Givers of Light

Inspiring Objects Writing

There’s a certain pleasure in the soft glow of oil lamps or candles or in the thought of strolling down a cobbled street lined by flickering lamp posts. The gentle luminescence of these devices provides such a different experience from the brilliant electric lights we use today. And somewhere in the translation from oil and wicks to electricity, we’ve lost a bit of the charm and craftsmanship that marked many of the lamps of old.

A quick aside–credit goes to Mirriam for mentioning the appeal of the old-fashioned lamp post and so birthing this blog entry.

Not only is light a necessity for any realm–real or fantastic–but light-giving objects can serve on a symbolic level as well, bespeaking hope, guidance, or even warning. Perhaps a hanging lamp marks the last sign of civilization before the road gives way to wilderness. Or the illumination orb in the window gives hope of home and family. And who can forget the most iconic lamp post of all–the one planted in Narnia on the day of its creation?

A simple wick in a bowl of oil reveals something different about a world or a character than an ornately carved or bejeweled lamp. So use the details to enrich your world-building…and enjoy a glimpse at these lovely lights:

Image credit: SpreadTheMagic

Image credit: cglosli

Image credit: luisrock62

Image credit: Anders Adermark

Image credit: solrac_gi_2nd

Image credit: carinasuyan

Image credit: Rickydavid

So, if you’re a writer of fantasy, do you have any unique light sources in your world(s)?

On Inspiring Objects: For a writer, even the smallest thing can provide a spark of inspiration and serve a catalyst for creativity. The objects I feature are usually items that give a glimpse into another way of life, thus enlivening the imagination to run on a course of its own. When building a world, even the smallest of details can reveal much regarding a culture and society, so I hope you find some inspiration here to go forth and create. And if you don’t write, I hope you can still enjoy the beauty and uniqueness of these objects shared.


  • Kessie
    September 28, 2011 - 2:02 pm · Reply

    Those are gorgeous! They really do get the mind clicking.

    So far the weirdest illumination I’ve had was power conveyed from building to building by use of energized crystal clusters. Not all that original, really.

  • Patrick J. Moore
    September 28, 2011 - 2:16 pm · Reply

    I’m still in the beginnings of writing, but the POV of the story is a plant being and in her culture many things are actually plants- florescent lights are grown, as are their houses. I haven’t yet decided if the plants they use for these purposes are naturally occurring in this world, or if this race has developed the technology to genetically engineer them.

  • Sally Apokedak
    September 29, 2011 - 12:02 am · Reply

    I have staffs that light up in one book and I have moon cloth, which glows blue, and sun cloth, which glows yellow, in another book.

    I love lanterns and candles. I read The Little House books aloud to my children and husband by lantern light when the kids were about eight years old. A few chapters a night. That was such an enjoyable time.

  • Mary
    September 29, 2011 - 12:00 pm · Reply

    In my current WiP, the people mine a liquid mineral called lironite, which they use to fill glass lamps. The top of the lamp is metal and can be raised or lowered. Attached to the top is a tiny basket with a chunk of creonite–a solid mineral–in it. When the top of the lamp is lowered, the creonite sinks into the lironite, and the mineral interaction makes the lironite glow a very bright silver. Lironite is very difficult and expensive to mine, store, and ship, so if a family can’t get it or afford it, they can substitute salt water, which will glow if it interacts with creonite, just not as brightly.
    Love these pictures, Sarah. I’ve always preferred the soft, warm light of lamps or candles to the sterile feel of electric light. I actually enjoyed the ice storm we had a few years ago–nine days with no electric lights! (Of course, nine days with no showers or clean laundry either, but… oh well.)

  • Sarah Sawyer
    September 30, 2011 - 5:13 pm · Reply

    Wow, what intriguing ideas (and fun personal stories of living by candle light). 🙂

    One of the things I love about fantasy is the freedom to get creative, even with the small details of a world. And you all certainly have…thanks for sharing!

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