Folk Art

Antique Make-Do: Brass Candlestick with Wood Block Base
  • I've always loved the early make-do repaired pieces because show us how precious things were to our ancestors. Although a make-do is a utilitarian object that has had repairs to make it serviceable or turn it into something else they fall into both the categories of Folk Art and Decorative Arts. I find that so many of them are great folk art because they really show the creative ability of non-artists who make the most of an accidental break.

    We are always accused of being a throw-away society (and I agree with that accusation) but the ultimate in green living is to waste not, want not. When something broke, our ancestors fixed it or repurposed it into something usable. “Waste Not Want Not” is the philosophy behind make-do objects and also the name of the only book I’ve found about Make-Do. The book is by Donald P. Naetzker. It is out of print but sometimes found on used book sites. When I can find a decent copy at a good price, I offer it for sale. I currently have a copy for sale.

    This is a really folky, funky lighting make-do. Made from a late 19th century columnar brass candlestick which almost certainly had a screwed base (see the last photo which shows a similar style from my archives. Something happened to the base so the astute, frugal owner found a nice rough piece of wood and used that for a base. The wood looks to be part of a fence post, or beam, or who knows what!? But it serves well as a sturdy candlestick base. In the photos, you can see that the candlestick seems to be attached to a smaller width wood cylinder that is inserted into the base. Bet none of your friends will have one like it! 8” tall with the base measuring 6 ½” x 3 ½” x 2”. Great patina on both candlestick and wood base.

    #6702    $275

    Reference: Naetzker, Donald P., Waste Not, Want Not: The Art of the Make-Do, 1986.