Tuesday, July 31, 2007

About Beeswax

I was reminded about the benefits of beeswax when reading Caity's post the other day. She was talking about the new Clover Yo-Yo maker (which I want but have avoided buying - what on earth am I going to do with yo-yos? But that's another story.) and shared her tips for using beeswax.

I too, use beeswax for all of my handwork. A light drag through the wax keeps thread from tangling and makes it much easier to thread the needle. I also doesn't leave any residue or otherwise interfere with the fabric (unless, of course, you use too much).

I do have one strict rule about beeswax, however. You really should use the real thing. Years ago I started out with the nasty pale yellow stuff in the plastic case in the notions department, because that was all I could find. It was frustrating to use because it crumbled and broke and little bits leaked out of the plastic container all over my sewing box and elsewhere. YUCK. Do you know why it does that? Well, it contains very little beeswax - it's beeswax mixed with paraffin to extend it.

Now paraffin won't hurt anything, but why go to all that trouble and mess? Natural beeswax has a gorgeous honey hue (see above - pure Maui beeswax!) and even has a light honey scent. When I had my quilt shop I bought a couple of pounds from the local beekeeper, melted it down and poured it into candy molds for easy (and pretty!) handling. I kept a big jar of it near the register and sold it by the piece. Now I have just a few pieces, but a piece like the one pictured above (approximately 2" across) will last you several years and won't break apart. It will just wear down to nothing, like a bar of soap.

Word of caution: if you buy your own beeswax and melt it down, be SURE to close your doors and windows! It will bring a HUGE swarm of bees who want their honey back. Ask me how I know. Despite that, it's fun to do and makes great gifts for your sewing friends.


Caitlin O'Connor said...

I'm hoping to get my hands on some local beeswax this weekend - can't wait to try the difference! Thanks for the hint about the bees, though - eek!

Helen said...

I really have got behind in my blog reading. You posted this over a month ago! Very interesting about the beeswax though. I have some of that yellow stuff from way back. I must check it out. It certainly isn't that lovely colour yours is.