Solo And a Candle to Light the Way

Job thread; and we're dipping, and we're dipping...

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Syka is a new settlement of primarily humans on the east coast of Falyndar opposite of Riverfall on The Suvan Sea. [Syka Codex]

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And a Candle to Light the Way

Postby Anais Seawind on July 6th, 2018, 11:15 pm

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34th of Summer
9th Bell
Striking flint to steel, Anais watched as sparks jumped from her hands to the dried bits of vine and leaves at the edge of her fire ring. The ring had taken longer to create than she’d thought it would – but it was larger than most fire rings, to accommodate all of her needs: cooking, candling, having raucous one-person celebratory bonfires. Well, maybe not that last one, she acknowledged on a silent huff of breath. She’d dug the pit down into the sand and piled rocks around the outermost ring; these measures added a bit of wind protection, not that it was needed today. The air was still and Anais knew that, by midday, it would feel stifling and oppressive, should she still be working near an open flame.

It was enough motivation to keep her moving quickly as she built up the fire, alternately blowing on the tender new flame and feeding more and more fuel into its greedy maw.

Anais set her waxing pot, the one she used to melt whichever tallow or wax she happened to have on hand – today was beeswax, near the flames. It was tall, but not wide – perfect for dipped candles, but the first step was to melt the wax down to a smooth and dippable consistency. To that end, she placed it just outside the fire’s reach; as the pot warmed, it would need to be rotated, to avoid burning the wax. She’d chosen wax over tallow today for two reasons. The first reason: even outside, burning tallow was no treat to the nose, and Anais couldn’t be sure what the meaty, burning smell might draw forth from the jungle. She didn’t intend to find out today. The second reason: she only had beeswax on hand.

It was a problem Anais was going to have to deal with, finding a source of tallow for candles would be preferable to having to purchase beeswax regularly, and waiting for its delivery. But, for awhile, anyway, she had enough beeswax left in her supply to make quite a lot of candles, dipped or poured. Several small chunks of wax went into the dipping pot and Anais added a bit more dry matter to the flames. The pot would warm slowly, the wax turning shiny and liquid in its depths; in a few chimes, the clean-smelling aroma would scent the air and Anais would begin the pattern of stirring, then turning the pot until it had completely liquidized.

While she waited, Anais assembled the simple drying rack – little more than two end-stands and a rod that sat between them. The whole construct stood just a foot off the ground, but would hold a large number of candle pairs, allowing them to dry and cure as she worked. It was simple, but Anais preferred it that way, the less time she had to devote to setting up and taking down or putting away her supplies, the better, and the rack’s simplicity also made storing it away an easy task. Folded flat, and packed smartly, all of her candling supplies took up very little of the precious living space on her casino, and transportation to and from the ship was as easy as carrying one crate around.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
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Anais Seawind
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And a Candle to Light the Way

Postby Anais Seawind on July 7th, 2018, 12:02 am

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Candle making was a quiet routine for Anais, and she used her downtime well; between stirring the wax and rotating the dipping pot for an even melt, she began assembling her wicks. The spool of wicking material was large, and would be impossible to work with effectively without a bit of modifying. Anais was methodically measuring out lengths of wick; it wasn’t an exact science for her, she used her own hand as a measuring guide. Over the seasons, she’d found that wrapping the wick around her hand three times, and using her small knife to sever the wick at that point would give her enough material to make two finished candles roughly 10 inches high, after weighting and trimming.

After her lengths of wick were all cut, Anais set about weighting them down. This step, she had found, was absolutely necessary if the finished product were to be straight and useable. Without a weight at the end, each dip into the wax would see the wick curling back on itself, and no amount of pulling it straight would erase the waves in form. The end product was lumpy, awkward, and ugly, at best. At worst, it was nearly unusable in any standard candle holder, the construct leaning and dipping in a way that would prove unsafe to burn in many conditions.

To avoid that problem, Anais tied small weights to both ends of every length of wick she’d cut. These would be removed after the candles were mostly finished, to be cleaned off and reused indefinitely. Still, Anais had lost several weights over the years, and had enough to weight only 10 at a time. Since her dipping pot was not massive, Anais hadn’t spent much effort thinking about replacement weights; by the time she’d used all the weighted wicks, her wax was generally close to gone and needing to be replenished.

Still, she thought, as she tied the knot that would hold the weight to the wick, it wouldn’t hurt to look into more weights. Pebbles could work, plucking one from the ground, she held it up, considering its heft. It was a bit lighter than the weights she normally used, but might do the job anyway. With a shrug, she tied it to the bottom of her last wick; she wouldn’t know unless she tried, and if the pebble was too light, she could always re-melt the wax. The wick might be lost, but there was a chance to salvage that as well. It was a minimal gamble, and if she’d learnt anything from Ennivan all those years ago, it was only to gamble when the stakes were low.

It might not be an exciting gamble, but the stakes were definitely low. Anais hadn’t done much experimenting with her candles in the past, seeing them mainly as a mildly profitable way to pass the time, but if this was to be her main job in Syka, then maybe she should spend some time playing with the process?

She surveyed her progress so far: the beeswax was beginning to give off a light smell, one which Anais always found pleasant, Much better than tallow, anyway, she thought. And, with the addition of the pebbles as weights, she had 11 lengths of wick ready to dip, which would yield as many pairs of finished candles, or 22 if she chose to separate them. It would be a good start to the day.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
User avatar
Anais Seawind
Player
 
Posts: 60
Words: 56805
Joined roleplay: November 26th, 2014, 5:56 am
Location: Syka
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And a Candle to Light the Way

Postby Anais Seawind on July 7th, 2018, 2:05 am

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Chimes later, the wax was nearly melted, and the pot was carefully turned yet again – Anais had found yet another use for the leather gloves she’d purchased nearly a tenday ago. A stand for the dipping pot would be another good addition, she mused, picking at a splotch of wax that had somehow jumped from the pot to her left glove. While it didn’t affect the usefulness of the item, and they had protected her skin from the heat, Anais didn’t want to ruin the gloves with such a menial chore. A stand would hold the pot off of the fire while at the same time allowing for a nice, even melt.

Then I’d just have to control the fire, the dry thought echoed through her mind. But it wasn’t as dramatic as the words sounded. Through proper management of tools, Anais knew, she could, in fact, control how hot or high the fire burned. It would just be a matter of figuring out how these jungle vines and woods that were so unfamiliar to her would react to flame. Some woods burned longer, some smoked more, some simply blazed up and were gone in mere ticks. What she needed for candle making was something more predictable and longer-lasting. She just didn’t know what that would be yet.

And now was not the time for figuring that out, either, she realized as she gave the pot a final stir. The wax had melted, and now moved like thick water around the pot, coating the spoon she stirred with and edging slightly up the inside of the pot with the circular motion. Anais grabbed her first wick, the weights at the bottom causing it to swing a bit as she picked it up. Carefully, she centered the wick in her fingers; if the ends were uneven, the candles would be, as well. Candles created in that way would still light, still function as intended, but the perfectionist in her would not allow the Svefra to present workmanship like that to her new community.

Slowly, Anais lowered the weights into the wax, submerging the wicks until only a scant couple inches were uncoated near her fingers, before lifting the strings back out. This was a process that couldn’t be hurried too much, the wax needed to cool and dry a bit before being dipped back in. Anais had used water before, to speed the process, but found that she hated the process of straining wax bits out of the water and remelting them for further use, preferring to simply air cool for several ticks between dips, aiding the process by blowing gently on the candles.

Her mother had found the whole process tedious, and especially the waiting – she’d been only too glad when Anais had taken over the chore, but continually pestered her to use the water method to “fill her sails.” The memory softened Anais’ expression into something near a smile as she lowered the fledgling candles back into the wax, and then lifting them out again.

Though she had learnt candling from her mother, she had learnt patience from her aunt, the Lia of the Seawind Pod. Molly Seawind firmly believed that the right way to do things was the way that both brought the best results and the most joy. Anais found herself missing both women this morning, and wondered where on the Suvan they might be. Syka was on a regular route for her family; maybe one day she’d meet up with them and be able to show them the life she was making for herself on land. There was still so much to work through before she would consider rejoining her Pod, but Anais was a bit startled to realize she was now open to the idea of a reunion. It had been a long time since that had been her truth.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
User avatar
Anais Seawind
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Posts: 60
Words: 56805
Joined roleplay: November 26th, 2014, 5:56 am
Location: Syka
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And a Candle to Light the Way

Postby Anais Seawind on July 7th, 2018, 3:50 am

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The repetition of candle making: dip, wait, dip, wait… Anais appreciated it for the opportunity it presented. The time could be filled with thoughts, or prayer, or observation, or song. Since Anais wasn’t entirely sure she was ready to tackle the thoughts about her family, her Pod, or her God, she chose the latter, falling back on a Svefra working song that she’d been singing since she could string words together.

”Th’drink is mudder’s milk to me
I’d sail me ship on a drunken sea

Whiskey-o, boy-o, tipsy-o, lass
Raise the sails up from down the mast
Whiskey-o, boy-o, tipsy-o, lass
Raise up th’ale, miss, an’ drain yer glass

Ale here, honeymead there, th’drinks’re flowing ev’rywhere
I’d trade me ship for some whiskey-fare

Whiskey-o, boy-o, tipsy-o, lass
Raise the sails up from down the mast
Whiskey-o, boy-o, tipsy-o, lass
Raise up th’ale, miss, an’ drain yer glass”


The light-hearted song fit perfectly with her working pace, but left little time or breath for blowing on the wax between dips. Anais improvised, swinging them gently in the air above the dipping pot for the chorus, careful to keep the waxen, wet forms from hitting each other. It was gratifying to watch them grow, taking shape and size as she worked with them. Several dried now, nearly finished, on the racks; the weights tied to the bottoms and covered in wax formed odd little lumps that would be trimmed off before a final dip or two smoothed out the form, taking it from oddly bulbous to a smooth taper more suited to most uses.

Anais was well-pleased with her efforts so far, but she had more candles to make and the wax in the pot wouldn’t last forever. Peering in as she sang, wrinkled her nose. The wax was going faster than she’d anticipated; she would have to take a break from dipping to melt more wax down. At this rate, she would need another source of wax or tallow sooner than she’d planned. Dropping another few chunks of wax into the pot, Anais sat back to wait again.

”Wine, it killed me poor old dad
Rum, it drove me mother mad”


A jaunty whistle took the place of words Anais was having trouble recalling as she stirred the pot of wax; the fire and the pot were hot enough that already the wax had begun to melt into a malleable semi-liquid form. After a couple chimes, the Svefra’s whistling had turned tuneless, but the wax had melted sufficiently for her to begin dipping again, and Anais soon resumed her song.

”Spirits taught me, spirits caught me
Spirits left me, beached me, wrought me

Whiskey-o, boy-o, tipsy-o, lass
Raise the sails up from down the mast
Whiskey-o, boy-o, tipsy-o, lass
Raise up th’ale, miss, an’ drain yer glass

Never met a drink I’d notten down
Nor drank enough t’put the glass down”


There were as many verses to the song as the work needed, and Anais had once heard a version sung from sun-up til sun-down while her Pod had been grounded for ship repairs. It had gotten bawdy and crude and Anais’ mother and her aunt had laughingly sent the younger Pod members out of earshot as the adults had begun making up verse after verse that had less to do with getting work done and more to do with seeing who could top who with ribald humor.

Not being able to come up with the lyrics on command, Anais again resorted to whistling as she dipped her way through all of her prepared wicks and set them to dry on the rack.
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We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
User avatar
Anais Seawind
Player
 
Posts: 60
Words: 56805
Joined roleplay: November 26th, 2014, 5:56 am
Location: Syka
Race: Human, Svefra
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Medals: 1
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And a Candle to Light the Way

Postby Anais Seawind on July 7th, 2018, 4:36 am

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In the end, Anais was happy to note that the pebbles seemed to work just as well as the more traditional candle weights. The wick on the pebbled candles had a slight twist to it, rather than detract from the candle’s usefulness, they were left with a subtle ridged spiral pattern down the length of the taper. It was an interesting look, and one she certainly wanted to play with a bit more, another day. If she could form shapes into the candles as they were created, taking them from a utility item to a decorative item, it might increase the appeal. Everyone needed a light source, but there was no reason they couldn’t be appealing as well as utilitarian. Still, she would have to see how they burned before wasting energy on more elaborate or obvious patterns.

As the candles hardened, Anais began trimming the weights from the bottoms. Sawing through the wax left a chipped and messy bottom, more than could be repaired with just one or two finishing dips. Anais preferred to heat her knife blade at the fire’s edge before attempting any cuts. The warmth of the blade let it slide more easily through the uncured wax, melting a path to the wick, where a bit of sawing made quick work of completing the cut. Wax-coated weights began to form a small pile at her feet; Anais would chip the hardened wax off of them when she was finished, and use it again the next time she made candles.

When the last of the weights had been sliced from the bottoms, Anais had 10 pairs of reasonably-sized candles, smooth tapers that she would deliver to the mercantile, with a promise of more on the way, and the one pair of slightly textured candles that warranted a bit of testing. All would need to be dipped again, at least once – and probably as many as three times, in the case of the rougher-edged ones. The final dipping would disguise the marks made when the weights had been cut off, and give the tapers a finished look. The candles, lit, would provide nearly 9 bells of continuous light in the darkness, without the heavy smoke of a tallow candle.

Anais hoped a reliable source for beeswax could be found, but she didn’t know much about the frequency of trading vessels yet. I’ll have to ask Juli if I can add beeswax to my list of requests, she thought. So far, all the list included was hazelnuts, and those were really more of a luxury item. Tallow would be a decent substitute for beeswax, and more readily available since Syka had plenty of hunters, but the candles would be a lower quality. It might be a necessary compromise most of the time, but Anais would still speak with Juli when she could. Until then, she had beeswax enough for quite a few more candles, and would make due with what she could get once it had run out.

Still whistling the working song from earlier, Anais began scraping the hardened wax off of the candle-weights, dropping the tiny shavings and pieces into the dipping pot, where they could be stored until the next usage. There was no reason to scrape the wax out of the pot; it was wasted effort when she would simply be putting more wax in again in a few days. Instead, Anais left the dregs of today's candling right where they were and began wrapping up the remaining beeswax, and packing away the candling supplies. Leaving the freshly-made candles hanging on the rack, she moved it into the shade of a nearby group of rocks, where Syna's light would not reshape all her hard work while she moved down to the shore to dig up her midday meal.
Image
We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came.
User avatar
Anais Seawind
Player
 
Posts: 60
Words: 56805
Joined roleplay: November 26th, 2014, 5:56 am
Location: Syka
Race: Human, Svefra
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 1
Donor (1)

And a Candle to Light the Way

Postby Okara on Yesterday, 8:47 pm

Grades and Awards


Anais Seawind


Experience
Observation 4
Wilderness Survival 1
Candlemaking 5
Planning 1
Singing 1

Lores
Wilderness Survival: Starting a Fire with Flint and Steel
Candlemaking: Melting Down Beeswax Evenly
Candlemaking: Cutting Wicks to Size
Candlemaking: Using Weights to Make Straight Candles
Candlemaking: Dipping Wicks to Make Even Candles
Candlemaking: Don’t Hurry the Dipping Process


Notes
Very nice job thread. The song was cute and a great way to break up all the candle-making. I noticed you didn’t have any prior fire-starting lores so I awarded a lore and point for that. Please let me know if you feel I missed anything.

Please edit your post in your grade request to reflect that it has been graded. PM me with any questions.
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Okara
Great stories start with humble beginnings.
 
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