Saturday, 12 December 2015

old memories and new candles

The other evening, I spent a peaceful couple of hours making candles. I like frittering away time making non-essential loveliness. As I was pouring the molten wax into decorative glasses, a memory resurfaced.



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


26 comments:

  1. Your stripey candles look great - such a great recycling idea. I have a bag of old candles and stumpy bits, which I haven't got round to doing anything with. I was considering making some larger candles to use in the garden next summer.

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  2. I loved reading about your holiday memories of candle making. Your candles are so lovely; the colors are amazing. I never have left over candles since I always use jar candles. I hope you're having a wonderful start to the weekend, Pat

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  3. What a great idea to recycle the left overs, I generally just put them in the bin. Not anymore I am going to give it a go. Beautiful memories of candle making from your childhood.

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  4. What a great idea & such lovely childhood memories. I only burn candles at Christmas but save the end bits in a jar to sniff throughout the year! x

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  5. I love making candles, your candles in glasses are great, a lovely way of using those odds and ends :-)

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  6. Oh they're lovely, so pretty with all the different colours. I adore scented candles but I don't keep the stubs. Perhaps I should now I've seen what you can do with them.

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  7. What a lovely story, and a fantastic craft for children, how nice it would be to do something like that now. Your stripey candles are fab, it's a great idea to use up old wax like that. I don't ever seem to have enough to melt down, but if I do get any sizeable chunks I shall save them. CJ xx

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  8. Gosh, I wish we had women's clubs here, I would join in a second if they did things like candle-dipping. Probably it would be considered discriminatory or unconstitutional around here these days. Sigh. Anyway, your candles are really pretty. I love the layered, colorful ones. I remember making dipped taper candles in elementary school, when a re-enactor came to our school to teach us about crafts made in the Colonial era. I really enjoyed that, we also made real quill pens from feathers! I don't save wax, but I know I probably should. I hope you're having a good weekend.

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  9. I have made candles and I save old ones in hopes that I'll make them new again. Love yours.

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  10. Your candles are so pretty and I loved wandering down memory lane with you. Your Swiss childhood gave you lots of useful skills I think Christina.

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  11. Hey Christina,
    What a wonderful memory from your childhood. I don't collect candle stubs. Maybe I should. I think I'd like to make a candle.
    Leanne xx

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  12. What a lovely post and memories. I've always wanted to make candles, but not got round to it. Maybe soon :)

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  13. Your candles are so much fun and I love the memories you had making them when you were younger.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  14. What wonderful memories of candles past!!! It is a shame that you cannot share that with the recipients of your new candles. I love the mix of colours in your candles, it is such a good way to use up your bits and pieces! I hope that someday you find some of those old candles to keep and treasure! xx

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  15. What a fascinating blog..it sounds very complicated! Yes we keep candle stubs but we are not quite so ordered as you with the lovely colour stripes. What a lovely idea I will have to try..thankyou...B X

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  16. These candles look so pretty! I've never did candles before but now I think I should try. It seems like not very hard to do. Besides I think it can be a great Christmas present!

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  17. Those candles are wonderful. What a great idea for a teacher gift! And such lovely childhood memories. I hope you're having a good build up to Christmas. I've been reading blogs but not commenting very much. I want that to change very soon! xx

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  18. Such beautiful candles, Christina! And such a wonderful childhood memory. I hope that candle making tradition is still going on. Letting children create things is every bit as important as learning to read and write.

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  19. What lovely candles, Christina. I mainly use tea lights as they are less easy to knock over (I am very cack-handed) but I do use tall ones at Christmas, usually red. That candle making workshop sounds great, what a wonderful tradition. xx

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  20. We made candles for the cabin out of stubs but I didn't think to layer them up like that so thanks for the pictures.They are fabulous. Jo x

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  21. what a lovely memory! and I'm sure the teachers will love those gifts xxx

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  22. That was so interesting, I've never made candles, very pretty xx

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  23. I remember making candles years ago... In old yoghurt cartons. I'm sure they were for Christmas presents too.

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  24. This is such a great idea. I love your stripey candles - I'm sure the teachers will have been very chuffed to receive one.

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  25. I like this idea. I have made coloured candles before, but only from melting and pouring existing candles into small china cups for gifts. I love the description you gave of the candle making event. Oddly enough I watched a You Tube video the other day of candle dipping, using the exact method you describe. The candles were then cut and carved into very elaborate shapes with great skill. I love candles at this time of year, but tend to use tea lights, which burn away to nothing, so there is nothing there to recycle. The stripey candles you have made are very pretty indeed. What a lovely gift for a teacher to receive. X

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  26. Such a great post!! candles are lovely, you remembered me my school days, thanks for sharing.

    Wholesale Mason Jar Candles

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx