What Is A Sconce?

The humble sconce is a wall fixture to which lights candles or torches are affixed. It is supported only by the wall itself, and is not attached to either the floor or ceiling. If you’ve ever seen a movie hero grab a burning torch off the wall of a castle corridor, then you’ll have seen a sconce, even if you didn’t initially know it was a sconce at the time of viewing.
And that, you might think, is all you need to know about sconces. Well, nearly but not quite. A modern sconce at the top end of the market can very easily run up to three or four thousand pounds and for that you can expect master craftsmanship such as hand-made, mouth-blown and gilded glass fixtures, all exquisitely wrought. Some sconces from famous lighting designers such as De Majo feature real Murano glass – this is only produced on the small isle of Murano just off Venice, where the master craftsmen have been practicing their art for over a thousand years. The process involved in crafting Murano glass is unusually complex, and while Murano has its share of factories churning out mass-produced touristware, the real glass artisans create technically brilliant pieces of absolute beauty, and a Murano sconce is certainly one of them.

home wall fixture

Photo source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/brooke/225303815/

On the other hand, modernist designers might use materials such as laser-etched steel, hand-folded and hand-soldered to create cubist abstractions, as much a piece of art for the wall as any painting. What these works force us to realise is that a sconce can be any shape as long as it performs its core function – namely, to stick to the wall and hold a light.  After that, anything goes. To put it another way, if you glued an egg box to the wall and stuck a candle on top, that is by definition a sconce.
But while we may have mentioned the expensive options, it is that simplicity of purpose that means most sconces are actually relatively inexpensive, and cost a lot less than you would think they do. Even in the most high-end luxury stores you are absolutely certain to find many wall sconce options for under £100.
Depending on which type of sconce you go for, you’d be surprised at the effect they can have on the room they are installed in, transforming it to ultra-modern or olde worlde simply through decorative effect and the colour of the light. The next time you’re renovating your house make a point of taking a closer look them – you won’t be disappointed.

Jonathan Mayer writes articles about light fittings on behalf of www.lightingdeluxe.com.

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