Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Timeless Oil Lantern

It was time for a fall photo shoot to help this impressive local photographer and friend build their portfolio. We met just before dusk, I hoped it was a good idea to bring some of Red Hill's favorite rustic oil lanterns for dusk's activities.


Enjoy these beautiful lifestyle oil lantern photos created by photo artist Kristen Horton while reading this short summary of how lanterns came to be used in society today. Decide if light by oil lantern is all it's cracked up to be. We used this little green lantern and the traditional sized red storm lantern in our sunset photo shoot.


Human lives were once lived by *geographic luck, **the earth's rotation and it's closeness to the sun. The minute the sun was shadowed by the rotating planet there wasn't much better to do than gaze into the cosmos or go to sleep. Can you image this?

The most fulfilled living was to rise for a new day when the shadow fades as the sun appears.

The last 400 years or so are marked with many ingenious human inventions. These inventions became exceptions to the previous ideas of fulfilled living... that is, living in concert to the earth's rotation and to the seasons.


Exceptions, like the invention of tabletop oil lamps, allowed for reading, study and other tasks after the sun went down. People had an ability to stay up late (woo! sleepovers!). Only those earlier humans with access to lamps and their oil had the privilege to pick evenings they could afford to burn it. It seams primitive but in their hay-day, oil wick lamps were cutting edge. And if you could get one, you were on the privileged cutting edge of society.

These oil-burning inventions for light after dark were fashioned with hangers and attachments allowing light to be taken outside on a journey. The oil lantern could be hung outside if expecting company after dark or for if you had a deck of playing cards on a warm summer night.


The ways humans use artificial lights have evolved and changed rapidly since their emergence.

Today there are lots of options for lighting after the sun sets.

Oil lanterns for outdoor use when camping or celebrating at an after-dark garden party are still in high demand today! And for good reason: unlike electric lights and other options, hanging oil lanterns are relatively inexpensive, stylish timeless decorations AND the most reliable lighting you can count on if you've got a good wick (get your survival stockpile of wicks here) and a bottle of oil.

They're not practical lights to use everyday, but they were never meant to be.



Why do you think oil lanterns are still around? What gives them their appeal? Do they help us reconnect with a simpler way of living? Share your opinion - we want to know!

*geographic luck refers not only to the physical area a human is in but is also, according to historian author Richard Bullet, the reason why some people had cows and guns and planes while others had so little technology.  

**the earth's rotation and it's closeness to the sun refers to the day length and seasonal weather. 



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