EK Royal Candle Chandeliers
The East Kingdom Royal decoration project was originally conceived by Mistress Eleanor fitzPatrick with three goals - to make the business area of EK Royal at Pennsic be beautifully impressive instead of merely functionally utilitarian, to inspire lots of people to create the beauty and feel a sense of ownership and pride in EK Royal, and to show people that decorating a Pennsic camp is easier than they might think. Stage one was to create a set of faux-stained-glass lanterns (Ek Royal Courtyard Lanterns) for the courtyard to hang from the existing lantern hooks. Stage two was to build a set of faux-candle chandeliers (EK Royal Candle Chandeliers) for the meeting tent.
The chandeliers are meant to be "generic middle ages", which meant candles as that was the most common type of lighting. These chandeliers had to be durable, meaning they couldn't use real candles that would melt in the heat of the storage trailer every year. They could not require permanent attachment to the poles of the rented commercial tent, and they could not depend on any specific size of tent pole as the tent may change from year to year. Further, they had to be able to go up and come down without moving the tent poles, as the tent is erected and dismantled by a professional crew and there is no opportunity to add decorations during that process.
An easy-to-build hexagonal chandelier made of wood, supporting faux candles made from PVC pipe, and hung from wooden 2x4s strapped to the modern tent poles met all these requirements and was within the skill set of the members of Equus Celox who built them.
They were made specifically not to raise and lower easily as their primary purpose is looking pretty, not illuminating the tent. Fewer moving parts = fewer points of failure, and standing on a short ladder or a bench to light the candles isn't difficult. A modern ecclesiastical candle snuffer makes short work of putting them out at the end of the night.
Building the Chandeliers
The chandelier frames were made from 2x4 lumber. Straight pieces with few knots were chosen carefully. The pieces were cut to the same length with 30 degree angles so that when assembled they formed a hexagon. Each hexagon was assembled into two sets of three sides by using a biscuit joiner and glue. The remaining sides were made to fit together with two steel pins. A doweling jig was very useful here to get the holes lined up and straight. Then latches were installed on the top side to hold the two halves together.
The holes for the candles were made using a router and a hand crafted jig to get the holes to be the correct size.
Creating the Candles
The candles were made using a method commonly found on the internet for making "spooky" candles for Halloween props. 2" PVC pipe was chosen as the best compromise between a size that looked like a real candle and a size that could easily fit into the 2x4s used for the chandeliers. The pipe was cut into random lengths around 5" tall. An uneven "melted" edge was hand-drawn around one end of each piece, then cut on a band saw. When cut this way the edge of the pipe slants to the outside, making the next step easier.
After the uneven edge was cut, hot glue was applied to soften the edge and form drips. By using high-temperature hot glue and moving the gun very slowly while pumping out glue, it overruns the edge and forms natural drips. Low temperature glue sets too fast to work well for this.
Hot glue dries clear, so the candles were spray painted to hide the visual difference between the glue and the pipe. First each piece was sprayed a solid off-white, then all the pieces were set up together and misted with a couple of different shades of bone and ivory to give a more realistic variation to the coloring.
Any light source could be used with these now complete PVC candles. Mistress Eleanor fitzPatrick prefers the look of real flame, so they are currently set up for fuel cells (such as these 17 hour votive fuel cells). A short length of pipe insulation was tightly rolled and then jammed into the PVC candle to give a surface for the fuel cells to rest on at a height that allows the flame to be visible above the edge of the PVC. Since each PVC candle is unique in height, and fuel cells vary in height depending on the manufacturer, the pipe insulation is secured only by pressure so it can be moved up or down as necessary. The fuel cells can be easily replaced with LED candle lamps if preferred.
Hanging the Chandeliers
Baron Ane du Vey and household used the pre-stained lumber, hooks, eyes, rope and chain provided and devised a method for hanging the chandeliers. The octagonal ring halves are fitted together then are hung from the eyes attached to the 2x4s. The 2x4s are lashed to the tent poles with rope. Then the PVC candles are set into the rings.