The History of Candles and Lighting up the Darkest Part of the Year
Updated: Oct 28, 2019
Post by Onna Carr
This December, I went to our local library and checked out the book Candles by Jon Newman, an author who used to work as an archivist and historian for Price's Patent Candle Company in London. Candles and their making have been of interest to me ever since I was a child and an avid watcher of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Mr. Roger's did an episode on candles and their creation, and like all his "making of" videos, I found it extremely interesting.
This autumn, we discovered organic beeswax candles, and we have been enjoying their warm and charming glow and the fact that they make particulates drop to the floor and keep our HomeLab monitor in the blue (healthy) zone. We burn our beeswax candles to their stubs. I thought it would be nice to melt down these stubs and to create a new candle from them. I had planned to do this project on Winter Solstice, and believed Newman's book might be of use as it had a pretty extensive "how to safely and effectively make your own candles without burning yourself in the process section."
Jon Newman's book has proved a fascinating read from his interesting noting of the fact that tallow candles are manufactured from 50% beef and 50% mutton tallow to allow for the best burning and that they were used because their price point was much lower than their beeswax counterparts. Some candle makers would create their tallow candles and then dip the entire candle in beeswax to coat the exterior and prevent sputtering. Upon the discovery of spermaceti from whaling and petroleum-based paraffin better quality and/or less expensive candles were created from these materials and gently made the tallow candles obsolete and beeswax candles less popular. With the introduction of kerosene and its reasonable price and the introduction of gaslight and electricity, candles were used for ambiance and beauty rather than as an essential light source.
On the eve of Winter Solstice 2016, Bob and I got out my glue gun, Bond, some flat pebbles, our googly eyes from the craft department, and paraffin votives, and we made Solstice Pebble People Votive Holders courtesy of a cute pin on Pinterest. We used small, flat rocks as our base, glued our votive to represent a fire in place on one side, a rock standing on its end opposite the votive (fire), and then we attached our googly eyes to the rock standing up and voila-- a Solstice Pebble Person Votive Holder--perfect for gift giving for any winter holiday!!
This Friday, we mailed off one of our Solstice Pebble People Votive Holders for a late December birthday, dropped off three for early Christmas gifts, gave another with get well wishes, and kept three diminutive Solstice Pebble People Votive Holders for the top of our bookcase. Who knew a rock could have a personality when googly eyes and a bit of left over glue provides fun eyes and. . . mascara?
As Solstice has come and gone, we remember that it will be light at four o' clock in the afternoon again in a few short weeks and that with each day that passes, we gain a bit of light. We light our Solstice Pebble People Votive Holders, and we remember the power of light against the darkness of night and how a small flame can start a bright and cheerful fire in our souls.
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