What Is a Rain Lamp? Here’s Why You Might Want this Kitschy Piece

published Jan 9, 2023
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Self-proclaimed maximalist Birdie Wood has garnered a following on TikTok for her thrifting content, and she recently revealed her favorite thrifted item from last year that may land on your decor wishlist for 2023. 

“So I’ve been doing a lot of thrifting this year, and I wanted to rate my favorite thrift finds from [1-10] because I found my absolute favorite find of the year yesterday, and I’m so excited to show you,” Wood shared with her followers.

She started to reveal an assortment of knick knacks and coveted thrift finds, including an asparagus-themed teapot, a large painting of a cat, Lotus swimming pool ceramic bowls, and a Lenox spice village set. Although none of these worthy contenders won the title of her beloved thrift find of the year — Wood disclosed that the item is a vintage rain lamp from Facebook Marketplace.

Wood’s comment section was predictably filled with viewers sharing their adoration for the lamp and other kitschy pieces in her home. 

Although Wood said that she had to rewire the lamp in order to revive it, $75 is a steal for the item, especially in comparison to its price point on eBay or Craigslist. So what exactly is the draw to these valuable, decorative lamps?

What is a rain lamp?

Similar to the iconic lava lamp, the rain lamp was popular in the ‘60s and ‘70s for its unique design that simulates raindrops. You can identify these lamps by their intricate sculpture in its center surrounded by thick, clear fishing lines. Although the centerpiece could resemble Aphrodite or Venus, some rain lamps will have a simple clock instead of a figure. 

How does the lamp work?

A rain lamp can only be filled with mineral or paraffin oil for functionality since other oils quickly grow rancid. While carrying the mineral oil across the fishing lines, the lamp’s drops of oil mimic falling raindrops. 

What’s special about a rain lamp?

Aren’t the slow-motion rain drops hypnotizing enough? Perhaps the curiosity surrounding a rain lamp derives from a similar interest in lava lamps and in-home aquariums. There’s something about time slipping away as you gaze into the scenic droplets of oil.

Where can you find a rain lamp?

Antique stores, estate sales, flea markets, and online marketplaces like Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist are good places to begin your search for a rain lamp, but beware of its expensive price ranging from $400-$900. Wood was lucky enough to find one on Facebook Marketplace for $75, but the price might have been lower because the lamp needed rewiring. If you’re in for a restoration project, maybe you’ll stumble upon a good deal.