Back in the uncivilized and barbaric years of 2013-2014, when I was still green in the ways of woodworking and crafts, I built a pair of wall sconces for Handan. She had just discovered the awesome power of decoupage and had unleashed her mighty new talents on some hapless battery-operated candles. The candles, now plastered with ancient maps of wildly erroneous shorelines, required suitable perches for their newly-elevated status. She bought some
rusty old spoons decorative rustic ladles, and I was to incorporate those into my design.
I descended into my wood shop – at the time no more than a few stone tools, some flaked obsidian and a bowl of fire – and emerged with these (okay, these are two pictures of the same sconce, but I built two. Really.)
Two years later, and I can still look at these and not vomit, but they are a bit plain: just two slabs of pine – unsanded – with two colors of stain (at the time, that was my masterstroke!).
It was time for an update. Because though my sconces hadn’t aged well, Handan’s candles certainly had. They are awesome, and I love them every bit as much today as I did then. They deserved sconces worthy of their Here-Be-Dragons swagger. Once again I descended into my
lair workshop. This time I would emerge with sconces of excellence. Oh, and since I have four 45 gallon garbage cans and several boxes full of scrap wood, I figured I’d make them out of leftovers. Waste not, want not and all that.
I picked some pallet wood for the first pair. I thought I’d make two pair from this wood, but only ended up making one.
These boards had some awesome saw marks from the mill. I love that in pallet wood.
I wanted these sconces to be rustic (anyone else getting sick of that word? It’s like “shabby chic.” Ugh). Anyway, what’s more rustic than fire? I grabbed a propane torch and took those boards back to the middle ages.
I really blackened the edges. It gave a nice weathered, uneven look to them. They looked pretty good, but I wasn’t done yet!
Since I was making this project up as I went, I realized that I needed to cut these boards down a bit and use the cut pieces as the overhanging part of the sconce from which the candle would hang. Normally, this should probably have been done before I burned the bejeezus out of them, but it worked so…no harm, no foul?
I wanted an overall darker look, with less contrast between the lights and darks. The week prior I had made one of those “wood aging” solutions of vinegar and steel wool. For those interested, I put one pillow of #0000 steel wool in a quart mason jar and filled it with apple cider vinegar. After three days, I added a couple teaspoons of black tea and let it steep for about 30 minutes. I then strained it and was ready to age some wood with my magic black vinegar.
Here are the boards, just after I applied the solution.
They look pretty good, but just a little too contrast-y. Here they are after an hour.
Now that was more like it! As a note, I ended up burning these even more to finally achieve the shade I desired. I don’t have pics of that second burn though. I thought the sconces looked a little plain, so I decided to emblazon the tops with an “N” using a cool font called Medieval Scribish. I made a stencil and applied it.
This one turned out to be too big, so I made a smaller one, applied it and painted.
When the paint dried, I sanded it to distress the letters just a bit. It’s important to do this while the stencil is still on, otherwise the chalky paint would smear all over the rest of the project.
Since the wood was rough from the saw mill (and the merciless grilling), it was impossible to get a perfect seal with the stencil. Some bleed-under was a given.
I solved this by flaking off the excess with the corner of a razor blade. This also had the effect of scraping off my lovely char, so I blackened a thin stick of pine and re-colored the areas with my handy little char pen. The sconces were now ready for some polyurethane. I started out with a spray polyurethane because the charcoal would smear if I used wipe-on. After the first coat, I did switch to a wipe-on poly for the next two coats.
When the poly had dried, it was time for Handan to put some decorative touches. Ah, who am I kidding? I did the dumb grunt work. Handan made it beautiful.
Here is a pictorial of her work.
And we’re done with the first set!
Since Christmas is almost upon us, Handan updated them for the season.
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