Monday, March 11, 2013

beautiful beeswax

i love candles.

birthday candles.  tea lights.  votives.  tapers.  even the battery-operated ones we use during winter holiday play times where open flames are not the safest option.  luminaries lining our sidewalks. 

i love the ones scented like food that make me hungry, like fruits or vanilla or baked goods like gingerbread or cookies.

i love watching the flames.  so mesmerizing.

i love to see the drip patterns after the wax burns.

i used to prefer jarred candles, because i could burn them and put the lid back on afterwards and not lament at how little wax was left.

now i am fascinated with natural beeswax candles in beautiful shapes, probably because we met jan from bee happy candles several years ago.  we first oohed and aahed over her teeny-tiny little candles poured into halved walnut shells at woodland's stroll through history.  then we found her again at the davis art center's holiday sale and we've been coming to her ever since.

diana's even taken candle-making lessons with jan.

we've added to our collection of jan's candles bit by bit.  i wanted to find candles we could use for celebratory occasions, like the solstices and equinoxes.  we only light them one day each year so that they will last a really long time.


then i added other holidays, like st. nicholas day, christmas, valentines' day, and st. patrick's day.  i'm a little concerned about how st. nicholas and the angel will look when their heads burn off, though.

fall is one of our favorite seasons, and though there are plenty of materials we find outdoors for display in our nature basket, i couldn't resist getting these, all hand-poured using molds that jan created herself using pieces of nature.

i had to get the fruit, given how much ander loves the part in the muppet christmas carol about rizzo the rat trying to eat a wax apple.  he doesn't eat ours, of course, but it provides for funny family remembrances.

here's the secret for keeping the beeswax candles looking so fresh, even after storing them for months.  jan "polishes" them by using low heat to melt the "bloom" off.  i used the warm setting on my hair dryer, and within seconds, the whitish coloring that can make the candles look a little dull vanished!

diana's personal collection on our last visit bears some explanation.

i will miss visiting jan's studio after we move, but i am glad to know i will still be able to order her beautiful creations.  diana and i will always have memories of our experiences visiting jan's studio, basking in the sunlight, inhaling the aroma of clean, melting beeswax, marveling over all the beautiful candles she creates.  and, thanks to jan's generosity and willingness to teach an enthusiastic, engaged student, diana now knows the whole process of creating a prototype to fashioning a silicone mold to pouring and finishing off her very own creation.  see the heart in the middle, surrounded by red hearts on either side?  diana's very first candles using her very own mold.  she made one as a birthday gift to a very special friend in her life.

how did she do it?  well, i daren't give away all her trade secrets, but i was permitted to photograph bits and pieces of the process.

elements of the prototype

silicone setting up

wick strung through the cured mold

first pour hardening

working to keep fingers busy while waiting for wax to cool and harden. these were used on an order for celestial tapers.

getting just enough colored wax for the next pour

candle number two

the happy faces of satisfied student and teacher

whoever thinks that DIY is not worth doing doesn't really know my daughter.

thanks, jan!