[Image credit: Hurricane Lantern – Shanga]
Hurricane Lamps can be both decorative and functional when used as part of contemporary interior decor accents, especially when it comes to outdoor use, where the subdued light emitted is ideal for evenings spent on the verandah on a warm summers night and with some styles allowing for the insertion of mosquito, repellant oils comes the added bonus of helping to keep the bugs at bay. Hurricane lamps were adapted from oil lamps used by sailors and comprise a glass chimney with a perforated metal lid that lets air escape whilst protecting the internal flame from being blown out. Aside from oil, Hurricane lamps can also hold a candle and in modern versions, electric bulbs. Not known for emitting strong light today they are more decorative features used to enhance existing light sources or to cast soft glows in a room if placed in an area such as a dark alcove. Note: If using a hurricane lamp that works with oil it is very important to check that it is safe for use and that there are no cracks in the glass.
Hurricane lamps exude olde worlde charm and often attract the attention of collectors who can be seen trawling car boot sales and antique shops in search of perfect, authentic specimens. The one shown here which has a gold metal casing is from Tanzanian based company, Shanga, and is given a unique touch with the addition of recycled glass beads in a mosaic pattern. ‘Shanga’ is a KiSwahili word meaning ‘bead’ and is the name of a social enterprise company based in Arusha, Tanzania that was established in 2007 by Saskia Rechsteiner who aim was to help provide employment for skilled people with disabilities. Currently employing 42 people with disabilities, Shanga is a for-profit business, comprising a workshop and retail outlet, and a restaurant called the River House.
All items produced by the artisans at Shanga, are hand made, using recycled materials and include jewellery, home decor and personal accessories. Profits from the businesses outlets are reinvested back into the business by providing work opportunities for more people with disabilities and helping to provide education for deaf and mentally disabled children. To enable customers easier access to purchase Shanga’s products November 2011, saw the launch of the business’s online store, Kaskazi.