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Candle Dipping

An Article by Alison Fox

Through the windows of the weavery kitchen the sunlight gives a faint hint that it will in fact leave for the day. There is a sweet smell of bees wax in the air. The light and smell create the atmosphere for the late afternoon course work offering of candle dipping.

Adrienne is already here, she is holding a candle that has grown fat during her dipping with Takeshi earlier in the afternoon. She holds it out to me and we marvel at how pretty it is. In fact, all of the candles we are dipping are beautiful. The process of dipping candles is a soothing, rhythmic one. The material of Bees wax is perfection- its smell, texture and longevity. The candles we are making are treasured objects.

Because this course work offering is more about engaging in the process of the candle dipping and not creating a uniform product all of the candles have a uniqueness of size and shape.

The students find their candle they have attached to a clothesline and take a seat in a semi circle around the stove where we do our dipping. I take up my station by the wax.

First to dip is Alasdair, he takes his wick and with grace dips it into the wax swiftly, pulling it out and pausing above the vat of wax until the wax has finished dripping. Next is Kali: always ready for her turn and quite sure who she is making the candle for. Then Olivia, her candle is the tallest, fattest candle that she can make in the vat we are using. She is happy to watch the slow growth of the candle and think about the co-worker she plans to give it to. When it has reached its fullest articulation Olivia cuts out a small heart and attaches it to the side. Jesse who is sitting next to her stands up for his turn. Jesse dips his candle with a swift in and out of the wax. After he has finished his candle he too decorates the sides with hearts in different colors. Anna follows after- a co-worker from Germany, a graceful candle dipper and after her, Franziska, another co-worker from Germany. Franziska is an old pro at candle dipping having done it through out her childhood at Waldorf School. Molly steps up next, her candle is smooth and the smell interests her. When she arrives at the wax she carefully dips and goes back to her seat. Then it is Kiki’s turn. Even though Kiki has just arrived at Triform she has seamlessly entered the flow of candle dipping. She is confident when she arrives at the vat and focused on the formation of her candle. Adrienne is last; she has attached some colorful wax decoration to the candle she has made. She dips the candle again to attach her designs to body of the candle. Soon, some of the designs are just shapes and one can no longer see the colors.

We stick to this order, cycle after cycle. There are the quiet conversations taken up between turns but these are light, as one knows they will dip again soon.

Candle dipping is rich in real experience. The poetics of the material: the flowers in the field that provide the nectar for the bees to turn to wax or honey. The secreted wax smells of the honey, nectar and pollen that were all present in the bee when she secreted the wax. And all of this is part of substance, the time integrated into both the wax and the candle. Candle dipping is not a singular activity. Both the material of bees wax and the creation of the candle are born of a type of accumulation. In our imaginations we can hear the buzz of the bees deep in their own working rhythm while we enact our own, one student after the other, dip by dip. Until the Sun has set –it’s five o’clock. Time to head home.


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