Beaded Lamp Shades
A variation on glass lamp shades is the beaded lamp shade which consists of decorative beads either hanging or dangling on the rim of the shade or arrayed in interesting designs on the outer surface of the shade itself. In both cases the beads adds a touch of retro to the shade, which some people enjoy or perhaps find more consistent with the other decorative elements of their home. They are also associated with Victorian style shades which came at the turn of the 20th century with the spread of utility-powered lighting.
Suitable for Many Shades
Beads can be added to almost any kind of lamp shade, including square shades, cylinder shades, cone shades, and even Tiffany-style shades. They are not restricted to desk lamps either. For example torchiere glass lamp shades may have trim, a specimen of which can be found on the site Overstock. The key is having beads that match the glass coloration. Very colorful beads do not go well with plain glass, nor do clear, plain ones go well with vibrant red, blue or green glass shades.
Trim or Cemented
When the beads are hanging off the edge of the shade, it is commonly known as trim. They may be strung together with nylon cord, but another style of being strung together with a thin chain is also common. The chain adds a little extra character, heft or weight to the shade. Such chains (and the accompanying beads) may be made of brass or other metal that has a nice, distinctive sheen to it. Less common are beads that are attached via an adhesive, perhaps glue or cement, onto the surface of the shade. These are known as cemented shades.
The beads are made of many kinds of materials, most commonly plastic, brass, crystal, and glass. However, the definition is often stretched as even fabric shades with little knots that dangle off the rim are called fabric beads. Glass ones are one of the most desired because they enhance the quality of the light. A glass lamp shade is already one that deeply alters the quality of the transmitted light, so the effect of translucent glass ones that catch the light is highly complementary. Specialized glass known as fire-polished crystals are also available, famous for their faceted nature and ability to catch the light.
The highest quality lamp shades are hand-fired and blown, in the same way that the best beaded shades are hand-made or hand-strung by artisans. Do a search online for made-to-order Vitorian shades and you will find that it is possible to design a unique item for your home. In fact, for hobbyists and enthusiasts, do-it-yourself kits are available so they can put their own designs on the shades. Associated with these kits are videos and instruction manuals that elucidate the nuances of hand-craft art. But whether or not these look good is really going to depend on the skill of the hobbyist!
An excellent book on the subject is Conner's "The Beaded Lampshade Book" which details many styles and methods for adding beading to lamp shades. The book includes shades that are constructed entirely from networks of woven beads which are at the extreme end of ths art form. These projects are not trivial due to the substantial time needed to develop the hand and to manipulate and put together, as well as the investment needed for the materials.