If Daniel McDonald’s Shio lamps didn’t cost $475 and up, they could do double duty seasoning your food or attracting deer. At this price point, you probably want to preserve them, unless you’re Tony Stark or something — but the point is, the lamps are made of salt crystals, grown on a fabric base like stalagmites in a cave.
It takes more than a week to grow a Shio lamp, which can weigh up to 30 pounds. McDonald lets salt water flow over a plastic and fabric skeleton, forming crystals that build up to make the lamp’s unique skin. It’s inspired by the same process in nature, which McDonald first observed in Yellowstone Park — although in the end, Shio lamps look more like the shells of organic creatures than like geological formations.
McDonald has set up a Kickstarter to raise funds for expanding his Shio studio. At the $475 level, you can get a small lamp suitable for putting a tealight in; for $3,000 you get a unique lamp in a shape that’s never been made before, fitted with a Type A lightbulb socket, Mr. Stark, sir. Or you can watch the video for free and marvel at how much inspiration a creative type can find in nature.