I’ve always wanted a vintage rain lamp and after searching for a while, I finally found one on Craigslist at a decent price. It was only $35 and listed under “vintage lamp.” We quickly made our way over to pick it up, only to find out they had used motor oil in the lamp. After dumping most of it out, I carried it home in a trash bag- what a mess.
If you aren’t familiar with rain lamps, they were popular in the 60s-70s and used a thick fishing line where oil runs down giving it the appearance that it is raining. They come with a variety of figures inside- from a mill wheel to a dancing couple. My lamp has the “Venus” figurine with plastic orange flowers. Perfect, just what I wanted!
What, they are not swag lamps! This is a swag lamp…
They are also not oil lamps. This is an oil lamp.
So, we set aside a whole day one weekend to clean this beauty up. It took about six hours total. The dirt was so caked on the leaves of the flowers that even after soaking them, each petal still had to be scrubbed by hand to get the grime off- both sides.
I thought I would put this tutorial together for anyone that needs to clean their own rain lamp. This is what worked for hours – use at your own risk, they can be fragile, and if you break a strand you will be in for a lot of work restringing.
Unscrew the base pieces from the lamp. I placed the bottom “tub” and all of the foliage in hot water with Dawn soap to remove the oil and grime.
I had to scrub every petal and leaf by hand. The dirt was so stuck on with grease that the soak didn’t remove it. This process took the longest. I placed them on a paper towel to air dry.
We used a paper towel to wipe the gunk off of every filament.
We then went ahead and washed the entire base with water and Dawn. There was a lot of dirty oil stuck in here and we wanted to get it all cleaned out.
We used a toothpick in all of the holes in both bases to remove any build up.
As you can see, there was a lot of motor oil and dirt inside the holes. This can block the flow of oil if it isn’t cleaned out.
She is just as beautiful now as she was in 1967!
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