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Teslapunk Style Maxwellian Lamps

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55 Another view

Some Old Carriage Lamps


I am continuing work on lighting for our guest bedroom. This week I worked on lamps for the side tables on either side of the bed. These are in a Teslapunk style and feature etched glass versions of Maxwell’s equations of electromagnetism. For more on Maxwell’s Equations see here.

1 antique gas lamps

I purchased these antique lamps at a flea market several years ago. Kathleen saw them and thought they looked really unique

2 lamp inside

They were pretty old and dirty.

3 Soot in lid

It’s hard to see in this picture of the inside top of one of the lamps, but there is a layer of soot inside. I realized that these were gas lamps that had been converted to electric at one time. The are cast pieces made entirely of tin. That puts there age back around 100 years I think.

5 glass plates
4 glass removed

Create Wooden Bases

I removed the glass plates and old electrical hardware.

6 oak for new bases

Then I found some oak pieces to make a base for the lamps.

7 cut to size

Two pieces were cut to size.

8 drilled for cord
9 More cord dilling

The bases were then drilled so the cord could be inserted into the base and up through the lamp.

11-cord threaded

Like this.

12 routered edge sanded

I routered a round edge all the way around the bases.

13 set in place

The bases just fit the lamps. I am came up with an idea to make some brass clips to hold the lamps to the bases.

14 slots for brackets

To make this work I cut some slots into the base on the top of the right and left side.

14 Stained+Varnish

These are the completed bases with slots stained and varnished.

Brass Fasteners to Hold to Base

15 Fab Bracket 1
16 Fab Bracket 2

Next I machined some brass rod that will serve as the clip/fastener and make it a bit more Teslapunk in style.

17 -4 brackets

There are four, two for each lamp.

18 Bracket Notch 1
19 Bracket Notch 2

Then I machined a notch in each clip the same height as the bottom of the tin bottom of each lamp.

21 Brackets with notches

These are the completed clips with one set in place showing how it will clip the base to the lamp.

22 Mounting Scheme

A base mounted temporarily.

Electrical Components

23 new hardwareThis is the new hardware and switches for the lamp.

24 Brass Medallions 1

I had purchased a number of these brass plates that were stamped with a number. They were fairly old and I thought they would look very nice as a  Teslapunk accent to the lamps.

25 Brass Medallions 2

I added three plates to each lamp. One on the front and one on each side.

26 New Switch

A new switch mounted and ready for wiring.

27 New lamp socket

New lamp hardware was also attached.

28 WiringThe top was then wired.

29 Ready for bulbs

The lamps ready to be attached to the new bases.

31 Felt Bottoms

Stick on red felt was applied to the bottom of each base.

32 Wiring through base

Reproduction cloth covered cord was inserted into each base.

33 Wired with base

The cord was wired into the switch and the clips put in place to attach the bases to the lamps.

34 Edison Bulb

I will use these reproduction Edison bulbs for both lamps even he and Tesla weren’t exactly friends. Next, I need to make replacement glass.

Replacing the Glass Plates

36 new glass 2
35 New Glass 1

I am terrible at cutting glass so I had the glass cut at a glass shop.

37 Vinyl Letters
38 Glass Etchant

I  used these vinyl letters and a glass etching paste to frost the glass pieces and add clear lettering.

39 Maxwells Equations

I decided to put Maxwell’s equations on the glass plates, one on each side. The electromagnetic equations actually predict the existence and speed of light. They were derived in the mid 1800’s by James Clerk Maxwell based on the work of many people who were attempting to work out the physics of electricity and magnetism. I thought it would be cool and in the Teslapunk /Steampunk genres to have these equations on a lamp that was converted from gas to electricity back when these equations were revolutionizing the way people lived.

41 Letters

The first equation in vinyl letters.

42 Etching

The etchant was applied and five minutes later.

43 First one done

The first plates are done.

The next two are completed.

The next two, getting more complex.

48 Fourth Vinyl

The final plates.

Pictures of the Completed Maxwellian Lamps

49 Complete

A completed lamp with the glass inserted and to top set back on.

51 Complete lit

Maxwell’s equations work Light is created.

52 Both Lamps complete

The lamps in there final locations.

53 Right Lamp

Right side table.

54 Left Lamp

Left side table.

55 Another view

Another picture.

56 Left Lit

Left side.

57 Closeup right


58 Close up left

And one more.


59 etched detail 1

Etched equation close up.

61 etched detail 2

Another view of an etched equation.

59 etched detail 1

Two equations.

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