Wednesday, 18 January 2012

wax on... wax off....

If your first thought was of a certain scene in the Karate Kid movie... I know how old you are! me too!
Are you sitting comfortably? then I shall begin...
When I started beading I was curious about the various thread conditioners you could buy. I still have my little blue box of Thread Heaven, and a chunk of 'Crystal Wax', a fluffy old piece of beeswax and a candle stub left over from my embroidery days. As a beginner I also had the vague notion that one or all of these, liberally applied, would aid my beading no end.
Having tried them all, been a fan of each for a while, I came to the conclusion that non are essential, but each very useful for certain tasks.
I also found that I was in want of something in between, not as heavy as beeswax, not as hard as crystal wax, for those times when I want to condition my thread to have a little 'resistance'.
So this is why, one sunny frosty January morning I head off deep into the Somerset countryside to my friend's cottage. Yes, gasp in envy at the idyllic setting, the gorgeous garden, the orchard beyond the wiggly stone wall. Dash past the curious goose, chat with the comfortingly fussy hens, and into the big stone floored kitchen which smells of warm baking and where the kettle is already singing on the range. I'm here to collect some beeswax.
Beader's Blend

My Beader's blend thread conditioner is the result of a lot of experiments mixing together different types of wax. One of the essential ingredients is beeswax. It already has a long tradition of use with stitching and embroidery, to stiffen and protect threads and prevent them knotting; we are talking sensible seam sewing here (think patchwork quilting rather than embroidery floss and fine silks). It is also used in Goldwork to help thread glide more smoothly, the same reasons we like it for beading threads. The beeswax I'm using is very pure as it comes straight from my friend's hives. Some years it is dark and golden, other years a paler yellow. Back home and in my own kitchen there is a lovely smell of honey and beeswax and the first batch of Beader's Blend is gently cooling.
Beader's Blend cooling in the kitchen

In my recipe I include a blend of two kinds of crystal wax along with the beeswax, and serve up the results in little foil wrappers topped with a pressed flower from my garden. Each summer I harvest forget-me-not flowers and pop them into the flower press with the hope that there will be enough to keep up with demand until next year's flowers appear.
Use Beader's Blend to lightly condition threads where you need a bit of extra grip, or if your thread tension could do with a bit of help. Just lightly pull your thread across the cake, then run the thread through your fingers several times, this will warm the wax and give a very fine coating. Customers tell me it works well for their embroidery projects too.