Monday, September 4, 2017

New Christchurch: Part 1

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the first earthquake that struck Canterbury early on Saturday morning while most were asleep. Little did we know what was to come! Over the years I have written posts documenting the journey our city has been through, starting with the beautiful heritage buildings that were still standing after the first earthquake. After the second, much more damaging earthquake in February, I decided to do it again. It took a little longer to get access to the CBD to be able to do this, but it was good to see some of the buildings featured in the first post, not only still standing, but strengthened and restored to their former glory. I featured these in two posts, part 1 and part 2.

Now that the rebuild is really gathering momentum, and life is returning to the central city, I have decided to shift my focus to the 'New Christchurch' and give you a taste of how the city is starting to look. This first group of photos I took back in Easter, so more things have happened since then.

The earthquake memorial opened this year just in time for the sixth anniversary of the deadly February earthquake, as a place to reflect and remember those that were lost. I found the siting of it a little poignant, as the building in the background on the right is where I used to work. My redundancy was the catalyst for my journey into self-employment, and the earthquake happened on the one year anniversary of the day I lost my job. So for me it serves of a reminder of 'what was'.

The Bridge of Remembrance was restored and reopened to the public earlier in the year.

The Avon River precinct is being done in stages. This section looking from the Bridge of Remembrance shows the area in front of what used to be known as the 'Strip', a row of restaurants and bars popular in the weekends. This walk along the river used to be part of my daily commute – it was a lovely way to start the day!

The BNZ Centre is opposite Ballantynes, where Whitcoulls and neighbouring buildings used to be. There are several laneways and a courtyard in the middle with food kiosks and areas of seating. I like the different facades that have been used to give the area some interest, and hide the carparks.

The ANZ centre has quite a futuristic (or perhaps back to the future?) feel, with a large atrium and some interesting features. It replaces the triangle centre, and for reference, the Macpac shop is about where KFC used to be.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Behind the scenes: A look at how our hand-dipped taper candles are made

There is nothing quite like the elegance of a tapered candle, quietly burning away. For many centuries they had a utilitarian purpose to provide light, but now they are mostly used to create an ambience with their soft flickering like. I first started making them after I was given several boxes of church candle stubs that a nun had collected and recycled into new candles. I loved this idea, and was keen to 'carry the torch' so to speak, and to continue recycling the used candles into beautiful new ones. Since then I have also developed a soy/beeswax blend that produces the most beautiful creamy colour and texture.

Below is a little insight into the process of creating the taper candles, from winding the wick around a frame, then repeatedly dipping them into a vat of hot wax to build up layers. After each dip, the level of the wax in the vat decreases slightly, making each layer slightly lower than the last and giving the candles their distinctive taper shape. The colour dipped tapers are dipped in coloured wax for the last few dips. Once they reach the desired thickness (after around 30 or so dips), they are then cut from the frame at the base, which leaves them in joined pairs. They are left overnight to properly harden, and the next day the bases are smoothed off. Finally they are packaged and labelled in pairs so you know they came from the same batch.

The essential tools: dipping frame, pliers and wicking

The first step is to wind the wick onto the frame

The wick is then tied and tightened ready to start dipping

The frame is then dipped into the vat of wax to form the first layer

After first few layers of wax, the candles start to take shape

A frame with six tapers starting to get wider

Dipping the candles into the vat...

...then waiting for the drips to stop

Melting the wax for the colour dip with the wax leftover from making the last batch

The molten coloured wax ready for dipping

Colour layers building up on the candles

 Finished candles waiting to be packaged

Adding the ribbon and tying on the labels

All ready to go!

Thanks to Sarah Greig Design and Illustration and Design for taking the beautiful photos while I was busy creating!