Steampunk Lamp - Lanterna Antiga




This is a quick and easy build I did with parts lying around my apartment.

I'm fortunate enough to live in a big city, in a highly populated neighborhood, where people throw away often very re-useable things on regular basis.

I have a soft spot in my heart for old lamps, and often have trouble letting them make that final trip to the landfill. Inspired by some of the wonderful Steampunk creations I've seen on, I decided to create my own Steampunk-style lamp, which I have affectionately named Lanterna Antiga, Portuguese for "Old Lamp."

I named this project in honor of my Brazilian father-in-law, who's a brilliant engineer and architect and loves to create things. In trying to describe the whole Steampunk aesthetic to him, he came up with what I thought was a brilliant, if simplified, description of Steampunk. Loosely translated from the Portuguese, this was: "Something new in antique clothes."
Obrigado Moacyr!

Step 1: Find an Old Lamp

I found this beautiful old brass lantern-style lamp in the trash outside my building. I have no way of knowing if it started out it's life as a oil lantern, and was retrofitted for electrical by an inspired tinkerer of a by-gone era, or if it was actually created as an electrical lamp in the first place. Either way, it was certainly a beautiful antique that didn't belong in a landfill!

I particularly like the old Victorian-style key, which would have been used to raise the wick, but now serves as a switch!

If you have an old oil lamp you'd like to convert to electric, there's a fine 'ible here: "Convert old oil lamp to electrical."

And if you have brazing or welding skills and tools, you could probably make something like this with an oil lamp and old brass candle stick

Step 2: Clean Lamp

My lamp had years a grunge and grime on it, so I took a light cloth was some mild soapy water to it, and then buffed it a bit with a jewler's cloth.

Step 3: Paint Fluorescent Bulb

I'm not a big fan of these new fluorescent bulbs, especially as a primary source of illumination, but I thought this bulb gave a great "mad scientist" look to this lamp.

The only real "work" I did on this build was to add a few strokes of gold paint to the white plastic base of the bulb, to make it blend in with the lamp a bit better.

Step 4: Make a Pasta Dinner

One reason I never used this lamp before was it doesn't take a standard lamp shade, and it had a very large space on top, which I'm sure at one time had a very delicate tear-drop shaped, fluted chimney. I don't have one of those, and if I did, would be afraid of breaking it.

But I realized this space was exactly the same size as the mouth of mason jar I had leftover from a pasta dinner!;-)

So make yourself some pasta, with your sauce of choice, as long a s it comes in a fancy mason jar.

Then of course clean thoroughly!

Step 5: Assemble Parts

This wasn't rocket science. And not nearly as involved, creative or laborious as some of the fantastic Steampunk projects I've seen on Instructables.

But I thought there were a few interesting elements here worth sharing, as my gift to the Steampunk mad scientists out there.

Behold Lanterna Antiga!



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    15 Discussions


    7 years ago on Step 5

    Nice project, I missed this one somehow,.

    Not necessarily for this project, but it may be of interest to you, the diamond hole saws at the big box hardware stores are really handy for modifying glass objects.

    The lable says for ceramic but they work just fine on glass.

    *Additional Info*

    I looked into the glass cutter sold at the last link I listed on my first comment. The one that the guy in the video says they've seen on the internet for $45 which is the same price he's selling it for? Well, he's not giving us much credit for bargain shopping because I found it for between $22.50 and $25.00.

    If anyone is interested, just Google the term, "Generation Green (g2) Bottle Cutter" (Yes, you need the "(g2)" or you come up with some things that aren't bottle cutters.

    1 reply

    7 years ago on Step 5

    wow thats so easy and a great use for a sauce jar. I think I have an old lamp in the barn I might just try this now.
    Do you think adding a painted inside would effect it? I want to give it an old smoke color

    2 replies
    Winged Fistaliencatx

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Happy to hear you found some inspiration in this Instructable!
    Please post pics when you find your lamp and jar;-)

    As far as paint, I would be reluctant to have paint so close to a hot bulb, as it may create some noxious fumes. Also, glass is pretty tough to paint, unless you lay it on thick, which would greatly diminish the lighting capacity.

    I think probably better to find a tinted jar, or a way to tint the jar you have.
    (Rowan Winterhaven has suggested glass etching cream).


    7 years ago on Introduction

    i was talking to a fellow steampunk and she asked me how do you keep the jar cool? is there some way to let the heat out of the jar for wont it bust if it gets too hot?

    1 reply
    Winged Fistaliencatx

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I've found that these fluorescent bulbs don't get nearly as hot as incandescent bulbs.

    (I actually bought this to provide some heat on my turtle's tank, and found it useless for that purpose;-)

    I also can say I have left in on for very long stretches of time. But I have left it on for a while, and put my hand on the jar, and it doesn't seem to get very hot.

    I think it would have to get VERY hot to crack a mason jar... Your milage may vary;-)

    You might consider using glass etching cream on the jar if you're looking for a way to take the edge off of the brightness. Etching cream can be found in any craft store. It might be possible to "dye" the etched glass as the etching process does create a roughened (very very slighty) surface on the glass and it might take some kind of tint or dye.

    Another possibility is finding another jar. I find cobalt blue, amber, and red glass jars that have the same size mouth as a pasta or mayo jar in my local thrift store almost every time I go there. Or maybe you'll get lucky and one of your less crafty neighbors will throw one away.

    Oh! Just had another thought; Colored wine bottles are even easier to find than colored sauce or mayo jars. All you need is a bottle cutter, some sand paper, and a way to measure where in the neck you need to cut to have the same circumference as the lamp.

    There are all kinds of glass cutters designed for bottles (I suck at using a simple glass cutter and hope to cut evenly and end where I start.) but here are a couple: (This is the one I have.) (This method looks amazing and simple!)

    Just don't forget your safety gear for the etching and the cutting! :)

    1 reply

    Thanks very much for the comment and suggestions Rowan Winterhaven!

    I'll look into the etching cream, but I'm not very good with a glass cutter, and I kind of like the mason jar's contribution to this build, so I think I'll try to find a way to tint the jar.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you for posting. It looks fantastic! As a side note, you might also look at cabinet display bulbs. (really sorry I don't have the proper name). These are 4ish inch clear glass tube bulbs with long spring filaments that look great and aren't particularly expensive. As a plus, they can be dimmed.

    1 reply
    Winged Fistoldmicah

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks Old Micah! I'll check my local lighting store.

    I have a feeling if I installed a dimmer switch on this lamp, it would dim the current bulb, but I like it so much the way it is, I'm reluctant to bust it open to work on the electrical guts.

    But I am looking for a way to possibly tint the jar, to take the edge of the fluorescent light, if anyone has any suggestions.