Fairy Lamp Newsletter

Issue XI, May 1999


Light your Lamps by Jim

As many of you know—hopefully, not from direct experience—lighting your fairy lamps can be risky at best. A lighted candle, even for a few minutes, can quickly turn your prized fairy lamp into a disaster.

Heat cracks are very common and if you are like me the first place you look in determining the quality of your fairy lamp purchase is around the top opening. This is where most heat-related cracks occur. Since they often do not extend all the way down, (some form what I call a "J" crack) they are very difficult to see, especially in intricate art glass designs. So, the question is, how do you enjoy seeing your fairy lamps as they were intended to be seen without the risk of ruining them? Let me offer the following.

To me the best solution is to create light with no heat. Of course, that leads you to a battery operated "candle." The problem comes in designing one that will fit comfortably within the lamp cup. The fairy-size poses no problem but the pyramid size is a different story. That is where I need your help.

Following is my first attempt to produce a battery operated "candle" for fairy-size lamps.

BatteryLamp2.jpg (59384 bytes)

As you can see, it a relatively straight forward and is easy to fabricate with readily available and cheap materials:

The light bulb, socket, battery connector, and battery can be found at any Radio Shack. The container, in this case, is the top of a can of Pam. Almost anything will do as long as it is the right diameter to hold the battery and fit into the fairy-size lamp cup.

Fabricating one to fit the pyramid-size has been problematic. I have yet to find a battery small enough with enough amps to light a small bulb. I have tried several combinations with no luck. If any of you have any ideas, please let me know.

So, with my "new invention" in hand, Pat and I spent an entire evening sitting around the kitchen table lighting our lamps—many for the very first time. Needless to say, they were spectacular. Especially, those few examples I have in Burmese. It is easy to understand why they were so popular after you see them lit.

In the course of lighting our fairy lamps, one in particular produced surprising results.

This fairy lamp, referred to as "contemporary", Gunderson Peachblow, or less likely "Mount Washington Peachblow" in various publications, produced a bright red when lit.

Gunderson2.jpg (16134 bytes)

View of the bottom of the dome showing the three layers.

The three layers of glass in the dome cause this surprising coloration. The two outer layers carry the shading pink/salmon to white and the inner layer is deep pink. The base, on the other hand, did not produce the red color. It apparently does not have the inner red layer.

Now that you know how to light your vintage fairy lamps safely, can you imaging a table set with a lighted decorated Burmese epergne with perhaps six or seven fairy lamps? It would be spectacular!