What Are Tiffany Lamps Made Of?


The production process of a Tiffany lamp shade started with a sketch of the proposed design and reproduction on a plaster mold. After the approval of the design by Louis Comfort Tiffany, the artisans transferred it onto a wooden mold for pattern creation using paper and durable brass guides to cut the stained glass.

What followed was carefully selecting the glass for the lampshade from a bigger sheet.

Overall, Tiffany lamps are made of different materials, including:

  1. Stained glass
  2. Copper foil
  3. Bronze and lead
  4. Brass

Tiffany Studios produced several custom-made lamps; the process is more of a combination of factors and materials. If you are staring at a Tiffany lamp in your space, look at it keenly to ascertain its distinctive beauty and innovative techniques. The rest of this article gives a brief history of Tiffany lamps and extensively describes the materials used to make them.

Related reading: How to assemble Tiffany Glass Lamp

The Birth of Tiffany Lamps

Louis Comfort Tiffany started making lamps as a way to use the pieces of scrap from his window manufacturing business.Also, the artisans used color, light, and nature to give greater significance to his work and approach to the Art Nouveau Movement.

After he started producing Tiffany lamps, Louis Comfort Tiffany started designing decorative and unique lamps to allow more people to enjoy art and beauty in their homes.  For example, the Tiffany lamp for bedroom shown below was created to introduce a warm, relaxing and inviting feel to people’s bedrooms.

 Tiffany lamp for bedroom

Tiffany Studios started fabricating lamps in 1885 but started making most of them ten years later. He first introduced the unique lamps for sale in 1899.

Tiffany lamps were manufactured for over five decades until 1933, when Louis Tiffany passed on. However, his designs continue to be honored and treasured in different parts of the world.

The Materials Tiffany Lamps Are Made Of

Tiffany lamps have captivated different people for a long time due to their exquisite nature and elaborate craftsmanship. The lamps are iconic art pieces and are celebrated for their decorated designs and unique shades.

The attractiveness of the lamps lies in their structural appeal and use of high-quality materials and techniques in their production.

Below are the materials that these timeless lamps are made of.

Stained Glass

Tiffany lamps are made of stained glass, a distinctive feature that epitomizes the elegance of the Art Nouveau Movement.The colored glass, depicted in the image below, is central to the allure of Tiffany lamps and contributes to the vibrance that the lamps add to your room.

 The colored glass

The artisans at Tiffany Studios punctiliously chose stained glass in Tiffany lamps and cut it into different shapes to form the elaborate patterns that define them.

The glass used in making Tiffany lamps is comprised of different elements, including:

  • Soda
  • Silica
  • Lime
  • Metallic oxides

The elements of the glass are carefully blended to create stained glass that is strong and translucent.

The artisans at Tiffany Studios employed different methods to create dazzling colors that ooze vibrance and warmth. For example, they mixed metallic oxides into molten glass and applied specialized coatings after cooling it.

The stained-glass pieces used in making Tiffany lamps create the overall design and color variations that give the lamps a captivating visual appeal.Moreover, stained glass allows Tiffany lamps to explore the details and colors found in nature, making them artistic and real.

The stained-glass panels in the lamps create exquisite illumination effects when you light your lamp. The different pieces of glass as shown in the Tiffany floor lamp below, have different colors, allowing light to pass in a way that creates an enchanting and warm experience.  

 Tiffany floor lamp

Copper Foil

Tiffany lampshades are a timeless marvel due to their extraordinary use of colors, beauty, and innovative manufacturing process.

Making Tiffany lamps involves using copper foil to solder different stained-glass pieces. Copper foil or rods are used because they are light and strong and make fusing different glass pieces simple.

After cleaning, the copper foil is applied to the glass pieces to hold the edges together firmly. The foil can be shaped around the edges of the pieces of stained glass.

Using copper foil to join the different pieces of stained glass together gives the lamps a delicate look and gives more room for elaborate designs on the shades.

Also, the foiled glass pieces create stronger lampshades from which artisans can create larger panels with finer details.Copper foil stiffens the artwork and makes it stronger without having to use other materials, such as cement.

Although it was effective to use copper foil in making Tiffany lamps, the process was labor-intensive for artisans at Tiffany Studios. The intensity of the process contributes to the high prices and high value of the lamps.

Over the years, the use of copper foil has been refined to include the use of high-quality copper for improved designs and exceptional quality of the lamps.

The artisans at Tiffany Studios used innovative processes for assembling the stained-glass pieces. The process entailed soldering the seams of copper foil and putting the small pieces of glass together for a sturdy and perfectly coherent structure.

The soldering process requires a skilled set of hands to ensure the even application of the solder and secure the joints without blotting out the beauty of the stained glass.

Bronze and Lead

Tiffany lamps introduce a classical element to your home. Tiffany lampshades and Tiffany lamp bases complement each other to bring out the excellence and perfection of the lamps.

There are endless combinations of lampshades and lamp bases that you can try out for your space.The bases of Tiffany lamps are constructed using metals such as brass, bronze, and lead. The choice of metals adds to the functional and aesthetic value of the lamps.

The base has the lamp's electrical components and enhances its stability by giving it a solid feel.Below is an image of the base of a Tiffany table lamp.

 Tiffany table lamp

In the earlier years after establishment of Tiffany Studios, the bases of the lamps were hollow to minimize the quantity of bronze used because of its high cost. The artisans placed a heavy ring of lead in the base to support the weight of the lampshades and improve the lamp's overall stability.

You could see the lead used in making your lamp by lifting the base cap.The artisans exhibited excellent craftsmanship by designing the base of most Tiffany lamps to reflect the motifs and patterns on the lampshade and create a visual unity in your space.


The finial of your Tiffany lamp is most likely to be made of high-quality brass. The brass gives your lamp a long service life and adds to the its decorative accent.You are most likely to have a finial added to the top of the lampshade of your Tiffany floor lamp and other Tiffany-style lamps.

The finial on your lamp serves practical and decorative purposes; as such, it secures the shade to the base and enhances its overall beauty.Just as different elements of Tiffany lamps complement each other, the finial also complements your lamp's theme.

For example, if you have a dragonfly Tiffany lamp, the finial will likely be designed to complement the dragonfly theme shown below.

 dragonfly Tiffany lamp

Other than the materials, the Tiffany lamp’s structural design elements also set them apart.

Below are the distinctive structural aspects that make the lamps unique.

  • Stained glass artistry
  • Wide array of designs
  • Various shade shapes
  • Detailed decorative metalwork
  • Dynamic illumination effects


The process of making Tiffany lamps is a highly skillful and labor-intensive endeavor. It requires an extensive understanding of the materials used, techniques, and Louis Comfort Tiffany's design maxims.

The different elements combine to produce an extraordinary artistic phenomenon that is not bound by time and continues to captivate users.

The harmonious use of materials characterizes the process that created a masterpiece that has made an indelible mark in art and design. It continues to inspire different artisans to delve into different possibilities of artistic use of light, color, and glass.

The seamless combination of the different materials is strong evidence of the creativity and skills of Louis Tiffany and his team at Tiffany Studios. And the output is a reminder of the high level of innovation and craftsmanship of the legacy that continues to characterize present-day decorative arts.

Leave a comment

All blog comments are checked prior to publishing
You have successfully subscribed!
This email has been registered
Recently Viewed