Yes, that old adage about lamps versus light bulbs.  To be fair, they do kinda look like a bulb of some sort, like a rose bulb.  So, in essence, it’s almost complimentary, because people want them to be like flowers.  “Light bulb.”

That doesn’t excuse your ignorance, though.  

Lamps are things that produce light; you can argue that the fixture is a lamp.  That’s acceptable.  Bulb, on the other hand, refers to the glass envelope surrounding the filament in a lamp.




So, there you have it.  Even if you do a search on the internet, no one really gives a shit what we call it.  Did you know that?  Seriously.  Nobody but us cares, and the argument is so old that even Hipsters don’t give a shit anymore.


Just to make this post worth something more than a chuckle, I actually found a bit of text on a government website ( about the invention of the “light bulb” and some of its idiosyncrasies:

Long before Thomas Edison patented — first in 1879 and then a year later in 1880 — and began commercializing his incandescent light bulb, British inventors were demonstrating that electric light was possible with the arc lamp. In 1835, the first constant electric light was demonstrated, and for the next 40 years, scientists around the world worked on the incandescent lamp, tinkering with the filament (the part of the bulb that produces light when heated by an electrical current) and the bulb’s atmosphere (whether air is vacuumed out of the bulb or it is filled with an inert gas to prevent the filament from oxidizing and burning out). These early bulbs had extremely short lifespans, were too expensive to produce or used too much energy.

When Edison and his researchers at Menlo Park came onto the lighting scene, they focused on improving the filament — first testing carbon, then platinum, before finally returning to a carbon filament. By October 1879, Edison’s team had produced a light bulb with a carbonized filament of uncoated cotton thread that could last for 14.5 hours. They continued to experiment with the filament until settling on one made from bamboo that gave Edison’s lamps a lifetime of up to 1,200 hours — this filament became the standard for the Edison bulb for the next 10 years. Edison also made other improvements to the light bulb, including creating a better vacuum pump to fully remove the air from the bulb and developing the Edison screw (what is now the standard socket fittings for light bulbs).

(Historical footnote: One can’t talk about the history of the light bulb without mentioning William Sawyer and Albon Man, who received a U.S. patent for the incandescent lamp, and Joseph Swan, who patented his light bulb in England. There was debate on whether Edison’s light bulb patents infringed on these other inventors’ patents. Eventually Edison’s U.S. lighting company merged with the Thomson-Houston Electric Company — the company making incandescent bulbs under the Sawyer-Man patent — to form General Electric, and Edison’s English lighting company merged with Joseph Swan’s company to form Ediswan in England.)

What makes Edison’s contribution to electric lighting so extraordinary is that he didn’t stop with improving the bulb — he developed a whole suite of inventions that made the use of light bulbs practical. Edison modeled his lighting technology on the existing gas lighting system. In 1882 with the Holborn Viaduct in London, he demonstrated that electricity could be distributed from a centrally located generator through a series of wires and tubes (also called conduits). Simultaneously, he focused on improving the generation of electricity, developing the first commercial power utility called the Pearl Street Station in lower Manhattan. And to track how much electricity each customer was using, Edison developed the first electric meter.

While Edison was working on the whole lighting system, other inventors were continuing to make small advances, improving the filament manufacturing process and the efficiency of the bulb. The next big change in the incandescent bulb came with the invention of the tungsten filament by European inventors in 1904. These new tungsten filament bulbs lasted longer and had a brighter light compared to the carbon filament bulbs. In 1913, Irving Langmuir figured out that placing an inert gas like nitrogen inside the bulb doubled its efficiency. Scientists continued to make improvements over the next 40 years that reduced the cost and increased the efficiency of the incandescent bulb. But by the 1950s, researchers still had only figured out how to convert about 10 percent of the energy the incandescent bulb used into light and began to focus their energy on other lighting solutions.

Have a great Friday!

X-Rays of Lamps are BAD ASS!

Check this out — an x-ray of some regular ol’ incandescent lamps, some color added in post by the artist, but seriously check this out:

Assorted light bulbs, X-ray

TOO COOL!  I had to find more.  This particular photo above comes from Dr. Paula Fontaine at Radiant Art Studios.  As awesome as it is, it did not fully satisfy my now immediate need to see more lamps through x-rays!

Check these out!








HUGE thanks to Society6, BZA, Hongkiat, ChiliPeppers4U2, Melissa Stapleton, Ideum, Wikipedia, and Sun International for the great x-ray photos!


Vintage Power and Light: The Coolest Thing to Happen to Tungsten Since Edison!


If you’ve been to an architectural lighting, entertainment lighting, or decorative lighting trade show lately, you should notice an interesting trend:  the lack of attention to incandescent light sources.  The light emitting diode has overtaken the world, and like myself, I miss the days of the warm tungsten filament in a room, bathing everything in its reach with a wider spectrum of color than its LED counterparts.  Tungsten filaments, at least decoratively, have become the fine wine of our lighting generation – only those with the intelligence and artistic knowledge in using tungsten and other incandescent sources have continued to do so.  The rest of the world is convinced, at the behest of excellent marketing and often regardless of price, that LED illumination is not only the way of the future but also today’s only way to appropriately design lighting.

It’s a fact that in many applications, including modern high bay methodologies and architectural applications, LED light sources are winning hearts and minds over their higher-energy-consuming incandescent cousins.  Sooner than later we’re going to see higher output automated fixtures giving their HID counterparts a run for their money, too.  ETC’s LED Source Four ellipsoidal, Chauvet’s Ovation LED ellipsoidal, Altman Lighting’s ME3 ellipsoidal, and Robert Juliat’s Tibo and Zep LED profiles have taken the market by storm – and have begun pushing back on the use of tungsten-halogen sources, arc sources, and even halogen sources!

On the whole, energy costs when dealing with a large facility or venue are where LED and non-incandescent sources make a monster difference in energy costs.  But what about where energy costs are negligible, like in your home?  If saving comparatively a few dollars here and there in your home is less important than the feeling and artistic appreciation that something like an incandescent lamp brings to you, can you put a price on your happiness?  I’ve owned many a compact fluorescent lamp-based fixture in my home, and frankly I replace every single CFL with its halogen or incandescent counterpart.  It’s my decision, and I do what makes my eyes and my brain happy.

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On that thought, I introduce to you the work of Vintage Power and Light out of Austin, Texas – creator Lowell Fowler (of High End Systems fame) has started a new hobby art venture based on utilizing the beauty and intrigue of vintage lighting and electrical equipment tied with the warm glow of incandescent sources.  Even better than just the sexiness of a glowing filament structure, Vintage Power and Light takes the beauty of an Edison filament wrap source and melds it to gorgeous finished old-world wood components, then adds stunning copper and brass connections and controls.  My favorite parts of Vintage Power and Light’s work are their use of Consolidated Design glass insulators – there is nothing quite like a multi-petticoat glass insulator on a fixture with an artistic incandescent filament turning that glass into a mystical piece of glowing jewelry.  GAH!  This stuff is amazing!!!

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Lowell and York Fowler have put an interesting new spin on the idea of Steampunk-esque design by bringing old-world components and combining them with early 20th century incandescence.  The result is a stunning and refreshing take on using incandescence as not only an artistic statement, but a comfortable, familiar, and heartwarming addition to your house, office, or anywhere else that LEDs just don’t cut it.

Check out a series of gallery images below, click on any image for a light box of that gallery for your perusal!
Just make sure that you give credit where credit is due, and all of these photos are courtesy of Vintage Power and Light with photography by Tim Grivas.

First things first, Vintage Power and Light’s Table Lamps:

Vintage Power and Light’s Chandelier and Pendant series:

Got a Steampunk jones?  Vintage Power and Light does that too!

Last but not least, a gorgeous offering of sconces for your collection:





JimOnLight says HELL YES to Vintage Power and LightAwesome offerings, guys!  We hope that the whole world sees your work and loves it as much as we do!


Not Your Grandma’s CFL – The Brain Compact Fluorescent Lamp

From Belarusian design team Solovyov Design comes an awesome bit of compact fluorescent goodness that breaks the mold of the typical corkscrew-shaped glass envelope.  Meet the Insight CFL from Solovyov Design:







I love seeing photos of the design team after meeting their lighting product for the first time.  It’s almost like seeing into someone’s soul before you see their face.  LOVE IT!  Meet Solovyov Design chief designers Maria and Igor Solovyov.  Maria, Igor — JimOnLight loves your work!


High Speed Photography of Light Bulbs As They Explode, Filled with AWESOMESAUCE by Jon Smith


I am really digging Jon Smith’s photography.  Jon is a high speed photography zen f*cking master.  Apparently he also does some Light Art.  Jon is Wide Eyed Illuminations on Flickr — and since I’m apparently in an all-about-light-bulbs mood today, watch this and then check out what’s beneath it:

THAT, good people of the world, is some amazing shit!  Jon fills up the glass envelope of incandescent light bulbs, and then shoots that sucker with a pellet gun.  Which, as you see below, makes awesomesauce.

These are my personal favorite pics from Jon’s full set on Flickr of the light bulbs.  I’m sure you’ll find your favorites too, but check out the whole set here.

Color Splash

Kitchen Sink

Orange Cap

Feathers in Blue

Oil and Water 1

Blue Puff

Color wheel


Splitting Headache


Feathers Flying

Three's company

Color Splash 2

Heart of Gold

Gold Rush

Gel Balls

NonNewtonian 2

Mason Jar Collision

Flood Light

Pink/Blue Paint

Red White and Blue

The Daily Lamp – A Special Treat, The Fuck You Lamp from Andrea Maestri

Today’s Daily Lamp goes out there to all of the negativity and poo-poo in the world – and I introduce the lamp stylings of Ms. Andrea Maestri to kick it off for us here at



Yeah!  Andrea’s Fuck You! lamp is “price available on request,” so there’s another middle finger right up there!  From the Andrea Maestri website on the Fuck You! Lamp:

Table lamp
Aluminium, leather, studs, polycarbonate, plexiglass
Ø20 x 56H cm (Ø7.8″ x 22″H)

That’s all she wrote, folks!  Andrea, we here at JOL – LOVE IT!


Thanks Designboom, and Refinery 29, and Incredible Things!

The Daily Lamp – The Dildo Lamp, from Matteo Cibic

That’s right, today’s Daily Lamp is a lamp and a dildo.  Crazy?  Maybe.  But if you remember that scene in Parenthood when the lights go out and Steve Martin finds Diane Wiest’s dildo instead of the flashlight?

Meet Matteo Cibic‘s Bedside Lamp with Dildo:




Well, there’s something for everyone, isn’t there?!  From Matteo’s website on Bibelot Sexuel, the line that includes the Dildo Lamp (I mean Bedside Table Lamp with dildo):

Being surrounded by beautiful objects is a source of pleasure. An aesthetic pleasure,since “beauty is the promise of happiness”, as Stendhal once said.  A sexual pleasure also, as it happens with Bibelot Sexuel and a few other extraordinary cases.  Bibelot is a French word that stands for a small, curious trinket or decorative object. Sexuel needs no translation.

This collection of design objects by Matteo Cibic contains indeed a series of ornaments for the house and pieces of jewelry. Yet they are not the kind of objects you would expect to find on your grandma’s bookshelf. In facts, they all conceal a secret, immoral purpose.  The ceramic bedside lamp hides a dildo. So do the fish bowl and the candle holder. Not to speak about the bow tie, which mutates into a pair of sophisticated geisha balls. In Bibelot Sexuel, beauty and sex finally go hand in hand, in a passionate cry for freedom of pleasure.

There you have it, folks.  For all of those times you just have to have a dildo and don’t know where to hide it when your non-dildo friends come over for a non-dildo party.

Thanks Yatzer!


The Daily Lamp for My Birthday Girl – Arik Levy’s Wireflow is Actually Distilled Freaking Genius

I found the coolest Daily Lamp for today, since it’s Laura’s birthday and she is my world.  Check this out, when I saw this I had an audible “awesome” come out:


These are the braingasm of Arik Levy, who’s been on JimOnLight before with his WellofLife series.  He’s awesome.  So are these lamps, which he calls Wireflow.  There’s quite the series on Arik’s website, you must check them out.  Here’s some of my favorites:





The series was made for Vibia — from an awesome post at DesignBoom:

‘wireflow’ explores geometries in two and three dimensions through a series of pendant lighting fixtures which are composed of simple elements, whereby from certain angles they appear flat, like a line drawing suspended in the air.  designed by arik levy, the structures are formed by thin rods which end with LED terminals (3W) for illumination, continuing the visual fluidity of the lines. produced by spanish company VIBIA, ‘wireflow’ explores presence and absence, transparency and luminosity, light and fluidity.



Look at that smile on Arik’s face!  HE KNOWS he’s genius!  GAA!


Getting to Know the LED Ellipsoidal Generation – A JimOnLight Series Introduction


I’ve done a lot of shows in my career so far. I’m lucky as hell, don’t get me wrong – but because of it, I feel like I have a real “bond” with incandescent and high-intensity discharge lamps (HIDs) that we use in this industry. It’s almost creepy sometimes – in my head, I know how a good ol’ no-color Source Four looks in a dark theatre. I know how an Altman 360Q looks in a theatre sitting next to it, too – and how it looks sitting with a Shakespeare, also uncorrected, next to a Source Four. As I close my eyes to write this, I can see how an old Strand 30-degree feels inside of a theatre or outside during an outdoor performance, and how a tried-and-true PAR64 can burns so beautifully bright and amber when it’s going through red shift during a nice slow fade-up during a song in an arena. Even awesome old Kliegl 6×8’s have a good beam still, as long as the optics are changed from those miserable step lenses!

As a side note, I listened to Vesa Honkonen tell a story when I was attending graduate study in Sweden about “trusting” the light from a certain type of reflector, and how that trust cost him time and money on a project.  So as a bit of an aside, with every statement is an equal anti-statement!

I have gotten to know the fixtures in our industry very well because I’ve been fortunate to use them in a real variety of performance situations and installations. When you get to know something like an ellipsoidal fixture with an incandescent lamp in it and you use it over and over and over again, you get to trust the fixture.  I can say with ease that I trust the light that comes from the business end of a Source Four; at the same time, I trust the light that comes out of an Altman 360Q as well, whether it has an HX601 lamp in it or an old FEL lamp.  As a designer, as an artist — I know what that light from an incandescent lamp in one of the “typical” variety of ellipsoidals is going to do for me in a scene on actors of any skin tone, or on a presenter during, or on film and video, and whether it has a chunk of R26 or L181HT in it.  I know that kind of light.  I trust that light.

In the world we live in now, incandescent lamps are slowly becoming forcefully shunned by a growing portion of the lighting industries as a whole (and politicians, sadly), with LED replacements becoming the forced norm by pretty much all of the companies that at one time were pushing an incandescent based fixture.  These companies are all now driving quickly on the road of a really good trend: to produce a fixture that provides the same kind of light or better than that of an incandescent lamp based fixture with a lot less power consumption and without losing any light quality.  Sounds easy enough, right?

There is a strange, edgy, “new car smell” feeling towards the new strains of LED fixtures making their births into the industry.  We are inundated with them at the trade shows in our business, just like we were with the incandescent conventionals.  Manufacturers, this is perfectly acceptable, and I think that it’s one of your biggest assets in this industry.  It’s your job to make us trust your fixtures, through hands-on videos and “shoot-outs” between incandescent and LED fixtures out there.  My informal surveying of conference attendees over the last three years has seen many responses like “TOO MANY LEDS” and “If I see another crappy wannabe LED fixture at another trade show, I’m going to die.”  Believe it or not, this is a really good thing — it provides an opportunity for the exceptional equipment to rise to the top of the Diode Ocean, as I like to call it.  Lately, these exceptions are overcoming their inferior rivals, much to my happiness.

Users, we have a job to do, too — we have to give the manufacturers the chance to trust LED light.  We have to learn how it is different than its incandescent counterparts.  We’ve had all of these decades to learn how to work with incandescent light (and HID light too, for what it’s worth), and we know it.  We trust it, and we love it.  But why is that?  It’s because it’s what we know, and it really is that simple.  Once we give the LED ellipsoidal generation a chance, you know we’re going to trust that too.  This isn’t to say that LEDs are done developing, this obviously isn’t true.  But I am noticing some unbelievably incredible advances in LED engines and output technology lately, especially after LDI in October 2012, and I have to say that I am finally ready to learn to trust LED conventional ellipsoidals.  It’s hard not to at this point to see that LED ellipsoidals are becoming the obvious choice, with the color temperature tuning we see now and the low power requirement that they provide — and to argue against energy consumption and power conservation is just not in my DNA.

Over the next 2 weeks I’m going to be comparing the LED conventional ellipsoidals we see in Entertainment to their incandescent counterparts over the next month, starting with ETC’s new Source Four LED line first, followed by Robert Juliat’s Zep and Tibo ranges, then moving on to the RevEAL Profile from Prism Projection, and so on.  In the mean time, let’s take a look at the characteristics I’ll be examining that I find important to applying trust, at least on paper – you can argue that there are more to see, but for the sake of argument, let’s start with:

  • Cost Comparison:
    What kinds of costs are we looking at over the course of an LED Ellipsoidal lifetime?  How different is it, really?
  • Light Output, or Perceived Brightness:
    How does it compare to a comparable incandescent conventional?
  • Spectral Analysis:
    What is the white light in the beam comprised of with respect to wavelength?
  • Power Consumption:
    When you put an LED ellipsoidal up against an incandescent lamp at 575W, how does it perform?
  • Weight:
    I have to stick these in a truck and on a truss at some point, so what is the difference I need to know?
  • Controllable Properties:
    Obviously I have only a few with an incandescent fixture, so what comes stock in an LED ellipsoidal that makes a difference?

Let’s go on this journey together.  When we work on something together as an industry, we get to make it how we want it to be, and manufacturers listen.  Once we started to get involved with the ways that incandescent lamps were developed and lighting designers started demanding better control over design and engineering of incandescent lamps, they improved.  All we have to do now is learn what the LED Ellipsoidal generation can do for us, and we can really make a difference.


The Daily Lamp – LogLamp from Jari Nyman and Olli Mustikainen


Talk about minimalist, this must be the week of minimalist brain waves in the designer department!  This is a lamp based on a log in a fireplace; you push down on it to turn it on, it lights up.  Push down on it again, off it goes.

Meet LogLamp, from Finn designers Jari Nyman and Olli Mustikainen:

LogLamp from Jussi Peso on Vimeo.

From the websites of Jari Nyman and Olli Mustikainen:

LOG lamp. Inspiration has come from a burning log in a fireplace. Press the wood block down and it pops up to expose the light. Press it again and it switches the light off.
Materials: various types of wood
Finishing: wood wax



Pretty cool!