Hanging lamps, which include everything from single pendants to elaborate chandeliers, have illuminated interior spaces for thousands of years. The earliest examples were made of clay and fueled by animal fat. Later, oil was used to fire bronze or glass fixtures.

By the Middle Ages, metal chandelier-like fixtures called polycandelons were hung from the ceilings of churches and other public structures. Some held bowls filled with oil and wicks while others were designed for candles. In fact, the word “chandelier” has its roots in the Latin word for “candle.” Early chandeliers and polycandelons were usually attached to a rope or cable that was looped through a pulley so they could be lowered to be lit, raised into position, then lowered again so candles and wicks could be snuffed.

Gas lamps, which were introduced in the early 1800s, are normally associated with sconces, but hanging gas lamps, called gasoliers, were also used in homes that could afford this newfangled technology. Next came kerosene in 1857. Again, even though we associate kerosene lamps with the chimney-style table lamps made by Aladdin and others, the fuel was also used in hanging Victorian Era lamps.

Because of the heat generated by kerosene and gas lamps, flames were contained by etched glass of various colors—from frosted white to ruby red to multicolored slag—while the lamp’s hardware was typically made of brass. There must have been concerns at the time about the safety of kerosene lamps since they were often advertised as being “non-explosive,” but kerosene lamps burned brighter than gas, so for many the risk was worth it.

While some 19th-century kerosene lamps hung from chains, others were suspended by decorative rods that, in turn, supported a pair, or pairs, of arms. Because kerosene chandeliers required daily maintenance, a pulley was often secreted inside the decorative plate that also hid the lamp’s connection to the ceiling.

As the 20th century dawned and electricity became ubiquitous, many gasoliers and chandeliers were retrofitted. Other types of new hanging lamps included the so-called pan chandeliers, whose light sources were placed at the ends their multiple arms. Then there were hanging lamps that featured Tiffany-like shades over their lights, or clear prismatic glass shades that sent light streaming throughout a room.

The advantage of new hanging lamps, as opposed to retrofitted ones, was that their designs weren't constrained by the presence of fire. Thus, Art Nouveau lamps could be as naturalistic and free-flowing as their designers demanded, while Art Deco fixtures in brushed metal could be accented by shades shaped like bongo drums. By the 1950s and ’60s, the space-age look of Mid-century Modern lamps suggested starbursts and flying saucers, which would hover benignly over nuclear families enjoying meals at their Danish modern dining tables.


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Recent News: Hanging Lamps

Source: Google News

"Scrounge": Recycling junk into art at Denver's Republic Plaza
The Denver Post, April 19th

It's reused, recycled, reduced into relevancy via the 119 dead light bulbs Craig Robb strings together for a hanging lamp or the yards of outdated computer tape he turns into a hairy two-dimensional constructions hanging on the wall. Artist Tim Flynn...Read more

Light motif
Palo Alto Online, April 15th

However, there is all new lighting throughout the home, and she did buy several light fixtures on the Internet -- the hanging lamp over the dining table, the sconces at the entry to the kitchen, and the library lights over the bookcases. "I did...Read more

How police were forced to let Cyril Smith off the hook for child porn
Daily Mail, April 13th

Under the hanging lamp, Tasker could see beads of sweat on Cyril's jowly face: he looked a worried man. 'We had him. I got the impression that if it went to trial he would crack. He said: “This will kill my mother”. I think he thought the game was up.'...Read more

Designers say Asian Modern is over
Inquirer.net, April 1st

The Obi Hanging Lamp won the HA +D (Hong Kong Architecture + Design) award for its innovation and artistry. Buri and abaca twine sensuously embrace the fiberglass squash-shaped lamp, lending an organic touch to a manmade material. Hacienda Crafts ...Read more

Hotel check: Malmaison London
Business Traveller, March 28th

The décor was appealing, with items such as the leather recliner with a matching footstall, with a huge over-hanging lamp. There was a slight industrial feel from features such as the wall of red-brick wallpaper, the oversized clock, and the large...Read more

Cardboard lamps made from local shops' discarded materials
Gizmag, March 24th

UK-based Green Spirit Creations is the latest team to try its hand at paper-based lighting solutions. Seeking out discarded materials from local shop-owners, its stylish household lamps are made from 100 percent recycled cardboard (bulbs, wiring and ...Read more