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To forge a traditional candle holder

Forging a traditional candle holder

A featured post by Rachel Wildman (Black Country Metal Works)

As proud Black Countrymen, we are passionate about preserving the traditional skills of our ancestors and sharing the classic art of blacksmithing with new generations.

Through our enduring efforts to keep the fires of creativity within the Black Country burning we have opened our own, interactive forge and soon to be finished classroom, allowing the wider public, groups and schools to feel the heat of the flames for themselves.

We wanted to share with you what a day in the life of a modern blacksmith might entail and how our artists are striving to keep the traditions of their craft alive.

Here is how one of Black Country Metal Works finest created a beautifully Victorian candle holder.

The forge

They start with a perfectly formed disc of iron; this is heated in the fiery coals of the forge which reach temperatures of more than 1000 degrees. This searing hot disc is beaten and shaped at the anvil to form the base of the candle holder.

A robust collar of iron or what we call a jig is fixed to the bench vice. This is then measured so that the best piece of flat iron can be selected to be used as the frame. The iron strip is heated at the forge until pliable. The now scorching band of iron is repeatedly reheated, shaped and bent, to slowly curve the band around the jig until a circle is formed.

To help give a more elegant finish at the final stages, the iron band is carefully trimmed to the same circumference as the base disc.

blacksmith forging  a traditional candle holder

To create the candle stand itself a piece of iron rod is selected and this is then covered with the burning hot coals. Once heated the rod is carefully transferred over to the anvil and placed over the horn. The rod is then repeatedly beaten at one end to help widen the mouth. With the mouth wide enough to fit a tapered candle, a traditional planishing or hammering technique is used to help form the lip of the Victorian inspired candle holder.

In order to craft the authentically period handle a thin piece of iron rod is placed into the blistering forge. One end is then beaten at the anvil until flattened and placed back in the coals ready to be shaped. The now flat iron is then skilfully shaped around the horn of the anvil into a traditional scroll shape. The enchanting scroll handle is gently tapped into a graceful curve, enhancing the shape and style we know and love.

With all four components crafted we can start to bring together the candle holder into one wonderfully classical piece. Firstly the disc base is gently forced within the surrounding band until just below the lip. The now combined base and border are taken over to the vice to be welded and sanded. The process is repeated to attach the candle stand and handle.

The now completed candle holder is placed in the forge one last time to heat before beating to give a more textured and authentic finish. The effortlessly period candle holder could now be lacquered or painted, should you wish, though we prefer to make the most of the finished product in all its simply traditional glory.

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