Sunday, August 14, 2011


A few years ago, my stepfather's childhood home burned to the ground. It was devastating to go through the rubble. The house was an old General Store, and the first post office. When the doors closed for business, his parents just closed the doors, took out all the things that might stink and left everything as is. An old cash register. Some things we simply could not identify, others were left unscathed. I actually wrote about it on Glow in the Woods a few months ago. It was a piece that didn't get many comments, but I liked it. Mainly because the days of helping my stepfather were haunting and beautiful and left a very strong feeling of beauty, devastation, tragedy and loss that I ended up understanding more fully after Lucia died. If that makes sense.

As we catalogued every thing, we found things that were salvageable and my stepfather asked me to take some of the things. Strangely juxtaposed against the devastation of a complete home fire, I remember some pieces vividly, a toy school bus. A wagon. Boxes of jello. My stepfather gave me a box, completely untouched by fire and water. The box contained, ironically enough, all the equipment and needs for candle-making, probably from the 50s or 60s. It had a lot of smoke damage, but I took it. I had grand ideas of making candles for gifts. That was six plus years ago and I still haven't made one dang candle. It was raining today, and we were putzing around the house, trying to find things to do. I pulled all the candle crap out and you can see the smoke residue on everything.

The glass double boiler was always used for candle making, so I am keeping it solely for that use. There were about eight boxes of parrafin wax. And a few boxes of wicks.

I love this box. It is perfectly designed and beautiful. I am a sucker for any advertising from the fifties, particularly useful household item, like canning wax. It looks so exotic.

I cleaned up the double boiler, opened a package of wax, put it in the top and started the stove. I read virtually nothing about candlemaking before this enterprise, which was probably not the best idea. I figured how hard could it be. I have wax. Some wicks. A double boiler. Surely, I can figure this shizzle out, no?

See, that double boiler cleaned up quite nicely, no? Blocks of wax over blue flame. It felt right in the rain. 

It takes a while to melt blocks of wax. And I did read, not so long ago, that wax catches on fire if it gets too hot, so you know, I hovered, taking pictures in various states of melt.I won't publish all of those pictures. They are like wax porn.

While I was waiting I took a photograph of a scale I recently purchased at the ReStore. It was one dollar and fifty cents. It is in metric (kg). I have no idea what I am going to use it for, but it looks cool as shit. Behold, the scale for less than two buck!

Whomp, there it is, melted and blurry wax. We are ready to make candles. Now what?

So, I lined a jellyroll pan with aluminum foil and got a mason jar or two, and poured in some hot wax. It was great. I put in the funnel, and it spilled everywhere covering me and the aluminum foil in hot wax. It was really awesome.

Then to add insult to injury, I started dipping. Dip a wick. Pull out. Wait a few seconds, redip. Nothing. Happened. Just a kind of wax-y wick.

I changed strategies, and took the jars of hot wax off the jellyroll, stomped around the kitchen, played with the kids, then picked up the foil, and pulled off the now-warm wax. 

I created sheets, and rolled it around the wick to create a candle, or something shaped sort of vaguely like a candle might be shaped if it were made by blind, one-armed elves. Since it was still warm and malleable, it was easy to work with and gave me a false sense of arrogance and how fucking brilliant I am. I then dipped it in the hot wax, rolled it like playdough, so it would become more and more candle-y looking. It worked.

I took really terrible pictures of the procedure, but here is kind of what it looked like. They are kind of ugly, but I think they will work. Okay, they are absolutely hideous, like grotesque bastardizations of candles, but it sure was fun! 

Then I put some now congealing warm wax in smaller containers to create votive candles, but before we wicked them, we tried to make wee little candles for our votive holders. Sam got involved. I love how he can work so delicately on little things. His candles looked like dipped candles. I am obsessed with little things, so little candles are awesome.

I poured the rest of my wax into containers, and wicked them. The big one I tried to add some dried flowers, but it really just looks like lumpy things are in it. I also used a beautiful river rock to weight the wick. That seemed kind of pointless after I did it. *sigh*

In the end, I made a bunch of ugly candles, which I will love using. I am definitely going to keep practicing my candlemaking, because it was a ton of fun, and also a good skill for the apocalypse. Thank you for making it this far. You deserve some kind of ugly candle for that.


forward tumble said...

not bad for a blind one armed elf working for the apocalypse!

I like you candles and am very happy for you, with you. they look cool, not ugly at all!


HereWeGoAJen said...

That looks like fun! I tried dipping candles once and I cannot figure out how people managed to make enough candles like that when they had to rely on candles for light.

Sara said...

At your opening, I immediately remembered your post on Glow (though I probably didn't comment).

My vague recollection of candle making (from elementary school?) is that you dip in wax, then cold water, then wax . . . . No matter how you do it, you end up with wax every where.

Funny, I was just thinking about candle making and what I can do with all my broken candles (they keep falling out of my candle holders). Maybe new candles are in order. Enjoy the gentle light of yours.

JoyAndSorrow said...

I wish we were friends IRL and could have sleepovers (but not in a creepy way), because you are always doing fun stuff. I never have the motivation to do stuff like this on my own. I need to fix that. ; )

Hope's Mama said...

Going back to read your Glow post now. Rare I don't comment on a Glow post, but I did just notice it was written the week I had my amnio, so I know I was in a funk then.

Merry said...

Ah ha ha! I liked that post on Glow too; I don't know if I commented. Hm.

Recently I made jam; not far into the process it occurred to me, as boiling sugar rolled towards me, that a plastic apron and some shoes would have been a good idea.

but it was great jam. I also blogged dodgy photos about it ;)