Golden Glow by Penny Wolswinkel
13th December 2019
Candles have long been associated with Christmas. Many Christmas cards are illustrated with a cosy room setting, snow falling outside a darkened window, and a warm light from a glowing candle illuminating a pile of presents, a Christmas tree, or a gently snoring Santa.
In the 21st century, we’ve all but forgotten that for centuries, candles were also a practical item. In most cases, the humble candle provided the sole source of light in a far darker world. How many of us have found ourselves wondering how embroiderers of the past could have produced such perfect needlework with only a candle to light their labours?
But where and when did candles originate?
There is evidence that they go back to Egyptian times, although it seems that the first wicked candles were invented and used by the Romans. Candles were made of all kinds of wax fuel, with the most expensive being fashioned from beeswax. However, the most common candles were made from different forms of animal fat, especially sheep and cow. These tallow candles were cheap but gave off poor light and they apparently smelt awful! Not particularly conducive to an evening of stitching.
During the 19th century, like many things, candle making became industrialised. As a result, candles became cheaper and cleaner, however these new advancements were soon overtaken by electric light bulbs.
Before long, candles as a source of light became obsolete. Nowadays, candles are still available, however they are usually beautifully scented luxury items. Undoubtedly, they still resonate with Christmas, but in our risk conscious world, the thought of the mess and, more importantly, the fire risk puts many of us off.
Regardless, the romance of the candle and its long association with the season still lives on. The tradition of placing a candle in a front window of a house to welcome visitors during the Christmas period is still practiced by many, although they may now choose to use electric candles to avoid the risks. However, for those of us who refuse to give up those long traditions we have a perfect solution – Penny Wolswinkel’s three-dimensional goldwork candle ‘Golden Glow’ from Inspirations magazine issue #104.
At last, a candle which is safe, clean and simply exquisite, and continues to shine brightly year after year.
Worked on dupion silk to give an authentically wax-like finish, Golden Glow is surrounded by delicate gold leaves and tendrils and topped with an everlasting golden flame. To achieve the effect, it requires you to practice several techniques in one, but we think that this makes it the perfect challenge leading up to Christmas.
Much of the golden surface detail is worked using couching and kid leather appliqué – characteristic goldwork techniques. But there are also raised elements to this piece which require you to create golden stumpwork leaves, attached after the surface work is complete. Finally, once you’ve finished the design, you then get to stitch it all together into a three-dimensional masterpiece.
It may not physically cast light into a dark night, but the beauty and joy that this project creates will offer all the welcome anyone could wish for. Whether placed in a window or in the middle of the Christmas table, Golden Glow will unite everyone in admiration.