DIY faux capiz shell lampshade

Capiz shell table lamp

Inspired by West Elm's capiz shell table lamp

Some of you may remember my first faux capiz shell lampshade that I made for Sunset magazine. It was originally inspired by West Elm’s popular capiz shell table lamp. I was going for the mod look, but I didn’t quite pull it off. Plus I discovered, after two years of use, that the colored rice paper fades badly. The white circles still look beautiful, however, so I decided to redo it in all white. I used a different type of thread this time (white polyester instead of clear nylon thread), which made all the difference. Overall this new lampshade is easier, cheaper, and classier than my first attempt—if I do say so myself.

How to make a faux capiz shell lampshade


  • laminated 24-inch by 36-inch sheet of white rice paper (I bought the rice paper at University Art and took it to FedEx Office for lamination)
  • white polyester thread
  • lamp base
  • slip uno top ring (the top ring of a lampshade. I bought a cheap lampshade at Target, then removed the paper shade. The sticky residue came off with lighter fluid.)
  • compact florescent light bulb (for safety’s sake and the earth’s sake)


  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • 3 circle punches: 1-inch, 1-1/4-inch, and 1-1/2-inch sizes (I found these at Beverly’s)


1. You can skip this step: I took apart my old lampshade to salvage the white circles. I discarded the colored circles.


2. First, punch some circles. From experience, I knew I needed 180 circles of each size. Your quantity will depend on the diameter of your shade and the height you want your shade to be.


3. Sew the circles together with your sewing machine. I used a small-medium-large sequence of 18 circles for each strand. Feed each circle through one-by-one. Use your longest stitch length. Let the machine stitch once in between each circle. Backstitch a couple times at the first and last circle in each strand. Trim the excess threads.


4. Fold each strand in the middle and drape it over the lampshade ring.


5. Continue to hang all the strands (I made 30) and space out evenly. You’re done!