Long-Delayed Gratification

About ten years ago I purchased a pair of candle sconces online. They looked to be from the 1950s, and had a Hollywood-Regency quality. Mmmmmmmm.

The sconces arrived. I liked them! But could not find a place for them, so they were put in a box.

Years passed, and the sconces stayed in their box, as the box was moved from one place to another and then another and yet another. Over and over the box was moved until a few months ago when, with the box in my hand, a question popped into my mind: Might these look good at that other house you own? You know, that big house?


So the box-o-sconces were taken to the big house and I did, indeed, find the perfect place for them.

It was then that another problem was discovered.

I had no idea of how the attach the sconces to the wall. It was obvious, belatedly, that the original mounting thingies had not been shipped with the sconces. But, all was not lost for I do possess an ounce of cleverness and, on some days, even two ounces. Thus, I pondered and pondered and tried out a few ideas…but nothing worked, even on a two-ounce day.

There was no option but to see if JR in Portland, Oregon, could help. For, JR has eight ounces of cleverness, at least.

For many years JR has helped me out when I am confronted with some lighting restoration impasse. JR is one of the owners of GKA Lighting. The company restores lighting but specializes in huge fixtures from 1920s movie palaces or banks or grand skyscraper lobbies. They also manufacture new lighting, like for casinos in Las Vegas. They also, blessedly, do repair work.

The box-o-sconces was shipped to JR and a while later they returned with a devilishly simple yet ideal mounting plates attached. In the future, nobody will ever glance twice at the mounting plates but I was awed. The plates are just simple round disks but with two holes for screws, and with a JR-created patina which exactly matches the dark patina on the original brass components of the sconces.

Thank you, JR!

Another issue was candles. The sconces had holders for 1-1/2-wide candles which is really wide. And such candles proved hard to find! After much ado, I discovered Alter Candles which have 1-1/2-wide bases! They were not cheap but did I have a choice? And, because the room is so huge, nothing less than 12-inch-high candles would do, darling.

The candles duly arrived and I, with great excitement, attached one sconce to the wall, inserted the many candles, and stood back.

And my great excitement was dashed.

The candles overwhelmed the sconces. They were too friggin’ wide and too friggin’ tall.

Sigh. At this point I wondered if the sconces were just, I dunno, somehow dammed. Maybe they were never meant to be appreciated? Maybe they were just meant to be scorned and shunned and returned to their box to spend eternity in a dusty attic?


A few days later I thought: Oh! I could just remove the wide metal candle bases and install more typical narrow ones, and then I could order elegant, thin, tapered candles!

But the metal bases were not, as it proved, removable. And now I was pretty convinced: The sconces were dammed.

A few days later I thought: What if I cut off 3-inches from the 12-inch candles? Would that help?

It did!

So, with now 9-inch candles, today I went ahead and hung the second sconce. The candles still create a kinda top-heavy look so tomorrow I will see if cutting off another 3-inches will do the trick.

Well, wanna see?


The sconces in the Long Bedroom, which will be mine. One day.


And with 9-inch candles.


And the former 12-inch candles. You see the problem!


In the image at top, the triple stained-glass windows are washed out. Not here! I put blue crystals on the sconces but am now thinking amethyst would look better!


The story, thus, of the never-ending sconces is not yet finished. But I no longer feel they are eternally dammed

My frustration aside, it delights me that, after so many years, the sconces are now hanging. Squee!!!!!!!!

Stay tuned!



  1. Mary Garner-Mitchell on August 17, 2018 at 7:36 pm

    Light the candles and see what you think… I fear 6 inches is a shy. But then again???

  2. Grandmere Louise on August 17, 2018 at 7:47 pm

    Since they are true candles if you start with 12″ candles they will be 9″ candles in an evening or so and in another evening or so they will be 3″ candles. My New England ancestors would rise up and haunt me if I tossed them before they were down to 3″. I don’t know if they would object to never lighting the candles at all but I suspect they might. That seems like a form of ostentation or waste. Dang those 17th century wights and their opinions.

  3. Stewart McLean on August 17, 2018 at 8:37 pm

    I make removable inserts for too wide candle holders out of epoxy putty. I thoroughly cover the interior with paste wax so that the epoxy you are working with won’t stick while the epoxy is hardening. I use the fast setting epoxy putty. This putty comes in a 2 part stick form. There is an interior cylinder of one part surrounded by an exterior tube of the other part. (Don’t ask me which part is the resin and which is the hardener because I don’t know). To use the epoxy, one cuts off a length about the size needed and kneads it together until it is uniform in color, then wrap the base of the wax candle in it to the approximate height of the holder and insert it into the heavily waxed holder. Press the epoxy snugly into the holder for a tight fit. Be sure that the candle is held vertically,so that the candle doesn’t lean when you are finished. Once it starts to set, I make sure that I can slip it out. If the interior of the holder swells in a way that you won’t be able to get the epoxy insert out. If you want to be able to use it for larger candles on occasion, doing this is not a good idea.
    Hope this is useful to somebody.

  4. Chad's Crooked House on August 17, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    My grandmother used aluminum foil. Easier than epoxy.

    • Stewart McLean on August 17, 2018 at 10:10 pm

      -You may find that aluminum foil is easier than epoxy, except I don’t agree. Have you ever used epoxy putty? When I have tried foil, I have neither been able to get the foil to look half decent nor to work for any length of time. One has to futz with them every time the candlesticks are moved or cleaned to keep the candles vertical. Sometimes they lean when lit if the match or lighter nudges the candle. I have seen wax paper, plastic wrap, and paper used by people and there are those who melt wax, pour it in the cup, and stick the base in that. Candles tend to lean when wrapped in layers of foil and every time you change the candles, you need to make new foil inserts. If the old foil inserts seem to still be working, they are usually really dirty by the time a candle has burned down in it. Maybe your grandmother had a trick that solved these problems that you didn’t mention, but I have found its use to be a constant battle. Of course I am a stickler for candles to be centered in the holder and pointing straight up. If I didn’t care how it looked, foil would be fine. Of course if I didn’t care about appearances, I wouldn’t use candles at all.
      -Epoxy inserts, once made, are durable, washable and almost endlessly reusable. They can be drilled,sanded and shaped if they don’t turn out exactly right the first time. They are really quick and easy to make once one gets the hang of using the putty..

  5. Julie C. on August 18, 2018 at 8:28 am

    They are amazing and beautiful, either way.

    Why am i having Deja Vu? Save a kitty, save a couple sconces — you are a blessing. 🙂

  6. Carolyn B. on August 18, 2018 at 10:02 am

    Beautiful! I am a sucker for crystals on light fixtures. They look perfect!

  7. JR on August 18, 2018 at 11:49 am

    Ross, Ross, Ross…

    First off, the sconces look great! I like how the blue crystals work with the color of the sconces but I get why you want to pick up the color of the windows.

    Secondly, I do NOT have 8oz of cleverness, what I have is a childhood of breaking things and then having to figure out how to fix them so as not to get in trouble! So my “cleverness” was born of desperation. Whatever the case, I thank your praise and look forward to your challenges!

    Thirdly, if you take Mary’s or Grandmere’s advice and burn the candles…check the ceiling every now and again to see how hot it’s getting. That many candles, is going to put out some serious heat and could be problematic (I know this from another experience – also coupled with desperation!).

    Keep up the good fight and great work!

    • Stewart McLean on August 18, 2018 at 6:23 pm

      JR”s comment made me think of votive candles. You know the little ones that are only about 1 1/2″ – 2″ high. The candles could be lit without fear of burning down the house, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xNnAvTTaJjM), and it might look good to have the sconces be that much more dominant than the candles.

  8. Celeste on August 18, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    Yikes. If it were me, I’d worry that the heat from the radiator would melt the candles above it next winter. But I worry a lot.

  9. L.harlow on August 21, 2018 at 10:04 pm

    I actually liked the larger candle. I think it’s the location that throws them off. The blue is lovely. Opinions are like butts, everyone has one.

  10. bill whitman on April 2, 2019 at 8:28 am

    And being a basic old house worry-wart, I would keep the fire extinguisher handy and not leave the room the whole time they were lit. I know heat rises but it radiates also and that many heat sources together I would think of not just the wall surface but it’s old dry underpinnings.

    That said, they look great but I like 9 better than 12 especially with this quirky asymmetrical fixture. Ahh, the 50’s.

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