The Egyptians and Greeks were using oil lamps around 3-4,000 years ago for ritual purposes, particularly revolving around death and the passage into the afterlife.
This all sounds a bit more serious than where many of our candles are used today, in the restaurants and pubs of our sceptred isle, and also the carefully laid tables of the dining classes!
Although I have to admit that I was at one very boring candle lit dinner party in Clapham once, and my thoughts often turned to the after life and how quickly I could send myself, or better still, those around me, banging on about some rubbish or other, to try it out!
The design of the oil lamp was moving on from a bit of rock and some dodgy old bit of moss, which may or may not have been used for wiping a Neanderthals backside, to something altogether more ornate.
One such ritual, involving oil lamps was called Liknokaia (the burning lamp), and was held in honour of the goddess Naiff. Really? I don’t want all the worship, please just stop calling me Naff!
Around 600BC, people started using pottery wheels to throw lamps, and 3-400BC, began using moulds which dramatically improved the quality and the decorative nature of the candles.
Funny how these days, people hanker after the uniquity of the hand made item, almost revering the haphazard nature of its production. It also costs a lot more to make something by hand.
At Clearcraft, we provide both handmade candles and moulded ones, because we are clearly higher beings. It has only taken us 20 years to develop moulded products as well as hand blown ones, which makes us 180 years faster than the ancient Greeks.
Everyone knows the expression ‘Beware of Greeks bearing gifts’ as a reference to the Trojan horse. The modern day digital equivalent of this is ‘Beware of Geeks bearing GIFs!’
The first version refers to a load of Greek soldiers hiding inside a big wooden horse, so they could gain access to the under-siege Troy.
The second version refers to a load of Geeks hiding behind a keyboard so they can gain access to under age Tracy.
Can I say that? Probably not! But hey, it’s my book!
Did anyone watch the harrowing documentary a couple of night ago on the BBC, called ‘Drowning in Plastic?’
Most of it was gruesome and depressing stuff, although there were some moments of inspiration as we met the most ingenious of people, who were devoted to inventing ways to tackle the problem, from giant vacuum cleaners on the top of the sea, to replacing the use of plastic food sachets with ones made from seaweed!! They were also making edible cups and plates from similar products!
For 26 years, I have been designing, making and selling oil candles and nowadays I am mostly responsible for marketing them as well.
Wow! I’ve been writing e-mails, articles, websites and blogs. Somebody told me to write a book that would show the world that I was truly an expert in my field.
And I’m thinking, a book… a book on oil candles…a book on…..a book….. Yep. If I drop off thinking about it, who the heck else is going to be interested!
But then I thought, if I just start a little bit at a time, and somehow make it REALLY interesting, by doing things like writing some words in CAPITALS, just to WAKE YOU UP ALREADY, it might just work!
Perhaps, inspired by the great works of Kurt Vonnegut Jnr., I can engage you in a subject that you would probably not read about even if it was the only book on your island, and you had just had your sight restored after being blind for thirty years. I mean, if it was me, I’d go for Fifty Sheds Of Grey – it’s a book about sheds which are grey – there are 50 of them in the book – or some sort of pornography, but not a book on oil candles and oil lamps.
So don’t worry. If I told you this was going to be about some hot stuff, and being covered in oil, and doing something that was going to get your wick going you know what I mean. Flames, and oil candles.
Furthermore, the subject matter of oil candles could largely be summed up with a slightly wordy paragraph – not easy to stretch this into a book.
But this is no ordinary book. Read some more. You never know, you might enjoy it AND be able to tell all your friends around the dinner table everything you will then know about oil lamps!!