Making Candles From Leftover Wax

 

IMG_4564I love candles on the mantlepiece and is why I will most likely resist putting a TV here as long as I possibly can.  When they are all lit up, it makes the room very cozy, especially when the hubs has lit a fire.  And it smells good too!

I haven’t been making any art for quite a long time, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been creative, so I will tell you what I have been up to.  I have been cooking and trying out new recipes.  I have been moving furniture around.  I have been de-cluttering. I have been knitting.  I haven’t knitted for years and one of the ladies at work inspired me to take it up again.  I have knitted myself a hat (never done that before), scarf, and fingerless gloves.  I shall do a blog post on that soon.  I also made candles from leftover wax.

I had a few weeks off before Christmas and was really not in the mood to do any painting.  I was hooked on watching Kirsty’s Christmas and other craft inspired TV programmes.  So, I knitted myself some items all before Christmas.  It is amazing how quickly you can make something when you have the time!

So, lets talk only a little bit about candle making (because you can find out how to do it on the internet, like I did).  We were already saving leftover wax to melt down and dip pinecones into to make fire starters (hub’s idea), but I wanted to take that a step further.  Unless you can easily get to Ikea, purchasing pillar candles elsewhere is not cheap. I managed to buy a shedload the last time I was there.  But what do you do with the wax when the candle is finished (and there is a lot of wax!)? There is so much information on the internet and on you tube about how to make candles.  I watched loads.  I don’t want to sell them.  I just want to re-use the wax and re-use some of the nice glass containers that candles come in.  I am big into recycling.  I also scoured my kitchen and discovered a whole bunch of glass containers that I could re-use to make candles.  It is amazing what you can find in your house that  you could use to make a candle.  Jam jars make particularly pretty containers, especially the French ones.  All I had to purchase were wicks (there is a whole thing about the type of wicks that made my head spin) and I also bought some inexpensive aromatherapy oils to try (but not used yet).  A note on containers:  Make sure they are heatproof.  Most glass food jars are heatproof as the temperature to process food in them is quite high.  Teacups.  Make sure they have a saucer to go under them.  I have seen people use pretty cups and saucers to use as candles, but I wouldn’t guarantee that they wouldn’t crack or get too hot at the bottom without a saucer underneath to protect your surface.

IMG_4562This is a collection of candlewax.  The pot is aluminum with lips for pouring.  I also have an aluminum jug (I thought I bought the large one, but no. Cheap Pyrex is just as good.) that I strain the wax into (old tea strainer) so the sand from my candle holders and other debris stays out of the new candle.  I have to say that the first time I did this I made a right old mess.  Thankfully I have a lovely retired husband who cleaned up all of the wax that I managed to get all over the backsplash.  I will never live that down.

I got all of my containers and glued in the wicks.  You really do need to do this first.  I had some bamboo skewers that I broke in half to wrap the wicks around to hold them in place.  I had traditional cotton string wicks and some fancy wooden ones that supposedly crackle when lit, all purchased off of E-bay.IMG_4566Here we have a small glazed bowl I never used (which I gave to a friend from work), some old candle jars, and some glass and ceramic containers that desserts came in.  (You can see some of the mess I made on the stove.)  I had saved the glass dessert containers to put votives in when outside (but never did), and I think that this is a better idea as I will really use them now.

Some of these came out really well and some came out very strange.  You see, wax can have a life of its own when it cools down and gets hard.  There was a fair amount of ‘tunneling’ (a wax term), so I just had to buy a heat gun (it will come in useful for other things) to melt the wax on the candle so it would look nice and burn evenly.  My friend liked her candle so much that she wants to buy others from me to give to friends as presents.  Now I have to think about what to charge her for recycled products! 🙂

I think it is worth recycling the wax if you use a lot of it, or give it to someone who you know is crafty if you don’t want to try it yourself.  My daughter made some scented candles with her boyfriend as part of a ‘date’ night and we were lucky to get one as a Christmas present.  According to Google, it takes 2-6 weeks for wax to biodegrade on a landfill site – but if it is buried, it could take years, so why not re-use it?  Here is another top tip (and a very cool one too):  you know those lovely jars that some candles come in (like Yankee Candles and other scented ones) – the jars are so nice, but how do you get the wax out?  Pour boiling water in the jar on top of the wax as high as you can and then just watch the wax melt and rise to the top.  It is what is used in lava lamps!  Once the water has cooled, you should have a hard disc of wax that you can pop out, and if you still have some wax left in the jar, just repeat the process.  So, what do you think? 

 

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Alternative Work Surface

 

IMG_4425Untitled – Acrylic on Hardboard – 8×8 inches

I have been working on a few things this past month, and working full time.  I have finished all of my online art courses and am now trying to put into practice some of the things I learned.  I really enjoyed making High Key, and thought I might have another go.

I framed my first piece and was left with the backing of the picture frame.  With some small frames, the backs sometimes have an option of either hanging on the wall or standing up on a table.  I had removed the glass and back of an 8×8 frame to mount a small, thin profiled 8×8 cradled wood panel.  As the hardboard backing was in good condition, I decided to use it to make another painting.  I hate waste and here was an opportunity for some recycling.  This is what it looks like.

 

I painted the hardboard with black gesso to seal it.  Then I painted and used a final coat of faux encaustic on the front and gloss varnish on the back.  I gave the painting to a work colleague.  Sometimes its nice to make something and then give it away to make someone happy. 🙂

 

A Bargello Bargain

Today Dear Readers, we are going to talk a bit about embroidery and needlework.  You are probably wondering what the heck do I know about embroidery, and the answer would be more than you would think!  I know, how do I manage to fit it all in?!!

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you will know that I am a first-generation American and that my family is from Hungary.  I grew up eating Hungarian food and my first language was Hungarian.  My paternal grandmother looked after me for the first two years while my mother worked.  Both sides of the family lived near each other, at first in a Hungarian community in New Jersey.  That is how Hungarian I am.  Because I was quite close to both of my grandmothers, I learned how to do a lot of things from them.  I learned how to cook.  I learned how to sew.  I learned how to knit and crochet, and I also learned how to do some embroidery.  I also learned a few choice Hungarian swear words, but we won’t really talk about that.

My maternal grandmother was the one who taught me all the needle work.  The styles of embroidery that she taught me are Matyo Embroidery and  Kalocsa Embroidery.  It is this type of embroidery that most people associate with Hungarian embroidery, although there are many other styles.  I used to own a beautiful gypsy blouse with the neckline embroidered in this manner.  I even had Hungarian dolls in traditional costume with lovely embroidery on.  I think I still have a couple somewhere.

Hungarian Bookmarks

These are a couple of bookmarks that my grandmother brought back from Budapest when I was a little girl.  The design on the right is in the Matyo style, or is it Kalocsa?  This is fairly easy to do as most of it is in a satin stitch, though there are many complicated designs too.  If you Google this style, you will see many beautiful works.  It is very colourful.  It is probably why I really love folk art and the art found on barges and narrowboats in the UK.  You can see some examples here.  (I think I even met this guy!)  Notice some of the similarities.  I could go on and on about my grandmother and her embroidery, but I will save that for another time!

So, what does Hungarian embroidery have to do with Bargello needlework?  Some might say nothing, but it is believed that Hungarian needlepoint had an influence on the work found in the Bargello Palace in Florence.  That is my segue. Heh!  Plus it is nice to talk about something different for a change.

So, I am out looking for two bedside tables that must be no more than 14 inches wide when I spy this little seat with a Bargello cushion!

Bargello Needlework

I love the colours!  After reading up on Bargello needlework, I can really appreciate the time and effort that went into making the seat cover for the little piece I found.  I took the cover off of the seat as it is a bit musty and worn on one side, but I want to clean it, and frame it, and hang it in the dining room as the colours fit in really well.   If you were to go out and purchase a Bargello cushion, prices could go as high as £200+ depending on the design and quality.  Just Google ‘Bargello Cushions’ and look at the wonderful designs.   I am so happy I only paid £5 for the whole seat!