How to tea stain a fabric lampshade

I bought a sweet yellow ginger jar lamp the other day…

bright yellow ceramic lamp


I loved the color and the base has a beautiful carved wooden detail…

carved wooden base yellow ginger jar lamp


It didn’t come with a lampshade, but I was pretty sure I’d find out at home in my lamp hoarding room studio closet.

I didn’t come up with anything spectacular in my orphan lampshade pile, but the lampshade I used on this project caught my eye…

turquoise lamp spray paint makeover


The shape was just right, but it was a stark, stark white – almost blue-white – which worked great with the turquoise, but not so much for the warm yellow of the ginger jar lamp.

What to do? The shape was right, the proportions were right, it was just that the color was wrong.

So I did what any intrepid DIYer would do – change the color!

The shade is made of fabric (maybe silk? or a silk-poly blend?) and I know that you can stain fabric with tea, so I thought I’d give it a shot.   I thought the tea would mellow the color and give it a warm, antiqued tone.

I brewed up some strong English Breakfast tea (three bags in regular sized cup) and found a pastry brush in my junk drawer:

materials to tea stain lampshade

And I just started brushing it on…

tea staining a lampshade


It covered pretty well – here’s a shot that shows my progress – the left side of the shade tea-stained…

tea stained lampshade in process


You can see how the fabric absorbs the tea in sort of a patchy way, but I didn’t mind too much – I figured it would all even out when it dried.

It took only about 15 minutes to cover it all.  I did both the inside and outside – don’t ask why – I just had enough tea, really, and thought it wouldn’t hurt to cover both sides.

I left it to dry and was sort of surprised at what I found when it was all dry…

tea stained lampshade drips


The color didn’t really even out so well as it dried.   It just sort of dried in these funny blotches where the tea absorbed more deeply in some spots.

AND – even though I covered the whole shade, the bit at the top just below the trim ended up white again – I think the tea actually seeped downward as it dried and left this area without any color at all.

tea stained lampshade closeup

Plus – the interior of the shade has metal webbing that was all white – I didn’t expect that to turn color, of course, but it was interesting to see how starkly it contrasted against the stained fabric.   You can see in this photo how the tea didn’t cover the trim edge well at all.  I swear it looked even when I brushed it on!  How odd…

tea stained lamp interior metal web

So I brewed up a bit more tea and gave it a second coat, which helped somewhat, but still didn’t give it the perfectly even look I thought I’d end up with.  But that’s OK – I think it worked out just fine…

yellow ginger jar lamp


It is a great improvement over the super-white color the shade was before, that’s for sure.

Don’t know that I would do this again – on a scale of 1-10 this rated a satisfaction level 4.

Anyone else ever try something like this?  What made it work (or not!) for you?


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  1. That lamp is so fabulous!!! And great, inexpensive upgrade tothat shade!!!

  2. Found you through Brenda… what a great project… I have done spray painting of bases, but not the shades!


  1. […] That’s my yellow ginger jar lamp – isn’t it pretty?  That photo is from my post about tea staining a lampshade. […]

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