This is a rain lamp. In case you don’t know what a rain lamp is, mineral oil drips down the fishing line creating a beautiful “rain” effect. Add to that the modest Aphrodite, the lush ferns, Grecian columns and top it off with a black light party blub, and prepare to enter a hypnotic trace of dionysian pleasures.
My husband had the smaller table-top version when he was in college, and he was ecstatic when we came across this one at a yard sale. This one is about a foot high from top to bottom of the columns, and hangs on a lovely chain. While it functions, it leaks through the bottom so we don’t keep it full of oil. We found another about a year later and they hang on either side of our patio. We once saw an even bigger one at an estate sale (hanging in a sunken living room, no less!) but sadly it was not for sale.
I used to just collect Atomic 50s artifacts. I graduated into kitsch when I started art directing music videos in the late 80s and especially when I did ” just say Julie”, the (white) Julie Brown’s show on MTV from 89 – 91. there was no budget so almost everything came out of my house and whatever I did spend money on I was allowed to keep in lieu of a salary. I immediately ran out and got one of these oil lamps.
I found it at a thrift shop, this exact one, and loaded it into my van for the ride home. As soon as I got out of the van I knew something was dreadfully wrong. As I opened the hatchback, oil started pouring out everywhere. Unbeknownst to me, the lamp was fully loaded with oil that I’m sure had not been changed since 1960. it was everywhere as the ride home was at least 45 minutes long and I’m sure the lamp tipped over as soon as I pulled out of my parking space.
The lamp ended up costing me $550 though the asking price at the thrift shop was $7. I had to change the carpets they were so rancid. so although I still see this as a thing of beauty I can’t help but think of my poor van…
My favorite part of these lamps are the little drops of oil shimmering down the strands of fishwire.
Wow! We suffered an oil spill early on, but thankfully after we got home and on a hidden corner of some indoor-outdoor carpeting.
There’s a fully functional one of these at our local tiki bar – Forbidden Island – here in Alameda. Theirs is a table-top model which they’ve done up in tiki style with a grass skirt around the base and a thatched roof over the top. Perhaps the mai-tais enhance the effect, but the “rain” is mesmerizing!