Candle Douters: What Are They And How Were They Used?

Before we had rechargeable lamps, flashlights and light bulbs, we navigated through the dark with just the humble candle. Although candles may seem primitive to us now, they were infinitely useful for lighting up any room during the early days when our forefathers had no electricity. They made it possible to get things done even after dark. And then they could easily be extinguished when they weren’t in use.

But did you know that people used to have a different way of putting out lit candles?

 

Types of Douters

Back then, they had tools called candle douters or candle snuffers. As the name suggests, they snuffed out the flame of lit candles. There are two main types associated with candle douters. One is shaped like a bell or cone attached to a rod handle, while the other type looks like an oversized pair of scissors with a box compartment attached to it. Although both of them are commonly referred to as candle douters, they actually serve different purposes.

 

Bell-shaped Douters

Bell-shaped douters were designed to put out fire by smothering it. You cover the flame with the bell and the flame dies underneath it. In a clever use of scientific principles, these candle douters work by depriving the flame of air. Fire needs oxygen in order to burn, and by covering it with the douter, you cut off its supply of air–no oxygen means no flame. Bell-shaped candle douters were useful for snuffing out candles without blowing it out and possibly burning yourself from the candle’s hot wax. They also prevented the spread of smoke which happens when you blow a candle out.

Scissor-shaped Douters

The main purpose of the scissor-shaped douters wasn’t to put out the fire. They were actually used to trim the candle wick. You see, in the old days, candles had a design that made it harder for the wick to be burned down completely. This meant that you needed to snip off the excess wick after each use. The box appendage on the scissor douters were meant to catch the trimmed threads. Trimming often caused the flame to be extinguished. So it’s easy to confuse it with the bell shaped candle snuffers that were designed to put out the flame. However an experienced person could snip off the wick without extinguishing the fire. 

 

Decline of Use

These days however, scissor shaped candle douters have fallen out of use after braided wicks were invented. The braiding encourages a slow consistent burn that not only conserves the candle but also encourages the wick to curl back into the flame as the candle burns down. This meant that the wick gets burned more so less charred excess wick needs to be clipped off. This eliminated the need for scissor douters to snip off the wick.

 

Candle Douters Today

Once used widely in the 18th century, bell-shaped and scissor-shaped candle douters are a rare sight in regular homes now and are just used mostly for special occasions and rituals.  These douters can be found in churches though, where they are used for putting out the fire from tall or hard to reach candles at the altar.

Also, candle douters are still valuable pieces in antique enthusiasts’ collections. For some, the classic designs of these tools have an elegant vintage charm. Others have newer douters that come in different designs and shapes. They can look like animals, people, flowers and more. Some even have unconventional designs like automatic snuffers that you can attach to the candle.

What do you think of candle douters? Do you have one of your own? Let us know about your experience with these historical tools.

Aside from Candle Douters, we also have candle holders in our ebay store, The Escape Place. Check out our page for cool candle holders.

Mikasa Gold Tiara Pattern Crystal Candle Holders – The Escape Place
Partylite Bunny Rabbit Tea Light Candle Holders – The Escape Place

The Apostle Spoon

The Apostle Spoon is a type of spoon that has a cast figure at the end of the handle, depicting the image of one of the Twelve Apostles in complete detail. They are among the oldest forms of spoons that can still be found today. They are typically made with silver or are, at the very least, silver-plated. In the recent years, however, other metals such as pewter have been used to forge this Christian-inspired piece of cutlery. Prior to the time of the Protestant Reformation, apostle spoons were very popular due to the belief in the services of patron saints.

Apostle Spoons: A Brief History

In the early fifteenth century in Europe, spoons were often produced in sets of thirteen. The 12 spoons signified the apostles while the thirteenth signified Jesus and was typically referred to the “Master” spoon. Dating from 1536-7, the British Museum in London has a set of Apostle Spoons with the figure of the Virgin Mary on the thirteenth spoon.

By the sixteenth century, apostle spoons had become popular as baptismal or christening presents for godchildren, where its first appearance as such was a bequest in the will of an Amy Brent who bequeathed “XIII sylver spons of J’hu and the XII Apostells”. During these times, wealthy grandparents or godparents would purchase an apostle spoon which would represent the child’s “apostle” and offer it as a christening present. Only the recipient should be able to use the spoon and should keep it for life. If you’ve ever encountered the phrase “born with a silver spoon”; this saying actually stems from this tradition. Around the 1660’s, however, this practice began to die out.

Although, apostle spoons have been mass reproduced over the years; complete sets of twelve from the same maker are incredibly rare and valuable, and complete sets of thirteen are even rarer and more valuable. Today, only two complete sets of 13 are known to exist from the 1500’s; one of which is a “reassembled set”. This means that the original set had be broken up over the generations, and was reassembled in the earlier part of this century through some serious silver sleuthing.

Recognizing the Apostle Spoons

The Apostle spoons are recognizable with the specific attributes carved in the handles:

The Master (Jesus) – typically with a cross and orb
Peter – typically a sword, key, or fish
Andrew – typically a cross
James the Greater – typically a pilgrim’s staff
John – typically the cup of sorrow
Philip – typically a staff
Bartholomew – typically a knife
Thomas – typically a spar
Matthew – typically an axe or halbert
James the Lesser – typically a fuller’s bat
Jude – typically a carpenter’[s set square
Simon Zealotes – typically a long saw
Judas Iscariot – typically a bag of money

Now that you know a bit of the brief history of the Apostle Spoon; do you think that it makes a good christening gift for a child, or even a birthday present for anyone? Which Apostle Spoon would you give the important people in your life? Sound off in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

Knife Construction – Stamp, Drop Forge, and Hollow Handle

If you’ve ever bought kitchen knives in a shop, you’ve probably encountered a few brands that boast that their blades are dropped forged or stamped. Some even say that the handles are hollow in construction. Whether or not you’re shopping on a budget, it’s important to be knowledgeable of exactly what these terms mean in order to get more value for your money.  And in order to do that, you need to learn a little more about the different types of knife construction:

Drop Forged

In a post from engineerstudent.co.uk, drop forging is a process wherein “the metal to be formed is first heated then shaped by forcing it into the contours of a die.” If you’re a fan of old samurai flicks, you’ve probably seen a lot of scenes wherein a blacksmith pounds on a piece of blazing iron using a hammer.  That process is called hot-drop-forging. As the name implies, this method uses extreme heat to shape the metals. Knives that are forged using the hot-drop process have impressive strength because their grain structure is realigned and stretched. Moreover, these cutleries are more durable compared to the ones that are casted or processed on a machine.

Another forging process that is commonly used in creating cutlery sets is cold drop forging. In this method, metal is deformed while it is below its recrystallization temperature. Cold forging works best on soft metals such as aluminum or copper. Most manufacturers prefer to use this method because it’s more cost-efficient that hot-drop forging, and there’s less risk of contamination.

The main benefit of a forged knife is that they’re easier to sharpen. Thanks to its rigid frame, the blade doesn’t twist when you’re holding it firmly against a whetstone. Unfortunately, its non-flexible quality can also be considered as a disadvantage.  If you want to fillet anchovies, it’s better if you use a stamped knife instead.

Stamping

According to metrokitchen.com, stamped knives are “made from large, continuous sheets of stainless steel.”  A large machine stamps out the shape of the blade, just like how a cookie cutter molds the dough into different shapes. Afterwards, the handle is then attached, and the blade gets sharpened and polished.

For consumers, one of the biggest advantages of a stamped knife construction is that they are cheaper than the forged ones. If you want to complete your kitchen knife set without going beyond your intended budget, you should definitely buy these machine-made blades.  In addition, you can use them for filleting and deboning chicken or fish meat.

However, stamped cutlery does not undergo any forging process, which means that they’re not extremely durable. In addition, flexible blades also dull quickly and are harder to sharpen. You also have to be more careful when handling a stamped knife because they usually don’t have any bolster. If you’re careless, you might cut yourself while cooking.

Hollow Handle

When it comes to knife handles, there are two types of hollow handles that you can see on the market. On one hand, forged blades usually have their tangs mounted to the handle using cement. On the other hand, stamped knives are welded to the hilt.

Blades with hollow handles are superior compered to their solid counterparts. With a hollow handled knife, you won’t feel too much strain when chopping your ingredients because its weight is evenly distributed. It’s also lighter, and has an impressive pattern definition.

Can you recommend some reliable knife manufacturers? Share your thoughts in the comments!

The Escape Place has different kinds of Knife Collection:

Oneida-Kennett-Square-Dinner-knife        Oneida-Shoreline-Dinner-Knife

Oneida-Steak-Knives

Visit www.TheEscapePlace.com 

Easy Steps on Making Homemade Wine

People have been making wine at home since the late Neolithic era, if not since the beginning of time, and nothing feels more satisfying than enjoying a glass of wine you made yourself. The whole process takes a few, simple, easy steps. Making wine at home isn’t as expensive as most people think, and it doesn’t require fancy equipment. You just need dedication and patience because making quality wine doesn’t take overnight. It takes some time to age, months or even years for some, but good things come to those who wait, right? So how can you make wine from home? Here are the steps:

making-wine

Preparation

Prepare the ingredients and materials that you will need for making wine at home. There are wine kits available at local wine stores which could really be helpful especially for beginners, but if you want to make them from scratch, here are the ingredients and materials you will need:

  • 16 cups of fruit (You may choose any type of fruit but grapes and cherries are the most commonly used fruit for wine)
  • 2 cups of honey (You may use white or brown sugar depending on your preference. Always take note of the sweetness level and type of fruit you’re using as the amount of honey or sugar that you’ll need depends on this)
  • 1 packet of yeast in 2 cups of warm water (Skip this ingredient if you’re making wild yeast wine)
  • Filtered water
  • Airlock
  • 1 gallon carboy
  • 2 gallon crock or jar
  • Plastic tube for siphoning
  • 2 Campden tablets (Skip this ingredient if you’re making wild yeast wine)
  • Clean wine bottles and corks or stoppers

 

Inspect the fruit and keep your equipment and ingredients clean

This step is necessary to prevent growth of bacteria in wine. The presence of bacteria turns wine into vinegar. It’s important to inspect the fruits carefully and discard those that look rotten. Make sure they are free of insects, dirt, and debris. Remove the stems as this can make wine taste bitter. Some people who make wine, however, do not wash the fruits beforehand because there are natural yeasts on the skin, so this will largely depend on your preference. If you prefer a milder flavour of wine, peel the skin. To sterilize the equipment, wash with boiling hot water.

 

Inspect the fruit and keep your equipment and ingredients clean

This step is necessary to prevent growth of bacteria in wine. The presence of bacteria turns wine into vinegar. It’s important to inspect the fruits carefully and discard those that look rotten. Make sure they are free of insects, dirt, and debris. Remove the stems as this can make wine taste bitter. Some people who make wine, however, do not wash the fruits beforehand because there are natural yeasts on the skin, so this will largely depend on your preference. If you prefer a milder flavour of wine, peel the skin. To sterilize the equipment, wash with boiling hot water.

This technique will utilize some arm power. In the past, people used to crush the fruits with their own feet, but that is not really advisable anymore given that we are controlling (preventing as much as possible) the growth of bacteria.

To crush the fruit, use a clean potato masher, or just wear some clean gloves and use your hands. Once you have enough juice to fill the crock, add a piece of Campden tablet. This step ensures that wild yeast and bacteria in the juice are killed; however, skip this step if you’re making wild yeast wine. If the juice you have produced from crushing the fruits isn’t enough to fill the crock, add filtered water.

 

Sweeten it up

It’s time to stir in the honey. The amount of honey or sugar will hugely depend on your preference. If you’re making sweet wine, add some more honey. Use less if you don’t like it sweet. The sweetness level of the fruits you’re using will also affect the amount of sugar you’ll need. A tip in winemaking is that it’s always better to use less than end up with a very sweet wine. You can always add more later if the wine doesn’t taste as sweet. The honey doesn’t only sweeten the juice, but also serves as food for the yeast which we’ll be adding up next.

 

The rise of the yeast

Dissolve the yeast in 2 cups of warm water (27-32 degrees C) and let stand until bubbly. Pour the yeast into the wine mixture, and stir with a spoon to mix the contents. At this part, we have created a “must”, a term that winemakers use to refer to juice ready for fermentation.

Fermentation

 

how-to-make-a-wineAccording to dummies.com, “fermentation is the process by which yeast turns sugar into alcohol, and grape juice into wine.” To start this process, cover the crock with a lid or use cheesecloth secured in place with a rubber band. Store the crock or jar in a dark, dry, and warm place (preferably 21-24 degrees C). Storing the crock in a cool area won’t facilitate yeast growth, causing Stuck fermentation, a term used when yeasts don’t grow, giving off odours, and unfermented sugar.


Monitor and stir

Monitor the must daily, and use a clean, dry spoon to mix the contents. The mixture should be bubbly. Always make sure that you tightly cover the crock every single time. Repeat this process for 21 days.

Filtration

Filter the mixture by straining out the solids. The remaining liquid will be siphoned into a carboy.

Once you’re done siphoning the contents, attach the airlock half-filled with water to seal the carboy.  Attaching the airlock allows the release of gas, and prevents the entry of oxygen into the wine at the same time.

Wait…patiently

Now it’s time to wait for your wine to age. Let it age for at least a month, but it’s better if you age it longer. You can transfer the contents of the carboy into clean bottles of wine. Add another Campden tablet after removing the airlock to prevent bacterial growth. Cover the bottles with corks or stoppers.

Waiting can test your patience especially if you’re excited to taste the first wine you’ve made from scratch. It may take long, but it’s the price you have to pay if you want to make your own wine. At the end of all this waiting are bottles of wine for you to enjoy.

 

Have you tried making your own wine? Share with us your techniques!

If you have wines at home, you may want to check out this great wine bottle holder. So unique and very artsy! :)

 

wine-bottle-holder

 

6 Easy Ways to Restore Your Antique Furniture to Their Former Glory

vintage-nantucket

Sometimes we have furniture pieces that, no matter how damaged, we cannot seem to let go of. Some are passed on from one generation to the next; others we immediately fell in love with, and purchased from antique shops.  Either way, they hold great sentimental value. However, there comes a point when your antique furniture needs a little TLC. But first, there are things that you need to consider:

Invest Some Time and TLC

Restoring antique items take time and effort. They need your tender loving care, utmost patience and gentle hands while being restored. For instance, items with deep wood carvings require extended periods of dedicated time in restoration.

Know Your Item

There are instances when your antique may be made with several materials. This determines how you will be restoring it and what materials you’ll need to do so. If product information is not available, it’s best to consult an expert. Keep this rule in mind: “Whatever you do to an object, it must be reversible”

Dust it Off Before Anything Else

Sometimes, all your antique furniture really needs is a good clean to reveal its beauty underneath. Cleaning and waxing are the least invasive procedures when it comes to restoring antique items, and you may want to opt for these before proceeding with much more complex choices if the pieces are still in good condition.

So you have now dedicated enough time and patience in restoring your item, and you have also done some research about your piece. How do you go about actuallyrestoring your antique?

Here are 6 easy ways:

1. Clean the furniture thoroughly

Murphy Oil Soap and water or dishwashing liquid works best in removing wax, grease, oil or polish. Murphy Oil Soap is known to bring out wood’s natural beauty.

2. Start with white rings

What are white rings?  These are white stains on wood caused when water vapour penetrates the surface. To remove this, use a cloth lightly dampened with denatured alcohol. Make sure not to use a lot because this can cause dullness.

 

3. Chip off those shallow chips

Remove those shallow chips by filling the ding with a few drops of clear nail polish. Wait for the polish to dry up, and sand flush it with 600-grit sandpaper.

4. Say goodbye to large scratches and worn edges

Use felt-tip touch markers that come in wood tones. Choose the ones that are fairly close to your furniture’s tone, and colour away those damaged areas! Make sure to coat the surface with paste wax over the entire surface to give it a nice, even sheen.

5. Remove gouge, nicks, and dings

A gouge is a deep cut or hole. A nick is a shallow cut on a surface while a ding is a small dent. Level a raised gouge with 600-grit sandpaper. When you’re done, get a wax stick that closely matches the finish then rub the stick over the gouge until it’s filled with wax. Scrape off excess wax with the edge of a cardboard. Coat the entire surface with paste wax.

6. Maintain, maintain, maintain!

Prevent future problems by keeping the finish looking its best. Dust the surface with a damp cloth and wipe spills with Murphy Oil Soap or diluted dishwashing soap as soon as you see dirt or grime. You can use this solution for keeping, and maintaining the cleanliness of your furniture.

 

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Did these steps help solve your problem? Or do you have other effective methods in restoring the beauty of antique items? Let us know!