Lamp shades are frames that typically fit on the top of a lamp and cover the lighting source. They can be made of glass, various fabrics, and different forms of paper. They serve both a decorative and practical purpose that dates back in history by several centuries.
When gas lamps were first introduced, they emitted a light quite different from lights made by gas lanterns or candles. The light was harsh and bright white, and there was also concern about potential exposure to dangerous chemicals from gas and to explosions from lighting gas. The purpose of lamp shades was to protect against potential health issues and also to help filter the light. Early experiments with gaslights in public areas had a tendency to create problems and people often complained of headaches when exposed to them.
Popularity of lamp shades only increased with development of the incandescent light bulb in the late 19th century. Today lamp shades are still used to help diffuse light and reduce glare. Even when using softer fluorescent lights, they may be preferred and a lamp without a shade is fairly informal.
Styles of shades truly vary, and may or not come with purchased lamps bases. One common practice is to sell lamp bases and shades separately. This can be helpful too if a lampshade needs to be replaced, since there are numerous choices to purchase to replace old or dirty ones.
Of course, this is a bit more difficult when the lampshade is made of glass. Some brands like Tiffany® specialize in beautifully and intricately colored glass shades that not only diffuse light but create artwork. While it is possible to get Tiffany® shades repaired if one gets broken, this is a more involved process and expense is high.
Inexpensive shades made in paper or fabric can come in a variety of colors, and color may slightly affect light emitted. Many people choose white or cream-colored lamp shades but others opt of shades with designs, paintings, or prints. Shapes are also variable and include shades shaped like a bell, those that flare out from a narrow top, and cylindrical shades.
Different countries have some preferred styles of lamp shades but it’s fairly easy to find all varieties in most big countries. There are numerous Internet shopping sites devoted to selling lamps and shades. On the other hand, shoppers can find exceptional variety of lamp shades in lighting stores, hardware stores, home improvement stores, department stores, and Big Box stores like Walmart®, Target® and Kmart®.