Rain lamps are very attractive pieces of artwork that impart an atmosphere of serenity and grace to their surroundings. In this HomeQuicks article, we shall learn how a rain lamp works, its making, its maintenance, and more.
When you fill oil into the lamp, make sure that you use only mineral oil or paraffin oil, as other types can get rancid very soon, or they may stop the pump from functioning correctly.
Often confused with swag lamps, rain lamps were decoration accessories that were very popular during the 1960s and 1970s. They served the same purpose as a lava lamp. If you do find one, it will most probably be a vintage piece, and their rarity makes them quite valuable to collectors. Let us look at some more information regarding this beautiful item.
Although the variety of rain lamps was very vast, the most common ones usually had a metal top and base, between which a net of fishing line filament was threaded firmly. The holders usually had 3 metal rods to hold the lamp’s structure, and the lamps came in beautiful shades of gold or silver. The lamp may or may not have had a sculpture, usually Aphrodite, surrounded with plastic leaf foliage.
The lamp may also have had electric lighting. The oil rain lamps had an inbuilt electric pump in the base, that would pump oil over the strands of filament, which gave the illusion of rain falling in slow-motion.
HOW TO MAKE A RAIN LAMP
Finding a rain lamp is rather difficult, and because of its rarity, you might find buying a good one to be expensive. With a little creativity, and the right materials and tools, anyone can make a beautiful oil rain lamp.
- Metal jars, 2 (with screw-on lids)
- Hook and bolt, 1(with a compatible nut)
- Metal pipes, 3 (width depends on the size of the lamp)
- Metal epoxy adhesive, 1 (strong quality)
- Knockout/Stud punch, 1 (for making holes in metal)
- Metal flashing strips
- Paint (select as many colors as you desire to paint your lamp with)
- Fishing line (thin)
- Washers (plastic/rubber)
- Aquarium pump, 1 (with or without lighting)
- Statues or foliage (depending on your creativity)
- Mineral oil
- Glue (liquid)
- Flexible tubes (plastic/rubber)
- Electric Drill, 1
- First, you will have to prepare all the parts that are needed to create the oil rain lamp. So, use the drill to make small holes close to the outer edge of the screw-on lids of the metal jar. These holes will be used to thread the fishing line filaments, so make as many holes as the number of strings you want for your lamp. Your job of preparing the lamp will be much easier if the drilled holes on both lids are symmetrical.
- Next, make a larger central hole that can hold the hook and bolt at the bottom of one of the jars. Fix the hook and bolt to the jar with the nut and the metal epoxy adhesive. This jar will be used as the top of the lamp, and the hook will be used for hanging the lamp.
- Make 3 holes in each lid as wide as the metal pipes, in the shape of an equilateral triangle. Make sure that the holes in both lids are symmetrical to each other.
- If you plan on having a light in your oil rain lamp, use the knockout or stud punch to make a hole in the center of the lid, belonging to the top jar. Glue the light to the hole, on the inside of the lid so that the bulb is visible only in a subtle way. You will also have to use the metal epoxy to attach the metal flashing strips to the light as a protection from any oil leak.
- To make some space for the power cord of the oil pump, you need to drill a hole in the side of the bottom jar.
- Using the metal epoxy adhesive, fix the ends of the metal pipes to the top of the lids.
- Now would be a good time to paint the jars, lids, and pipes, as you want. Ideally, to get a vintage look, gold or silver paint are good choices. Let the paint completely dry before moving onto the next step.
- Next, thread the fishing line in the holes. Moving bottom to top and vice versa, you will eventually have a mesh of the fishing line. Make sure that the line is taut between all the holes, and tie the ends using the washers so that the sting does not slip back out.
- The power cord for the pump and light should be pushed through one of the metal pipes, from top to bottom.
- Ensure that the flexible pipe used for the outflow of the pump is properly connected, and push the loose end into another metal pipe to the bottom. Now you can fix the top jar to its lid.
- Push the power cord for the pump in the hole at the side of the bottom jar. Use some metal flashing strips and the metal epoxy, to seal the hole to avoid oil leaks.
- Fill the jar with enough mineral or paraffin oil so that the pump is completely submerged.
- Now, to finish off the decorative touches, carefully glue down all the statues and foliage, etc., without disturbing the threading.
- Your oil rain lamp is almost ready. Hang the lamp, and turn on the power source to get the lamp running. You may have to change the flow settings of the pump to get the oil droplets to flow at the speed you want.
HOW TO CLEAN AND REPAIR A RAIN LAMP
Cleaning an oil rain lamp is fairly easy, you only need to perform the following procedure.
- Carefully dismantle the lamp, without causing any damage to the parts.
- Discard all the oil, and using a metal cleaner, clean the metal parts using a rag and the cleaning fluid.
- The foliage and statues needs to be washed with water and soap. Be careful that no water or oil goes onto the electric components, during this entire process.
- The fishing line holes should be unclogged with the help of a needle, while the strings should be wiped well with an absorbent paper napkin.
You can now reattach all the parts of the lamp, and fill it with fresh oil. The lamp will be ready for use. The only rain lamp parts that need servicing or replacement are the bulb, pump, and the fishing line. Over a prolonged period, the fishing line tends to become weak and break, while the oil pump may stop working due to improper oil usage or additives mixed in the fluid. Most spare parts needed can be found in hardware or medical stores, so the repair job should not be too taxing.
- Plastic sheets (large)
- Screw driver
- Light Bulb
- Rain lamp fluid or mineral oil
- Fishing line
- Set up your work area by spreading out the plastic sheets and newspapers, to hold any oil spills. Now, carefully disassemble the parts of the oil rain lamp. Discard the old oil safely.
- To replace a burnt out light, carefully remove the bulb without damaging the threads, and replace it with the new one.
- In case the pump is not working, you need to check if the blade wheel is still turning, when pushed. If this is the case, a good cleaning will fix the problem. Otherwise, the pump will have to be replaced with a new one.
- If the fishing line is damaged, cut the threads with a scissor, and wipe the holes thoroughly with paper. Use the new fishing line to re-thread the lamp the way it was originally.
- Reassemble all the parts, fill the lamp with fresh oil or fluid, and your rain lamp is ready to use.
- It is important to note that no additives such as essential oils is added for fragrance, as these materials may damage the pump.
The price of a rain lamp varies widely. Collectors may buy a good rain lamp for a price of USD 100 to USD 5,000 depending on the lamp’s age, condition, and design. So a rain lamp is not only a cool addition to your home or office, but may also be a good investment in terms of saleability. So go ahead and buy a rain lamp now, or use your imagination to make one at home. Best of luck!