This afternoon I had a mild urge to experiment with wax. Which sounds a lot more exciting than the reality.
I bought a little ‘set’ of tea and coffee cups and saucers in a junk shop a few months ago, just because they were so absolutely lovely. And pretty useless. And, erm, pretty. Really fine and delicate bone china, with just a tiny hand-painted mark on the reverse. I am no expert, as you can possibly tell, but these cups have a feel of age about them and were carefully piled up in the back of a hideously fantastic 1930s glass-fronted cabinet. It was only when I had already decided to have them that I noticed several of them are, to quote Andrew Baseman of Past Imperfect (here), ‘inventively repaired’, using tiny staples (visible in the picture).
It struck me at the time (and it seems I’m not alone) how loved these must have been by somebody, somewhere, in order for them to go to all the trouble of seeking out this incredibly specialist, pre-super glue restoration work. Not only that, but who would have thought that tiny metal staples painstakingly drilled into delicate china would actually do the job? And they do! No leaks, not even with searing, skin-removingly molten wax.
Making candles is a messy business. I’m not entirely convinced it’s entirely worth the trouble, although I’m not sure what I’d do with these cups if I wasn’t filling them with wax. The main thing about the mess is the question of how you get rid of the waxy vestiges when you’ve finished poncing around with bone china? I have the bowl I used to melt it in, the spoon I used to stir it with, the teaspoons I used to rest across the cups to hold the wicks in place, the grater my son, in a moment of genius, used to uniformly chop it up with…all covered in wax. Yes, very hot water would melt it off, but won’t it then trickle down into the drains and gradually build up until I’ve got the plumbing equivalent of angina in my pipework?
I suspect the answer is probably to have dedicated equipment. And to not use teaspoons to hold wicks. And to be less messy. Which is all well and good if you’re the type of person who has sufficient stamina to stick at one thing for more than 20 minutes, before you’re off on the next creative campaign. Which I’m not.
So anyway, here they are, and if anyone knows anything more about this kind of repair work, or indeed about this particular china, I’d be interested to know.