Saturday, October 24, 2015

October in beeswax

As much as I find myself clinging to the last weeks of my son's infancy, I am already throwing myself forward into his childhood. I will see a craft or a project and think: I want to do that with Hosea! How can I manage to remember this 3 (5, 10,15...) years from now??
When I just can't wait, I sometimes do it anyway, telling myself that modeling a life of handwork is important too ;)

And sometimes the perfect time to do a craft is when your baby has been sick for a week and a half and your haven't slept in just as long and none of the dishes are done and you are really behind on Being An Adult. Yes, that is the perfect time for a messy project.

Because in the midst of exhaustion and tending to the crankiest, clingiest baby on the planet, sometimes you need to feel like a person again... and doing laundry, much as it needs to be done, never helps me feel like a person. So? Messy crafting it is.

 It is the perfect time of year for this sort of thing, after all.

With Amanda's and Jessica's recent craft projects on my mind and a bar of local beeswax waiting in my apothecary, I strapped my sickypoo on my  back and set about collecting things to dip in beeswax.

Before I get into the process, I feel I should make a social media parenting disclaimer: my cranky baby who refuses sleep did not sit serenely by me as I did this. I had my wife put him in the car and drive him around for an hour so he would sleep!

So, I invited J* to join me for craft hour and he begrudgingly agreed (oh, he doea humor me and my hairbrained ideas).

I had chopped up a pound of beeswax the day before and put it in an old, irregularly sized cake pan that I rarely use. I put it in a 400 degree oven, stirring occasionally, until it was all melted. I carried this OUTSIDE (because I didn't want to spend all night scraping wax off the floor) and placed it ontop of clean newspaper.

Leaves are easy and J enjoyed using a clothes pin to dip the leaves into the hot wax. We shook them gently as we pulled them out, to keep wax from hardening into drops on the leaves.

The other thing I wanted to make was un-plastic wrap. You know, waxed cloth to wrap sandwiches or cheese in to keep it fresh. This was trickier. I don't have photos of this part because it required more attention to timing and a faster pace. J was bored with me by this point, so I was on my own.

 It's a simple concept, dip fabric in wax, wax hardens. But, you want to ensure the wax doesn't cake on too thickly, or it will crumble off and the fabric won't be as malleable. This mean, you want to pull it out fast and try to shake the wax off before it hardens, while making sure the fabric doesn't fold over and stick to itself.

The bees wanted their wax back!

You can see that I wasn't super successful with this. The wax hardens quickly, once out in the air, which meant that it kind of pooled at the edges. I think a larger vessel would have helped this because I wouldn't have had to scrunch the fabric up. For the larger squares, I actually put the pan back into the oven, which kept the wax totally liquefied until the fabric was saturated and ready to be removed.

A little stiffer than I'd like, but it still works!

I let the leftover wax dry in the pan and I'm saving it for future projects. No prep needed, just throw it right in the oven!

Now, what to do with the leaves? I love the mobile that Jessica did with painted oak leaves, so I went about making a ring for the frame.

We live in the shadow of some big black walnut trees and, when they drop their leaves, the leaf decomposes faster than the petiole, leaving them littering our yard. I wrapped them in bunches to make a ring (and Hosea "helped").
The rest is pretty self-explanatory. I used the same hemp twine to make a make the hoop into a hanger. Then, I strung the leaves onto thread and tied them to the hoop.

It now hangs in the bay window in our bedroom and makes me supremely happy. Of course, this did not use all of the leaves, so maybe J will need one for his bedroom too. And maybe one in the kitchen? Maybe if I just dip the month of October in besswax, I can keep it in my house year round.

*My partner and I are "Alternative Family Living Home" providers. This means that our family, under State supervision, provides a non-institutional home and care for a member of our community who is unable to live independently. "J" has lived with us for 2 years now. While I have his parents' permission to share photos and stories on social media, I feel I am always walking a difficult line of wanting to respect his right to privacy while also wanting to include him in the depictions of our life. He is a big part of it, after all.


  1. noticing your mary janes :) who makes them?

    rebecca in vt