Fun Lighting Tips

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Can I use neon lights in my home?

Neon Lights

Neon lights are glass or plastic tubes which are filled with a gas that responds to electrical current. The first commercial neon signs in the world were installed at a Packard dealership in Los Angeles in 1924.

Not all neon lights contain neon! Neon gas produces red light, while combinations of gases such as argon, helium and mercury can create up to 150 other colors.

Neon lights are primarily used for commercial purposes, including stores, bars, restaurants and theaters. A neon clock, beer sign or martini-glass sculpture can be a kitschy element in a game room, TV room or bar area of your home.

Neon art is attention-getting and frequently abstract. It makes a great focal point for a modern room.

What are black lights?

Black Lights

"Black" lights are really purple, shedding a form of ultraviolet light that lends an eerie glow to a dark room. They are perhaps best known as a party accessory of the 1960s and 1970s, but are extensively used in non-destructive testing of everything from crime scenes to banknotes.

The fun quality of black lights is related to their ability to light up anything phosphorescent -- including people's teeth and fingernails. Clubs and amusement parks use phosphorescent paint to achieve special effects when black lights are lit. For a fun experiment, try writing with a highlighter, then shining a black light on it!

Where can I use party lights?

Party Lights

Party lights are strings of lights similar to those on a Christmas tree, except that each light is decorated with a plastic shape to represent a fun theme.

The possibilities are endless: Football lights for a Super Bowl party, lobsters for a Mainer's birthday, parrots and palm trees for the Jimmy Buffett fan.

They're not just for parties, either! Try party lights as a fun touch in an informal room like a den or a teenager's bedroom. For the RV crowd, there are party lights that plug into a 12-volt power adapter; for the energy-conscious, solar-powered night lights lend a charming atmosphere to a backyard get-together.

What are Lava Lamps?

Lava Lamps

The Lava Lamp (yes, it's a brand name) has been around since 1965, and is still popular today as a novelty item. More for fun and atmosphere than for light, it comes in a startling variety of styles, each with the well-known motion effect. There's even one with a USB connector that plugs into your computer!

Lava Lamps consist of blobs of colored wax, which are both lit and heated when the lamp is turned on. A bulb inside lights up the blobs as they slither and curve around the inside of the lamp.

If you have an old Lava Lamp, it may be worth money as an antique! Keep Lava Lamps out of direct sunlight, which will fade the colors.

What uses are there for string lights?

String Lights

String lights are most commonly used at the winter holidays, but can provide interesting and decorative lighting effects year-round.

While party lights are meant for fun, plain white string lights can lend a touch of elegance to a dining room or backyard cocktail party. The lights can be decorated to look like lanterns or stars. String lighting on shrubs or trees can provide a gentle light that helps visitors make their way to the door without disturbing the neighbors' rest.

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Candi Wingate