Building a "flickering candle" lamp

Spooky Blue Home | Contact Spooky Blue | Halloween Project Index

There's nothing like wicked dancing shadows cast by the light of a fire to make anyplace instantly spookier.  Since most of we home haunters live in areas with laws that forbid open flames, and to keep from accidentally barbecuing our visitors, we must seek out alternatives.

A flickering light effect can be accomplished in many different ways from using silk over a fan to simple electronic circuits that vary the power to a light bulb.  I, however, like the extra on the spot spook-factor generated by old fashioned flicker-bulbs. 

Video 875k MPG

Materials list
Flicker bulbs Get them at Meijers, Amazing Lightbulbs, Lowes, National Artcraft, eBay
Ornamental lamp Big Lots, or in one of those cardboard boxes in the closet under the stairs
Electric lamp cord w/ switch Hobby stores, Electronic Goldmine, or hack an old lamp

This is an extremely simple project.  In fact, you may find that it takes longer to find the flicker bulb than it will take to build your lamp.  Once you locate a source for these bulbs then buy a handful of them for other projects.  They're so cool.

Important note about bulbs, sockets, and electricity
Make sure that the bulb you buy will fit in your socket.  You may be able to buy the bulb along with a socket and switch in a package that looks like a Christmas candle.  (Kind of weird looking Christmas candle if you ask me)  If you get the "standard" sized bulbs you can hack any old lamp you have lying around the house and use its socket & switch.  I prefer the hobbyist lamp cord used to light up ceramic figures because the socket already has a clip that will fit snugly into the bottom of your lamp.

For gawd's sake be careful.  Make sure the socket is rated handle the load demanded by the bulb.  If its not you could start a fire.  And all the usual safety tips about working with AC electricity.  Don't do it in a bathtub, keep your tongue out of the socket, etc.
Metal lamps designed to hold votive candles are excellent for this project.  It probably has a circular tray to hold the candle.  If the tray is removable just pull it out.  Your lamp may fit in the hole perfectly.  If not just use a pair of tin snips or a file to embiggen the hole.

If you're using a lamp socket with a clip, just pop it right in there.  It will lock in place on its own.  If you're using some other type of socket then you'll have to figure out a mounting mechanism.  If the lamp glass is removable then you may as well permanently attach the socket.  Otherwise you'll be in a bad mood when it's time to replace the bulb but you can't get to it because you chemically bonded the socket to the lamp base with Liquid Nails. 

When there's no more room in hell then the dead will walk the earth and living won't have a prayer because it's the dawn of the dead.  

On a brighter note, these 3W flicker bulbs fit nicely into these hobby lamps.  Complete with socket, clip, and switch.  These things are really handy for lighting up your vintage Halloween light collection too.

As of 9/14/2004 $1.00 ea.
at Electronic Goldmine

Your lamp should be rugged enough that it won't shatter if its bumped.  It should also offer some protection from moisture so the light doesn't get wet.    

That's it.  I told you it was simple.  And now you have a very cool flickering lamp to hang in your haunt. 

Saul & Hannah drop by the haunted shop for a visit

Download video of this simple flicker light in action

875k MPG 

Spooky Blue Home | Contact Spooky Blue | Halloween Project Index