Memorial Candle

An artifact based off of the Jewish tradition of the yahrzeit candle - a candle lit on the anniversary of a loved one’s death in remembrance. As this candle melts, the weighted arm moves the flame upward. This piece aims to express the concepts of earth and ascension through movement and material.

 

Background

In Judaism, the flame is often used to represent the soul. The lighting of candles is deeply rooted tradition that spans across nearly all celebratory occasions as well as times of mourning. Traditionally, the yahrzeit candle is lit for 25 hours and is to extinguish itself.

Close-up of the nearly vertical prototype candle

Wax drip pattern

Wax drip pattern

Concept

While already a beautiful expression, my piece aims to elevate engagement. Often, these candles sit statically, burning until there’s nothing left. I wanted to shift the ritual to the foreground of the home environment, creating a more dynamic and interactive ceremony and a way to visualize the passing of time and the traces left behind.

The candle starts its journey close to the earth/rock. As time passes, traces of the flames’ path can be seen in the wax drips. The candle continues to elevate. When the flame finally reaches the peak of its upward rise, it brings with it a feeling of completion, though farther from the earth, balance is once again achieved.

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Next Steps: Developing the experience

While the experience within the object is becoming quite resolved, the experience around the object is my next point of focus. Thinking about contextually where this object exists, both physically and emotionally, will be key to the overall success of my concept.

Because of the traditions and history surrounding the yahrzeit candle, I plan to incorporate aspects of storage into the form. Knowing this piece may not remain on display year-round, I will shift the design of the arm supports so they will be able to double as a holding case for the separate object parts. Building into the design the idea of “the right occasion” to use the object will help to support the system the exists around the tradition. The opening of the box and assembly of pieces will also help the user to develop an intimate/personal relationship to the object.

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