Amy’s Free Ideas

I think my girls made the lamps shown above at a day camp before they even began first grade. We used them every year to light our passover supper, until my girls grew up and moved away.  Remember that kids’ projects are never going to look as good as the adult’s sample.

Note that they have the Greek word “ichthus” written on the side.

You can buy a child’s electric potter’s wheel in some craft and toy stores. This is not going to stand up to a lot of abuse, so it may not be the best choice for a camp situation. if this is the kind of project you want to do, it may be better to buy hand-turning lazy susans or turntables. The children can pair up and take turns pushing the turntable, and making the clay object.

Make an oil lamp out of air drying modeling clay (kaminendo). If there is a kiln in your area that will fire small projects for a reasonable price, you can use real clay. Otherwise, stick to the kind that air-dries or bakes in a standard kitchen oven. Olive oil burns very well with wicks from old candle stubs that you can pull out with pliers before you throw the stubs away--the wicks can be as short as one inch ( 2 cm.). Or buy wick at a craft store and cut it into one or two inch lengths for each child. Let them get the oil once they go home. The easiest way to form the lamp is to make a ball, flatten it into a circle, then pinch one side to make the place for the wick to burn. An alternative way to shape it is to roll the clay into a long snake, and coil it from the center into a circle, and then a bowl shape. Rub the inside and outside with your fingers or a rubber spatula to smooth all the coils together, otherwise if a hole remains, you could end up with a leak--not a happy thing when oil is involved!! Pinch one side for the place where the wick goes. Let it air dry, or bake in the oven according to package instructions.

To make a lid, make another circle, cut a hole in the middle, then wet the rim of the base. Gently press the lid along the edges, and trim off any excess with scissors. The oil lamp is very easy to crush while you are trying to put the lid on, and then you have to start all over again. So I do not recommend this unless the children are very good at crafts, or they are middle school age.

It is quite difficult to get the hang of using a potter’s wheel, so it would be best to save the potter’s wheel for children who are at least in later elementary grades or middle school.

The oil lamp shown above was made by an adult on the potter’s wheel. Once the bowl shape was made, and the wheel was turned off, the right side was pinched for the wick, and the handle was made from a short snake shape, and pressed onto the bowl.

Here are 2 child-made samples on the left, and the adult-made sample on the right.)

Of course, you do not have to be limited to oil lamps--they can make vases or pencil stands. It’s just that boys really like fire, so the lamp does have that appeal. But let the parents decide if it is o.k. for them to actually light the thing!