52 Candles Project

Nothing motivates you like telling the world that you are going to do something.

I have started a new Instagram project called @52candlesproject where I plan on creating and publishing a new candle every week in 2016.

The original idea came from Matt Cator who created his @52tables Instagram account as a personal challenge.  Matt was interviewed on CBC Radio and The Windsor Star.

I have a few candles already underway, and I may have to pad the project with a few that have already been completed, but I hope to make it through 2016 with 52 new candles.

Wish me luck.


Nothing like a deadline to focus your efforts …

It’s all too easy to putter around the shop, trying this and testing that, and generally wasting a lot of time.  Sign up for a show, however, and the approaching deadline motivates you to get things done.

On Saturday, June 13th from 11 am to 6 pm, we’re going to be at the Toronto Art Crawl in Liberty Village.  I’m pretty impressed with the organizers who are promoting the event and have scored a major sponsor with Varekai, Cirque du Soleil.

The issue is that I have sold out a few key products, and I have had a few more “cooking” in the kiln, so it’s suddenly time to get cracking!

A while back I scored a few barrels and a pile of interesting wood and had all sorts of ideas dancing around my head.  Now I need to get the tools out, fire up the old creativity, and start making stuff.

The first batch of wood has exited the kiln and is dry enough to work. A few pieces “exploded” in the kiln – heavily twisted wood is the most visually interesting, but it also has a bad habit of cracking when drying because of the tension in the wood fibres.  I managed to salvage most of it and I am busy making one-of-a-kind candles.

One of the barrels had a surprise inside (no, not wine!). The inside surface of the barrel, rather than the smooth curved surface you normally see, was heavily grooved.  I found out this was an experiment by the winemaker who wanted a barrel with an “extra heavy toast” for a robust red wine he was working on.  “Toast” is the charring  on the inside of the barrel created when the cooper “fires” the barrel and turns the inside surface from nice clear oak into oak charcoal.  This charcoal adds extra character to the wine aging inside the barrel.

The theory was that if you rout a series of grooves on the inside surface of the barrel before firing it, you get more surface area for the wine to meet.  In theory this should should magnify the effect, but I learned from the winemaker that it didn’t really work and they will no longer use that type of barrel.

Interesting lesson, but it means that I have a few dozen staves that I cannot easily work into the products that I usually make.  I don’t really mind because I have some ideas for really unique products that will be enhanced by these unusual barrel staves.

All I have to do is get back into the shop and get to work.

We will also be at the Entertainment District Art Crawls on Friday, July 10th and Friday, August 14th at David Pecaut Square.

Damn. I better get to work …


Candles are hot!

This season I have been pleasantly surprised with how popular candles are.

As part of my “found objects” theme I have been turning found objects into candles of various sizes and shapes.  These items include bobbins, barrel staves and rescued wood.

Bobbins make wonderful candlesticks because of their graceful shape and interesting patina.  I offer bobbin candlesticks either as drilled or adapted.

Drilled bobbins are just that – the top of the bobbin is drilled to accept either a standard  candls (7/8″) or a medium candle (5/6″). This is very convenient and looks great, but unfortunately it destroys the value of the bobbin as a collector piece.  If all you want is a candlestick then that is not an issue, but if you collect bobbins or want to display the bobbin on its own without a candle, the top of the bobbin is marred by the large hole.

If you want to preserve that value of the bobbin then I also make adapters consisting of a candle cup on top of a dowel.  The dowel fits into the bobbin opening and the candles fits into the cup that stands proud of the bobbin.

My wine barrel stave candles are also quite popular this season to the point where I am heading back into the shop to make more.

The big surprise is candle centerpieces made from birch branches.  I salvaged these birch branches earlier this year when helping a friend clean up trees on his farm damaged by last winter’s ice storm.  They have been dried (easier said than done!), flattened on the bottom, and drilled along the top to accept glass tealight holders.  Ranging from 11 to 16 inches with three, four or five tealights each, they make an excellent centrepiece for your holiday table.

A final fun candle set that I made is a pair of wooden shoe lasts with candle adapters.  These are an awesome and whimsical display on your table or mantle.

So I have definitely seen the light and I will be working on a new set of candles for 2015!




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