Medieval Candle Making Tools

Introduction

The art of candle making dates back to ancient times, with some of the earliest evidence of candles found in Egypt around 3000 BC. The tools used for candle making were limited during the medieval period, however there are some references to their use in written texts from the time. During this era, technology was primitive and candles were made using tallow or other substances to produce a waxy flame. Medieval candle making tools consisted mainly of metal molds, wicks and wick tabs, and pincers. These simple tools allowed people to form basic candles out of natural materials such as beeswax, wax from plants like bayberry or myrtle, petroleum-based oils, and animal fats like beef tallow or suet.

The metal molds were simple cylindrical shapes which varied in size depending on the type of candle being made at the time. They acted as a form that allowed the molten wax or tallow mixture to take shape before it began to cool and solidify. Wicks were generally composed of a cotton twine soaked in oil which served as a source for ignition and provided oxygen transfer during combustion. In order for the wick tabs to hang correctly inside the mold during cooling, pincers were used to adjust their alignment. Most importantly, these tools enabled a continuous source of light during nighttime hours as well as providing warmth when fires in homes needed refueling due their laborious fuels such as wood or peat moss needed for burning steadily through long winter nights

Examining the Tools

Early candle makers had an array of tools to help them create their products. In medieval times, these utensils served as the main materials needed for making candles. Many of the pieces have remained unchanged over hundreds of years and are still used in modern-day candle making.



The wick was one of the most important components for creating a successful candle. It is what creates the flame after all. Wick twisters were popular during medieval times and were typically made from wood or metal, affixed with a clamping mechanism on the end which held the strands together while being spun together. The central hole in which the wicks formed was then inserted into the mold to form a candle holder.

Wax had to be heated for usage which required either a pot full of water boiled over an open fire, or a cauldron suspended by chains over an open flame if it was large enough to use multiple batches of wax at one time. These pots had long handles that allowed craftsmen to fill molds more efficiently and safely remove their products once heated through. The wax itself was usually pure while various scents could be added by heating plant matter such as herbs with it in order to give it additional fragrances or therapeutic properties known during medieval times.

Scissors were essential for trimming off any excess wick before or after creation and were common among toolboxes due to their versatility beyond just making candles – useful for cutting fabric, harvesting crops, etc. Bellows were also frequently used when working with molten waxes as they created air circulation which kept fire stoked and helped melt down wax more evenly and quickly than just simply blowing on it would have done alone.

Illuminating the Craft

In the Middle Ages, candles were an integral part of life, providing not only light but also warmth and a way to keep track of time. Candle making in this period was mainly done by monks who used specialized tools to make their wares out of beeswax or tallow (animal fat).

The most basic tool for candle making in Medieval times was the mold which members of religious orders may have made from terracotta. Candle makers would fill these molds with molten wax, and when it had hardened, carefully remove them — a process that required skill to ensure the candle came out in one piece without misshaping or cracking. Steel molds eventually replaced the terracotta molds as they proved much more durable and could produce many candles quickly and effectively.

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Beyond the molds, it is speculated that medieval candle makers used ladles made from metal or wood alongside fleshing knives to prepare wax and tallow for melting. These tools would have allowed them to easily scoop up large quantities of these materials as well as mix the ingredients together efficiently and safely. Reeds were also crucial items needed to create wicks which were then attached securely into quite often intricate designs before being fitted into the molds. The use of damp clay helped secure them into place once inside.

Finished candles were inspected closely before being boxed up for distribution around a region or town ready for sale at local markets or bazaars. As an essential item for people’s lives, householders would have kept stocked up on supplies from trusted places in preparation for periods without sunlight or mild winter nights where illumination was vital if not mandatory in some parts of Medieval Europe.

Age-Old Traditions

Medieval candle making has greatly influenced modern day crafting. During the Middle Ages, tallow and beeswax were the main ingredients for most candles, with some additional components such as essential oils and herbs used for scent. Medieval candle makers crafted their creations by melting wax in a large pot over an open flame, then shaping it in wicks during a painstaking process of dipping, dripping and dabbing the melted wax until old-style tapers were formed. Hardware and tools necessary to produce candles were limited during this period but consisted mainly of basic items such as molds, wick spools and scissor-like devices called “tabling” irons which allowed workers to cut straight longer pieces of wick when candles had to be cast in larger molds.

Today’s modern crafters still use these age-old techniques when creating homemade candles. Molds are used while molten wax is poured inside them which cools into shapes determined by the mold’s design. Wicks are still placed within each container or open mould before any wax is introduced. Using scissors or tabling irons, wicks can now be easily cut from spools without any hassle thanks to improved safety features integrated directly into the product’s design that protect users from cuts or other injuries. Additionally, herbal additives may still be utilized for scent although dyes have become more popular among today’s artisans which introduce vivid colors during the candle making process instead of relying on natural ingredients alone. Without doubt, it cannot be denied that many of our current practices owe much of what they are based on to ancient epoch candle makers.

Putting it All Together

Medieval candle making was a very delicate art requiring many intricate tools. The wax had to be formed, melted, and shaped into candles of various sizes and shapes. This process began with the preparation of the wick. A frame known as a ‘wicker’ provided the necessary framework for fine spun fabric or thread to be around. The wicker was then laid next to a spindle that featured several grooves allowing the prepared yarn to fit snuggly into the slots and remain securely in place while being drawn around the spindles.

Once the desired length of yarn was in place, it would need to be completely wrapped tightly around each spindle before it could truly be considered usable in candle making. In order to do this, a tool called a whisset wheel was used, which consisted of two pairs of wooden planks coming together at an apex. Its job was to take yarn from one end and wrap it continuously over each groove on each spindle in both directions until all were completed.

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The next stage involved melting down beeswax or tallow in special vats for pouring onto the wound thread that connected each row of spindles secured in their respective frames by Means of buffing cloths or skewers made from willow twigs; these tools acted as scoops for carrying hot wax from tankard cauldrons over to where it could be conveniently poured into moulds. After setting, any unwoven sections could then be trimmed away so they blended seamlessly with their surroundings. It wasn’t just about making perfect-looking candles either; different herbs such as rosemary or thyme were often added during this stage so not only did lights appear attractive but they also had pleasant aromas when lit!

Legacy of the Craft

The ancient art of candle making has been around for millennia, but the tools and techniques used by medieval makers have endured surprisingly well in spite of the technological advances we’ve seen since then. In fact, some of those tools, such as the dip mold and snuffer, can still be found today in homes and even professional ateliers.

The dip mold is a specific type of casts that is typically made from wood or clay into which molten wax poured to form set shapes. This process was widely used to create both ornate candles with intricate designs as well as uniform pillars and tapers. Another tool widely employed during this era was a long metal tube called an apple corer that was used to dig out hollow cores in wax-based items such as floats for lighted parades.

Another critical component was the snuffer. This tool was shaped like tongs but with smaller pointed ends that were ideal for reaching down into narrow spaces to extinguish flames when necessary. For outdoor festivities, a large bellows-like device known as a squib was also employed to rev up stifling gas flames so they could be reshaped another design or effect by deftly creating larger pockets of air between the burning materials.



Today, these same classic tools are still used in candle making, often augmented by more modern technology but drawing on centuries-old traditions nonetheless. Often passed down through generations and boasting excellent craftsmanship, these timeless implements are truly representative of all that is best about the legacy of medieval candle making.

Conclusion

As we reflect on the tools of medieval candle making, it is humbling to understand that our ancestors often made do with what they had, while still being able to make objects of beauty and function. It is also inspiring to know that many of these practices have been kept alive in the modern era. In this time of industrialized homogeny, many people have been inspired to rediscover and revive these methods, taking advantage of their special nature. By reclaiming something so ancient and rarely spoken about, it has provided a unique way for individuals to express themselves. Crafting items by hand and without the use of modern technology can be both meditative and fulfilling. Candle making is just one of the many ways people from all over the world are returning to actions from antiquity with a modern twist in order to create something beautiful, sustainable and wholly unique.



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