Cactus lamp

Submitted by Michael Ely June 10th, 2010
Certifikitsch Winner

This water pump cactus lamp is one of several kinds of cactus lamps (including covered wagon lamps) produced here in Tucson, AZ during the 1950’s and 1960’s for tourists. The pump is made from the dried skeleton wood of the cholla cactus, and the lamp shade consists of two translucent photographs laced together, both photos of the beautiful Sonoran desert. These type lamps require a low-watt bulb (so as not to burn the delicate shade) thus giving off a soft warm glow. When I first moved to Tucson 17 years ago, old cactus lamps were easy to find in thrift stores, but nowdays they are quite scarce as more and more people have begun to collect vintage Arizona kitsch.

3 Responses to “Cactus lamp”

  1. Allee Willis

    I love photorealistic lampshades as much as I love photorealistic shirts,which is A LOT.

    The dried cactus base is fantastic and the fact that it’s an object itself, a pump, makes it so much better than just using the dried cactus as a base. And it’s so great that the photo in the shade of cactus. Also fantastic that you have to pull the lever of the pump down in order to pull the light pull chain. Of course, I’m really hoping that as it’s hollow that there’s some way of putting a water vessel in there so the handle really activated the flow of water into the water containers provided on the base of the lamp. I know that’s wishful thinking…