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Wm. R. Robertson

Making Brass Candlesticks

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Wm. R. Robertson

I felt like doing some brass turning.... so I made some miniature brass candlesticks. Most are patterned after 18th century English originals and in 1/12th scale are less than 1" tall. The process is basic turning on a Rivett lathe and then finished off on a Taig lathe with hand held gravers. Some of the bases are milled to shape and then finished with a Fordom hand grinder/polisher. Things like the spiral base are more "carved" this way than machined..... it would take me too long to do all the set-up than to just grind away. The little feet are screwed in using a 0.8 mm thread, then peened over...... all in all it was kind of fun to do.... just one off's.... complexity depending on my mood at the time I started each. These were done over a period of about 3 days...... can't wait to do more!

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Wm. R. Robertson

Well that was so much fun I made a bunch more.......

Here is a photo showing the cutter I made (from 3/8" drill rod to give an idea of size) for pedal base.......

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This base was turned from both sides.... 

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And one of those with the adjusting screw..... 

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Wm. R. Robertson

These posts were taken from another forum where I posted this years ago. There were some questions about how I work and the base and here was the answer.

 

For just about all my work I would take a few measurements and mark those locations on the work. These are usually high and low points. Then I do the curves with gravers free hand..... I often will have the original object laying behind the lathe so I can kind of see what I'm doing and what shape I'm suppose to to be doing at the same time. I find it is just too hard to try to layout and measure everything. Also sometime I'll use a proportional divider.

Now on milling the base, I assume you are asking about the middle photo. I first turned the basic shape to the top, then milled it square with a form cutter and the back in the Rivett and turn away most of the metal in the back. Using a jewelers saw I cut out he feet and filed the cupids bow shape..... put in the Taig lathe and the top was then turned and drilled and tapped.... then cut it off the base and screwed it on to a fixture held in a collet to turn the bottom.

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ElgaKoster

Got of one of these, the one you made the special cutter for..and I enjoyed watching you make one at the Guild School seminar in 2012, sometime I will try making one of the Cape Dutch candlesticks.

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Wm. R. Robertson

What does a Cape Dutch Candlestick look like? I don't think I have ever seen one in any of my books. You know if I like it I will have have to search the world to find a real one since I collect 17th and 18th century brass candlesticks....... I have 60 on one of my fireplace mantels!

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ElgaKoster

Well, there was a big auction in the Cape about a month ago, there were silver and brass items in the auction. Many of the silver and brass items were imported from Europe, been reading a lot about the history of the late 1700's and mention of American ships in Table bay is also made, plus an American sailor that was fed up with ship life and ran away, he hid on Table mountain for 18 months, living of killing small animals, eating wild fruits etc, even brewed his own spirits...when he finally came down he discovered his ship foundered in a storm in Table bay about eight days after he ran away...he did get back to the US eventually.

Here are some that were made in the Cape. When I go to Cape Town later this year I plan on visiting some of the museums, I am sure I will see some candlesticks too.

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Wm. R. Robertson

I'll have to find some photos of some of my candlestick collection to post. The ones in your top color photo look like they share the same cast base with an English example I have from around 1775.

For some reason, maybe self defense ( I can't help myself once I get started collecting something ) I haven't liked chamber sticks... The ones with the trays and finger rings.

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Wm. R. Robertson

Here are some of my full sized sticks..... I tried to do a video but couldn't figure out how to get in on the forum.... Will work on that.

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ElgaKoster

Oh my, they are beautiful, how often do you have to polish them? Love the prints too...have a weakness for them and old books, one of my favorite book shops that had prints and rare books burned down last year and they lost most of their stock in the fire...

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Wm. R. Robertson

Here is one of the fun parts I like about making candlesticks or any small object on the lathe….. you lay the original in front of you and copy it by eye by just changing your focus back and forth between the full scale and the miniature. In this case you the stem of a English c. 1760 candlestick and the miniature being turned to shape with gravers. I find having the real thing is so much better than pictures…...

 

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PJPickard

Bill,

 

These are great and I have several comments!

One, thanks for showing the in process photos and things like the special cutter.

Two, your display in the house, I REALLY like that...too often people tend to pepper their place with stuff, I find that there is no place for the eye to rest. Your way makes a focal point of the collection, the framed prints on the wall behind emphasize it even more, I love the contrast of the grid on the wall and all the candlesticks on the table.

 

Finally...you bring up a point that has stopped me from starting on countless projects. Having the real thing. Right now I have several idea percolating in my head on things to make. I tend to scour the web for images, then hope I can get really good images, maybe drawings of some kind, then ultimately the idea peters out when I realize that to do the job that I'd want to do I would need the real thing in front of me.

 

Lastly, I need to get better with gravers...

 

Paul

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Wm. R. Robertson

Thanks Paul, yes it is nice to have the real thing in front of you but just because you don't, don't make that an excuse not to try. I used to copy candlesticks out of the Williamsburg catalog of reproductions, when the were reproductions not just junk from India. I had this one great ad with a row of them photographed straight on... Still have it somewhere but it is pretty tattered. I made a bunch and they sold well, then I bought some of those Wmsbg. copies at flea markets. These made my work a little better. Then I started working from period examples and my work got even better. But here is the thing, no one that got the early ones ever complained and they wouldn't trade those in even if they had the chance.

Sometimes having too much data on a project is a bad thing, since we are detail freaks, if we know something is there we feel compelled to model it. If we don't know a detail is there and skip it we are just as happy...... So just pick something and make it. As I say, nobody ever took a micrometer to my work, they just look to see if it looks right.... As I say, " the eye is the final judge"

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ElgaKoster

Bill said exactly what I was thinking...for some reason I really love American furniture and my clients do too, but you are not going to find many of those here in South Africa...so I make the best of the resources I have and add a bit of artistic interpretation, sometimes I find I have to make something a little bit bolder than true 1:12 scale otherwise you won't even pick up that detail, simply because you can't see it. And bottom line, making miniatures has to be fun too, after all our mini world is an escape from the real world with all it's demands and stresses!

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WeekendMiniaturist

Inquiring minds need to know, has the candlestick class been taught at GS, or GSP? Elga mentions in her comments that Bill hosted a seminar.  Are classes ever repeated at GS or GSP?  I can only remember Annelle's repeated Casket classes, and multiple classes of Nancy's leather class recently.  I don't think I can obtain a Rivett lathe from the early 1900s so what kind of current metal or jewelers lathe is recommended?  Will the Taig or Sherline work?  I am fascinated that the candlestick screws into each bottom, and that lesson in itself would be a wonderful class.  I think I should sign up for machining class at a local program.  What RPM speed is brass turned at?  Tamra/Indiana

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Wm. R. Robertson

I have taught my basic candlestick class many times, both at Guild School and Tune. I use Taig lathes and both locations have enough for all the students. I think the first time I taught a lathe class was about 35 years ago!

I wouldn't expect anyone to come up with a 100 year old Rivett loaded with accessories. They are kind of hard to come by. Later as we have more time I'm sure will end up with discussions on miniature lathes and how to use them.

BTW, at Castine this I will be doing my lathe seminar which is a 1 hour version of lathe class... I think there were a few seats left. Are you coming to Castine this year?

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Catherine Ronan

These candle sticks are just beautiful Bill. I would love to take one of your classes.

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WeekendMiniaturist

The plan is to be on that plane this year headed for Maine in June!  But our fearless and kind leader has not spilled the beans on which seminars I obtained, will know when we arrive on Friday!  I'm so excited to learn about tatting, lathes and Elizabeth's QA legs...  I think I have a good chance, because for once in my life, I made an instant decision when I opened my packet, and faxed it immediately!   Sorry about the F-P inference, that comes from DH making fun of my tools, but I won't part with my dremel lathe, as instructions that are available in TSC, and other miniature publications frequently discuss setup on the dremel; subsequently I won't part with it at this point in my life; it is my bridge between the real life world, and DH's real life tools, and my world in 1/12th scale.

 

Tamra/Indiana

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MissyBoling

I got to see the candlestick seminar in 2013.  The barley twist candlestick on the left of the mantel looks like it might be the one Bill did in that seminar.  I'm a sucker for barley twist, and he made it look so easy!

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WeekendMiniaturist

I did get to participate in Bill's seminar at GS 2014... much fun to see the captive ring, pop from the turning.  Definitely impressed.  Of course I knew the demo would be easy for an experienced master of the lathe, but I was most impressed that Bill could talk to us the entire time he was turning that candlestick. 

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Wm. R. Robertson

"......could talk to us the entire time....." When I work in my shop I always either listen to audio books or watch TV........

Thanks for coming to the seminar, it was fun.

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Urbania

I must dust off my Taig Lathe and get busy with it...........so far I only have the woodworking accessories with it though.  Beautiful work Bill. 

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