Clairvoyant Lamp




About: Student of Medicine. Fan of instructables since forever. Im fascinated by lights.

The idea is to have a lamp with words swirling in it using the principle of a lava lamp. The words move around making phrases and statements of different meanings. It works great as a mood lamp too and helps you think. (Video of a working lamp is here and also on the last step of this Instructrable)

Looking at the words swirling around is fun. I have gotten in a habit of looking at the lamp after something happens just to see what the lamp says and the results are enlightening/funny/depressing. Like a few days back my college result was announced and I unexpectedly passed my exams. The lamp responded by a "you didnt deserve it". I like to call it the Clairvoyant Lamp for that reason. She's almost always right..

So lets start!

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Step 1: Ingredients

For making this lamp you need:

  • Empty Glass Bottle or Existing Lava Lamp Bottle
  • Lava Lamp Base or Bulb Holder
  • Permanent Marker or Transperancy Marker
  • Plastic Shopping Bag
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Scissors

Step 2: Choose Your Words

  1. Take a white plastic shopping bag, White is preferable because other colours don't show good results with words written on them.
  2. Cut a strip from the bag. Now take a marker and write words on the strip. I used words for this one but you can use whatever you want, smiley faces, names, symbols, small stick figures, its up to you.
  3. Happy words are better. Once the lamp told me 'suicide is answer' for a hour before I threw that piece out. Not superstitious but you get the drift.
  4. Make sure the marker is permanent and water proof by dipping a word piece in water. I only used a black marker but you can use multiple colours. Transparency markers are both waterproof and permanent; with a fine tip.
  5. Try to make strips of roughly equal size. Variation in size will effect their movement later.
  6. Now cut the words into small pieces with scissors, this part is troublesome because the small pieces tend to stick with your fingers. Keep a small matchbox with you to keep the finished word pieces. We don't want them flying all over the room.

EDIT: Use the same bag for all strips. Otherwise their densities WONT match.

Step 3: Prepare the Bottle

  1. Take a glass bottle or an existing lava lamp bottle. My lava lamp bottle broke so I used an empty bottle, just make sure the bottle can fit over the lava lamp base. If you don't have a lava lamp base you can make a base from scratch. (This instructable shows how to make a base)
  2. Take water and bring it to a boil, wait for it to cool and then pour it in the bottle through a tea strainer. Boiling will get any salt and gas out of it. Please be careful when handling hot water.
  3. Now take your word pieces and put them in the bottle. They will stay at the top and wont sink in the water. Mix them with water with the help of a spoon or something. Don't put the pieces in the water while it's still hot, wait for it to cool.
  4. Now you have to wait. The small plastic word pieces have very small air bubbles trapped on their surface. Wait for a day or two and the pieces will slowly sink to the bottom of the bottle. Don't disturb the liquid while you wait for it to sink.

Step 4: Adjust Density (or How to Make a Mini Dead Sea)

  1. Now you have to increase the specific gravity of water so it can match the density of the small polyethene word pieces. This will help the plastic pieces to float. Kinda like the dead sea. This sounds harder than it actually is.
  2. Take a glass of cold water (I took one glass because my bottle wasn't very big) and add salt to it. Add as much salt as can be dissolved. Keep stirring. Now you'll have a glass of very salty water. Pass it through a tea strainer to get a clear dead sea. Taste it to really understand the sentiments of this dude.
  3. Now this is the tricky part. Take a little water out of your bottle and replace it with the salty water. Now give the bottle a gentle shake (very gentle) and wait to see if the pieces sink again. If they do, you have to repeat this step. Step by step the pieces will get floaty and start taking their time to sink.
  4. Make sure to add salty water in small increments so your bottle water doesn't get very dense. If the water gets too dense your word pieces will rise to the top and wont float; you'll have to take some water out and replace it with plain water.
  5. With trial and error you'll get your pieces to float. By floating i mean that your pieces will appear to sink extremely slowly and seem almost suspended.

Step 5: Bazinga. Clairvoyant Lamp Ready.

  1. Put the cap back on the bottle. Make sure that the water doesn't fill the bottle completely as water expands on heating and your pieces will cling to the top.
  2. Turn on the base. The bulb will heat the liquid and your words will start to swirl around. It takes a very short time to warm up so you don't have to wait for more then 5 minutes.
  3. Sit back and look for meaning! But don't believe her if she tries to bring you down!
  4. Please tell me if you make it.



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    12 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    As someone who is a fan of different and interesting divination systems, I applaud this. Nice work! Lovely videos, too.

    Madame Blue

    5 years ago

    What a great idea! It made me think of magnetic poetry kits, in a truly random format.

    Using a hydrometer would tell you the specific gravity you need. Probably not necessary unless you plan to mass produce.

    2 replies
    AwabHassanMadame Blue

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thankyou! I do have a hydrometer but I didn't use it for this project. Do you really think its that good? I mean to think about mass production?

    Madame BlueAwabHassan

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, I mentioned mass production as a point of comparison, a possible situation in which you'd want to know salinity for uniformity purposes rather than trial and error. I don't know what's involved in mass production or marketing.

    Your lamp is easily as fun a novelty as the traditional lava lamp, magic 8 ball, or magnetic poetry kits. Who knows? Crazier things have happened :)

    Kink Jarfold

    1 year ago on Step 5

    This is one project I'd like to try. I'm saving this and the one on how to make the base.

    A HAPPY JARFOLD KIND OF DAY.pngNailed It!.jpg

    5 years ago

    maybe only put kind words or words that will build us up in there...who needs more negativity?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Im with you on that, did that the first time I made it, but it got very boring after a while (like a preachy motivational speaker). Then I added sad words and a few prepositions, now it's not dull anymore. A great thing about this lamp is that you can always modify the selection of words. You just have to open the lid take out the ones you don't like and put some other ones. :)