Domestic bulbs used to be so simple. When they blew you bought a replacement from a shop. For stage use an unshaded bare light bulb was always a bit bright – the sort of thing that would burn a hole in your retina whilst simultaneously offering no light to the surrounding stage. Your choices were clear or perl and 40 / 60 / 100W. I have largely ignored the newpapers whining about domestic bulbs being outlawed having long since swapped everything at home for something more energy efficient (and, sadly, less warm, pleasant or homely).
It turns out that people have a strong concept of what a light source should be – and it should be a filament lamp. Much like the way you colour nightime or moonlight on stage doesn’t really make any sense but is universally understood. So this week I found myself in need of a bulb – and with the clock ticking to the next show, it was Amazon Prime to the rescue.
It seems that the bulb is back in fashion. Restaurants love their highly stylised filament lamps, and Amazon will even sell you a retro twisted single core cable set (apparently with a CE mark). You know – the sort you occasionally find at grandparents houses that make part of your brain scream “electrical hazard from previous century”. There is now a huge range of styles and shapes and sizes. There are a lot of bulbs that are LED – zillions of teeny tiny LEDs made into a filament-shaped string – a quite remarkable bit of technology if you stop and think.
For stage use there is good and bad news. The good news is there are a lot of physically larger bulbs. An old-fashioned bulb borrowed from your house always looked slightly pathetic hanging above a vast stage. Bad news is that the fasion for retro is expensive so you have the outrage of paying a tenner for a light bulb. Also, sadly, Edison Screw is all the fashion. Bayonet Cap BC22 is available and while I prefer it because it damn well reliably latches it does restrict your choice. So here is what I ended up with:
Yes, that is a “designed to look retro BC lamp holder” and yes the part black “distressed look paint” does come off all over you as you wire it. No I didn’t want to have to buy that but all my local screwfix had to offer was bright white plastic. Biggest worry now is that for a 60W light bulbs it is a lot dimmer than I was expecting which may ruin the effect. While it’s hard to tell from the photo the fact you can see the reflection of my patio doors in it gives some idea!
So there you have it – 125mm diameter bulb outputing a mere 320 lumens. Accoding to the label it hits 100% brightness in 0 seconds. This is factually incorrect, unlike the “E” energy rating!