The Chicago Files

A CANADIAN EXPAT'S EXPERIENCES AND OBSERVATIONS LIVING IN THE WINDY CITY!

Lava Lamp The Century 1965– photo courtesy of  lavalamp.co.uk

Well now, what on earth (or space!) is going on here?  Although a current photo, let’s take a timeline walk back to 1965, where we find this rather unassuming building on Irving Park Road here in Chicago:

Former Lava Lamp Factory, Chicago

– photo courtesy of wikipedia.org

Witnessing what can only be thought of as something, ‘out of this world’, two Chicago businessmen saw a strange, odd-looking lamp at a trade show in Belgium.  Securing the rights from the British inventor, the company, “Lava Manufacturing Corporation” set up shop in the building you see in the above photo.

Let’s take a peek inside this, “Lava Lite” (its American name) and see what the brouhaha is all about:

Lava Lamp inside  howstuffworks

– photo courtesy of howstuffworks.com

In a nutshell, there is a special type of wax contained in a liquid substance that is heated with a light bulb at the bottom of the lamp.  As the wax is heated, it turns into a liquid (in ‘blob’ patterns, I must say) that is less dense than the liquid above it.  When the blobs reach the top of the lamp, they begin to cool, down they sink, and the process begins again.  The blobs resemble molten lava; okay, I guess that’s a bit of a stretch, but I assume that’s how our spectral art received its name in the first place.

Lava Lamps

– photo courtesy of s3.favim.com

Oh say can you see all the colors of wax (and sparkly stuff, too) floating around in their lava-like formations!  I daresay that is literally the tip of the waxy iceberg.  These lamps come in all shapes, sizes, and colors.  I find it rather amusing that the interest in these spacey looking lamps has really, ‘waxed and waned’ over the decades (don’t worry, you needn’t groan at my lame attempt at humor in that sentence; I’ve done it for you)!

Hippies of the ’60s, college students, and many who simply find it a decorative piece of the peculiar over the past five decades have lit up their lives with these rather spaced-out luminaries.  The Smithsonian Institute considers it an, “icon”.  Have you ever seen one?  They are mesmerizing, to say the least.  It’s difficult to say what clinched the deal for our Chicago businessmen all those years ago; was it the blobular (not a word, but I quite like it) shapes of the wax?  Were they visionaries who saw the beauty in the bizarre?  Or was it good ‘ol fashioned luck that played upon their sensibilities and burnished our North American shores with the now iconic light?  Hard to say, really.

Lava Lamps 2

– photo courtesy of media-cache-ec0.pinimg.com

Do you recall my comment that Lava Lamps come in all kinds of shapes, colors, and sizes?  Take a look at this:

Lava Lamp Gumball Machine

– photo courtesy of api.ning.com/files

I can only imagine the conversation in that room:  “Today we have three blobs for a nickel!”

Despite the fact Lava Lamps for the U.S. market are now made in China, I thought it rather fitting to acknowledge the 50th anniversary of its manufacturing inauguration here in Chicago.

Happy Anniversary, Lava Lamp! May your blobs continue to glow with the flow! 🙂

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39 thoughts on “Lava Lamps: Flowing for Over Fifty Years

  1. So much I didn’t know about Lava Lamps. I do know that when my friends and I first saw them back in the 60’s, they were “FAR OUT!”

    Liked by 2 people

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      *LOL* Tim, then I guess those two Chicago businessmen had the right idea when they brought the concept over to the U.S.! I love the Lava Lamp!!! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  2. andy1076 says:

    I’ve not yet had one of these, but! tempted to every so often lol

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Andy, if you get one of these, I swear it will be the size of the one in Soap Lake, WA http://www.soaplakeforlocals.com/ourlavalampstory/sllavalampproposed.html Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. andy1076 says:

        See? I knew you’d get it lol!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. seaangel4444 says:

        *biggest grin* Cher xo

        Like

  3. John says:

    Groovy lamps, they have adorned my home over the years. Sadly, seems most everything i America is made in China these days which leads me to an all together different subject – unions, inflation and the like.

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Hi John, there is something fascinating about these strange lamps! However, I must say it is very disheartening that our goods are not allowing for jobs to be kept here. Cher xo

      Like

  4. I really enjoy posts about historical product trivia. Great post!

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Thank you so much, John! I’ve written a few posts about products that began here in Chicago: cell phone, vacuum cleaner, and remote control! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    No I’m pretty sure they were designed to keep stoned people distracted and occupied so that they didn’t otherwise hurt themsleves 😛

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      *LOL* I’m POSITIVE you are right, Norm!!! 😉 Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Like far out man!!! Peace!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Peace out, Dude! *LOL* cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

  7. JunkChuck says:

    Still mesmerized by lava lamps after all these years.

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Me too, Chuck! *LOL* cher xo

      Like

  8. Poetsmith says:

    Interesting post, great photos, Cher! Something to learn, thanks 🙂

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Ah, thank you, dear Iris! Some frivolity to lighten the day!! Love, Cher xo

      Like

  9. SwittersB says:

    I still have an original one…. I need to find a new bulb!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Do you really? Wow, that is an iconic item you have! I wonder how easy it would be to find a new bulb? Cher xo

      Like

      1. SwittersB says:

        actually i need to take the bottom housing in with me because two previous bulbs sat a bit too high for the upper part. I think mine is from around 1970. My wife and I have always held onto it for fun. Fun memory.

        Like

      2. seaangel4444 says:

        That’s wonderful you still have this piece of nostalgia! What fun! I hope you can find a bulb for it!

        Like

  10. Thanks for the background info. I rather liked them back in the 1960s. Our daughter had one, but it stopped working at some stage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Thank you, Hilary! When my mom read this post she emailed me and said, “Do you remember ours? I still have it!” I’ll have to ask her to plug it in to see if it still works!! Cher xo

      Like

  11. K. Renae P. says:

    My Dad had his lava lamp from high school when I was little. I used to stare at it all the time. Then somebody “accidentally” broke it. Which was good for me b/c I finally was able to see what was going on inside.

    Loved the background info of the lava lamp.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Oh you literally made me laugh out loud! My mom (after reading this post) reminded me that my parents still have theirs! No one ever ‘accidentally’ broke it, but my goodness I wish I could see what was going on inside, too!!! Ah, thank you so much! Cher 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Alex Hurst says:

    That’s awesome. What a fun history lesson! 🙂 I’ve always wanted a lava lamp… I’ve just never lived in a place long enough to get one. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      *LOL* Why thank you so much! It would be nice if you could get one! They aren’t very ‘packable’ though, are they? *grin* Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Alex Hurst says:

        No… I have a hard enough time shipping wall clocks from one city to another. 😛 Don’t even TRY with snowglobes… and lava lamps are more fragile than them!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. seaangel4444 says:

        Gotcha! *LOL* Cher 🙂

        Like

  13. GP Cox says:

    [off topic, Angel – I want to thank you for your support on my comment to WP about their new Reader. I had another comment to them, which they did not publish. They responded by email, basically telling my Tough – you’re stuck with it!]

    Like

    1. seaangel4444 says:

      Well I absolutely loathe the new format. I think it is counter-intuitive, and it does not bode well for easy usage for those of us who have been dedicated WordPress users. I am so sorry they basically told you “Tough”; I think they are going to hear a lot more about their changes! Cher xo

      Liked by 1 person

      1. GP Cox says:

        Thanks again. WP responded to me again, I think because about 6 people clicked the “Like” button on my comment – hopefully that’ll make them think about it – but truthfully I think that’s a pipe dream on my part.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. seaangel4444 says:

        You are sooooo welcome! Perhaps those reading this post (and yours) will write to WP as well. It amazes me how the, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” idea never seems to be the reality. Take FB for example; something works brilliantly and the next thing you know, it’s gone, repackaged into a trickier form and everyone hates it. *sigh* I feel the, “overthinking something” comes into play here; perhaps they feel a sense of responsibility to come up with ‘new’ and ‘improved’ when all the while it is the former and clearly not the latter! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. GP Cox says:

        In just replying to another supporter – I used the Line about WP = “If it works > they’ll fix it anyway!!” I think they are trying to justify their job – showing their bosses that they were thinking… I wish they’d stop.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. seaangel4444 says:

        I think you are right. This is why I applaud companies who, keep moving forward yet do not feel the need to change that which is working just fine. Build something else, improve on areas that have been identified as needing something different, but honestly this while Reader change isn’t one of them!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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