Decorating with Candles
Andles have always been an important part of the essence with which we decorate our homes. As an ever-changing source of illumination, candlelight offers an emotional appeal that artificial light cannot.
It can transform a room and our moods much faster than any other decorating tools. For centuries, candles have also played an important role as signifiers of tradition, from symbol of religion to signs of friendship, celebration, and life.
Today, light is not as precious as it once was, and perhaps for that reason we are less sensitive to its properties and its mood. Candles in our homes remind us of the essential qualities of light and of its profound emotional power. This week, we discuss creative ways to use candles and making use of the qualities of candlelight throughout the house for different occasions.
Candles are basically simple objects, composed just as they were centuries ago of wax and a wick. Candle wax is either beeswax, paraffin, or a combination of the two together with various other waxes. Before the development of paraffin in the mid-19th century, candles were made from natural substances, usually beeswax and fats from animals and plants.
Beeswax, a natural substance secreted by honeybees, remains popular for candle making. There are various types of candles. All are dipped, rolled or poured.
Dipped candles are created by repeatedly dipping wicks into molten wax, and then hanging them to dry and harden. This was the standard method of candle making until the introduction of paraffin. Moulded candles can be found in an infinite variety of shapes, from flowers and animals to figures or buildings. The most familiar moulded candle is the votive.
The soft tones create an atmosphere and mood in home decorating schemes and provide a restful break from our over-lit world. First impression of your home is made in the entrance hall, reserved for welcoming guests and putting strangers at their ease. When you enter from outdoors, candlelight ismuch easier on the eyes than the light from a bright electrical fixture. You can arrange mixed styles for your foyer area. At times traditional hurricanes or lan terns shape candle holder look pretty in the staircase. As a safety precaution, install scones so that the candles cannot be caught in drafts when exterior doors are opened and closed.
After the foyer, the living room is often the first room that guests enter. For a formal living room, antique silver candlesticks or elaborate candelabra arranged on a dark wood side table achieve a harmonious effect.
A cluster of crystal candlesticks, of various sizes and shapes and alight with tapers also creates an accent more suitable to a formal setting. In a casual living room, both candles and candlesticks can afford to be more eclectic. Two or three dark pillars of candles can be placed in a simple red plate, or netted candle holder, or a cluster of small pillars on a shallow sponge- ware bowl.
Candlelight makes an event out of a meal. No dining room or dining table is dressed for guests without the presence of candles. For an eye catching display, mix candle holders in bold colours like red and purple with décor items such as garden stone, dry flowers, dry rose petals and arrange on a red runner on the dining table. For added benefit, a white vase with red roses can be placed in the centre of the runner. Flowers and greenery naturally complement the candles.
Candles in the bathroom are about more than just decoration. Soaking in a tub by candlelight is the perfect way to restore one’s balance at the end of a long day. Scented candles are a good choice for the bathroom. Many tubs have wide, flat corners that can hold a candle, or even a rim deep enough to ring with pillars. Or, you can bring in a small bench or low flat- topped stool and call it into service as a candle stand. A windowsill or tile ledge invites group candles, snails and green plants.
Clay lamps have traditionally gained preference in Bangladeshi weddings. And although they continue to remain popular, there are now many other ways to enhance outdoor lighting. Apart from wedding, they are also used for protests and vigils.
Nazneen Haque Mimi
Photo credit: Tamim Sujat
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