze to saturate the ball of yarn. It is best to wear gloves and have a protected work surface.

Do not lose the end of the yarn or string! Make sure the valve is accessible where shade the opening is planned.


Wrapping The String:

My socket from an old light is tested for size. Then just start wrapping… and wrapping and trying to cover areas that are thin. It becomes a bit like juggling, turning and balancing and keeping the yarn from getting too “off-center”, as this will make it slide off.

Add more stiffener to the bowl to saturate the yarn if needed. If it gets too gloppy, run the yarn through your fingers as you wrap to get rid of excess. It’s a bit of trial and error. To keep string from sliding off wrap around the widest circumference/diameter of the ball, and slightly shifting to fill the spaces of the shade.

I thought I had enough and let it dry. Find a bucket or bowl that supports the ball without flattening or “denting” it while it dries.


Make sure it is bone-dry and test for stability. If you do not want to see the bulb through the shade you will need to be more dense with wrapping and this also adds strength.

I was really worried that it wasn’t strong enough, so I added a brushing of stiffener after it was dry and let it dry again. Last thing you want is a “dented” light!


All dry!

When all is good and stiff, it’s time to deflate! Another reason to make sure it’s good and hard… SOpen the valve & squeeze out the air…


…until it can be pulled out. I cleaned up the opening hole with some cutting/trimming and sewed my ring into place with the same yarn.

Some sockets have a ring to hold them tight. In a pinch, 5 minute epoxy is a great way to stabilize and attach the hardware. Make sure to choose light bulbs that are bright enough. The cord length will depend on your own situation for the light fixture.


Some sockets are able to swag and plug into the wall. You may have the option of a few pendant lights. I had my favourite electrician wire it into the ceiling junction box. It looks great! I bought the largest wattage LED bulb, it looks and works great! ‘And especially with the modern decor. This light works perfectly with the DIY modern Pendulum Art and also the Mid Century Modern furniture Up-cycles.

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    1. I used an existing plastic part that is shown in the earlier pictures. The ikea ones are readily available so I did not want to confuse people. Whatever light kit you get will need to be planned into the form and hole.They can be ‘sewn’ in or even epoxied in afterward, all depends on the shape.