August 8th, 2009

stabat mater dolorosa

things ebay buyers need to know

I swear, I think eBay is trying to kill small sellers.  I am so sick of them.  The latest bs is that they are removing the option to have buyer-purchased insurance, so that ebay will be in line with "industry standards and expectations," stating that sellers are responsible for the item until it hits the seller's hands.  Well, if I have to replace a $7 bottle of oil, that's one thing, but what about a $200 order, or a custom item that the postal service loses or smashes?  I'd be out of business in a heartbeat.  In cases like this, ebay says we should insure the items ourselves, adding the insurance cost into our shipping fees if necessary.
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But this effects every seller on ebay, and that is why I'm writing this post.  Less than 5 in a DSR means higher prices for your seller and thus higher prices for you.  a 4 star says "good" but it doesn't mean "good" according to ebay's standards.  A one or two means you want to see the seller go out of business.  If you buy on ebay, you need to know this stuff.

Oh yeah - I will be raising prices on oils and light settings soon, the former by just a hair, the latter by a bit more than a hair, and I will probably not be able to offer handpainted medals after this month (they take too long to paint and dry, and they are a bad rating waiting to happen).  So if you had your eye on something, don't wait too long, or you may have to wait until the website can handle it, which wont' be tomorrow.

Ok, done beating dead horse for now.  A big thank-you to all of you who come to visit, to read or to shop, for making this worth doing and for showing the world that people still appreciate custom-finished hoodoo and spiritual items with a personal touch, in this era of Walmart and 24 hour operators standing by.  You guys rock, and I really appreciate you.

I've been working on camera issues and should have some photos up soon,  I hope (and emailed to several clients who have  been waiting on them.  Tech and I aren't the best of friends all the time, sorry!)

stabat mater dolorosa

dressing novena lights

These didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped, but we'll see if this works.

People ask me about dressing novenas sometimes - they'll have problems because their candles won't burn, or they aren't sure how much oil to use, or how much plant/herb matter, or whatever.  So I thought I'd try to show y'all what i do.  There's more than one way to skin a cat, but this works for me.

When I'm dressing a novena light, I use a chopstick to poke three holes in the wax around the wick.  Yes, that's a big hole.  No, it won't go all the way to the bottom.  It's ok.

You can't really see all of them here, 'cause I've already sprinkled some herbs and oil and glitter and they are slightly obscured, but you get the idea.

After I do this, I put bits of herbs and curios into the holes.  Anything chunky or that isn't quite a powder that needs to be added goes into the holes.  Use something to poke herbs down into the hole if they don't want to go, or else they'll escape when you do the next bit:  Then I drizzle some oil around the top, making sure it gets into the holes.  I then cover the surface with oil by rubbing it with my finger, clockwise or counterclockwise as appropriate for the work. 

Finally, whatever herbs are in powder, or close-to-powder, form, then get sprinkled lightly on the top of the oiled surface.  I especially like to use powdered resins when I need to add resins.  A powdered frankincense will keep your candle from hitting a lump of resin as it burns, which might go up by itself with a separate flame and/or blacken the glass.

A sprinkle of glitter - I recommend the really fine, expensive stuff instead of the chunky kindergarten stuff, if you can get it - finishes the dressing.  Do not overdo it!

See? Just a light, fairly even dusting will do ya' right.  I probably go heavier on the oil than many folks, but if you poke holes, it shouldn't be a problem.  My lights hardly ever drown, and don't need a lot of poking and tending the first few days in general.  Go light on the herbs to avoid unexpected conflagrations, and invest in powdered herbs if you're not the mortar and pestle (or coffee grinder) type, or if you need to use a lot of woody stuff like John the Conqueror root, which you're better off hitting with a hammer than trying to powder by hand.

Sometimes wicks are bad, or there are air pockets or problems within the candle itself - these novena candles are mass produced - I don't pour my own.  But if you poke holes and avoid dropping huge chunks of woody herbs and resins into your candle, you should have nice, clean-burning dressed novena lights.  (Sometime when I have a chance I'll explain how oil prices interfered with etymology, and why novena lights, which ought to burn for nine days, usually only burn for about 5 in this day and age.  I'm conflating novenas and 7 day candles here, not because I'm not aware of the difference - or what differences there used to be - but because for the purposes of this post, it doesn't really matter).

What if you need to fix a candle that is not made of the soft wax novenas are usually made of, but is made of harder paraffin?  The Ninja Cat shows you one way here.

Happy hoodooing!