When I was a child, every year during Advent, there was a workshop to make dipped tapered candles at the village primary school, organised by the local women's club. Do women's clubs still exist? It seems oddly quaint. In my memory, these women are all old but I am fairly certain if I were to go today, they would be my age or thereabouts.
It was an exiting event and I remember it fondly. I remember queueing for a length of wick, telling the ladies how long and how thick I wanted my candle to be. They would make a loop in my wick to secure it to my index finger. There were big deep vats full of liquid hot wax arranged in a circle. The colours were bright, primary colours mostly. It was a difficult decision, that first colour! The first few dips were always the trickiest because the wick would twist and turn. Once there was some weight on the wick, dipping got easier. There was a routine to the dipping: hot wax followed by cold water. The cold water was important, it helped the wax stay on the wick. A gentle dab with a soft cloth to remove water droplets followed. It was an exercise in patience for the wax had to be cool enough before the next dip into hot wax, otherwise the whole lot would slip of the wick and drop into the wax vats.
The candles would be getting thicker with each dip, the shape tapered. Layer after layer the candles would build up. I liked to make thin layers of different colours. It was tempting to make the candles thicker than the wick could support but there was always a lady making sure I would not get ahead of myself. Once the candle was right, I would move on to the cutting table, where yet another lady -one wielding a sharp paring knife- was waiting for my instructions. She would deftly but carefully cut into my candle, sometimes turning it into a something alike a tree stem with branches. Other times she would scoop out a good sized piece of candle, turn it over and put it back into the hole. Either way, the colourful layers underneath were revealed. It was also possible to slice circles of the bottom because the candle needed to be trimmed back to the wick anyway. Circles like colourful dart boards could be stuck on the candle. Turning a simple tapered candle into a piece of art was the most exiting part of the process! Lastly, the candles were dipped once in hot clear paraffin to give them a nice sheen. The memory is magic. I wonder if that same candle workshop still happens and if new magic memories are formed for another generation of children?
The candles I made the other day were of a different kind, they are poured into glasses. I collect candle stubs and every two or three years there is enough to sort the wax into colours, put it into tins and jars and slowly melt the wax in a water bath. This year I decided to make fat but short candles with irregular stripes. The wick I had was too thin for my fat glasses but I had enough to put three in each.
It was a delightful process to make these simple poured candles. I really want to keep them all but I think they would make a lovely present. I'll let James and Alistair choose and wrap one for each of their teachers and maybe I'll keep the ones that are left.
Do you collect candle stubs? What do you do with them?
As always, thank you very much for stopping by. I hope you have a lovely weekend. Cxx