Monday, December 26, 2011

lamp black

This morning I was in the kitchen cleaning out and organizing some drawers and cabinets when some good advice wafted from the computer screen. I was watching the Victorian Christmas series I had blogged about Saturday, and there was a scene where Ruth (one of the show's historical renenactors) was cleaning up the cottages oil lamps. She explained that as the lamp black fills the glass chimneys they let out less light. They need to be cared for and cleaned on a weekly basis of regular use. She also talked about refilling the oil levels, and trimming the blackened edge of the wicks. This kind of service done in daylight means that at night the farmhouse would literally shine. "Neglected, and the lit dims from all the soot. Your whole home becomes a little dingier..." I looked across my own farmhouse to the oil lamp that sits in the center of my living room dining set. It was embarrassingly dirty.

I picked it up and ran a glass cloth through the black chimney. In minutes it was clean. I then trimmed the black end of the wick with scissors and refilled the reservoir with some oil I had under the kitchen sink. I set it back on the kitchen table, ready for service. When it was lit again it would burn true, and bright, in service to whatever purpose I called it to. I smiled.

There is something decent about letting light shine. You feel cleaner all over.

P.S. Willow, I read your letter and cried in my kitchen. Your painting hangs on the wall. Keep drawing wolves.

16 Comments:

Blogger bree said...

Sometimes it's the small things that make a big difference. I love lighting and know what an important element it is in our homes, work spaces, and everywhere really. Nice.

December 26, 2011 at 8:25 PM  
Blogger doglady said...

I much prefer my oil lamps to battery lights during a power outage. Come to think of it, perhaps I should get prepared for the inevitable nor'easter that will take trees down.

December 26, 2011 at 8:35 PM  
Blogger PansWife said...

The best are the ones made by Aladdin (Lehmann's sells them). They are an investment, but you can easily read and work by them. The golden light itself is almost mystical.

December 26, 2011 at 9:30 PM  
Blogger becky said...

im in love with the whole series i watched the victorian farm on you tube now im onto the edwardian farm those shows are great i wonder if they sell a box set

December 26, 2011 at 11:43 PM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

BBC does sell a box set, I didn't see it on Amazon. Something like 20... where's the symbol for pound? Was just looking yesterday, Be great to have for viewing when I want rather than when the station puts it on once a year randomly.
http://www.bbcshop.com/history/victorian-farm-complete-collection-dvd/invt/av9970/ was where I found it

December 27, 2011 at 12:52 AM  
Blogger TransFarmer said...

BEFORE BUYING THE DVDs check that the dvd will play in the US. Dvds are encoded with different regions to play with the correct configuration of electronics. A dvd bought in the UK may not play here in the US.

December 27, 2011 at 1:44 AM  
Blogger Annie said...

We do need to take more care with our lanterns as well... thank you for the reminder.

Last week we spent our Solstice Dinner for 10 by lamp & candlelight as the generator blew a belt and it was too dark to mess with it just then (dinner was 10 minutes to the table). Thank goodness we had two and my folks brought up 3 more so that we could see enough to eat, open presents and enjoy each others' company. The kids loved it so much we may actually do it on purpose next year!

December 27, 2011 at 1:47 AM  
Blogger Bovey Belle said...

I just adore this series. Trimming the oil lamp wick was something I remember my mum doing when I was little - we had what she called the Hurricane lamp in case of power cuts. I don't ever remember cleaning the glass though!

We have old-fashioned hanging wall lights like these in our hall, which had been converted to electricity, but we converted back and now have candles in, for such occasions. Plus lots of candles - which we needed last week when the power went out in a gale. We were just enjoying reading books by candlelight when it was fixed . . .

December 27, 2011 at 3:15 AM  
Blogger Sheeps and Peeps Farm said...

We always clean our lamp chimneys with newspaper. It makes short work of the lamp-black; in no time they are sparkling and streak-free.
Thank you for the reminder to get that done before the inevitable winter power outage.

December 27, 2011 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

Great post Jenna, have a great last week of 2011.

December 27, 2011 at 7:25 AM  
Blogger becky3086 said...

I have several lamps. Probably all of them need to be cleaned, not only of soot but of dust. They only get used once or twice a year when the power goes out and I am not much of a duster.
I too like the Edwardian Farm and Victorian Farm series. I believe you brought them to my attention last year and I was so glad you did. I spent many a happy evening watching them on my computer.

December 27, 2011 at 8:35 AM  
Blogger Karen Smith said...

Jenna, thanks so much for sharing the Victorian Farm series! I'd never seen it before and think it's going to be a great source of useful (and valuable) information. Also, thanks to PansWife for the info on Aladdin lamps and to JeanineH for the link to the dvd's. Merry & Happy to all!

December 27, 2011 at 9:32 AM  
Blogger JeanineH said...

I prefer my stuff on DVD's as my internet isn't always stable at home, and with the whole "bandwidth" debacle I've never been able to justify something like Netflix at 1GB an hour for movies... gimme a DVD (my players are region-free) that I can watch when the internet itself isn't working...

Buying seasons of shows that are of interest lets me step back from the cable/satellite subscription too, less time watching network tv = more time for useful research on doing things of interest.

December 27, 2011 at 9:54 AM  
Blogger Karen said...

I just love the Victorian Farm series of programming. the Man and I have learned so much from them! The recent one called Victorian Pharmacy was a real treat for my daughter. She is a modern pharmacist and really got a treat watching that one. She was phoning some co-workers urging them to catch the show.

December 27, 2011 at 2:17 PM  
Blogger Lorri said...

My great-grandmother remembered using the those lamps - said she was the one that always had to clean them growing up, and that newspaper was the fastest way to get them clean. It works great!

I tend to trim & clean mine after every use, but they're not used that often and they are out where I can see them every day. Dusting doesn't happen as often as it should, though. And when the power goes out I'd often rather leave the lamps on then turn the electric on.

The Aladdin lamps are supposed to be the equivalent of a 60-watt bulb. I want one!

December 28, 2011 at 8:21 AM  
Blogger Colorado Girl said...

You had me hooked on that program! You Tube and I were friends for hours, while enjoying the Christmas Victorian Farm. I guess I now need to watch the original series!

December 29, 2011 at 11:35 PM  

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