In the dark days before Christmas, a 190-year-old fairy tale by Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) has been discovered. The fairy tale is about a disillusioned, grimy tallow candle looking for acknowledgement, which it finds when its flame is lit by a tinderbox, the precursor to the lighter. The story was discovered accidentally in October by an amateur historian and is considered Andersen’s first venture into the fairy tale genre. It is less sophisticated than his later works, but the basic theme so typical of Andersen is clearly present: good overcomes evil despite bad influences. And that is a wonderful promise so close to Christmas…
The Tallow Candle
It sputtered and spattered while the flames leaped around the cauldron; it was the tallow candle’s cradle, and out of that warm cradle a beautiful candle was born, so immaculately white and slim that everyone predicted a bright and radiant future – promises that it was believed he would fulfil.
The sheep – a lovely little sheep – was the candle’s mother and the melting pot his father. From his mother he inherited his radiant white body and sense of life, and from his father an all-consuming craving for fire, that would make him ‘shine’ for the rest of his life.
This was how he was born and had grown, and he thrust himself into life with the highest and brightest expectations. Here he met so many marvellous other creatures with whom he spent much time because he was so eager to learn about life – hoping to find where he belonged.
But he was too open-hearted and the world cared only for itself and not at all for the tallow candle. The world did not understand the purpose of the tallow candle, and used him only for its own benefit and took hold of the candle wrongly, creating bigger and bigger smudges with black fingers on its pristine white innocence, which gradually disappeared beneath the grime of the outside world, a world that had come too close, closer than he could bear. He could not tell the difference between pure and impure, but deep inside, beneath all the grime, he was still innocent and pristine.
When his false friends saw that they could not reach his soil, they cast him away as worthless. But his grimy outer layer repelled all the good friends, too, who were afraid the black would rub off, staining them, and so they kept away.
So the poor tallow candle was all alone, abandoned, at a loss as to what to do. He realised that he had been rejected by the good and had only been a tool to further the wicked. He felt so tremendously unhappy about his meaningless life and believed that he had perhaps even tarnished the beauty of his surroundings. He did not understand why he had been created, why he had been put on this earth – perhaps to ultimately ruin his own life and that of others.
He sank deeper and deeper into thought, but the more he thought, the more despondent he became, as he did not see anything positive, any true meaning or purpose with his life. It was as if the grimy layer had also covered his eyes.
But then he met a little flame, a tinderbox. The flame knew the candle better than he knew himself, as the tinderbox could see clearly – straight through to the core – and inside he saw so much good. So he came closer and the candle felt his spirit lift – he lit up and his heart melted.
The flame brightened like a torch of joy at a wedding. Everything around him became lighter and brighter, and that paved the way for all those around him, for his true friends, who could now seek truth in the glow of the candle.
But his body, too, was strong enough to carry the fiery flame. Drop by drop, round and full, like the seeds of new life, the candle grease dripped down the candle and covered the old grime – not only a physical, but also a spiritual harvest of the wedding.
The tallow candle had found his rightful place in life and had shown that he was a real candle, one that would shine for a very long time for his own pleasure and for that of the creatures all around him.
(Dutch translation: Edith Koenders for De Volkskrant)
Wax can be used to make beautiful figures… but also very ugly ones.
The latter was proven by British wax museum Louis Tussauds. The famous people at the museum have been so poorly copied that one starts to appreciate the accompanying name cards, because not many visitors will spontaneously recognise the famous personalities.
Elderly couple June and Peter Hayes opened the museum many years to compete with the famous Madame Tussaud. Although they failed to achieve their initial objective, the museum still attracted many visitors, primarily due to the cult status it gained after being awarded the title of ‘Worst Wax Museum Ever’. However, due to the absence of potential buyers, doors to the museum are now being closed to make way for residential property.
If you want to see how the real professionals make wax figures, click here
Photo text: Do you recognise him? Then let us know! Successful entries will go into a prize draw for a number of “House of Wax” DVD’s.
Alpha Wax recently became a member of the FEICA (short for Fédération Européenne des Industries de Colles et Adhésifs).
The FEICA is an international organisation that represents the interests of companies involved with (hot-melt) adhesives.
Alpha Wax Sales Director Arjan Sjardijn is pleased that his company has been able to join this sector organisation: “The FEICA was founded in 1972 and has become an important representative for the various (hot-melt) adhesive organisations in the European Community.”
ICIS, the world’s largest and most authoritative petrochemical market information provider, recently published its latest list of the Top 100 largest chemical distributors.
The German concern Brenntag (400 locations in 68 countries) still stands proudly at the top of the list, with sales of 8.7 billion euros in 2011.
Alpha Wax also gets a name check, ‘bubbling under’ worldwide at number 107, thanks to sales of almost 61 million euros in 2011.
Alpha Wax CEO Dick Haan: “Not bad for our relatively young company. It’s very gratifying to see our name listed among all these petrochemical giants.
However, with our specific expertise in waxes and wax distribution we are and will always be a specialist. In this respect I think we are already among the absolute top players worldwide.”
The Top 100 can be downloaded at ICIS.
No, this is not modern wax-art. This and other models are made by Clemente Susini and were created in Florence between 1803 and 1805. The torsos and partly opened body parts were made for scientific purposes: they gave doctors and students an insight into human anatomy. In the meantime, the fantastic sculptures are regarded as works of art. According to experts, they are among the most beautiful sculptures of this kind in the world.
The recently published book, ‘Flesh and Wax: Clemente Susini’s Anatomical Wax’, presented these 23 wax models in an extremely detailed manner. They offer an intriguing insight into the world that borders between art and science. The use of wax models for anatomical studies is now an age old practice: the earliest known examples date from the year 1690.
For people who quickly get tired of looking at the chandelier above their dining table, this Big Black Beast from London-based designer team Glithero might well be an option.
This one-metre-wide chandelier is made entirely of paraffin wax. Sporting 32 candles, it will need replaced after a burning time of around 10 hours. The candles are drip-free, allowing you to simply hang this remarkable object above the dining table.
Designer team Glithero, one half of which is Dutch designer Sarah van Gameren, makes this Big Black Beast according to the traditional candle production method, with tapers being dipped in a vat of paraffin wax using a dipping machine specially made for this purpose.
Glithero’s website shows how these extraordinary chandeliers are made.
Just as a sandcastle is consumed by the waves, this lamp, with the apposite name Ikarus, ultimately falls prey to the heat.
This unique design from designer Christian Metzner is made of pure paraffin wax over a stainless steel structure. Once the lamp is switched on, the heat from the light bulb in the Ikarus’s shade ensures that the wax gradually changes shape and eventually even melts away entirely. The time frame in which this occurs depends on the wattage, the burning time of the lamp used and the temperature of the room. But ultimately, then, the Ikarus falls foul of its own energy consumption.
In this way, Christian Metzner is highlighting the transience and ephemerality of both his own design and the consumer economy.
You can find out more about Metzner’s work here .
This year Alpha Wax will be joining the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) for the first time. This non-profit organization unites the strengths of the various stakeholders in the palm oil industry so as to foster the production of palm oil without causing harm to people and their environment.
Corporate social responsibility is important for Alpha Wax and as such membership of the RSPO ties in very well within that philosophy. For some time now Alpha Wax has been purchasing palm waxes for such things as the EcoWax© series, buying exclusively from producers who themselves are also active members of the RSPO. This way we ensure that we solely use palm waxes that have been produced in a sustainable manner.
Palm oil is the most widely cultivated of vegetable oils and is seeing a sharp increase in demand. Of the 150 million tonnes of vegetable oils that are produced globally each year, at least 40 million tonnes is palm oil. Due to this sharp increase in demand, the territory in which palm oil is cultivated has expanded by close to 50% over the past 25 years. One positive outcome is that the local population in these areas of increased demand is benefiting; one disadvantage is the undesirable consequences for people and environment, such as deforestation.
It is precisely here that the RSPO wishes to play a significant controlling role.
Alpha Wax BV has a new house style: two stylised drops of wax forming the A for Alpha Wax. The original colours of these drops are yellow and red. These colours represent our basis: the fact that we’re a committed distributor of all waxes for Shell has made us what we are today.
Although we started off as a distributor of pure raw materials, we’ve been specialising more and more over the years in the storage and blending of these flows of raw materials. We provide more logistic services and customised products. This enables us to offer solutions to suit all the specific wishes of our customers and suppliers.
Alpha Wax is a blender of surprising solutions. The yellow and red in our logo combine to form a new colour, orange, which refers to the national colour of the Netherlands. But orange also stands for warmth, for the human element. After all, our people are the backbone of our company.
And we’ve given our website a completely new look as well as our new house style.
Swiss artist Urs Fischer set up an unusual installation at the 54th International Art Exhibition of the 2011 Venice Biennale. This work of art, which the artist has called “Illuminations”, represents a life-size man looking at an exact replica of a statue of the 16th-century sculptor Giambologna. Both the man and the statue are true to life and have been fashioned as burning candles of paraffin wax. As the wax melts, the man and his surroundings will slowly disappear during the six months of the Biennale.