Oozing Goo - The Lava Lamp Syndicate

Lava Lite Timeline - The 1970s (non-lava)

L E G E N D:

Years
General Information
Model Names and Numbers
Catalog tidbits
Descriptions
Colors - Lava/Liquid
Variations known or reported

 

Some non-Lava lamps produced by Lava-Simplex companies in the 70s

In the late 1970s, Lava-Simplex produced a few other odd lamps, such as a 70s version of the KaleidoLite, a precursor to the modern "beads swirling in water" lamps, and a couple of psychedelic light show lamps. Other units produced, on which there is no known information as of yet, are "Lava Time Decorator Clocks" and "Decor-Art Objects D'Art", both mentioned in an advertisement. The Lava Time clocks may have been an electric clock in a black plastic cube topped by a smoked acrylic box containing a sculpture made from bent and twisted clear acrylic rods, lit from below with a revolving color wheel. It may, alternately, have been a later name for Timette's "Action Line" of "Cordless electric pendulum clocks", or it may have been Lava collaborating with Mastercrafters Clock & Radio Corp. to sell their animated action clocks.

The Silver Spinner, model 7700
"A psychedelic sensation! Eerie light flickering through invisible matrix creates endless shapes, colors and shadows on white frosted globe...while the matrix revolves for a mind-grabbing effect"
A very interesting 1970s update of the earlier KaleidoLite. A conical, satin silver base with two deeply incised lines, one just under the top and the other just above the bottom, sat on a black plastic, footed Century tray. Atop this cone sat a 6" white frosted plastic globe. Like the KaleidoLite, this lamp supposedly had a "matrix" perforated with various patterns, through which shone multi-color lights blinking at random, and it was said that the matrix also revolved "for a mind-grabbing effect"! In reality, it also used the heat-powered motion lamp effect, and was probably intended to use up the last of the KaleidoLite parts, since catalogs sometimes listed it as the "KaleidoLite Silver Spinner." The lamp stood 11 1/2" tall.
List price: $18.95

Starburst Fiber Optic Lite, model S-900
"A fiber optic lite that's been innovated from space-age technology; computerized and programmed to give you an everchanging color spectacular of multi-pattern "sky rockets bursting in air" for your viewing pleasure"
This 7" cube finish in faux Walnut woodgrain was definitely not "computerized". On the front, surrounded by an ebony finish trim, was a polished black acrylic panel. Behind it, bundles of plastic optical fibers were spread out and threaded, one each, into tiny holes in the face plate, in the form of various fireworks effects. The other ends were bundled together in precise patterns, placed before a light and a revolving color wheel. The changing colors projected into the fibers and ared at the other ends, producing an effect of bursting, multi-colored fireworks. "Programmed" may have referred to the fact that the fibers must be arranged carefully in the bundle, so that as the color wheel turns, the patterns into which the other ends are arranged will change color in the correct way. For its time, an amazing lamp. For our time, a very rare one!
List price: $34.95

The Infinite Motion Lite - with the "tunnel of moving lites"
This lamp had a square Walnut frame, and was the classic "Infinity Mirror" effect. For those who do not know how these work: Set in the frame were two panels. The rear one had a wide, circular mirror. The forward one was mirrored on the inside, but transparent when seen from the front, and had a black painted mask covering the area around the rear mirror. At the edge of the circle was a ring of tiny lights. The two opposing mirrors created a fantastic effect of multiple rings of lights forming a tunnel that stretched off into infinity. The back mirror had a domed mirror added in the center, which was set at a slight angle, so the tunnel shown on that part veered off to one side. This center disk was motorized so that, when it turned, the direction in which the tunnel curved away from the viewer would slowly rotate.

The Liqua-Lite, model 1500
"A visual-effect lamp of a million moving, relaxing bubbles and beads swirling through glistening water that is accented by light from above"
This was the precursor to some lamps produced today. A square plastic base held a round, clear acrylic column topped by a slightly tapered tall, narrow parchment lampshade. The column contained water and colored plastic beads, which swirled as air bubbles rose swiftly through the water. An aquarium-type air pump was concealed in the base. A cord running up the side powered a light in the top, which illuminated the water and beads as well as providing indirect light below and above and, on all except the black model, making the lampshade glow. The lamp was 25 1/2" tall and used a 60-watt bulb. It was available in four shade/base/bead colors: 
Red, Black, Green or White.
List price: $32.95

The Wave Machine
"Surf's up! Shift into high speed with The Wave Machine. Catch the future in motion as you watch the eternal ebb and flow of the sea. It's a course of action so predictable...so engaging. Ride the crest of self-expressed relaxation with The Wave Machine"
These new liquid motion displays used no heat or light. A long, narrow rectangular vessel made from clear acrylic held two liquids. A deep blue liquid was on the bottom, and a clear liquid floated above. The ends of this chamber had plastic caps. The underside of the vessel had a groove cut in, slightly off center. The plastic base contained a slow motor. The top of the base had a "cradle" with a narrow edge to set the groove upon. A slot cut in the top of the base, parallel with the vessel, allowed a plastic cam mounted off-center on the motor shaft to protrude. As the cam revolved, it caused the vessel to tilt slowly from side to side. The blue liquid slowly flowed in an ocean wave motion from one end of the vessel to the other, and back again. This is a very relaxing action to watch, and was probably very popular in offices and waiting rooms. The base and end caps were plastic with a polished silver finish. The Wave Machine was not a US invention - like many lamps and shapes of lamps made by Lava in the US, this device was originally designed by Crestworth in the UK.

The Adriatic, model 16
This unit had a 16" long vessel, and was 6" tall and 1 1/2" wide. The base was basically a rectangle, with sloping ends and a gently curved top. 

The Caribbean, model 18
The model 18 had an 18" long vessel, and was 6" tall and 3 3/4" wide at the base. The base was flared on all sides, wider at the bottom, and had a gently curved top.

Creators' Inc. AKA Creators' Lamp Co. - Shower Lites
Another division entered into the company at this time. Creators' Inc. produced a line of lamps (also made by Johnson Industries Co.) generically known as a "rain lamp". The rain lamp consists of a metal bowl base and top, fitted either with a stand so it can be placed on a table, or with a hook and chain so it may be hung as a swag. The base and top are separated by multiple columns, or a single center column, made from metal pipe and sometimes covered by wood spindles. In the base is an electric pump, and in the top, hidden from view, is a socket for a light bulb. A quantity of mineral oil is placed in the base. The pump sends it up through a column, and it fills a circular tray in the top. One or more rings of holes is drilled in the tray at the top, and the same pattern of holes is drilled in the bottom tray. Thin strands of monofilament, like fishing line, are strung between them, either vertically or at a diagonal slant. The oil flows down the lines and forms droplets, simulating rain. A statue or decorative object or scene sits in the center. Examples known include: Goddesses such as 
DianaVenus, the Three Graces, etc.; Don Juan (often mistaken for one of the Three Musketeers) Colonial lovers courting; an Oriental lady; a boy and girl beneath an umbrella (Storm Children) or a Greek statue such as David. Some versions, including most chrome models, had clear cast acrylic statues. One style had three candlesticks with candles having electric bulbs, set at varying heights. Other models using more "action" included:

Dancing in the Rain: Two lovers dancing - they revolve slowly. A variation exists with them inside a small gazebo. A ship at sea, a white sailboat (with a man on the deck) that tilts slowly as if rocking on the waves of a storm.

The Water Lady: A goddess holding a tilted water jug that continuously pours oil.

The Old Country Mill: An old farmhouse having a millwheel on the side - oil supplied by a plastic tube extending down to the house from above, and in later units by a tube hidden within, flows over the wheel and causes it to spin. At the rear of the house is a set screw that can be turned to adjust the flow of oil over the wheel.

The Swing, a long "wood" swing on two thin rods suspended from above, with a girl sitting and a boy standing - it slowly swings back and forth.

Creators' made their rain lamps, dubbed "Shower Lites", in many designs and finishes, and sizes from 24" by 7", up to over 35" by 15". All except their smallest of the newer Shower Lites were made from plastic and metal; the early 24", 29" and 35" models were entirely metal. They nearly always came with plastic greenery the owner could arrange in holes provided in the lower tray - with the goddess lamps, this provided a "garden in the rain" effect. 


They also made tabletop punchbowl fountains, made of clear or frosted plastic, containing a light. These usually have a goddess statue in clear cast acrylic standing in the center of a bowl, and use a circular pipe with multiple nozzles, encircling the bowl, as the liquid outlet. The punch or water sprayed up onto the goddess statue. They also made multi-tier punch fountains, with a stack of bowls ranging from largest to smallest, bottom to top. These often included a plastic ballerina to place in the spout at the top. She revolves as the liquid flows out.

The "Simplex" in Lava-Simplex was a division producing instant-loading, flashcube cameras, and the accessories to go with them, such as carrying cases. It is unknown at what time Timette and Simplex closed or left the group.

Got questions, additions, changes, suggestions? Email me at KitDaKat@aol.com!  <This is Jonas!

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