It may be one of the many vintages from the past, but today we will teach you how to make a rain lamp. The rain lamp was an invention of the late 1960s and early 1970 and gave an illusion of falling rain whenever you look at it.
Rain lamps gave this Grecian or Aphrodite scenery in contrast to the greenery around and were highly desirous in those times.
People like it both for the beautiful decoration it was and the simplicity of the design that was only rivaled by how complex the dripping oil made it appear.
However, the popularity has since withered to almost non-existent so that not a lot of people know of these vintage decorative lamps.
In the case where you know about it and would like to learn how to make a rain lamp, then our guide is just right for you. Herein, you will also learn the different tools you need, the type of oil to use, and the right amount to pour in.
How to Make a Rain Lamp
The first thing to gather when learning how to make a rain lamp is the tools and items you require. You will need the following:
- Two metal jars with working screw-on lids
- An electric hand drill
- A metallic epoxy adhesive such as a JB Weld
- A hook with a matching nut or large eye-bolt
- Metal flashing and a stud punch
- A square of Plexiglas or regular glass that is 2 by 2-inches
- A flashing or half-inch metal stripping
- Three metal rods or pipes with matching nuts
- A thin fishing line
- Aquarium pump or fountain pump
- Plastic or rubber washers
- The flexible plastic or rubber tube
- Paint of any choice
- Liquid blue
- Decorative statuary or foliage
- Mineral oil to light your new lamp
After you have gathered and collected all the items you need, below are the procedures you will need to follow as you begin the journey on making a rain lamp.
Drilling and Punching the Holes
Step 1: Using the electric hand drill, make small holes that are about 1/8 inches wide on the screw-on lids of both ends. This is where you will insert each fishing line for the mineral oil to drip down. The number of holes you drill here will depend on the sizes of the lids, and close together you want your fishing lines to lie.
Step 2: Drill a much larger hole for the hook or large eye-bolt. This hole will be at the center of the top jar of the lamp. Then secure the bolt tightly with a nut and see if it holds well when you try to hang the unfinished lamp. Smoothen out the edges of the newly made hole with the metallic epoxy adhesive.
Step 3: Select three points that form a triangle and drill three holes in those points on the lids. You will need to make the holes wide enough for the metal rods or pipes to fit through. These are what will provide your rain lamp with strength and structure.
Step 4: Use the metal flashing or stud punch to make a hole on the lid that will cover the top jar. Then fit your 2 by 2-inches Plexiglas or regular glass into the hole before holding it in place with some glue spread around the edges of the glass.
Step 5: Using the adhesive or JB Weld, attach the metal stripping to the glass you just prepared in the step above. The stripping prevents oil from getting on the glass by acting as some form of barrier.
Step 6: Drill a final hole for the pump’s power cord at the side of the bottom jar. Avoid making it too low to one side, or your lamp may experience some leakage later.
Turning It into a Rain Lamp
Step 1: Pass the 3 metal pipes or rods through the triangular holes you made on both lids. If the rods or pipes are threaded, you will need to attach the nuts.
Step 2: Apply your chosen color of paint to the lids and pipes now held together. Then paint the outside of each jar with the same color or with a different color depending on your taste.
Step 3: Run the fishing lines through the lids, starting from the bottom to the top. We think the most efficient approach to this is this: once you pass a line through the bottom lid, you hold the lower end of the line with a washer or huge nut, then continue by passing the upper end through the matching hole on the top lid.
Once you reach the top of the top lid, pull the line tautly before passing through the next hole, head down to the bottom lid, and string it through the matching hole. Proceed to thread this way until you reach the final hole at the bottom lid. Then tie the edge with another washer or huge nut to finish.
Remember to pull tautly at each threading to avoid a loose fishing line.
Step 4: String the halogen light through one of the pipes if you intend to use one. It is best to always begin from the bottom to the top and hold in place over the square glass. Place the top jar and then screw it in place.
Step 5: Thread the aquarium or fountain pump through a second metal pipe.
Step 6: Thread the pump’s power cord through the hole you created at the bottom jar and connect it to the third metal pipe. This will enable the excess oil to flow through it and into the reservoir.
Step 7: Pour in the mineral oil through the bottom jar until it fully submerges the pump before placing the pumping unit into the oil. Finally, screw the bottom jar in place.
Step 8: Arrange any decorative statuary or foliage you have where you want them on the lamp and secure them in place with the liquid glue. Finally, hang your new rain lamp and turn on the pump system.
You may require a little experimenting and adjusting of everything, including the flow rate of the oil before you get it right, especially if this is the first step you are learning how to make a rain lamp but, following the above steps, it shouldn’t take you too long to get everything right.
What Kind of Oil is used in Rain Lamps?
The best and most common oil used in rain lamps is mineral oil or paraffin oil, and any other kind of oil, including kerosene or motor oil, can easily get rancid and stop the lamp from working correctly.
Mineral oils are used for their affordability and availability as they are readily found at grocery stores or the pharmacy section of drug stores near you. This will help you avoid the case of using the wrong kind of oils because you couldn’t purchase mineral oil.
Pouring essential oils or vegetable oil into your rain lamp is not advisable as they stick to the insides of the jars and damage the lamp sooner than later.
Using kerosene or other petroleum-based oil types should also be avoided as there are many health concerns when these types of oils are burned indoors.
The beauty of rain lamps also lies in how continuously they stay on lighting up the environment. However, this also means they need a regular supply of oil to stay on.
This means even more exposure to whatever oil you use for the lamp. Using kerosene will therefore pose even more health challenges.
Summarily, using mineral or paraffin oil is beneficial not only for your rain lamp but also for your health.
How Much Oil Do You Put In A Rain Lamp?
You will need to pour in about 2 pints or 32 ounces of oil to fully submerge the pump unit and get a new rain lamp working. You will need to add about 1 pint or 16 ounces each time as a refill now and then.
The best way to know that your lamp has enough oil is to observe how the “rain droplets” is falling and the noise that is coming from the lamp.
A full droplet and a muted noise are signs of perfect working conditions. Conversely, seeing the droplets reduce and hearing the mumble grow is how to determine that your rain lamp is running low on fuel.
How Do You Put Oil In A Rain Lamp?
Learning to make a rain lamp is not complete until you learn how to pour oil into the rain lamp. You must have seen how some holes were drilled at the bottom jar from the steps above. These holes are usually the inlet through which you can add oil; however, you still need to learn how to do this properly.
Step 2: Cover the work area with several plastic coverings or paper towels to avoid making a mess
Step 3: Turn on the rain lamp to see how it burns
Step 4: Check the base of the bottom jar to find small holes around the collection pan
Step 5: Carefully pour the oil into these holes, a small amount at a time. You will need to pour at least 1 pint before the raining effect commences working properly.
Step 6: Stop after pouring 1 pint to see it has had enough oil. Then top it over or clean your work area depending on what you see. If you decide to top up, always pause after adding about 1 pint.
You will also need to learn how to clean and repair your lamp before assuming that your training on how to make a rain lamp is complete.
To repair a rain lamp, you will need the following items:
- Large plastic sheets or paper towels
- Old newspaper
- New fishing line
- Needle and scissors
- A new light bulb
- Mineral or paraffin oil
Once you have gathered all your items and tools, follow the steps below to give that rain lamp a good cleaning and fixing:
Step 1: Set up your work area
Find a flat surface and spread the newspaper over it. Ensure you have covered enough area before spreading paper towels over the newspaper. The paper towel will avoid spills that could be difficult to clean.
Step 2: Dismantle your rain lamp.
Use the screwdriver to remove the different parts of the lamp, then discard the old oil safely.
Step 3: Replace the old light bulb.
Carefully unscrew the burnt light bulb to avoid damaging the threads. Then screw the new light bulb in place carefully.
Step 4: Clean the decorative carving.
You can skip this step if they still appear clean. However, if they appear dirty with oil and dust, you can carefully peel the decorative statuary or foliage off and clean it with soap and water. Try to avoid water from entering the electrical components while doing this.
Step 5: Confirm that the pumping unit is working.
Push the blade wheel on the pump gently to see if it turns. If it turns, clean the pump carefully to get it working correctly again. If it doesn’t turn, then consider getting a new pumping unit.
Step 6: Check to see that the fishing line is taut and tight
If the fishing line appears loose, then try to untie one of the ends held to a large nut and pull carefully to make it taut again.
If any lines are damaged, cut all the thread with scissors. This means the fishing line needs replacement. Then clean each hole with the needle and paper towel.
Step 7: Replace the fishing line.
Pick a hole on the bottom jar and pass the new fishing line through it. Then secure the end at the bottom of that jar with a washer or large nut before moving the upper end through the top lid. Then continue this threading pulling tautly every time a cycle is complete until you finish with all the holes.
Lastly, hold the end below the final hole in place with a washer or large nut.
Step 8: Reassemble the lamp.
Once you are done threading, put back all the parts just as you had earlier removed them. Then fill the lamp with mineral or paraffin oil as described in the above section.
Your rain lamp should begin to function normally and beautifully once you hang it in place.
A rain lamp is truly vintage from the past, and even though it is no longer common in our houses today, learning how to make a rain lamp is a thing of pride.
You will be able not only to make beautiful work of art that stands out in its surroundings but one that continues to have a practical use and may be worth something in the future.
Once you have made it, using the right oil and learning how to clean it correctly are some of the most critical factors determining how long your rain lamp will last and how healthy your life will be using this artwork.