It’s mid December. The time of year that is usually filled with yule festivals, preparing for travels to see family abroad, or frantically cleaning the house to hide muddy boot prints and farm tools on kitchen tables from visitors coming to us. This year is odd, most certainly different, but also calm. We are still hustling to prepare the sheep for winter while they are still grazing the pale frosty fields, keeping the goats happy in their winter area in the woods with access to the old barn and doing all the daily chores that occupy most of the day.
But instead of filling every spare minute running around to prepare for a couple of days of tightly planned family time, we now have this rare space on our hands to actually live the whole season of short days and long cold nights more vividly. Plus having Dan home at the farm instead of gone for most of the day, makes every day feel a bit more celebrated and lived.
Just like every year we took a hike in the woods surrounding the farm to finally find a wonky, wobbly, but terribly charming little cedar tree to take home and adorn with ornaments heavier than it’s floppy branches can carry. Only this year we did it right at the beginning of the month instead of a couple of days before Christmas.
We have been making wreaths with all we can find in the never bare pastures and woods, we have little decorations made of leaves and acorn caps and lichen, little lights everywhere and the tent smells full time like beeswax candles.
And we made beeswax candles, lots and lots of beeswax candles. We melted pieces of wax we collected over the summer from the beehives and poored them in jars with a wick in the middle. We also used up all the little pieces of beeswax from previous candles that didn’t burn all the way down. And this year for the first time, we rolled candles from sheets of wax.
You’ll find packs of colored sheets of beeswax you can roll around a wick, but they are often expensive and I rather have the golden color of pure wax, do I decided to use something we had on hand already.
Every spring we buy sheets of beeswax in bulk, shaped in a tiny hexagon pattern, exactly the size that the bees like best to store their honey and raise their young in. We attach these sheets to new wooden frames that go into the beehives, and they help the bees draw out consistent rows of honeycomb that fit snug into the hive boxes, instead of wilder patterns. These sheets are made of 100% beeswax and are just as flexible and similar sized as the candle making supplies, they are just better priced and come from the beekeeping stores we like to support.
It is a craft that is quick and easy, makes for beautiful gifts or just sweet smelling candles for yourself, and can be easily done with young children (our 5 year old could have kept rolling all afternoon).
- One pack of 10 sheets of medium brood foundation
We used these (https://www.mannlakeltd.com/medium-brood-foundation-8-1-2-x-16-3-4) from Mann Lake.
- One spool of cotton wick (like this https://www.mannlakeltd.com/4-0-cotton-wicking)
- A pair of scissors.
How it’s done:
Keep the sheets of wax in a warm room before your start to keep them flexible.
Think about the size of candles you’d like to make. We made plenty of tall, thick candles with a single sheet of wax, but also shorter ones (that roll easier for little hands) by cutting the sheet in half.
Measure a piece of wick a little longer than the height of your wax sheet.
Lay your sheet in front of you, place the wick on one edge. Carefully fold the sheet around the wick. At first you carefully fold the sheet around the wick, but as soon as the wick is invisable you’ll be able to start rolling up the sheet with your both hands.
Make sure you roll tightly, so you don’t get much space between your wick and wax.
When you get to the end of your sheet, you can gently press the edge of the sheet into the candle so it sticks. If that doesn’t work, keep it close to a heat source for a moment so that the wax gets softer, and try again.
Voila. A candle.
Now pack it up, give it to someone that can use a little extra light and warmth this year, and make sure to keep some for your own dinner table.