My recent love of quaint ceramic has been indulged this week as I made orange and cardamom scented teacup candles for my friends’ Christmas presents. It couldn’t have been easier or more fun.
The trickiest part for me was finding a shop that sold the wax and wicks; I’m adverse to internet shopping because I like to touch, even if it is just packets of wax shavings and lengths of strings. There’s a very specialist shop off the beaten track in Shepherd’s Bush, just a 10 minute walk from the entrance to Westfield. Candle Makers Supplies sell everything you could ever need to make any kind of candle you have ever imagined: wax, wicks, dyes, perfumes, double boilers and dipping cans, moulds, transfers (including advent themes) and holders. They also sell ready made candles in a rainbow of colours. When I arrived, the back of the shop had made way for a candle making class; 4 eager-looking women sat at a wax-covered wooden table each fingering a mould of wax and listening intently to the instructor. At the front of the shop, a woman sitting behind a counter greeted me and asked what I needed. I told her that I had no idea but I knew that I intended to make scented soya wax candles in teacups. She left me smelling the perfumes while she collected everything I would need in a basket, including a print-out of the shop’s own instructions. What service! The whole kit, enough to make about 6 candles, excluding perfume (because I wasn’t keen on any of the smells) cost just over £10 – so far, so thrifty.
Candle Makers Supplies
Behind 102 – 104 Shepherds Bush Rd, W6 7PD
Finding the teacups was much easier. In a previous post I wrote of my intention to go back to Caroline Carrier in Camden Passage but I spotted some beauties at Jackie’s Flea Market in Hampstead for just £2.50 each. Yes, they were covered in mud, but mud washes out. The thriftiness continues.
All I needed now was the scent. When I was on my way home from Kensington Roof Gardens a few weeks ago, I popped into Whole Foods and found candle maker extraordinaire, Jonathan Ward, introducing his latest collection of scented candles. The smell drew me in and Jonathan’s friendly conversation kept me there for over half an hour. He talked me through all of his scents, where he had gotten the ideas and what they reminded him of. I was so in awe of his passion for the candles that I ended up buying three! While I was talking to him I took the opportunity to ask him how he would scent the teacup candles. He told me that essential oils are best and should be mixed with the molten wax to make up approximately 8% of the candle. He also advised that not all oils burn equally and that I should definitely do a trial candle to make sure that it burns and that the smell diffuses well. Perfect!
I gave myself a headache in Neal’s Yard smelling all of the oils. The cardamom oil reminded me of an Indian sweet rice which I love and the orange oil provided the festivity. So long to the thrift! The orange oil was a bargain at just £6 but the cardamom was… a little more.
So now I had everything I needed: wax, wick, wick weights, teacups and essential oils. I laid out all of the “ingredients” on the kitchen side, took a deep breath, and set up a make-shift double burner (a milk pan inside a saucepan). I figured out from the trial candle that I could measure the right amount of wax by using two teacups of wax shavings per candle. While it was melting I prepared my wick by threading it through a weight, pinching the end with pliars to hold it in place and dipping the ensemble in wax. I laid them out along the side to dry. When the wax had melted I added the oil (which filled my flat with a beautiful smell) and poured it into the teacups a little at a time to make sure they were all even. Once a thin film had formed on the top, I pushed the wicks to the bottom and then left to dry. The instructions that Candle Makers Supplies gave me warned that a small well was likely to form around the wick as the wax cooled and that I would need to break the film and then refill. I must have been lucky because the surface of my candles stayed smooth and even. When they were absolutely set and in a moment of creativity, I topped each one with a dried orange slice!
And now all that remains is to wrap them up and give them away. That might prove to be the hardest part of all!