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Upcycle: Make Lamp Shades into Flower Pots

(with RapidSet CementAll ®)

Stephie McCarthy
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We used thrifted lampshades to make marvelous cement flower pots.

before and after

DIY Garden Containers

We loved the results of this experimental project and there are so many styles that make elegant pot designs!

Garden Crafts

Types of Lamp Shades to Use

If you'd like to try this project, we'd recommend looking for shades that are made of fabric so liquid cement can penetrate the fibers, making your planter strong.

Lamp Shades before Cement

So many shapes and styles to choose from on the 2nd-hand market!

Thrift Lamp Shade project

You can see a metal fitter in the center of this shade above. We filled that end of the shade with cement and let the metal fitter be the reinforcement. (The hole was perfect for drainage).

Upcycle a Lamp Shade to a Flower Pot

There are many types of lamp hardware connected to lampshades. You can remove interior hardware from your shade with metal snips … or, you can let plant roots grow through them. Often they will make your pot stronger.

Garden Crafts

Optional: Decorate Your Flower Pots with Rope Trim

To add more detail to these shades, we glued lengths of clothes line around the edges to create decorative ridges.

Repurpose a Lamp Shade

Using a glue gun, the trimming was a very fast process.

Furniture Flip Lamp Shade to Flower Pot

We applied three ridges to the wide end of the shades, and two to the narrow, with a bit of space between each for texture.

Check the most recent price of 50 ft. clothes line rope here —

Concrete on Rope

Because the clothes line is made of fabric like the shade, it will absorb the liquid cement. Even synthetic fabric will absorb enough to stiffen.

Repurpose a Lamp Shade

We used a bit of fabric glue to seal the ends of the trim. 
Check the latest price of Aleene's Fabric Fusion here.

DIY Fabric and Concrete project

After gluing, we trimmed the frayed ends with scissors to make them even smoother.

Close Up of Concrete Project prep

Here are the shades with the trim complete and ready for coating with cement.

Lamp Shades with Clothes Line Trim

Garden Crafts

Tools to have on Hand

• a dowel or plastic rod (like a pen) to make drainage hole

• lubricant (we used petroleum jelly)

• 2" nylon craft brush

• dish washing soap (we used Dawn)

• water mister

• stirring sticks

• disposable gloves

How we the formed drainage holes

A bonus of having a round metal fitter was that it held a plastic pen in place so that we could create a drainage hole. We coated the pen with petroleum jelly so that it would be easy to remove once the cement hardened.

Make an Upcycled Flower Pot

Brushes we used

We used ordinary nylon craft brushes (2" width) to smooth our cement. They can be cleaned and reused, but we simply tossed ours in the trash afterward.

Brushing concrete onto fabric

Check prices of craft brushes here.

check prices of nylon brushes


Keeping cement wet with a water mister

CementAll will begin to harden very quickly, so we work with very small batches and occasionally spray the surface with water — and stir — to keep it workable.

Concrete art project


Garden Crafts

Mixing RapidSet CementAll® for DIY Projects

RapidSet CementAll

Available at big-box hardware stores.


We used RapidSet CementAll® for this project because it doesn't tend to shrink or crack, has no lumpy aggregates, and dries lighter gray than many formulas. We store the cement and concrete in a plastic tubs and scoop only what is needed to make small batches. (We wear a mask when working with dry mixes).

Storing Concrete in waterproof tub

We coat the fabric outside of the lamp shade first, and after is has hardened, we build the interior of the flower pot with a clay, or mud-like, cement.

how to make cement slurry

• 2 cups water

• 1/4 tsp dish washing soap

• about 4 cups of CementAll

We start with two cups of water in a mixing container.

How to Make Concrete Slurry

To make the slurry, add dry cement to the water a little at a time, while stirring.

DIY CementAll project Mixing

Make the mixture the consistancy of latex paint. This will be painted on the outside of the lamp shade.

how to make cement 'clay'

When the fabric of the lamp shade has hardened, we will build the interior of the flower pot witha clay-like mixture.

To make the cement that will be easy to apply to the inside of the lamp shade, we add 1/4 tsp. of dishwashing soap (we used Dawn®) to two cups of water.

concrete clay with soap

We gradually add 7-1/3 cups of CementAll® to the water while stirring until we have a mud-like consistency.

How to make concrete like clay

This mixture will begin to harden quickly. Mist it occasionally with water, and stir, to keep it workable.

Concrete art project

Garden Crafts

How to Apply Cement to a Fabric Lamp Shade

Step 1: Place the lamp shade with  wide end facing down on a waterproof surface.

Step 2: Wet the fabric inside and out with water. We used a clean paint brush.

(if you forget this step, don't worry, the project will still work)

Painting Fabric with Concrete Slurry

Step 3: Hold the shade and work the cement slurry into the fabric with a paint brush.

DIY concrete craft flower pot

Concrete Fabric Planter

Step 4: Coat the inside of the shade, as well.

DIy Concrete Planter

Our shades had inner linings with a small gap between the fabrics. By soaking them with slurry, allowing them to dry, then building the walls on the interior, our shades became strong enough to use as a flower pots.

How to make a flower pot

Step 5:  Allow the slurry to dry for a few days.

Garden Crafts

Building the inside of the flower pots

When dry, a clay-like cement mixture is applied to the inside of the lamp shades. A 1/4 tsp. of dish soap makes the cement easy to shape.

 Clay CementAll® recipe

concrete clay with soap

worksurface for cement crafts

To ensure a smooth bottom to the flower pots, we place the shades on the smooth side of fridge liners before apply more cement.

repurpose fridge liner for a worksurface

This type of plastic is so useful in a crafts room, check the current price for them here.

repurpose: fridge liners for worksurfaces

drainage hole

Plan for drainage in advance. We used a lubricated plastic pen held in place by the lamp hardware. Alternatively, you can push a wooden dowel through the wet cement bottom, after shaping it.

Making the drainage hole

shaping the interior

Step 1: Drop the cement into the bottom of the shade around the drainage spacer

Concrete art flower pot

We wear disposable gloves when working with cement. You can wear two pair, if they are thin.

Step 2: Build the sides of the pot with handfuls of cement, pressing and shaping like clay.

Flower pot craft

Step 3: Mist the interior with water, and smooth into place with a paint brush.

Repurpose: Lamp shades

Continue smoothing the interior.

How to make a flower pot yourself

Brushing creates a slight sandy texture.

If you have  thin areas, mist them …

How to make concrete clay

… and work a small amount of cement into the surface with fingers or thumb.

sculpting with concrete

Let your pots dry for a few days and finish in your favorite colors and effects. We finished ours to resemble antique terra cotta.

Repurpose Lamp Shades

… more on finishing in our video

Watch the Video

Check out our video to see how we blended watered-down paint, a cotton applique, artist's chalk, and linseed oil to create a water-resistant, durable and very rustic terra cotta finish on our new flower pots.

How to simulate antique terra cotta

Make your Own Flower Pots with Cement

How to repurpose lampshades

Garden Crafts

Decorate a Concrete Bird Bath with Lace

Cotton crochet doilies and paint make weather resistant decorations.

Decorate Concrete with Lace

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