Candles have been an essential element of home lighting for centuries — in fact, until the late nineteenth century, they were among the only methods of lighting a home. Nowadays, candles are associated more with decoration, relaxation, mood and fragrance than with the fundamental flame they produce. Nevertheless, perhaps it is partially that relationship with the naked flicker that continues to fuel the intrigue they undoubtedly have.
Here are a few ‘forgotten’ tips to prove that candles – however else we love to use them – still have a few more practical uses around the home too.
In its original intended function! Yes, they make great inexpensive decorations, but they are also pretty brilliant at keeping or table goods warm for that appreciable time longer too. Whether in teapot warmers, food warmers or for fondue, tealights are a charming, at table way of saving hurried trips to the microwave when your consumables run sold too quickly. Admittedly, this is not something you witness at many a dinner party, but with the growing renaissance of afternoon tea and vintage homewares, we think that this quaint practise is more than due a revival.
Remember the days before email or even the lick-it-shut envelope, when people put so much effort into their written communication? The written word was such a deliberate act that had a physicality about it that’s just not there anymore. Presentation – including the seal on a letter – could be just as much a part of message and the purpose behind it as the words themselves. Sealing a letter was just one of the physical processes involved in the creation of it. And where did the wax come from, that was needed to stamp the seal? You’ve got it – and if you’re sounding out wedding invitations, or simply an extra special letter to a friend (and why not?), this artful practice lends a personal touch that’s well worth reviving.
Ok, so this one probably isn’t due for mass revival. But wouldn’t it be cool if it did? Candle clocks were marked to show how much time had passed as they melted, and some clever person even invented a system whereby weighted balls were dropped as the wax gave way around them, falling into a metal bowl with a ‘chime’.
Advent candles are primarily associated with the countdown to Christmas, but they are not a bad idea for marking any important time period or event in our lives. So many of us associate with the feeling of time ‘passing through our fingers’, that having a visual reference – particularly one that is reinforced by a physical act – could be something that is really beneficial in terms of taking control of time and our sense of ownership of it. In this way, time turns form being a passive phenomenon that happens to us, to something that we can have an active engagement with, commemorating its passing rather than letting it pass over us almost unawares.
What would you keep a time candle for? The run up to a wedding, a time period before an exam, or time spent away from a loved one are just a few ideas.
Nadia Tariq is a Ken’s Yard writer and freelance blogger with a diverse portfolio of work and a passion for homely and inspired interior design.