Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Herb Harvest

This year's garden has unfortunately been pretty paltry, mainly because of our resident woodchuck who took it upon himself to eat all of our salad greens, squash, beans, and many other things. I'm honestly pretty ticked off at Mr. Woodchuck. I mean, earlier in the year he hung around our yard a lot and we were cool with each other. As soon as we planted our garden and started seeing things come up, we noticed his little bite marks all over everything. He must have been thinking we had planted all those goodies especially for him!

Anyway, returning from my tangent...the only plants that actually did reasonably well this year was our lavender, basil, and sage (I guess Mr. Woodchuck doesn't fancy those delicacies). While I'm disappointed that we didn't have a more abundant garden, I'm happy that at least those three seemed to make it, especially because those were the three I had planted for the specific purpose of incorporating into my candles.

The lavender won't flower too much this year, but I'm expecting them to look nice and full next year:

The sage and basil did exceptionally well and I'm really excited to pick and dry those:
(The sage is to the left and the basil is in the far right corner.)

I'll do another post after I've dried the sage and basil and let you know how it goes, since this will be the first time I'm incorporating dried herbs into my candles.

Did anyone else do a garden this year? Did you have better luck than I did? Also, if anyone has any natural (and humane) tips for keeping away animals, please share!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Anyone Else Love Bath & Beauty Products?

While I typically get excited about MANY things on Etsy, I seem to have a particular penchant for bath and beauty products. Specifically, I was looking for a great body scrub that would complement my Brazil Nut body butter from The Body Shop.

Luckily, I came across DressGreen's shop where I found this great cocoa bean body scrub:

I was so eager to get my package and try it out, and let me tell you, I was not disappointed! I love that it's made of natural and organic ingredients and, best of all, it made my skin silky smooth--I didn't even have to follow-up with any kind of moisturizer after my shower.

An added bonus was that the owner of DressGreen, Lauren, was super nice and attentive. She even included a free sample of her Lemon Sugar Soap, which was also fabulous:

I think my next treat will be her Chamomile and Calendula shampoo bar. I've never used a shampoo bar before and I'm really curious about this one. Plus, I love anything with chamomile!

If you love bath products as much as I do, or if you're just looking for natural, handmade alternatives to store-bought, you owe it to yourself to check out DressGreen first!

Dedication for a Tree

Yes, you read that correctly...one of my newer creations is actually in memory of a tree. There's this huge, gorgeous tree in our front yard that my boyfriend and I just love. When we first moved here the tree was full and in perfect condition. Unfortunately, a string of major snow storms this past winter caused the tree to lose some of its major branches and even a chunk of its trunk (hey, I rhymed!).

We were both so sad the day the tree was mutilated, it was like watching a beloved pet get injured or something.  I wanted to do something to remember the tree by, so I ventured into making hurricane candles and embedded some of its leaves so they would glow through the wax. I then took it a step further and made what I call a "twig candle-holder" out of some of the smaller branches that had fallen from the tree. The final result was exactly what I had wanted:

I even used some suede lace to hold the branches together, which was REALLY tricky to do:

Doesn't it look so warm and inviting with a tealight inside? I love how the leaves shine through, too:

Tomorrow this hurricane candle (and its twin) will be going to a new home. I'm actually pretty sad to see them go, but at the same time it makes me happy to know that a little part of our favorite tree will become a part of someone else's home.

Hopefully there will be many more hurricane candle projects in my future, but next time without the tragedy of an injured tree.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Born in the USA...

Like many people out there, I like to know what things are made of and where they were made before I buy them. Which is why I like working with Ecosoya® soy wax. They guarantee that their soy wax is 100% natural and that their soy beans are grown in the U.S.

Here's a nifty little clip on that topic, from Dan Cap at Nature's Gifts International (the company that makes Ecosoya®), in case anyone is interested: http://vimeo.com/13277252

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

New Look

I made some new adjustments to the design of my blog because I was feeling that the background image was a bit distracting and I really wanted to create something that reflects my company's look as well.

I've spent plenty of time adjusting and readjusting, and now I'm eager for everyone's opinions. Please let me know what you think, I love any and all constructive criticism  ;)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Seasonal Scents

The weather up here has been kind of wacky lately. It will be summery and warm one day and then brisk and fall-like the next. The poor trees are getting confused and are already starting to drop their leaves!

While I am sad that summer is coming to an end, autumn is my favorite time of year so I'm super excited for the leaves to start changing. The cool weather has made me think I should start working on some new scents to reflect the coming autumn weather.

I just tried out one scent that I'm calling "Apple Orchard". It smells just like fresh apples, I love it! I also found a scent called "Pumpkin Souffle" but it smells more like pumpkin pie to me, so I'm calling it "Pumpkin Harvest Spice".

I'm so happy with both of the new scents and picking out the fragrances and the colors really put me in the mood for autumn. Here's to a hearty welcome to the chilled fall air, comfy sweaters, and an excuse to wear my boots again:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Which of These Does Not Belong?

I spent a good part of last night trying out different wicks for my tapers. After a few hours of repetitive dipping I finally ended up with two really nice pairs of tapers. So tonight, after they've had plenty of time to cool and solidify, I tested them out to see which wick would burn better.

Normally this process isn't very noteworthy, but you'll see what I mean when I say that the end result cracked me up.

Here are the candles burning after about 40 minutes...so far, so good:

And...here they are about another 30 minutes later:

Any guesses as to which one didn't pass the test? haha. Needless to say, I won't be using the wick that causes the wax to run away from the candlestick. Although it's good for a nice laugh, right?

Ah, the joys of experimentation  ;)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Gallery Grand Opening

If anyone is in the area, American Craftsman is going to be having their grand opening reception next Friday, 8/27 from 6-8 PM. Should be a great time!

Also check them out on Facebook.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I Love Sales!

I just got an e-mail from Lisa at American Craftsman and she let me know that two of my candles already sold yesterday! This means I'll be working on more candles like crazy within the next few days to beef up my stock.

Her friend is a wedding planner and bought one of my candles. She said she'd be interested in having me do custom orders, which would be so much fun. I recently finished a custom order for a friend of mine and it was particularly enjoyable to work on because it's so nice to have the customer be a part of the process by selecting the scents, picking out the containers, etc.

Anyway, just wanted to do a quick post to share my excitement!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Today's the Day!

This morning my boyfriend and I made the trek to New Paltz to drop off my first batch of candles to be sold at American Craftsman, an awesome shop on N. Front Street.

The owner, Lisa, is so great. Since this is my first time doing consignment, she's walked me through the process and gave me a ton of advice. I hope anyone who starts doing consignment has someone like Lisa to help them out...otherwise it could be a bit overwhelming!

As I write, my candles are now displayed in her shop, with a nifty little sign about Candles by Nature to be added soon:
Proud Mama with my candles ;)
Close up view
My candles are in the upper right corner, underneath the adorable illustrations

I'm so psyched to have my stuff at American Craftsman, and I'm ready to get started on some new stuff to bring over soon. Autumn is fast approaching, and those great fall scents are calling to me!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Burn, Baby, Burn

So I recently decided to try out a new company for my supplies because the one I was using charged insane shipping fees. When it got to the point where the shipping was costing more than the items themselves, I figured it’s time to explore some new options. After much research I found a new company that has reasonable prices and much nicer shipping costs.

Now the hard part is to find the right wick from this new company. If you’ve made candles before, you can attest to the fact that finding the perfect wick can easily drive anyone insane. To be honest, it’s my least favorite aspect of making candles because it inevitably involves some failure when you try out a bunch of wicks and some of them just don’t seem to burn perfectly. On the other hand, when I do find the right wick, the crazy perfectionist in me is VERY happy and I do a little dance (much to my boyfriend’s embarrassment).

Okay, returning from my tangent, I’m now testing various wicks from this new company. Rather than burn a bunch of candles in my living room while I watch back-to-back Buffy episodes on Netflix, I realized that I might as well burn them at work and make the office smell nice. We’re just sitting at our desks all day anyway, right? At this moment myself, my boss and my co-worker are burning awesome lavender candles made with essential oils, so they truly do smell like the real thing. I’ve periodically been poking my head into their offices like a worried mother to see how they’re burning. After about 2 hours, it’s looking like I finally found my match, but I’m going to let them continue burning for awhile longer to be doubly sure.

I gotta say, this was a great idea of mine—not only do I get to be super efficient and test out wicks while I’m at work, but I also get to share this amazing lavender scent at the office, too. I think I’ll go ahead and give myself a pat on the back  ;)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Who I am and Why I'm Here

I originally got into candle-making because I wanted to make homemade, heartfelt gifts for my family and friends. I did a lot of research and knew immediately that I wanted to use soy wax rather than the non-environmentally-friendly alternatives such as paraffin. So I gathered supplies, and kind of just stumbled my way through the first trials. It took awhile before I got my homemade Christmas mug candles to my perfectionist standards, but when I finally completed them the sense of accomplishment was awesome.

After that, I started experimenting with candlesticks, hurricane candles, and container candles in things like teacups, recycled jars, candy dishes, etc. I quickly began accumulating an insane medley of candles that I couldn’t possibly use in my lifetime. So, in an effort to continue my craft without finding myself buried in unused candles, I ventured into selling my wares.

I’ve recently opened an Etsy shop and have sold at local craft fairs and farmer’s markets. My candles are also now being carried at a great shop in New Paltz, NY called American Craftsmen. To be honest, I was incredibly nervous when I first started selling my candles, but it’s turned out to be a really exciting and inspiring experience. For me, my favorite aspect of selling my candles is to hear the feedback from my customers. I can’t help but feel inspired when someone comes up to my booth, picks up a candle, sniffs it and says “This smells delicious!!!” Plus, it’s always nice to talk to people about how I make my candles, and why I have so much fun doing it.

That’s what I’m hoping to do here on my blog, as well. I would love for this to be yet another place for me to babble on with people about candle-making, crafting, and everything else that goes along with them. So please, join in the conversation…I’m always eager to talk to others about my passions and, of course, theirs too!