Well, were you able to wait until today to open your gifts? Hmmmm? Good for you!
Now that you've opened my gift, I thought I'd share with you the journey that little beeswax spool of thread made to end up in the Christmas box that you've been enjoying.
It all starts with a bee and a bunch of flowers. This bee is on a lavender flower, which is my favorite.
The bee travels from flower to flower gathering nectar and pollen.
It's a very tiring job! Sometimes bees take a little nap in the flower.
Bees work hard to make honey, which is stored in a hive. The cells are capped with beeswax, which they also make. The good thing for people is that bees make more honey than they need, so we get to enjoy the fruits of all their hard labor and also make fun stuff out of the beeswax, once the bees are all done with it.
Beeswax is very versatile. I use it in my lip balm, salve, lotion bars, and other products. It is also a wonderful alternative to wax candles - it burns cleanly and doesn't put harmful chemicals into the air. Quilters love it because it is a natural way to condition thread to prevent knotting, and it makes the thread slide easily through fabric.
And what fun to use a beeswax thread conditioner that is molded to look like something - like maybe a spool of thread? How appropriate! A great combination.
So, how does one get started? First, you get in touch with your local beekeeper and order beeswax. I used so much for this project that he had to get all of his Central Florida beekeeping buddies involved. It came in huge 30-pound chunks like this.
Beeswax in this quantity is like golden concrete. I tried chopping it with an axe to make pieces small enough to melt, but finally I got smart and asked my handyman to come over with his concrete saw. Here's the result. Eventually it goes into the pot to melt.
Also, there needs to be a mold to pour all that beeswax into. I wanted to make my own molds out of vintage wooden thread spools. My sister Posy gave me some spools that had belonged to her mother-in-law. They are VERY old and had prices on the labels like 15 cents. I chose the middle size and got to work on the molds.
I watched LOTS of videos on mold making, tried lots of different kinds of silicone, and learned all kinds of things NOT to do. Finally, I got the hang of it and made the molds for my project. The day finally came when I started pouring beeswax. Oh my goodness, this part was so much fun! And my entire house had a warm, rich smell of beeswax. My floor was another story! (I got a new kitchen floor after this project was done. We are still finding little bits of beeswax everywhere.)
Beeswax comes in a wide variety of colors, from light gold to almost black. It all depends on the hive.
Whoops! This one has an air bubble. It goes back in the pot to be melted and remolded. Some of these got past me, but my wonderful helpers caught the rest and returned them to be redone.
Speaking of helpers, I have a group of wonderful friends who assemble and package all of my projects for the Christmas boxes. I could never complete an order of this magnitude without their excellent and capable help. I'm so thankful for them. You will meet them later.
This is how the spools look before they are completely cooled. The beeswax goes from clear to pale yellow, and then darkens as it cools. It is soft and pliable when warm, but becomes hard once cooled.
Once they are completely cooled, the spools are packaged in a box between layers of bubble wrap, ready to be picked up by my helpers, who take them home to assemble in the bags with a card, and then repack for shipping. Their children had loads of fun popping the leftover bubble wrap!
And then everything is brought back to my house to be shipped. My FedEx guy loves to come to my house to pick up boxes as they are finished, because I give him soap and lip balm and sometimes, on baking days, chocolate chip cookies. Finally, the last four boxes (of 75) to complete my shipment were loaded into his truck. Hooray!
Once everything is shipped, it's time to celebrate! Each year I take my helpers out for a meal and let them know how wonderful I think they are.
And then I immediately start thinking about what product I want to have in the NEXT Christmas box!
I am deeply thankful to Jenny and her staff at Missouri Star Quilt Company for giving me the opportunity to be a part of the Christmas box. It is a huge honor to be chosen for the box, plus it gives me extra income that I can use to be a generous giver to my church, missionaries, and other charitable organizations. I love what MSQC stands for and am proud to be a part of their quilting family.
By the way, Day 13 is my sister Posy's product! (pictured in the middle of this photo from a recent sister trip to Hamilton)
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas! Ceil
Thanks for going on this journey from flower to Christmas box with me. I hope to see you next year!