I’ve made a few candles now and with each I’m understanding more and more on how to get the shape just right! I have to say, there were many points throughout this process in which I felt like totally giving up and moving on to something different. I’m so pleased I was able to stick at it and work through the kinks to actually produce something worth my time and efforts. I have had such a great response already on people asking me if I’m selling them and when I will be selling them. At this point I’m just going to continue the process and make as many as I can!
This picture shows my first try at melting down the wax and pouring it into the mold. It was difficult at first to keep a steady hand which is why the wax is everywhere and looks very messy. The wax and pigment were very easy to melt down and combine on a low heat as a precaution.
While I can sometimes be totally impatient I removed the wax from the mould after 2 hours when it really should have been around 5 hour cooling time. It was the first try after all and I just wanted to get an idea of how it was looking and whether or not I should give up all hope. On removing the wax I found this :
Not the most positive outcome… Although straight away I was able to work out where I had gone wrong. The bottom of the wick got stuck at the vital connecting point from the bulb of the mushroom and the stem. Also, I think the mould wasn’t held together securely enough and there was leakage, causing the wax to seep out and not fully reach the top of the mould. I am still relatively happy for a first outcome ! The shape is definitely there and it stands up straight. It just needs a little more refinement.
The process can be very messy if you don’t have steady, also, the original tub the silicone solidified in is necessary to hold the mould together inside without it bleeding out through any possible gaps or little holes. The next picture shows a new tidier method, using the same tools as wax melting tools. Any leftover wax is put in the glass jar to have a build up of colours as I go along.
Recently I found this girl on Youtube who details her first ever weaving experience, she takes a class to begin with but brings it home and the video follows her journey through the tapestry. I thought it was so beautiful, I’ve always been inspired by this but I think this was the thing that gave me that final push to actually be proactive in beginning my own personal experience of weaving! The picture below reveals her first finished attempt. She reveals that she tried almsot every type of weaving stitch and almost every thickness of thread. I love it !!!!!!!
Recently I watched a documentary detailing different aspects of life in Japan throughout the centuries. It’s a beautiful short series which focuses on nature, cities, and homes in Japan. In particular the episode which initally drew me in was the one about nature. We discover information on the Japanese religion of Shinto, which believes in the worship of kami. These kami are godly figures and spirits, but unlike any other religion, they believe these spirits live within the natural world around them, in the trees, plants, wind, rocks and waterfalls. I personally think this is very beautiful, rather than the worship of a possible unlikely god, they put all their energy into protecting the relationship between man and nature. The Bonsai is discussed, I was totally unaware of how over time they are crafted like a true art form. One bonsai tree shown was around 500 years old. Sesshu was an artist who stuck out for particular interest to me.
This is the silicone I will use to make the mould! The red liquid is the catalyst which makes it turn to silicone and I will have to mix together thoroughly before pouring.
My totally make shift set up. The container is an empty yogurt carton and the blue tac is holding the mushroom a little bit higher to prevent the piece touching the bottom of the carton. Below is the silicone and catalyst mixed together ready to pour! The mould is now setting and will be ready to use tomorrow once fully hardened.
Below are the products purchased to make the actual candle ! Wax and wicks and pigments.
To make the candles for this project I began with some research. How would I make the product? Which silicone to buy for the mould? Which wax would I use and how would I dye it?
I began simply with a video revealing a brand called Polycraft, it seemed pretty simple and could easily be done from home. To make the mould I would need a form that it would envelop. I orignally was going to purchase one online but remembered I have a mushroom piece I made a few years ago when I made a lot of ceramic work based around natural forms. It is a nice size and quite detailed and felt it would be a good starting point to try out for a first time moulding process. If this piece failed I would aim to make a new form better suited for the process.
To make the mould and get the best the result, the shape must be suspended and not touching any side of the container. This would be difficult as the piece has of course been fired and glazed. This is something I will have to work on.
Originally for the wax I purchased a set of 50 dinner candles that I thought I would be able to cut down and melt, but while purchasing pigment dyes to mix into the wax, it stated that it would only combine with soy or parrafin based waxes. On researching I found that the candles I had bought were a stearine based wax. So I then ordered a 1kg bag of soy wax chips to use for the process instead.
The process of dying and melting the wax I feel will be the most tricky, only a small amount, precisely 0.02-0.06oz, of the pigment would be needed to sufficently colour 1lb. of wax. “Because the melting point of the pigment is higher than the soy wax, it is necessary to first dissolve the pigment and small amount of soy wax at a temperature of 90-100 degrees. Until the pigment is completely dissolved, then add the remaining soy wax to dissolve.” This process will be tricky one and has to be done very carefully otherwise it could burst into flames. This will be done with another person around to assist. Safety first !
Working Through the Issues
I considered many ways I could potentially suspend the mushroom shape; with fishing wire, with toothpicks holding it from the bottom, I considered even making the mould in 2 halves and somehow joining them together. Lucky I came up with a way to do it !
In this first image I have the head of a small scalpel that has been pushed into the bottom of the piece. It managed to have a strong hold, but when pushed into the blue tac to keep it standing, the weight of the mushroom meant that it slowly would fall to one side. I didn’t want to risk putting it in the silicone and this happening otherwise it would damage and smear the mould inside.
The next two images reveal how I instead pushed the head of the scalpel into the top of the mushroom. I noticed it had a hole and knew I could fish something through it to enable suspension. I first tried it with embroidery thread but the weight of the mushroom was too heavy and dragged it down. I knew it would have to be something stronger and considered a long stick, and then remembered I had metal skewers for BBQ and it fit perfectly ! I’m glad I was able to suspend from the top and not the bottom as I need to remember to leave a hole in the top to pore the wax and fit the wick.
A previous blog post reveals the Anni Albers exhbition held at the Tate Modern a few months ago. I have tried weaving in my much younger years but hadn’t thought about it much until that point ! I loved her work and found it quite fascinating. The movement of threads, thick and thin, to create some overcrowded, complicated pieces, to others that were simply stunning.
Recently I’ve seen some work by a girl online who’s natural dying methods and weaving capabilities for a beginnger was something that massively intrigued me ! I have always considered what it would be like to have my work translated through fabric, here are a few images that got me inspired.