Page Turn Episode 035

Hello and welcome to Episode Thirty Five of Page Turn: the Largo Public Library Podcast. I’m your host, Hannah!

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The English Language Transcript can be found below

But as always we start with Reader’s Advisory!

The Reader’s Advisory for Episode Thirty Five is Queen of the Conquered by Kacen Callender. If you like Queen of the Conquered you should also check out: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin, Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi, and A Song of Wraith and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown.

My personal favorite Goodreads list Queen of the Conquered is on is Books with Snakes on the Cover.

Happy Reading Everyone

Today’s Library Tidbit is on candles and candle making.

On April 13th the library is running program on how to make soy wax candles. Spaces are limited and supplies are limited but if you are interested and can’t make it I will be going over some basics of candles and candle making today.

Some of the earliest evidence we have for candles is found in Ancient Egypt. This isn’t to say that other civilizations weren’t using candles before then, just that most of the evidence we have for them is from Egypt. The earliest candles were maybe closer to torches than the candles that we recognize today. These types of lights are referred to as a rushlight. The dried pith, a specific tissue in the stem of plants, of a rush plant is coated in fat or grease and that is lit on fire. By 3000 BC Ancient Egyptians were using wicked candles.

Ancient Romans are general credited by with developing the wicked candle by rolling papyrus and dipping it into melted tallow or beeswax until it was coated enough to form a candle. However, other civilizations also developed wicked candles of different makes. The Chinese would form wicked candles by molding paper tubes and using rolled rice paper for wicks. The wax for these candles came from several places including insects, seeds, and whale fat. In Japan candles were made of wax from tree nuts and in India candle wax came from boiling the fruit of the cinnamon tree.

In Europe up until the Middle Ages candles, it seems, were exclusively made from tallow. Tallow for those that don’t know is made from animal fat. It smells terribly when burned and also releases a lot of sooty smoke. During the Middle Ages beeswax made its way to Europe. Now beeswax was very expensive at the time so only the very wealthy and the church could afford beeswax candles, but slowly over the years beeswax candles took over from tallow candles. The reason being that beeswax smokes significantly less and also smells much nicer.

The next major change in candles occurred in the 18th Century when whaling provided spermaceti to the economy. Spermaceti wax candles were harder than tallow and beeswax and so didn’t melt during the summer which was a major plus for them. They also burned brighter. However, over whaling for products has caused lasting effects on the world so overall a bit of a net evil.

In the 1820s French Chemist Michel Eugene Chevreul figured out for to get stearic acid from animal fatty acid. This lead to the creation of stearin wax which is hard, durable, and burned cleanly. Like the spermaceti candles but with less destruction to the natural world. You can still find stearin candles to this day.

In the 1850s chemists figured out how to get paraffin wax from petroleum. Paraffin has an extremely low melt temperature but adding stearic acid to it help to harden it for use in candles. As the oil industry grew the available amount of paraffin grew. However, as with the spermaceti candles, and as we went over in the last podcast, the oil and gas use from humans has created global warming which we have about a decade to reverse to prevent even more extinction and destruction so again, bit of a net evil.

In the 1990s US agricultural chemists developed the soybean wax candle. Soybean wax is softer and slower burning than paraffin, however, as with paraffin it can be hardened with the addition of stearic acid. Soybean cultivation is not without its problems but overall less of a net evil than paraffin or spermaceti.

Candles have been used since their creation for a multiple of reasons. The most common is, of course, as a source of light. They have also had various religious uses across the globe. Candles are also, as we went over a few podcasts ago, a big part of creating hygge and other Nordic comfort rituals. We use candles for celebrations and holidays, as well as for fragrance and general style and home décor.

During the library program patrons will learn to make a geometric candle using soy wax. The geometric nature of the candles is based off of Archimedean solids. Archimedes was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Lot of roles this guy. He is mostly recognized today for his work in mathematics and physics. Archimedean solids are a polyhedron whose faces are regular polygons and whose angles are all congruent. The faces may be all of the same type, in which case the solid is a regular polyhedron, or may be of different types. Everyone got that right?

Let me define a few of those terms if you like me have not taken a geometry class in well over a decade. A polyhedron is a three dimensional figure with many faces made up of polygons. A polygon is a two dimensional figure with at least three straight sides and angles. Having congruent angles means that all the angles are the same size. Archimedean solids have faces that meet in identical vertices meaning that each two vertices are symmetric to one another. There are 13, sometimes 14 (ask the mathematicians about that) Archimedean solids. There is another group of convex polyhedron with regular polygon faces called a Johnson solid. However, in a Johnson solid the same polygons do not need to join around each vertex as in Archimedean solids. There are also Platonic solids which are convex polyhedrons with faces made up of the same polygon with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex. There are 92 Johnson solids and only 5 Platonic solids.

I’ll be honest these are all things that I can tell apart when I see them but I am not super great about verbally explaining. So I have added links below for people to check them out!

Platonic solids
Archimedean solids
Johnson solids

Candle making these days is simple and inexpensive. Sarah’s program focuses on melting soy wax and pouring it into geometric molds. There are a few steps to the process but the hardest part of it is making sure the mold is sealed. If you signed up for the program you will be given a mold, but you can create your own fairly easily. I will have a link to a mold in the show notes. If you print a mold to fold up from online we recommend strengthening the paper using a latex paint or glue or something of the sort. Our molds are made from a polyvinyl folder. The sides are held together with packing tape and hot glue. The hot glue is a good way to form a seal, but make sure you don’t have any large amounts of excess as that will also imprint into the candle wax. Don’t forget to attach the wick to the bottom of the mold to keep it nice and centered for the candle.

Once you have the form put together and dried it’s time to melt the wax. Soy wax can be melted over a double boiler, inside a container in a water bath being careful not to get water into the wax, or in the microwave. Once the soy wax is melted you can add in fragrance or colorant. Your soy wax will be able to take different amounts of these so double check with the manufacturer to be sure. The soy wax that the library is using takes up to 12% fragrance by weight. We do not recommend using crayons or mica to color your candles as these can cause a candle to not light or to go out, or have other additives that affect your candles life. There are specific colorants that are manufactured specifically for coloring candles and we recommend using those.

Once the soy wax is melted and any colorants or fragrances are added you want to make sure the wax mixture has cooled to about 135 degree F before pouring it into the mold. Careful while pouring to keep the wick as centered as possible. A centered wick burns longer and more evenly. Once the wax has been poured into the mold the candle needs to be left to set and cure. It will set in about an hour, but you want to give the candle at least 24 hours before unmolding as the wax will be a little soft for up to a day. Once you have removed it from the mold let the candle cure for up to 2 weeks before lighting trimming the wick to ¼ of an inch and lighting it.

Some people find that soy wax candles are too soft for their purposes or tastes. If you find this to be the case you can add stearic acid to the mixture. This will both harden the candle and give the candle a glossier appearance. We recommend doing a test with the soy wax that you get first as most soy waxes that you can purchase are blends that address the softness problem already. This is really a preference.

We hope you enjoy your candles!

And now it’s time for Book Traveler, with Victor:
Intro: Welcome back to another episode of Book Traveler. My name is Victor and today we are going to be talking about a book titled Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older.

Synopsis: Sierra Santiago planned an easy summer of making art and hanging out with her friends. But then a corpse crashes their first party. Her stroke-ridden grandfather starts apologizing over and over. And when the murals in her neighborhood begin to weep tears… Well, something more sinister than the usual Brooklyn ruckus is going on. Paint a mural. A battle begins. Change the world.

Opinion: Shadowshaper presents a heroine and magic like no other in fantasy fiction. With the help of a fellow artist named Robbie, Sierra discovers the formation of shadows, an exciting magic that infuses ancient spirits in paintings, music and stories. But someone is killing the “shadowforms” one by one, and the killer believes Sierra is hiding the biggest secret from him. Sierra must now unravel her family’s past, end the killer, and save the future from the shadows for generations to come.

Sierra Santiago is definitely one of my new favorite heroines. She makes plans and follows through on them and is very aware on the shortcomings of the people she loves. As Sierra follows the lead of her grandfather to find Robbie and fix the murals in her neighborhood, more and more secrets come to light and she discovers a whole spiritual world that she has been hidden from him, but with which she is strongly connected.

Older presents us with many great discussion points between the action and supernatural struggle, including colorism, gender expectations, ethics (or the lack of it) in anthropology, and the handling of difficult family members. Additionally, infused with Latin folklore, this novel addresses gentrification and sexism, while highlighting the beauty and diversity of Sierra’s family and culture. The Brooklyn setting and Sierra’s group of friends add realism and much-needed humor to the story.

Outro: It is a very exciting story and I highly recommended. That’s all for today, until the next edition of Book Traveler. See you later.

Stay safe everyone out there! Wear a mask if you come into the library Check out our virtual programming here and also don’t forget to sign up for our Read Woke Initiative on Beanstack!

For everyone interested our intro music is by Break the Bans and the outro music is by Jahzzar, both artists can be found on Free Music Archive.