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