The Best Bulbs

If you think buying a bulb is simple, stop by Sunlan Lighting (3901 N Mississippi Ave) and prepare to be proven wrong. It’s Portland’s best—and most fun—lightbulb shop.

Here are some basic lightbulb tips for handmade shades from owner Kay Newell:


Traditional incandescent bulbs have the warmest light, but if you go this route, stay below 40 watts with homemade shades. The bulbs’ filaments (which produce the light) can heat up enough to melt the glue and diffusion gel, plus the UV will fade your images. These bulbs are quickly becoming obsolete because they’re so energy-inefficient. But they are the cheapest.


Halogen bulbs produce a much cooler, starker light than incandescent bulbs. They last about three times as long as incandescent bulbs and emit less heat, but they are more expensive, and Newell warns that the high UV level can fade paper or fabric.

Compact Fluorescent

CFLs use less wattage to produce more light and expend between 60 to 70 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs. They can last up to 10 to 15 times longer, as well. (CFLs do contain mercury, though, so be sure to dispose of them properly. Visit to find centers in the Northwest.) Newell warns that they still produce UV rays, so they will fade your shades. She also recommends paying attention to the Kelvin rating: 2700 Kelvin will look like a standard bulb; 4100K will be a cooler light; and 6500K will produce light similar to daylight.


Newell says your best bet with homemade shades is to use Xenon bulbs, which create a pure white light and produce no UV, so they won’t fade your materials. Plus, they last longer and burn cooler than halogen and incandescent bulbs. Sunlan carries them in sizes ranging from 3 to 13 inches tall.