when i was looking through hands magazine, this article caught my eye…
and as i mentioned before, it had nothing to do with the tea cozy, but everything to do with the word “candlewick.”
let me rewind a bit. years ago, my mother-in-law inherited some depression era glassware. i love the little bobbles of glass along the rims of dishes and at the base of stemware. some of the pieces have flowers etched into the glass.
i did some research for her, both online and by visiting some antique shops to speak with the owners. i found out more about the pieces she had, and in particular, that the pattern is called “candlewick.”
candlewick glassware has distinctive small glass beads running along the rim or stems of pieces. there are many imitations of this style now (more about that later), but the originals were made by the imperial glass company. imperial glass began business in 1904 in ohio, and was known initially for plain, high quality glassware. but in the 1930s, a company sales rep by the name of earl newton designed the candlewick pattern. and it seems that yes indeed, he named it after the needlework technique of candlewicking.
which brings me back to the magazine article. the candlewicking technique was developed by pioneers and early settlers in north america (both the united states and canada, from what i have read), who had limited or no access to embroidery thread. they would instead use wicks, the kind used in making candles, to embroider and embellish bedding and clothing. the small stitches were made in rows to create patterns on muslin or similar fabric, and the fabric was then shrunk with washing and drying which created a bumpy, ball-like appearance to the stitches.
you can see how the small bobbles on the glass echo the little beads created by candlewicking. i’m fascinated by these sort of connections. candlewick… glassware and embroidery technique. i wouldn’t have made the connection had i not stumbled across the old crafting magazine.
as an aside… if you’re looking for true candlewick glassware for purchase, be cautious. there are many imitations out there. i’m by no means an expert, and there are others who have dedicated their time and resources to collecting these pieces. the best bet is to deal with reputable merchants. try to educate yourself as much as possible. collector books are also a good source of information. here are some basic identifiers for those interested …
* true candlewick balls are round and smooth, they have no seam and are separated slightly from each other.
* the earliest candlewick patterns produced were crystal, which had a grey or yellow tint, not perfectly clear as they are today. there were also a few and very rare commissioned pieces created out of coloured glass. colour alone doesn’t indicate whether it is an original.
* most original pieces have irregular bottoms, they are not perfectly smooth and shiny.
* candlewick pieces that have a distinctive “corn flower” etched into them (as in the photo below) are a whole other story, with a very canadian (and in my opinion, fascinating!) connection. you can read that story here.