ceramic candlesticks

Maybe you’ve noticed by now that I become quite beside myself with joy at learning to throw all kinds of things on the pottery wheel. One of my greatest delights last winter was to learn to throw candlesticks.

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At first my attempts were a bit wobbly, then a bit stodgy, but after a few tries I found my rhythm. As you can see, I simply centered a base of clay on the wheel, and pulling it up very narrowly. The trick is to keep a finger tucked in the spinning top of the candlestick, once delicate fingers have formed that shape, to steady it as the undulating forms below it are pinched. Otherwise it tips and collapses. These are stoneware candlesticks, fired hot, with a glaze that I’ve been told looks a bit edible, like a glaze of icing. Combined with the intoxicating scent of my children’s hand-dipped beeswax candles, we should be a bit ravenous for honey and cake all through the autumn. Not a bad state to be in, really. What do you think of them? I’d love to make some more ceramic candlesticks, perhaps in the local studio in the cove that we’ve begun working in, where they fire earthenware. My children still want me to make an old fashioned candleholder with a curved handle to carry around. Perhaps they imagine themselves walking around with an open flame, wearing Dickensian nightshirts?

I hope to finish the bases for the turned wooden candlesticks very soon, I shall show you.

wooden candlesticks

Oak and cherry wood, rounded with an axe, smoothed with a drawknife, and turned on a pole lathe.

lathed wooden candlesticks © elisa rathje 2012

These pieces were so much happiness to make. The oak needed some wrestling at first, it is such a hard wood, but I loved working with the possibilities for shaping a bigger piece. I experimented with various chisels to cut under and form simple lines. Elation! Such good work. Our homemade candles will look quite elegant, I should think. I must wait til I reach my father’s woodshop in Canada in June, to make bases for these candlesticks.

I’m awfully sorry to say that I must save up all my stories of boat-building, cheesemaking, plant-dyeing wool and upholstering chairs, for June and the summer beyond it. Now I must give my attention to packing up the old cottage, our beloved English home, and sending it off in a boat for a new life on the west coast of Canada. I’m full of sorrow and joy about this! I’ll be making photographs of my last adventures here, and tweeting, if you’d like to follow my last days in England. Do page through appleturnover’s spring archives and look for me here again in the very first week of June.

candle dipping

At a lovely advent fair this winter we had a chance to dip beeswax candles. We’ve done this once before, to celebrate the solstice a year ago with friends in Vancouver, and we love it. At the fair they had set up beeswax dipping for a large group in such a delightful way. There was a circle of pots of melted wax around a beautiful cluster of branches and lights, and the children would move around dipping the wicks once in each pot before moving to the next. Very sweet.

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Just enough time for the coating of wax to dry, to step quietly to the next place and dip again.

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I find the scent of beeswax intoxicating and try to only burn beeswax candles. We’re hoping to make our own rolled, dipped, poured candles this year. Have you done this? Hopefully we can do it soon. Settling into our new home takes an amazing amount of time! We’re looking forward to having everything in order, so we can do all the interesting projects we’ve got planned.

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