by Jymm Hoffman 

Materials:     3/8” Hot Rolled Square X 18” long

            16 – 18 gauge sheet, 5” X 4

            2 1/2” long rivets (3/16” diameter or smaller)

Since many people know much of my works are historical reproductions, I feel it is important to include a disclaimer. This is not a copy of an historical item. It is an item that Mark Bokenkamp of Loudonville, Ohio, showed me in the early 1980’s. The original creator is unknown but believed to have been alive in the 1980’s.

I normally make a pair of these at a time and they have sold more often as a pair than singles. Therefore, I normally start working on both at the same time, heart shapes first. I have found trying to match every step along the way is easier than completing one sconce then trying to match the completed one. The following dimensions are approximate, the key is making both alike. Some have heard me answer questions about how long or how thick by saying, “about that much.” 

Upset one end of each 3/8” bars to about 1/2” on the end tapering back to the 3/8” bar over about 11/2”.

Start spreading to form an approximate outline of the sides of the heart shape. I use my cross peen to fuller out most of this, finishing with the face of my hammer to take out the marks and smooth it up. Some tricks in this process include working both sides as I spread it out. Also, a trick I learned from Peter Ross, Master Blacksmith at Colonial Williamsburg, is to flatten the peen on my hammer. Rounded and very narrow peens end up cutting the metal as it gets thinner. One of the first things I do to a factory made peen is flatten most of it, leaving a radius so there are not sharp edges. Also, another important trick is to focus the blows at the center and work out. Leave the edges thicker than the center until you are close to finishing spreading out the metal. Once I have the width of the heart to my satisfaction, I cool it off to start on the other end.

I taper both pieces down to about 1/4” square for about 5” long. I knock the corner down into octagon. I then put a shoulder on the end and punch the hole for a rivet.

Bend and upset the corner for the candle holder and wax cup.

Bend the curve around my horn. After getting the first curve to my liking, I mark the horn with soap stone as a guide for the second.

Twist both pieces. I normally mark my vise with soap stone where the end of the first sconce was held. For the other end I will either set a pair of dividers as a guide for the distance of the twisting wrench or simply keep the other sconce near by. Once the twist is nice and even, I bend the pieces so that they lay flat on the wall from the top of the heart through the twist to the start of the curve away from the wall. Let these parts air cool.

I start on the wax cups. I use my divider to strike two 4” circles, with a deep center punch mark in the sheet. I then trace my candle holder patterns and also put a deep center punch mark in the center.

Cut out the circles and candle holders with a shear. Clean off all burs and clean up the center of the candle holder with a 1/2 round file.

Sink the wax cups (technically raise them down) into my swedge block. I start at the outside edge and spiral down to the center. Take out any wrinkles as soon as you see them.

Peen the veins into the candle holders with a chipping hammer, cup them in the step of my anvil. Curl the ends, then finish forming them around a 3/4” diameter rod. Let air cool.

Back to the heart shape. I use a half round file to finish the outside shape as well as cut the V into the top of the heart. Then I hot punch the nail holes. Let these air cool.

Drill or cold punch the holes in the candle holders and wax cups.

Assemble the candle holders and wax cups to the wall part. Put the rivet on the 3/4” bar that is still in the vice on the screw. Put the pieces on over the rivet. You can then get things to line up relatively well as you peen down the rivet.

Finish options: Cold application of tung oil; a mix of equal parts of linseed oil, turpentine, and white vinegar; paste wax, or some kind of clear spray. If you like the hot stuff, heat the sconces up to apply oil or wax.

These always look best when mounted with hand forged nails.


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