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Entered: 2010-03-05
Edited: 2010-03-05
Type: workshop

After playing around making the cut-bottle glasses I thought it would be fun to try a mixed media craft project, in this case combining glass, metal and wood.

Not exactly the raw materials but close enough. I have here the top part from a bottle of porto[1] cork stopper from same with a nail stuck in it, a turned walnut platter, some more walnut boards and some aluminum.

Put it all together and you get a candle sconce:

I found the aluminum laying around the shop, a relic of some past project. To shape it I first cut some poster board to match the width of the walnut board I used for the back and traced out an ellipse using the classic bit of string, two nails and a pencil trick. I drew a few different sizes until I found one I liked and cut out the poster board, transferred the pattern to the aluminum and cut it out with tin snips. I filed and ground the edge smooth and then spent a while cleaning up the face with some 180 grit sandpaper. The aluminum was pretty ratty after kicking around the shop for a few years had some dings and scratches etc... so sanding it smooth took a bit. I continued to polish by moving up to finer and finger sand paper grits before switching to pumice and finally rottenstone for a mirror shine.

The back piece is just a walnut board that I cut out as a slightly larger ellipse than the reflector. To support the platter I mortised two short pieces of walnut into the face of the back board, the platter is screwed to the arms. The platter itself is from the same board the arms and back came from, turned and polished on my lathe. After turning it round I drilled a small pilot hole in the center while it was still on the lathe and then took it over to the drill press and drilled out a 1 5/8" hole in the center for the bottle. I took it back to the lathe and put small bevel around the edge of the hole to help the bottle top rest more securely.

The section of board I used for the platter was pretty much useless for anything else since it actually has a little bit of pith it in, and a large knot. The pith, that dark line on the left, is the very center of the tree and is generally not included in quality lumber as it can cause the wood to warp and crack unpredictably. In this case I think it will be OK since it's right at the surface and the board isn't really under any strain. Plus it kind of looks cool.

Ultimately I had to give up on the aluminum sheet as my reflector, I just couldn't get it to polish up to as much of a mirror shine as I wanted and more importantly I thought the pale, white metal looked to cold for the rich warm browns of the walnut. A while back I bought a roll of heavy brass foil for exactly this type of project so I decided to give it a shot now. The brass polished up much, much better than the aluminum and easier too since it had a better surface to begin with.

[1] Taylor Fladgate, 10 years old tawny.

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