Quite a while ago, we chatted about thread conditioners used in the needlework world, and I gave my two-cents’ worth of profound thought on the subject.
I’m not a fan of thread conditioners – you can read the article to see my reasoning – but I am an unabashed fan of beeswax.
But, before there’s any confusion, I’m not a fan of beeswax for conditioning or taming cranky needlework threads. Not at all! (I mention why in that article, too.)
But I do use beeswax for goldwork, to strengthen threads and protect them from abrasion from the metal threads. (And, yes, we talk about that in the previously mentioned article, too.)
It just so happens that I have a beehive in my backyard. And that beehive produces honey and beeswax. It’s my brother-in-law’s hive, and this past year, he harvested some nice wax. I got a little bit of it.
This weekend, I was beset with a headache that kept me from stitching and from computer work, so instead, I set about preparing little wax pats for goldwork kits.
I just love looking at, handling, molding, sniffing, melting, and, in general, playing with beeswax! So goldwork becomes a good excuse to indulge.
Besides, the smell of beeswax melting is always a wonderful antidote for all that ails me. It’s as good as a cup of tea.
And I love the outcome. I love popping the little pats of beeswax out of their molds, to behold that smooth, creamy-golden wax in all its detailed glory.
To prepare these little pats of beeswax to include with goldwork kits, I start with a collection of various degrees of filtered beeswax. A little bit is from the backyard hives. Some is supplemented from local beekeepers who sell beeswax, and some is recycled from candles and whatnot.
My least favorite beeswax to use is the stuff you can buy in super-duper-duper hard bricks from craft stores. It’s often so processed that it is hard and flaky. I like the stuff that’s a bit fresher, that still has a kind of elasticity to it. It softens nicely – not too mushy, but just a little, so that it it really coats the thread well when you use it.
I started this weekend’s waxy dabbling with about 1.5 pounds of gathered beeswax chunks and bits, all of which has been filtered to some degree, hardened, and then broken up into small pieces.
For melting, I use a little pouring pot over boiling water. It’s the easiest way to safely get a consistent, slow melt.
If it weren’t some 150 degrees-ish (beeswax melts at 147 degrees F), I could stick my face in there.
For the most part, I use chocolate molds for my little beeswax pats. I use other molds, too, depending on what I’m doing. I have this one mold, above, that was sold as a cake mold (it’s silicone). When I first came across it, cake never entered my mind!
The beeswax hexagons that it produces are lovely, but they’re really too big to include in most kits. I usually make a few for studio use and occasionally for gift giving. Aside from using for candles, beeswax makes nice household decorations – a few of these hexagons scattered among a candle arrangement on a rustic table looks lovely! It also works well in wax warmers that people buy for other smelly waxes. It gives off a soft, warm, comforting smell that can’t be beat.
It doesn’t take too long to make a mess of little beeswax pats. It’s a low-stress, satisfying job.
The pieces in the lower part of the photo have not cooled completely – they’re a much creamier color. As the beeswax cools, it darkens, turns more translucent and golden, and it hardens significantly.
Creamy and smooth! Don’t you just want to eat it?
I took a couple of these over to my sister’s house and accidentally left them in the car. Oh happy accident! My car smelled glorious! I was just a little bit thankful, though, it didn’t melt and run. We’re having a warm spell in Kansas.
So that’s what I did this weekend on the studio front. I had great plans for a full weekend of computer work, photo editing, and stitching on my little Christmas projects (which I will show you later this week!), but alas, my head decided otherwise.
I was happy to get another step completed in kit preparation. It was a great way to spend time productively!