Clay oil lamps in Africa are used for utilitarian, ritualistic, and symbolic purposes.
African Clay Oil Lamp Tutorial
In Africa for millions of years, people captured naturally occurring fire, tended it, and preserved it for long periods. Fire is important not only for warmth and for cooking, but for light. Currently, nearly 662 million Africans lack access to electricity. Throughout Africa, only 43% of urban and rural households have access to reliable electricity.
|Clay oil lamp|
Shells, such as conch or oyster, were also used as lamps. Manufactured lamps are not always cost effective and readily available. Many households use simple molds or hand forming techniques to make clay lamps.
Clay Oil Lamp Tutorial Materials and Directions
• Waterproof air-dry clay, the amount depends on the size of your lamp
• 100% cotton fabric for the wick, 4 inches wide, and the length depends on the size of your lamp
• Olive oil enough to fill the lamp
Olive oil lamps are simple to make and nearly any shape can be used, as long as it holds oil without leaking or spilling and has a spout and a filling hole. Once your lamp is shaped to your liking, follow directions on the clay package to cure and harden it.
|Reading by candlelight|
Insert the wick into the lamp’s spout positioning the wick so it extends from the bottom of the oil lamp to approximately 1/2” above the spout. Trim the excess if any with scissors. Be sure the wick is saturated with oil before lighting. Use your handmade clay lamp under adult supervision only. Oil lamps may set off smoke detectors.
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