Rush Lighting Picture
1. Rush should
be cut in late summer or early fall. This was done by women and children in England. The green rush stems has a soft white pithy center and can grow to a height of four feet.

2. Cut the rush as close to the ground as possible.

3. Soak the rush in water to loosen the cortex or outer skin.

4. Strip the cortex end to end until the pithy center is exposed. A narrow strip of skin is left to hold the center together.

5. After peeling the rushes to about a quarter of its original thickness, thoroughly dry it for several weeks before the dipping process begins.

Rush Lighting Picture
Rush Lighting - Grissets used to dip rush in fat
Grissets used to dip rush in fat
6. Dipping is best done in a wrought iron grisset, a boat shaped utensil designed so that rush could be drawn through the fat.
  • Keep the fat just above the boiling point for dipping, You can use whatever fats and grease might be on hand.

    Rush Lighting - Rushlight after being dipped in grease
    Rushlight after being dipped in grease
    7. A little beeswax can be added. One dip in grease produces a satisfactory light. Rushes could be made in lengths up to thirty inches.

    It is a greasy job and was not suited for the fingers of the mother who used her hands for needlepoint. "Mend the light" or "mend the rush" was the mother's words to her child to put up a new length.

    Your rush is ready to burn in your rushlight holder. Many old time Englanders would lay their lighted rushlights on the edge of an oak chest or chest of drawers leaving an inch over the edge. It would burn up to the oak and then go out. The edges of old furniture are often burnt into shallow grooves from this practice.

    Source: Text by Bryan Wright

  • Related Links:

    Early Lighting

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