Saturday, September 15, 2007

Love for a Lava lamp, and the box it came in, too.

Even as a kid, I had an eye for beauty and sophistication.

When I began to notice the decorative Lava lamps appearing in shop window displays and such back in the latter half of the 1960's, I remember hoping that one day I'd be cool enough to own one.

That my parents didn't recognize the allure led me to believe I was on the right track, but I agreed with them that I wasn't yet ready for a Lava lamp.

I'd wait till I was a grown-up.
I could put it in the swingin' bachelor pad I'd surely have - -
- - near the beaded curtain, the Zenith *color* TV with the big
'Space Command' remote control, and the shelf where I'd keep my 'Hai Karate' aftershave.

In the next few years, my resolve was only strengthened when I'd be 'over to play' at some friend's house, and see that they were lucky enough to have a Lava lamp in their own home.

"Cool!!" I'd say, "Turn it on, let's check it out!"

"Naah..." was invariably the response. "It's boring. And besides, it takes, like, forever for the gunk inside to heat up and start doing stuff."

Occasionally their reason would be that it didn't work right anymore, from that one time when it got left on for a week. "See? It's all messed up and cloudy..."

'That settles it', I'd say to myself. 'These fools are taking their Lava lamps for granted. They don't get it, and they can't even take proper care of it.'

'I'll have one some day, and treasure it and care for it like the exquisite showpiece it is.'

I never quite forgot about it, but as the '70's wore on, there were certainly other distractions.

By the end of the decade, Lava lamps were 'out'. They were relics.
That didn't bother me, but as I began to think that maybe I was finally ready, I noticed that it seemed you couldn't find them anywhere.
Such is life, or so I thought...

Cut to the early '80's. I'm fresh out of high school, working, I'm making my own money.

For some reason I find myself one day in a tiny, cramped neighborhood hardware store in the Richmond district of San Francisco.
Honestly, I can't remember what brought me in or what I was looking for.

What I did find on a dusty shelf was an old Lava lamp, still in the carton, looking just like I remembered as a kid.

My time had finally arrived.

According to Oozing Goo, The Lava Lamps Syndicate website, what I'd found was an original Century model 102 (Red lava, yellowish liquid, gold base). Nothing exotic, but rather the classic standard, in production beginning in 1963.

As it turned out, my Lava lamp purchase seemed to occur about five minutes before they began to make a comeback as a kitschy 'retro' item. ('Remember those '70's?')
The comeback also meant that lots of new designs and colors and 'knockoffs' were appearing, which made me all the happier that I wound up with the exact style I'd remembered so fondly.

My Lava lamp has been proudly on display ever since.
(No Zenith, no 'Hai Karate', no beaded curtain - - yet.)

It operates every day, on a timer, thank you very much, for about six hours or so (no overheating), and is still going strong, 20+ years later.

Comes on around the dinner hour, is in full swing by mid-evening, clicks off when it's about time for bed. Perfect.
It makes me feel cool, even if I'm still not quite yet a grown-up.

Came across its carton the other day. (Of course I still have it. Why wouldn't I? What better to store it in if I should move?)

(click on images to ENLARGE)

The graphic design on the box is pretty special.

I love the exotic 'Arabic' font.

- - And yes, the motion inside the lamp does indeed soothe, intrigue, fascinate and entertain.

Of course, the best has to be the practical images showing common uses for the lamp...

(see detail below)

- Executives know that it adds a bit of style to the decor of a busy office.
Very 'feng shui'.

- The perfect device to pacify a client in the dentist's chair. Bring on the root canal!

- The lonely days seem to fly by now that Grandma has her lamp to keep her company.

- And what better to put young lovers in the mood than basking in the wet glow of the undulating goo?

But seriously - - Regarding these original Lava lamps, this is an instance where time, fashion and circumstance never swayed my opinion. It was cool when I first spotted one close to forty years ago, and it's cool now.

Fashions come and go - - and then come back again, but elegance and beauty never go out of style.


Anonymous said...

I was glad to find this post. I believe I have the same series you do. Although mine is blue water with a yellowish lava. I used it a lot in my younger days and packed it away on our last move and never pulled it back out. I decided to use it as a night light for my kids. I was suprised that it had sat so long (about 6 years) boxed up and still worked fine. They are truly a thing of beauty. I really dislike the modern lava lamps with their plasticy looking lava.

Mark said...

Thanks for your link to my lava lamp website, Oozing Goo, The Lava Lamp Syndicate. I'm glad the site was helpful to you. You have a beautiful lamp. I'd say if you bought it in the 80's you were more than 5 minutes before the resurgence which really blasted off in 97/98.

Come check out our new lava lamp community website, with more of that "web 2.0" fuzziness!

Anonymous said...

sweet post!

Freshly-stirred links