Paraffin lamps are another beautiful technology. Simple and functional they are another great topic for a watercolour painting. The first two are from my previous painting of the day exercises. The green lamp belongs to a friend. He invited me to a “plankiesvleis” when I was up-country on a consulting intervention. I painted the watercolour as we sat under a tree in the dusk talking life.
Gas lamps are more traditional camping technology. Although they are still a risk I have used this little gas lamp in my tent when hiking. Again the glass and the mantle require careful handling.
Gas companies released canisters with shut-off valves. Being able to screw appliances on or off his made storage and portage easier. Below is the screw-on lamp I painted in my first year of one-watercolour-a-day.
Here are two lamps I do NOT carry in a pack. The first is the big bottle lamp we used to use in family camping outings – now kept for those times when the grid goes down. The mining lamp was a wedding gift from the prof who supervised me through a masters degree in materials science.
The Alpine Age of rock-climbing stimulated massive innovation in cooking technology. Gas cookers were commonly used in the alpine ascents of major peaks. But liquid fuel has a longer history. With the requirement for greater heat, and easier more reusable fuel storage, designers updated older designs.
Here is the first Coleman pressure burner I used for hiking. Apart from the mixed memories, it remains an excellent subject for watercolour.
Here are two paintings of my Coleman stove with a new one-cup teapotty.
Hikers have used a variant of the stove below for ages. You pour a little fuel into the burning cup which would be enough to warm up the system enough to create enough pressure to drive a jet of flame. I have used this stoves on some great hikes. My friend Buzzy used to comment “there is that smell of a 50s Chevy again” when we cooked on the Brandberg.
These stoves were based on a very old design. This is a stove a friend of mine told me his father used to make a camping tea when he proposed to his father (sometime in the 40s I think).
The mountain tech designers then separated the fuel tank from the burner. They put a pump on the fuel tank. I used an excellent stove with a pump-up fuel bottle for many years. Here is a watercolour of this cooker and the pots I carried with me for decades. I did the painting in Spout Cave in the Cedarberg a while back. Sadly this kit was stolen from my bakkie.
Here are some watercolours of my current setup:
My friend Hagen then told me about ‘Gram-weenies’ those obsessed with weight who shave off as many grams as possible from the weight they carry in the mountains. As a result I bought this little burner. It screws onto a gas canister. Together the gas and burner fit into the billy-can in the painting. This makes it all very neat equipment to carry when I walk in the reserve. And I can slow cook a cup of cocao – with milk and butter in the time it takes to plan a watercolour. Then the hot drink makes the watercolour part of the painting just a little more memorable.
So there you have an abridged history of portable light and heat.