DESIGN

Let There Be Light



THE HOLIDAY SEASON CALLS for festive surroundings, and candles are a quick, easy, relatively inexpensive way to bring a room to life. Besides the warm glow and dancing shadows that candlelight casts over a static corner, many candles today are decorative in theii own right. Drizzled with gold. shaped into lifelike fruits, studded with seeds and herbs, 01 painted to look like ornaments these candles go far beyonc ordinary beeswax tapers. As a bonus, few candles nowadays are wax, plain and simple. The) are infused with scents of the season, from bay-berry, citrus, and cinnamon to cranberry, apple pie, and oatmeal sweetened with maple sugar.

Fruit candles, $16 to $25; sculpted tapers from Italy, burnished with gold, feature angels and a cornucopia of fruits in bas-relief $18 each; and colorful glass saucers, $22, at Translations, 4014 Villanova. Old St. Nick cranberry taper, $13; oozingfolksy charm, homely “Lumpies” ($20) burn for 120 hours; pipsqueak “Nubbles” ($i JO and $4.50) come plain or rolled in herbs and spices; and fluted tin saucer, $5.50 at Mary Cates & Co., 2700 Boll. Decorated to look like tree ornaments, round candles are $5 at Ken Knight in the Quadrangle. Creamy hand-dipped candles, 6 to 12 inches tall, are $9 to $ 12; mass offertory candles, in glass containers from 5 to 10 inches tall, $2 to $12 at Legacy Trading Co. in the Quadrangle. Candles studded with jingle bells are $15 to $30 at the Dallas Museum of Art.

SHOPPING

A Gathering of Angels



LILIA ESTRADA RODRIGUEZ’S papier-maché angels are highly collectible among the small group of cognoscenti familiar with her work. Her angels find homes as quickly as Estrada can construct them, whether it’s Christmas, or not.



Available only through Estrada Studios, her father’s gallery and frame shop off Ross Avenue, the angels have evolved from petite tree ornaments to 18-inch wall sculptures to commissioned family groupings.



Estrada began sculpting the figures five years ago, with recycled Dallas newspapers, her mothers recipe, and childhood memories of larger-than-life cardboard angels looming overhead at church.



Valued by collectors as folk art, the angels are fashioned entirely by hand. Estrada uses no forms or chicken wire, and each is unique. Wings are driz2led with gold, gowns are draped in lavish folds.

Estrada dresses her figures in sweet pastels, such as ivory and pink, as well as bold, deep blue, purple, and magenta. Facial features vary, too, from Caucasian to African and Hispanic.



“My angels don’t have classical features,” says the artist. “They have a more primitive look. That’s probably why people like them. “



The angels, $35 to $189, are available at Estrada Studios, 1700 Routh St. For commissions, contact die artist at 214-824-0192.



DECORATING

WAXING POETIC



PLENTY HAS BEEN WRITTEN ABOUT the centuries-old custom of drying flowers to preserve their beauty. Georgeanne Brennan’s new book. Les Immortelles, looks beyond country crafts, however, to uncommon preserved botanicals that lend a festive elegance to holiday decorating.

Perhaps the most intriguing chapter in the book is the final one. Sugaring and waxing fruits and fresh flowers are not new techniques, merely forgotten ones. Waxing botanicals was widely practiced in the 19th and early 20th centuries, providing material for still-life arrangements on tabletops and mantels in Europe and North America. According to Brennan, waxed flowers continued to be used until the 1950s, when they were supplanted by readily available air-dried blooms imported from Europe and Asia.

The procedure as outlined in Les Immortelles sounds simple. Hold fresh flowers by their stems, fruits by tongs. Dip repeatedly into a pan of melted paraffin (always melt paraffin in a container placed in a double boiler) until fully coated. Hangflower heads upside down over newspaper to catch drips. Place fruits on waxed paper or aluminum foil until the wax hardens.

The dipping and hardening process may be repeated until the desired thickness is attained. With fresh fruits, the thicker the coating, the longer the fruit will last. But a light coating allows the fruit’s color and texture to show through.

Waxed fruits can be set on a mantel in a bed of evergreens, piled in a container, or mounded on a cake stand. Arrange flowers in a container or wire them into garlands and wreaths.

Sugaring fruits, a popular Victorian custorn for teas and dinner parties, is easily done with egg whites, a paintbrush, and superfine sugar. Once completed, sugared delicacies must be thoroughly dried before storing and kept away from humidity.

For detailed instructions on waxing and sugaring fruits, leaves, and flowers refer to Les Immortelles (Chronicle Books, $24.95).

IDEAS

CLAY CRAZY

FOR IRIS KILLG-UGH, THE CLAY’S THE THING. Killough has been mentor to generations ol ceramics enthusiasts in her cramped and gritty Klay Kastle in Oak Cliff, where her informal classes have spawned several careers in the decorative arts, including Dallasites who design products for national companies such as Pier 1 and Fitz and Floyd. More than 8,000 molds-including dinnerware, figures, and vases-are poured on the premises.

And the rage for clay is spreading. Two new ceramics studios have recently opened. At Purple Glaze in Inwood Village and The Paint Palette in Preston Center, budding artists paint unfinished bisque ware, including holiday ornaments, kitchen tiles, dinner plates, and cappuccino sets. Both studios charge an hourly fee to paint ($6-$7), which includes instruction and all supplies except the ceramics themselves, which range from $2 to $50. Both studios also can accommodate special events, from birthday parties to bridal showers.

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