Should technology replace human craftsmanship? We often forget the joy of making things by hand. These videos may remind you.
The Ural Candle Factory lies in Yekaterinburg, Sverdlovsk Oblast, Russia, a city of roughly 1.5 million people straddling the border between Europe and Asia. Known for many years as Sverdlovsk, after a high ranking Communist party official, it reverted to its former name, which pays homage to the wife of Czar Peter the Great, Catherine I, in 1991. Founded in 1723 as one of Russia’s first industrial centers and raised to prominence by Czarina Catherine the Great in 1781, Yekaterinburg has seen its ups and downs. It was here, in the Ipatiev House in 1918, that Czar Nicholas II, his wife Alexandra and their five children were murdered to seal the Soviet Revolution. Treasures of the Hermitage Museum were stored here during World War II, when Leningrad was deemed unsafe. In 1991, Boris Yeltsin, a native of the city, made Sverdlovsk reserve capital of the crumbling Soviet Union, but it was too late.
Yekaterinburg is a place where tradition and modernity have clashed, a place that reminds us that modern is not always better. The art of candle making and carving has changed very little over the centuries. Hot wax is poured into a mold, cooled and then dipped by hand into colored wax. Layers of different colored wax amass, hidden beneath the outer layer until the candle is carved. Skilled carvers slice into the candle and twist and position the material that has been cut, creating fantastic designs. Pearls, marbles or other items may be applied and the candle dipped into lacquer. The video below is impressive, as we see the process from a camera mounted on the candlemaker’s head.
This second one is a bit more artsy, and also shows the wax being poured into the original mold. It the first is a bit too rock and roll for you, it’s also more sedate, and you get to see footage at the candle shop. Look at those beauties!
Videos via URCF on Vimeo.