How to Remove Paint From a Glass Lily Shade


A careful touch and the right supplies can help you remove paint from a glass lily lampshade without damaging it. Lily lampshades have a narrow throat and fluted opening that fit over a light bulb in a lamp or light fixture. The delicate and often iridescent lily lamps by Tiffany Glass made this style popular in the late 19th century. Originally, Tiffany's lily lampshades were blown glass. Contemporary lily shades are generally mass-manufactured and are far less expensive than their antique counterparts. Lily glass shades of any age require careful handling to prevent chips, cracks and scratches.

Things You'll Need

  • Small heat-safe container such as an espresso pitcher
  • White vinegar
  • Saucepan
  • Cotton swap
  • Credit card or rubber spatula
  • Rag
  • Pour 1/4 cup of vinegar into a heat-safe container. Bring 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan of water to a simmer. Turn off the burner. Set the container of vinegar in the hot water to warm the vinegar.

  • Dip a cotton swap in the vinegar. Squeeze the swab between your fingers to reduce the moisture. This will ensure the vinegar soaks into the paint without dripping on the rest of the glass.

  • Cover all the paint with the warmed vinegar and let it soak in for 10 minutes.

  • Gently flick or scrape at the paint with a stiff rubber spatula or a credit card. Take care to use a quick motion with light pressure to avoid scratching the lily's finish. If the paint resists removal, carefully apply more warm vinegar and let it soak in again.

Tips & Warnings

  • If there's a large splotch of paint, dab a cotton ball in the vinegar and hold the cotton ball against the paint to allow the vinegar to soak into the paint.
  • Although contemporary latex paint can often be flicked off, oil-based paints might require paint thinner to remove. Paint thinner will strip any finish on the glass shade.
  • If the shade's finish is too vulnerable to remove the paint without the risk of ruining the glass finish, it might be best to replace the shade. Many companies offer replacement lily shades to fit lamps and light fixtures.
  • If there's any possibility that the lily glass shade is an antique, consult an expert before attempting to remove the paint. Attempting to clean or repair antique art glass might cause irreversible damage and substantially decrease its value.
  • It may not be possible to remove paint from some glass lily shades without damaging the finish. Iridescent finishes are especially vulnerable.
  • Although vinegar is generally safe to use on glass, some finishes might react to the acidity in the vinegar. Dab vinegar on the glass in an unobtrusive spot, such as near the base of the shade. Check if any color comes off on the swab, or if there's any change to the finish after the vinegar dries.

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