Obsidian Lamp

May 13, 2009

A while back one my readers, Catherine Noonan, asked me about an obsidian lamp. I am familiar with many varieties of obsidian from Glass Butte, Oregon and Davis Creek, California so I asked her to send me some photos of the lamp so I could see if I knew anything about the obsidian. The pictures showed very bright colors I was not familiar with. I searched online to see if there was anything close to it and the only thing I found close was bright blue obsidian spheres on eBay that look just like craft marbles that can be purchased by the pound in craft shops. My guess is that the lamp is made from slag glass. Does anybody reading this have information that can prove that this is obsidian and where it comes from?

obsidian lamp

Obsidian Lamp

Below are the comment, email and photos from Catherine.

Comment:

Hi-not sure if you can help me or not, but you had such an interesting article on obsidian that I thought it was worth a try.

I am in possession of the most incredible looking vintage lamp that is supposedly made up of chunks of colored obsidian. It is truly spectacular when lit up and is made so that the light shines through the chunks. I could supply pictures.

I am so intrigued by it and really cannot believe nature could make anything like the colors of this lamp, but have been told that it is obsidian in nature. It is some type of rock that does not show much color until the light shines through it. The fashion of lamp speaks art deco all over-and it has the old type of cord one would see on a lamp of that era. I have been trying to decide if I want to part with it for ages, but it is so spectacular when lit up, it would be hard to let go of it. It was found in an old storage warehouse in Kansas and made its way to me via eBay back when eBay was brand new. I purchased it sight unseen from an estate dealer/warehouse owner I had dealt with before and was super pleased when it got here.

At any rate-I would love it if some rock enthusiast who knew their stuff like you do, could give me their opinion of what it might be. I was raised in Central Oregon and amassed a huge amount of obsidian when I was younger, but this really does not look like anything I have ever seen. The person who claims it is obsidian and not just slag glass-has a piece of obsidian similar in nature that he claimed was found in Brazil many years ago. My lamp is in jewel like colors of reds, blues, yellows, greens and purples and probably a few I missed. It is just stunning and the rocks cast off heat when the lamp is turned on. It is amazing. The chunks are not uniform in any way. It does have the sharp edged type of feel and smoothness obsidian seems to have. My daughters call it the ‘Harry Potter’ lamp because of the whimsical style. I would love to send you some pictures if your curiosity is such that you would be interested in a look at it.

Email:

Hi John–here are a few pictures. The colors did not come out nearly as brilliant as they are in person, but it gives you a general idea.

The striation type marks seen in some of them are not on the surface–I know they resemble thumprint type activity, but they are not–they run inside and if I loupe rocks–they have all sorts of stuff going on inside them. Some have what seems like thousands of tiny bubbles while some have less and other types of stuff in them. I noticed the bright reds were the ones that do not photograph well at all and look washed out in my pictures, while the greens and purple come out pretty true to life.

obsidian lamp

Obsidian Lamp

obsidian lamp

Obsidian Lamp

obsidian lamp

Obsidian Lamp

obsidian lamp

Obsidian Lamp

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

admin May 14, 2009 at 8:44 am

I posted a link to this on a couple lapidary forums. Here are links to what others had to say about this lamp.

http://andy321.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=general&action=display&thread=30608

http://gemstone.smfforfree4.com/index.php/topic,1787.0.html

Brad May 18, 2009 at 12:14 am

This looks like slag glass or old glass that came from furnaces and placed in a metal grid. It is a wonderful piece, but as far as obsidian, I am sorry that I would not say that it was, based on the clarity and colors.

Chantal September 5, 2009 at 8:31 pm

Hi. I saw this b/c I have been searching to find out info about a lamp my grandmother gave me. She said one of my Uncles brought it back from the war (Vietnam perhaps?) I thought she said it was from Germany. But upon my search tonight the only close thing I have found is this http://www.theantiquetraders.com/?p=461
The one I have is round, looks very similar, the colored glass is identical to the one posted here on your site. I can email you a picture if you like.
I just really want to know more about it, where’s it’s from and what it’s made of.
Chantal

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