Saturday, August 6, 2011

Making Your Own Church Candleabra: Some Practical Advice

I do not know which to prefer,
the beauty of inflections
Or the beauty of innuendoes,
The blackbird whistling
Or just after

Thirteen Ways
of Looking at a Blackbird by Wallace Stevens

I’d be lying if I said the first time I saw an antique church candelabra in Jeanne d’Arc Living I loved it and wanted one.  They’re dark…blackened brass or bronze, no…crystals...or anything pretty on them.

Issue after issue, Scandinavian blog after Scandinavian blog, I quickly appreciated what they did in a space.   Strong, graceful, dark ‘notes’ in white environments, and, tell me one can’t use more places to burn candles.  

Jeanne d’Arc Living, March 2011 
"Belle Blanc: A Love Affair With White", 
text and photos by Bianca Aurich for Jeanne d’Arc Living

I wanted one.  Desperately.  So, I learned the Danish word 'kirkenstagel' and went to the web shops and dealers that advertise in Jeanne d’Arc Living.

And immediately learned a tiny one with one lily, for example, was $500 USD.   And they didn’t take PayPal (some never have heard of it), and demanded a bank wire with a service fee of $40 on my end alone.  The PayPal issue was no longer of consequence:  I wanted one with 5 – 7 arms, but that was coming up on various sites for prices like, oh, $15,000 USD. 

Making one was the only alternative.

Now, this is isn’t an ‘exact’ tutorial.   Think of it as a roadmap.   I’ll share stuff that worked, stuff that didn’t, and hope you, gentle reader, will do the same if you tackle a project like this.

It helps if you’re the sort of person that doesn’t mind a reproduction or somewhat awkward, homemade 'edges' to objects in your home.  The saving grace of course is you made it yourself.   And that’s always nice.

Raw Materials:

A ‘base’: existing candelabra that can be converted into a church candelabra.
Old tin ceiling tin without paint, or sheet metal for fabricating leaf and lily shapes.
Parts of second-hand store candle holders in shapes of leaves, wheat, grapes, lilies (these are Judaeo-Christian symbols).

Work Materials:
(If you don’t have heavy wire cutters (they cost $15, a lot of money for one project if you’re never going to use it again) ask the hardware store if they can cut your metal rod to length.) 

22 gauge wire
Jewelry maker’s wire cutters
Jax Pewter Black metal tarnishing solution ($12.25, but the Hazmat delivery fee is $50)
Flat black spray paint
Clear Strip spray-on paint stripper (if paint or lacquer is on your base piece)
Tin cutting scissors
Heavy wire cutters
10 gauge wire, bailing wire, or coat hangers
3/16” weldable steel rounds (available at your local hardware store)
Metal drill bit – about $2
Dowel or rolling pin for rolling clay
Knife for cutting clay
Lily flower template

Craft Store Materials:
Air-dry clay such as Creative Paperclay

Look for existing candelabra with the right ‘bones’.
  1. Study pictures of old church candelabras to get a feel for what they include.
  2. Stretch, re-bend, or add metal to your base and wrap tightly with wire.
  3. Cut and wire metal lilies, leaves, wheat, grapes.
  4. Tarnish and add black paint (if necessary).
  5. Create and wire white lilies.

  6. A fifty cent 'thing' I found at a yard sale became the bobeches.
    I combined a pair of candelabras I purchased for $14 total from Saver’s, a Goodwill-type store, with a $2 length of 3/16” weldable steel from the hardware store.
    Lilies are easy to make:

    Like anything, you get out of it what you put into it.  This is not a weekend craft, but if you're up to the 
    challenge I think you'll be happy with what you create.
    Uninterested in making anything yourself?  Find an artist at Betterfly.

    My gentle readers, thank you for all your comments on my church candlesticks -- I’m glad if I gave you hope if you want to make them yourself.  But if I didn’t, here’s a link Tonje Gronvik of Norway generously shared with me.
    Landstil carries excellent House Doctor "Kirkestake” (church candelabra) reproductions that retail for around $300 USD.
    Until next time, stay shabby!

    Sharing with:
    Get Your Craft On Tuesdays at Today’s Creative Blog 
    White Wednesday at Faded Charm 

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      Petite Michelle Louise said...

      Are you KIDDING me? I'm blown away! Totally blown away! I have LONG coveted these church candles as seen in JDL. I'm amaaaaaazed at your creativity and your ingenuity! Yours turned out ever so lovely! Wow....speechless here!

      Tuire said...

      Vau! Olet uskomattoman taitava!
      Kyntteliköstä tuli todella kaunis!

      NanaDiana said...

      Your rendering of that project is just amazing! Do you even realize how talented you are? WOW-that's all I can say-WOW! Awesome-and great tutorial!

      I can't wait to see what you have been up to at your place. You are SUCH a tease! We have to WAIT HOW LONG? lol How about just glimpses? (little tiny ones) xo Diana

      HANNES DAGBOK said...

      Wow!!!! These are amazing!
      I have a few of these made by House Doctor but i wish i had an antique one but it´s very expencive:(

      I never thought of making one my self... <3

      I hope you have had a lovely summer!


      bicocacolors said...

      I'm impressed it seems so easy and the result is spectacular!
      thanks and greetings from Spain

      Anonymous said...

      Absolutely gorgeous!!! These would loook absolutely lovely in an all white backdrop :) Have a delightful weekend! Xoxoxo

      Little Cottage said...

      Hi Sandy,
      I am speechless!! THAT is quite the accomplishment!
      BTW: Thank you SO much for linking to my store :))

      à la parisienne said...

      This looks like my answer to getting rid of my plastic white Christmas tree! I've been talking to my husband about making a Christmas tree this year. I'm so glad you shared this post. I look forward to showing it to my husband so we can make a plan.

      Oh, and looking forward to seeing your redecorated studio!

      It's me said...

      Hi Sandy...beautiful what you did with that candle !!...i love it.....enjoy your and more from

      Susan said...

      My goodness, you really know how to research and follow your vision down to mesmerizing detail Sandy! I am in awe. I almost fell off my chair after you revealed the prices of JDL candelabras. They are exquisite in those magazines and you have meticulously recreated their beauty and affect with your transformations.
      Thank you so much for sharing.
      Also I'm so excited to see your 'new' studio in future publications. I noticed a photo of your studio in the 'coming next month' page of September Romantic Homes. Can't wait to see it in October's issue!
      - Susan

      La casa de Elisa said...

      que bonito candelabro ¡¡ parece facil como lo esplicas yo seria incapaz de hacerlo ¡¡ pero me encanta ver el tuyo ¡¡ seguire viendo tus avances y nuevos trabajos me gusta mucho tu blog
      besos elena

      Sizzle and Zoom said...

      This was very well done. A very ambitious project for me but your directions were great.

      Lilla Blanka said...

      Sandy, you are amazing..!

      There aren't many people who would try to make
      a church candelabre because it's almost impossible to get a result that would be even "OK" ... but you do it and the result is absolutely fantastic!!!
      You are very very talented <3

      I have got to have a second (and probably a third, hihi) look now!!!
      Big hug
      PS I wasn't thrilled over these candleabras either when I first saw them, but over time I've learned to like them and now I just love them!!!

      Olivia said...

      Hummm, very beautiful! I think much more stunning than paying hundreds of dollars! Excellent job~ I have been catching up on your blog realized I missed vintage video...has it really been that long? Anyhoo, can't wait to see your studio!

      Jojo said...

      This post is amazing!!! And the end result is simply beautiful. I can't wait to see your studio redo!!!

      Vicki said...

      Looking forward to seeing the studio. That's a surprise!

      I don't know how I feel about the black church candleabra. I'm working on it. I'm very ignorant of their existence.

      My very small (2-bed/1bath) vintage house is a "storybook cottage" with whimsical accents like an arched front door and a lot of black iron "strapping" (decorative elements that sort of look gnome-like or medieval). I'm sure when it was built, the open-beamed ceilings and walls...everthing...was probably dark wood, giving it a forest-like feel. Too many coats of paint of nearly 100 years, so we painted everything white...except those black iron accents on all the cupboards, the original curtain rods and interior doors. So, I'm thinking now, a black church candleabra might just be the thing for an interesting room accessory if I could make the time and trust my unartistic nature to pull off making one.

      You're very industrious...or determined(!), Sandy! Thanx for the inspiration and good luck with your upcoming shoots.

      Faded Charm said...

      Very cool ideas and I love how they turned out. Now what are you goingto do with all the $ you saved?

      Have a wonderful week:-)


      imsteelefullofscrap said...

      How neat love what you did I bet you could even recycle to old home interior flower things that you see everywhere that are metal brass lookin!

      Burlap Luxe said...

      Hi Sandy,
      Its perfect, loving how brave you were to tackle a project as this, you amaze me with.

      Its a piece to love!!

      Vicki said...

      The candleabra is growing on me. I came back to look at the instructions again. I just think it's really amazing that you would even know how to attempt such a thing...I mean, to be able to look at something and say, "I could make that; I could do that." It's really ambitious. I wasn't born with that ability! I'm impressed with your talents when it comes to home decor, accents, style, etc. No wonder you are featured in magazines.

      Katie said...

      You are so very amazing! XoXo

      My Shabby Streamside Studio said...

      THANK YOU, everyone, for your very inspiring keep me going!


      linnea-maria said...

      Oh my gosh! These candelabras are awesome. So clever of you to make them by yourself!! But I believe you can find "kirkestager" at ebay as well at better prices and paying with paypal. /Therese

      Pamela on the Front Porch said...

      Love the candleabra. Great tutorial on this. You have a great eye for the beautiful. Looking forward to the studio redo. Thanks for all your inspiration.

      Heaven's Walk said...

      Sandy - you are amazing, girl. Talk about talent? Talk about creative? Talk about absolutely beautiful?? Wow. I'm speechless. Thank you so much for the great tutorial today. I'm saving this one for a snowy winter's day project. :)

      xoxo laurie


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