Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Very tired tonight after celebrating our patron saint’s day – not a drop of alcohol but a lot of tea and coffee!  Started early at Killeshin where we had the 26th traditional St Patrick’s parade led by the highly respected Killeshin Pipe Band and backed up by the children’s band from Killeshin National School. Its a short walk to Holy Cross Church from the school but its a wonderful example of community spirit in action, neighbours chatting en route to mass, most people wearing something green, some children (and adults) with hugh green hats and a few sporting leprechaun type beards!  The school children and teachers put a huge amount of work into the celebration and the entire congregation put their hearts into “hail glorious St Patrick” at the end of the mass.  Then it was back down the hill to the local hall for refreshments, activities for the kids, facepainting, goal shooting, bouncy gladiator game and draw for hamper – all of this was organised by the ladies football club.  The hall is still looking great after a recent terrific makeover for the fantastic Killeshin version of the X factor – the “K Factor“!

Now what has all this got to do with my work you might ask,……….well not a lot actually, but there’s more to life than just work! However some of my crafty abilities were on display at our second parade of the day in Carlow.  My son attends the Gaelscoil so we marched along with the school behind our uplifting banner – “Slán leis na scamaill, (goodbye clouds) bring on sunshine”  – I made this last year and its been hanging in the school keeping a positive note through the year in the halla.  It’s still a hopeful thought for these difficult times- positive thinking is bound to do some good!

Bring on the Sunshine!

The tail end of the group was brought up by the Gaelscoil dragon – I made this for the 2008 parade celebrating the Bejing Olympics.  All the children and parents seemed to enjoy taking part, drumming, waving flags and practicing Ben ten monster moves with eachother (my boy and friends anyway!)  Unfortunately the whole thing was over very quickly – the parade was quite short, but there was a fantastic crowd cheering everyone on.  Well done to everyone who took part and especially the organisers and maybe even a word of thanks to him/her upstairs for a dry, even warmish day!  Roll on Spring, Bring on the Sunshine!

From Christenings to Confirmations

It seems very early for Confirmation ceremonies, but already several schools have celebrated this sacrament.  My daughter celebrated the Ceremony of light at Killeshin last Monday.  It was a really lovely ceremony with a large turn out from the community – family, friends, sponsors, teachers and school choir turning a regular Monday evening to something special.  The ceremony of light is a part of the preparation for Confirmation where the children renew the baptismal promises their parents and sponsors made on their behalf when they were Baptised.  Their Christening/Baptismal candle is lit and passed from parent or sponsor to the child symbolising the transfer of responsibility for their spiritual well being from their parents to themselves as acknowledged by their Confirmation into the Church.  

Personalised Christening candle with Christening date engraved together with symbols representing Holy Communion and Confirmation

I have been so pleased to have customers returning to me in recent months to add Confirmation dates (and sometimes Confirmation name) on candles which I prepared for their children’s Christening up to 12 years ago.  I felt privileged to have prepared my own children’s candles for their Christenings, Communions and finally Confirmation.  The next time they’re used could possibly be for Weddings…………I remember engraving candles for a couple who’s christenings, communions, and confirmations were very close in date, so for the individual candles in the Unity set they asked me to engrave all these dates and then the Unity candle as normal – so the candles provided a unique record of their progress through life!

Christmas countdown

Its the last Saturday before christmas and I spent most of the day wrapped up in the excitement of the festival, starting with an extremely happy 6 year old son spotting light dusting of snow in the garden and on to rugby training in Carlow Rugby Club after which followed the much anticipated Christmas Party with Santa in attendance and an abundance of buns, cakes, biscuits and all sorts of delicious sugary delights!  Picture a hall full of excited, sugar laden 6 – 12 year old boys and mothers and fathers grasping cups of hot tea and coffee, bracing ourselves for the freezing outdoors.  Needless to say the remaining snow was just too tempting for my rascal boy and several snowballs hit the spot on the way back to the car!

"Board Walk" Oak Park

Christmas Ballet Boxes with Truffle Fairy Christmas Truffles

The usual post rugby routine of a walk together in the nearby Oak Park Forest was abandoned in favour of delivering several of my dainty personalised Christmas Box Decorations.  After a cup of delicious hot chocolate in Madeleine & Andy’s Little Coffee House in Penny Lane Market we stopped by Carlow Farmers Market‘s Truffle Fairy otherwise known as Mary Teehan to purchase some truly scrumptious Christmas chocolate truffles specially individually foil wrapped ready to be dropped into the dainty decoration boxes and then dispatched to the lucky recipients!  Yum.  The farmer’s market will be open again on Wednesday – so there will be another opportunity to stock up on these fab truffles, but also fresh veg, excellent jams and chutneys, cheeses, meat, fish, bread, pancakes and cakes.  Hope it keeps dry and profitable for all the marketeers!

My next big event will be the panto Cinderella at the new Carlow Art Centre – Visual and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre on Sunday.  No, I won’t be appearing on stage! but I’ll be there with my daughter and the  Special Olympics club.  We regularly attend Basketball and Bowling with the very energetic and enthusiastic club and it should be a great evening with terrific company!

The rest of the pre Christmas week with be filled with the excited daily countdown, parties at school and clubs, visiting the grannies and last minute shopping not to mention stitching up a few more mini christmas stockings and painting boxes.  The thoughts of cooking the turkey and trimmings is not something I relish, but thankfully an expert teenage daughter will be on hand to rescue the frazzled cook!

Cheers and Happy Christmas to all and Best wishes for a Peaceful, Recessionless New Year!

Frantic Friday!

I had the opportunity to keep the display of my candles and decorations in Bank of Ireland until today, Friday which was very helpful.  I thought I it would be difficult to manage it as I was helping my friend Pam Butler organise her first coffee morning in Rathoe Hall for Pestalozzi World .  It was a small but pleasant gathering in a really lovely village hall.  More fundraising activities for this educational charity will take place during the year.  The charity is celebrating 15 years in 2010.  Have a look at their website if you need cheering up to see what can be achieved with relatively small money and great optimism and enthusiasm.

After the lovely coffee and cake I returned to the bank and met several old, new and potential customers.  On this occasion I had not only the possiblity of selling candles, but also my dainty christmas decoration boxes, and mini colourful christmas stockings which were a great hit!  There’s always the hope that some or all of the stockings and dainty decorations may grace the desk of a few Carlow Teachers – they are a suitable festive token for a child to give his or teacher….without breaking the bank!!   Such gifts might garner the approval of RTE’s Joe Duffy show and listeners today.  If you want to listen to parent and teacher opinions on gifts this is the pod cast.

If you’d like to buy any of these decorations Madeleine at the Little Coffee House in Penny Lane market on Tullow Street has a few,  otherwise contact me directly especially if you’d like them personalised.  Next year I’ll be organised for Christmas Markets!  There’s a Christmas market at Ducketts Grove this weekend – I can’t get there, but hope it’ll be good for traders and customers.  Last year it was terrific.

Also at the bank during the week I met Bernie from Malones Fruit Farm in Ballon and Elaine Kelly from “All made in Ireland”, Joe Byrne from Playball, Keith Dowling photographer,  &  Ger Gibbons Photographer

Bank encouraging Local Business

Bank of Ireland are doing their bit for local business this week by inviting businesses to display their work/goods in local branches.  Today is my second time displaying personalised candles and my new Christmas Decorations at their new branch in Carlow, at Shamrock Plaza.  It was a productive and enjoyable day overall with my dainty handpainted Christmas box decorations going down a treat.  Handpainted Christmas Box DecorationsI had the opportunity to meet “real live”customers and came away with several orders!  It makes a pleasant change to leave the bank with a few bob “in the bag”!   The branch is very spacious and there was plenty of room for several displays which included Gibbons photography, Gaelic Web design, Malones fruit Farm and myself.  Other businesses will be showing off their wares during the week.  I’m planning to be there again on Wed and Thurs so if you’d like to have a look at my work please do – I’d be delighted to meet you there.

Candles for Oz

One of my very regular customer’s often sets interesting challenges for me, usually for wedding candles and I hope she’s pleased with my latest effort – Personalised  candles for a wedding in Australia with Irish groom and Australian bride.  Sometimes I use flags to represent nationalities, but when it came down to trying to engrave the Australian flag I faltered! Interestingly I did find out the origin of the design from http://www.anbg.gov.au/oz/flag.html –  Apparently the Australian Flag came into being after the federation of the Commonwealth of Australia on 1 Jan 1901.  The flag as it is today was adopted in 1954.  It consists of  – the Union Jack in the first quarter, the Southern Cross in the second quarter – 5 stars in a kite like pattern.  The constellation of the Southern cross is a navigational feature of the southern hemisphere and places Australia geographically and has been associated with the continent since its earliest days.  In the third quarter is the Commonwealth Star – it has 7 points denoting the six states and combined Commonwealth territories.  So there’s always an opportunity to learn something new!australian Flag

Back to the candle!  – After thinking about kangaroos, sydney opera house, I decided upon the very cute Koala bear.  But now how to represent Ireland – our flag is fairly easy to manage, maybe a koala playing a harp, anything green………….and so it came together – a very cute silver grey koala bear holding a green shamrock.  Now hopefully bride and groom will be pleased with the outcomeKoala & Shamrock

Logos, Crests & Emblems

I’ve just added a new page today showing examples of my hand engraved candles with logos.  Because each candle is individually engraved by me I don’t generally do very large quantities of any one design.  Even if the design is repeated each candle is an original piece of hand crafted work.  While the logo / design can be repeated each individual candle can be further personalised with the addition of names and dates – for example Retirement candles can feature the company logo, motto or by-line together with the retirees name and dates of employment and perhaps a personal message.

Gaelsoil RetirementAn illustration of this would be a commission where I engraved and painted a candle for the retiring Principal of our local Gaelscoil.  The gaelic poem on this candle  is called An tOide, by Seamus O hAodha

“Uasal ceird an oide,

Mar ri ar imeall trá

Chuir ar toinn na soithigh

‘s sheol go hoscailt ba”;

A loose translation would be –  that teaching is a noble profession. The poet compares the task of the teacher preparing young pupils for life with that of an ancient king launching his ships from the harbour and guiding them out to sea…….Thus the image of a boat (with Carlow Colours on the sail!). The school didn’t have a logo at the time and so the symbol of the boat seemed appropriate.  Gaelscoil (back)

I repeated the boat image on Graduation candles for the school, to be used each year at the 6th class graduation mass.  I subsequently added the names of the 6th class teachers for each year.  I have since engraved and painted graduation candles for other schools using their logos – for example Killeshin N.S and the Gaelcholaiste.  Other schools have also ordered individual personalised candles for their graduating students incorporating the name of the school, student’s name and year of graduation.  I included personalised certificates with each candle – in some cases the school logo features on the certificate, and just the name of the school on the candle.

These examples illustrate the variety of candledesigns which I can execute with flexibility and flair.  I hope that is is of some interest and inspiration.  Other occasions where logos and mottos have been used include Jubilees for religious orders, Corporate celebrations / retirements / sponsorships, Corporate gifts to clients / customers…….

and for a more unusual commission…….. I attended a wedding fair at Charleville Castle in Tullamore (one of the most haunted houses in Ireland and home of the Castle Pallooza music festival).  It was a really interesting place to have a wedding fair – full of atmosphere and history and I’m glad to say we didn’t experience anything ghostly!  The very decorative ceiling of the room we were in featured an elegant “C”C Charleville ceiling which I repeated on some of the display candles.  C Charleville candles

Please don’t hesitate to contact me by phone or email if you would like to explore any of the possibilites outlined here.

More musings on my work will follow!


Birthday Candles

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you……” a very familar song announcing the birthday cake alight with many candles.  Eventually there comes a day when there’s just not enough room to represent the many years being celebrated!  It could be a landmark birthday, such as 21st, 40th, 50th, etc.  Candles are essential for any Birthday celebration, and a personalised Birthday Candle can really be the icing on the cake!!  It can simply say “Happy Birthday”, with the person’s name and date or I can engrave and paint symbols to represent the interests /work of the person, or perhaps a quotation from a favourite or suitable poem/song.  80th Birthday CandleRecently a friend asked me to engrave a personalised candle for her mum’s 80th birthday.  The family had a special mass and party for her and one of her daughters had designed a wall hanging as a backdrop for the altar.  I engraved and painted the candle with a variation of the wall hanging design – a detail not missed by Mary the recipient!  The candle was lit by her and burned during the mass.  I’m sure it will continue to be lit every year on her birthday!

My husband always make a point of celebrating his birthday because he figures the alternative is death!!  I just think Birthdays are always worth celebrating alternatives or not!  My birthday will be coming up very soon, but there should be loads of room on the cake, because after all as far as my 6 year old is concerned I’m only 26, and I’m not going to disabuse him of that!!

Your Candles!

Welcome to my first attempt at blogging about my work – Candledesigns – Hand-engraved and painted personalised candles for every occasion including Weddings, Christenings, Jubilees, Anniversaries, Birthdays, Memorials…..

I’ve spent most of the day working at this and I’m sure I’ll be spending more time updating and improving these pages.

Please have a look at my work and I’d be delighted to hear from you to discuss any ideas you may have for a forthcoming celebration