CREATIVE FAMILY FUN: Get creative with cow-print lampshade

By Donna Erickson

Cow-print lampshade and pillows. (Photo by Donna Erickson)

When sprucing up your home for spring, think twice before tossing out a tired-looking, plain-white lampshade and spending money on a new one. You and your school-age kids can brighten it up and give it new life with the miracle of acrylic paint and decorative trim or ribbon.

Dream up and paint any designs you like, or give “cow prints” a try. The black shapes are simple for beginners to draw and paint on a lampshade, plus the fun cow-spot look is versatile for a range of decorating styles. While providing a delightful accent to the most contemporary decor, they also add a fresh pop to an easy country style.

And if there’s a new baby in the house, the spotted lampshade whimsically accentuates a barnyard theme in the nursery. Since newborns are attracted to black-and-white shapes, this shade will be a favorite with baby from the start.


Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Cleaned used or inexpensive standard, plain-white lampshade without pleats
  • Acrylic paint from crafts stores in black or in the color you prefer for the spots
  • Pencil
  • Newspaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Decorative fringe, trim or ribbon to fit around the bottom edge of the shade with a slight overlap.
  • Glue gun


Here’s the fun:

  1. You might want to start the project with your kids by looking at photos of cows, paying particular attention to various sizes and shapes of their spots. Practice sketching a few spots on paper with a pencil. On a newspaper-covered work surface, fill in the practice spots using paint and a paintbrush. Once you get the hang of it, begin sketching and painting on the lampshade, going from top to bottom. Let dry.
  2. An adult should carefully glue the fringe or ribbon in place around the bottom rim of the shade. Let dry. Place on your lamp base.


Extra-bright ideas:

If your kids want to make more cow prints, look around for other decorating items that could be embellished, such as a picture frame, a removable cover of a plain fabric throw pillow, a clay flowerpot or a wastepaper basket.


Donna Erickson’s award-winning series “Donna’s Day” is airing on public television nationwide. To find more of her creative family recipes and activities, visit and link to the NEW Donna’s Day Facebook fan page. Her latest book is “Donna Erickson’s Fabulous Funstuff for Families.”


© 2021 Donna Erickson

Distributed by King Features Synd.