Rob Gorrell - Folk Artist

Get your lanterns now. It will be dark soon.

tinsmithing

Making a large Parade Lantern.

Folk Art, TinwareRob GorrellComment
party-light-at-night.jpg

  A while back I was digging through the online collection of metalwork on the website for the Winterthur Museum and came across this great pierced tin parade lantern.

Courtesy, Winterthur Museum, parade lantern, 1800-1825, United States, Sheet iron, Paint, Iron wire, Wood,  gift of Henry Francis du Pont, 1959.1656

.  This looked like a great project to try to reproduce or interpret in some way.  I figured it would be a good way to practice laying out the dreaded frustrum of a cone for each of the conical parts.  Plus we think it will be a great party beacon outside of our tent the next time we go to rendezvous.

 

 

I have not found much information about this particular style of parade lantern.  I have found reference to the parade lanterns that swing on a hanger and burned oil or kerosene, like this one for sale on Etsy, but no other that is pierced and on a pole like this.  But I have only checked a few sources so far.il_570xN.569153673_agjcLaying out the round parts and doing the tin punch was pretty straight-forward with ruler and compass. However, laying out the cones gave me fits.  There are a number of period books that show how to do the geometry to lay out the cones, But every time I tried it the large diameter of the cone came out too large.  In hindsight I think it was an error in adding the extra needed to do the set down seam between the body and the cones that threw me off.  Laying out the six vent holes (under the little half-cones) so that the came out even when the lap seam was soldered took some time to learn also. There is probably one a simple geometry tricks that I haven't learned yet to get them right.

As I mentioned, there are a number of books available online and in print that cover layout techniques that were written in the early 1900's.  There is a chapter on tinsmithing in this one.  I have downloaded or purchased several the same information is presented in almost all of them.

As usual, I had intended to take lots of photos as I worked out the pattern to illustrate my successes and failures along the way, but I did not.  But here are a few shots of the finished lantern.

Shelleys party light

 

Party light at night

 

Repairing a tin lantern.

Folk Art, TinwareRob Gorrell1 Comment

I have been doing a lot of reading about coopering and tinware lately and trying to learn the techniques myself.  One area that I have found very interesting is in the repair of tinware, buckets and other handmade items.  I think sometimes it is easy to get caught up in the idea that every handmade item produced in the pre-industrial period was flawless, and that we should only present perfect reproductions. But not every tinsmith was an expert.  There were people cranking out crap then just like today, the difference being that the crap wore out and some of the really good stuff survived. And they fixed stuff.  I don't have the reference handy, but there are lots of documented repairs that have made it own to modern times.  So in that spirit, here is how I repaired a tin lantern that I made.

Last winter I made two tin lanterns for us to use at reenactments and living history events. We used them a few times and they worked pretty well, until one of the rivets came loose and the handle fell off.  Well actually I guess I should say that the lantern fell off the handle to be more accurate.  You can see here where one of the rivets pulled through the hole. It turns out that I used the wrong rivets, which were also too long.

So I cut out a heavy piece of hot dipped tin plate and curved it to ft over a wood mandrel. I also punch a proper hole for a new rivet.

Next, I cut a small washer for the inside of the handle, then riveted the washer, handle, and curved plate together.

The final step was to solder the assembly back onto the lantern.

So the lantern is now good as new.  Maybe not perfect, but fully functional.