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Category Archives: Creators Stories

Understanding the Art and Craft of Chandlery and all that Beeswax

Medieval Craft of Chandlery

 

The advent of residential electricity changed our lighting needs dramatically and eliminated a once critical position in the medieval household – the Chandler – the person responsible for the candles. Click here for a detailed description.

Next time you strike a match to light the candles on your dinner table consider what it takes to make a candle.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

According to Jill Smith, the owner of Salt Spring Island’s Bees Wax Works, the key ingredient in chandlery (besides the obvious: wax) is patience and more patience. Smith is a former ballet dancer and music industry professional who describes her career change as an “Opportunity to work independently, make things and grow a business.”

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

Becoming a chandler

Smith apprenticed under the company’s previous owner before she assumed the full responsibilities of Bees Wax Works. Although candle making was a learning curve, Jill Smith says “Making things with my hands has always been a part of my life. My mother taught me fibre arts at a young age and we were encouraged to ‘make things’.”

Did you ever “make” candles as a kid, by melting paraffin and pouring the molten liquid into milk containers? If so, the work that Smith does in her workshop is another world. She describes her studio as

“The best smelling garage on Salt Spring Island, with lovely windows and views of the Salish Sea.”

Process from raw wax to candles

There is a process to transforming a 45-pound block of beeswax into beautiful, clean-burning candles. The work requires smashing (she says this step is therapeutic), heating and reforming. According to Smith, chandlery steps are simple, and the tools rudimentary (a melting pot, simple hand tools, and steady hands). However, the age-old craft requires enormous amounts of patience.

#Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks blog post

Smith chooses to work with beeswax exclusively.

“It is pure and simply the best wax for candles.”

However, not all beeswax is created equally. Smith sources her wax from apiarists in Alberta. A family who have been beekeepers for three generations because their wax is the cleanest she has found.

Did you know beeswax changes colours with the seasons, depending which flowers are blooming?

Simple Fern #Beeswax #Candles @Beeswaxworks

At Atelier, we are thrilled to feature some of the Bees Wax Works signature BWW Collection candles. The new line of candles required Smith’s close collaboration with a ceramist.  Together they developed moulds that reflect the art of candle making. This collection mirrors the “hive to home” philosophy at Bees Wax Works.

Made with high-quality wax and the steady hand of a professional chandler these contemporary candles are perfect for gifts (or for your home) check out the collection here.

Image credits: Photos provided by and published with the permission of Jill Smith @ Bees Wax Works

Designer Shopping and 6 Reasons to Buy from an Artisan

Thoughtful Consumerism

The water crisis in California, VW’s diesel emissions scandal, pipeline spills, smog warnings, carbon taxes and global warming. Some days, it feels like being hit over the head with negative environmental messages. Stop to think about any one of those issues and it’s overwhelming. What can one human can do to facilitate change given the magnitude of the problems?

Designer Shopping Buy Artisan

You can help!

Take small steps to reduce your personal environmental footprint through thoughtful designer shopping. As an e-retailer, we would be crazy to tell you not to shop. Here is why we think you should buy from an artisan designer:

  1. Support the arts. Whether they are creating a new art form or reviving an old traditional craft, these creators are following their passions.
  2. Buy local. Purchasing from an artisan means you are supporting the local community.
  3. Quality materials.  An artisan selects the best materials to create their products. If not, why would they make the effort in the first place?
  4. Make a Personal connection. Gain an understanding of the person behind the product (not an assembly line at a factory).
  5. Look for one-of-a-kind.  Why? Because you know that it sucks to show up at a party wearing the same outfit as your hostess.
  6. Go green. Happy knowing that you are making your contribution towards reducing the impact of those global environmental issues.

Check out our artisan creators here, and their products here.

Indulge with Luxury Sweaters by Artigiani Milanesi Cashmere Artisans

Cashmere is now being handcrafted into luxury sweaters in  a country built on the fur trapping, down-filled coats and Kodiak boots! Artigiani Milanesi established its bespoke Italian cashmere tailoring on Bowen Island in 2014.

Rosa Palmira Feroldi (Rosetta) was only two-years-old when she and her five sisters, orphans of WWII, were taken in by the nuns at the convent in Cremona, Italy. The nuns would knit clothing for the children, and young Rosetta insisted they teach her how to use the knitting machines. At 21 years old, she left the convent and headed for the industrial fashion-centric city of Milan.  Rosetta established her cashmere weaving business in 1959 catering to local clients from Milan and international fashion brands.

Luxury Sweaters Anouk Cardigan Cashmere Artigiani Milanesi

Davide Bizzarri, Rosetta’s son, apprenticed with his mother to gain an understanding of their business – he officially took over Artigiani Milanesi in 1995.  Davide shares his mother’s enthusiasm, ruthless attention to detail and quality, and her design flair.

Milan’s frenetic pace prompted the Bizzarri family (Rosetta, Davide and his wife Rebecca) to relocate to Bowen Island. Artigiani Milanesi Milan was packed into two 40-foot-long shipping containers and shipped to a 1,600 sqft boutique and workshop on Canada’s West Coast.

Artigiani Milanesi are true artisans. You can find a selection of their essential cashmere pieces  – scarves, ponchos and sweaters for sale here on Atelier.

 

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