Vintage Map Lampshade

Have you been on a unique vacation lately that you want to remember? Do you want to update a plain vanilla lamp shade? Guess what, you can do both with this vintage map lamp shade!

Recently I revamped a shade by hot gluing paint chips to the shade. The result was a beautiful ombre lamp that was fun and colorful.

The process to create it was easy, especially because the shade was a perfect cylinder. But, what do you do when you have a cone shape shade? The instructions are a little more complex, but it really isn’t difficult. Come pull up a seat and I’ll show you how I created a warm vintage map lampshade that reminds me of our getaway to Scotland.


  • Lampshade
  • Maps, wrapping paper, or decorative paper
  • Craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • X-acto knife
  • Masking or artists tape (low tack tape)
  • Clear packing tape
  • 2 clothespins
  • Rubber cement
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

To add a vintage glaze you will also need:

  • Paint brush
  • Mod podge
  • Cocoa or dark yellow acrylic paint
  • Metallic antique gold paint (optional)
  • Cup to stir paint in
  • Stirring stick or palette knife

On my last trip to Goodwill, I discovered an old atlas and just knew that I could use it for oodles of projects. As I walked out of the store a flood of ideas came to me (which means you will be seeing this photo more on my blog.)

Start by selecting the pages you want to use. Carefully cut them out along the spine using a fresh x-acto blade โ€” don’t let your blade get dull. (FYI, I end up using a new one for each project. Your cuts are much cleaner when working with a fresh blade.)

Set your pages aside for now.

To make a template for your shade, roll out a large piece of craft paper. Lay your lampshade on the craft paper. Start at the vertical seam on the shade (so you know where to stop) and set your pencil along the bottom edge of the lampshade.

Gently roll the shade on the paper and mark along the bottom edge of the shade.

When you reach the end, reverse your shade and draw along the top edge. At the end, add an inch or two for overlap. Cut along the outlines to create your lampshade template.

Tape the template onto your lamp shade using the low tack tape. Make sure it fits snugly. You may want to trim some excess from the edge of your template. I took about 1/4″ ย off so my map wouldn’t bump at the trim on the lampshade. Plus, I plan to cover the edges with the grosgrain ribbon.

Make sure your template fits perfectly “like a glove” lest you be throwing a temper tantrum later when you realize it doesn’t fit and have ruined your precious map pages. Just sayin’.

Lay out your craft paper template on top of the map pages. Make any adjustments to the pages.

Tape your map pages together with clear packing tape on the inside only.

Trace the template on top of the map pages.

Cut out the shape traced onto your map pages.

Line up your map pages with the lamp shade and clip the edges with clothes pins.

Working in small 8″ sections, brush rubber cement onto the map and the lamp shade. Wait a minute or two for the glues to dry. Then press them together. This is the best way to get maximum adhesion when using regular rubber cement. It creates a stronger bond than just one coat applied and joined while it is still wet.

Continue by gluing another section until you reach the end. To finish the seams on the outside, brush some rubber cement under the seams where your maps meet. Press and hold them down until the glue dries. You can try gluing both sides and letting them dry, but in my experience it wasn’t worth the risk of bending the seams and the pages want to lay together anyway.

Time to give your maps a vintage aged look! Pour some mod podge into an empty cup. Add some of the cocoa colored paint and the aged gold. Mix it up. Test some on a scrap piece of paper. If you like the glaze color, start brushing it onto the lamp shade. Be careful not to use too much of the glaze or the paper will start to wrinkle. (If it does, no worries, some will come out when it dries. The remaining wrinkles make it look old.)

Let the glaze dry.

Cut two strips of grosgrain ribbon the circumference of your lamp shade plus a few inches for overlap.

Hot glue the ribbon onto the top and bottom edges of your lamp shade. (Please, please, protect your fingers, read my hot glue gun safety post before working with hot glue!)

Put your lampshade on your favorite lamp.

And admire your unique lamp shade that brings back fond memories. ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you make one of these, what map would be on yours? Your home state? The place you were born? Where your family’s heritage resides? Or something completely different? I would love to hear from you.

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Brittany, your tutorials are amazing! I love the way you give step-by-step instructions, so clear even a simpleton could follow them. Or a Richella. I NEED clear instructions!

The subject of your tutorials aside, may I say that I really, really like this project! I’m thinking it would be such fun to do this for Jack’s study. Maybe I’d choose maps of Paris to commemorate our 25th anniversary trip. Or Charleston, to commemorate our honeymoon! Cool possibilities!

What a great idea! I love the masculine look about the shade. I think my hubby (a self-proclaimed geography nerd) would love this idea, so I’d probably put maps of his favorite hunting areas. Thanks for turning on my “lightbulb”!

Thank you for this great tutorial, Brittany. I have seen other map lamps and most of them looked a little homemade but I love how you put yours together. It’s more finished and I like how the lamp kind of glows when you the light is on.

I love this! I think I will do this for my bedside lamp, and I will use the UK because I am such a pathetic anglophile. This is such a great idea.

I am in love with this lamp project! I am going to try to make one for my husband’s Christmas gift.
I am wondering what it looks like when the lamp is turned on when the maps are double sided? Does it look to busy with both sides showing through? Thanks so much

This came up on my face book can’t wait to make a map lampshade, I’m planning to do a map of Canada as my father was Canadian so will have seszqtuen, Alberta and all surrounding areas facing front, sadly my dad passed away I never got the opportunity to visit his birthplace,but It’s my dream to go there I’m from the UK, thanku for the instructions regards Terrie ( Teresa )