Things I found in my Pond
And how to paint a lampshade

The weather finally got half decent out over the weekend so I was able to go outside and get a few things done in the backyard.  Up until now it’s been freezing cold and raining.  The first thing I do every year in my backyard is get my pond up and running.  I hook the waterfalls back up, clean out some of the guck and take a look around in it.  There’s always something interesting to be found in a pond.

Things I found in my pond today:

A couppla frogs …




My previously hibernating fish … plus a couple of new ones.

And a lampshade.  Ahem.

An algae covered lampshade at that.  Seems when I was cleaning up last fall, this little baby went rolling into the pond, where the fish got a full season of using it as an underwater shipwreck.   With all that fun down there, no wonder it took them a month longer than usual to come up to the surface.

The shade normally sits on an outdoor floor lamp I have in my backyard.  Normally.  At other times it sits at the bottom of a pond.

Now any normal human being would throw this out.  With a pair of tongs.  I am not normal, and at times I even question whether I’m a full blooded human.

So … I called my sister and the conversation went something like this.

Me:  I stored my lampshade in the pond all winter.  It’s covered in mildew and algae and it smells like dinosaur vomit.  Any suggestions?

Her:  (no reaction to the fact that I was indeed going to salvage the lampshade)  I’d paint it.

Me:  Agreed.

And the decisions was made.  My initial thought was to cover it in MacTac or an outdoor fabric, but the painting thing sounded way more ridiculous so I went with that.  When in doubt, always go for ridiculous.  It’s usually the wiser choice.  Unless you’re thinking of wearing leg warmers.  In which case ridiculous is not the wiser choice.

My entire family collectively believes there isn’t anything that can’t be saved with a coat of paint.  From extra hangover makeup to tarting up a Dollar Store tchotchke … there’s nothing a bit of paint can’t help.

So one trip to the basement later I was on my way.

I needed a primer to cover up the mildew, since mildew (like wood  knots) has a way of bleeding through even 100 coats of paint.

Since my primer was oil based, I needed an oil based white paint to go over it.  (I’d usually use a latex paint for outdoors, but I had to go with oil because that’s what I had.  I find, contrary to what most people think, that latex paints last much longer in outdoor conditions than oil based.)

Step #1

Gently wash the sucker with a bristle scrub brush.

You can see the plastic interior of the shade cracked a bit.  I’m going to ignore that.  Better to ignore it than go buy a $40 replacement shade for a lamp that lives outdoors and is going to get covered in bird crap anyway.

Step #2

Prime it.

I just used a small sponge roller and went at it.  I primed the inside and the outside because both were … well … grotesque.

Step #3

Paint it.

When it was time to paint the shade with my regular oil based white paint, I used a brush as opposed to the roller.  I felt like I could get a better finish with the brush.  Which is both hilarious and ridiculous.  I’m  painting a completely ruined, guck covered fabric lampshade and I’m worried about the “finish”.  See?  Not normal.  I also painted the top brass of the lamp frame because the brass, although in good condition was ugly.  Painting it was going to elevate this lampshade to Architectural Digest proportions.  Yup.

Step 4

Display it with pride.

Granted … at night, because of all the paint, light only shines through the top and bottom of the shade.  Still looks nice though.

I’m not showing you this post because I think you too will drop a lampshade in a pond and leave it there for 7 months.  I’m showing you to prove you can paint things you would never think to paint, and junk can be salvaged.

At least  until it truly is junk.


  1. Daniëlle says:

    Hi Lauren, i am from Holland, and was reading thuis blog with a big smile!
    Thank you for writing how to paint the lampshade
    Greeting, Daniëlle

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