The Christmas Market at Hughenden Manor takes place the first weekend of December 2015 and is the first time the market has been expanded and open to crafts people from outside the National Trust.
The beekeepers have decided to have a stall with produce from bees in an effort to fund further expansion of the project.
We will be selling honey, candles and some notelets featuring scenes from our beekeeping. We have some great pictures some of which are on display on the walls of the stableyard cafe.
My role has been to increase our stock of candles. Over the years the project has added to its store of moulds and I have also added to mine. It can be a long process even once the wax has been purified.
I use a double saucepan to heat the wax but with the buffer of the hot water in the lower container. Due to the risk of fire, you have to watch the pan. It probably takes about 15 minutes to melt a large 500g lump.
During this time I insert the wick into the moulds. I use the TS moulds from Thornes which are excellent quality and can be used over and over again. I use a metal spindle or a wicking needle to push the wick into the holes in the base. I have found that making a loop at the end and pressing the wick so it is double just at then end that goes into the hole in the base, it blocks the hole well enough that no wax dribbles through. I use some upholsterer’s needles to support the wick upright. I then try and check that the place where the mould is split to make it easier to remove the candle when it has solidified has fallen back into place so the design doesn’t have a discontinuity. I use elastic bands to help keep the mould together. The bands will need replacing as hot wax will spill on them at times.
Once the wax is melted, it is ready to be poured into the moulds. At one stage I decanted it into a container with a lip which helps when you are pouring into small apertures but you end up coating another container with wax and possibly wasting it so it is better if you have a steady hand and can pour directly from the pan.
The candle wax will gradually cool and solidify and change from translucent dark yellow to a solid paler yellow.
Don’t be tempted to try and remove the candles too soon. You’ll probably end up damaging the shape or putting indents from your nails or even just losing some of the small details.
If you want to sell the candles, do look at the volume of wax each candle uses. A candle that looks twice as large as another can take four times the volume of wax. If you do spill wax, then once it has solidified you can collect the blobs and melt them later. If one of the candles doesn’t work out – perhaps because you tried to remove it from the mould too quickly, then you can at least melt the wax down and re-use it.