How to Make an Ancient Oil Lamp


Make an oil lamp like Moses and the ancient Egyptians used. These simple clay lamps filled with olive oil offer advantages over candles. Olive oil burns bright with very little smoke and will burn for a long time. Oil lamps provide inexpensive light during power outages due to inclement weather or other hazards. Make several and store them with your emergency kit.

Step 1

Place a small round bowl upside down on a piece of parchment paper.

Step 2

Soften the polymer clay by rolling it between your hands. Use the rolling pin to roll the clay ball into a disc a little bigger than your bowl.

Step 3

Place the clay disc over the bowl and turn the bowl right side up. Pinch the clay together on one side to form a short spout. This is where the wick will go.

Step 4

Shape the rest of the clay snugly to the bowl and trim off any excess with a small knife.

Step 5

Bake the lamp in the oven according to the instructions on the polymer clay package. Allow the lamp to cool.

Step 6

Slide a stiff wire into the lamp through the spout and use the pliers to bend up the end sticking out of the spout so that a half inch of wire is sticking up. If the wire is too long, trim it so that it fits into the lamp with just the half inch sticking out.

Step 7

Pull the wire back out and wrap the cotton wick cord around the end and put the wire and the wick back into the lamp. Push the wire that sticks up through the end of the wick.

Step 8

Fill the lamp bowl half full of olive oil and allow to sit 30 minutes for the wick to soak up the olive oil. Now you can light your lamp.

Tips and Warnings

  • Always practice safety when doing craft projects

Things You'll Need

  • Small round bowl
  • Parchment paper
  • Polymer clay
  • Rolling pin
  • Small knife
  • Stiff wire
  • Pliers
  • Cotton wick cord
  • Olive oil


  • Oil Lamps in the Ancient World
  • Mother Earth News: Make your own olive oil lamp
  • Oil Lamps

Who Can Help

  • Polymer Clay Productions: What is Polymer Clay?
Keywords: ancient oil lamps, Herod lamps, making an oil lamp

About this Author

Ronnie Daniels writes content for blog, website and print publication. Writing professionally since 2007, Daniels has been published on eHow,,Triond and offline in "Mirror Mirror Magazine." Constantly improving his craft and writing better articles and stories has become Daniels' goal in life.

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