Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rolleston Community Market this Sunday

I will be at the Rolleston Community Market again this Sunday, so pop out and say hi! The market has moved indoors for the winter which is great news for stallholders and shoppers alike. Being able to browse through locally made handcrafts and produce whilst staying warm and dry is definitely a very big bonus right now! I will have some soy candles this time, so make sure to stop by and sample the gorgeous fragrances I have on offer.

For directions on how to get there, click here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A winner and some Teacup Candles

It's been a busy week here at Rose among Thorns. Firstly, a big thanks to everyone who entered and promoted my giveaway on the Lilmagoolie blog, and an even bigger thanks to Maddie who organised it all. A winner was drawn, and some rose scented candles are now on their way to Anna Vincent. Congratulations Anna!

The other exciting news this week, is that I launched the first candles of my soy wax range – teacup candles. They have proved rather a hit so far, with requests for new fragrances to add to the collection. Chocolate will be first on the list, and coffee will follow once I get the fragrance in. They are make to order, so if you fall in love with a cup, you can have a candle made with your favourite fragrance. Some cups are very limited edition, and I only have one. So if you really like one, get in quick before you miss out! Currently available are: Strawberry, Frangipani, Vanilla and Rose. Other fragrances will be added once I have tested them in the soy wax.

I was back in Nelson a few weeks ago, where my parents had cleaned out underneath their house in preparation for my husband to insulate it for them. Over 30 years worth of things had been stored under there, including about 10 bikes – if anyone in Nelson wants some old bikes to do up, please let me know! I rescued this great vintage suitcase. It has had a bit of a rough life, and it's hinges have rusted out, but it makes a great prop for photos, and might look quite good on my stall as well...

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Giveaway a day

This is one for those of you who like giveaways – and really, who doesn't? The lovely Maddie from lilmagoolie blog has been doing a giveaway each day this week. I met her a couple of months ago at Crafty Business. She writes very popular blog which is packed full or allsorts of inspiring things, is a stay at home mum, and has just started out doing freelance graphic design as well. I don't know how she fits it all in!

My mini-teardrop candles featured yesterday. There are some great prizes on offer, including some from fellow felt sellers, Relique Vintage Jewellery and hjrd design. There is still time to enter, so pop over and have a look.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Choosing a sustainable candle wax – Part 2

I have been using recycled wax to make candles with for almost a year now. Last June I put up a sign at Craft 2.0 saying I could recycle old candles. This resulted in me becoming the proud owner of more than 100kg of old convent candles that a nun had collected up to recycle herself.

I have been slowly working my way through all of the boxes, sorting and weighing them, and filtering out all of the gunk so the wax can be used again for new candles. There are lots of different types – beeswax candle stubs, paraffin candle stubs and some quite large bags of little pieces of wax that have dripped down the side of a candle holder, and been scraped off. There are also some blocks of unused paraffin, which also needs to be made into candles, rather than sitting gathering dust in someones garage. I thought I'd share a bit about how I go about recycling all of this wax, to explain how it works.

Firstly, I sort the candles by colour and wax type. This is done by eye, so if two kinds of wax have been mixed together, I can't tell what percentage of each wax they contain. Often beeswax candles can contain a higher proportion of paraffin wax. Also, when you're melting the contents of a bag of wax chips, it's impossible to tell exactly what blend of wax might be in there. So although I can't offer a guarantee of what type of wax a candle contains, I do have a pretty good idea.

Then I melt the sorted wax down, and filter out all of the dirt, dust, wicks, stickers and anything else that may have accumulated. I end up with block of clean purified wax ready to be made into new candles.

I also collect as much as I can of the waste wax that accumulates during the candle making process, such as drips and spills etc, and recycle this too. This wax doesn't get sorted first though, as it's often already mixed up. So it usually ends up as one of many shades of brown! I then mix this with some beeswax, and make it into block candles.

It's very satisfying to take something that is usually thrown away, and turn it into something beautiful. I hope you enjoy the candles as much as I enjoy making them!

These items in my felt shop are currently made from recycled wax:
Floating citronella candles, Hand-dipped tapers and recycled tealights. Some of the mini-teardrops are made from recycled wax, the older ones aren't.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Choosing a sustainable candle wax – Part 1

Once my stockpile of paraffin wax began to decline last year, I looked into more sustainable sources of waxes. Buying something made from oil just didn't make much sense anymore. I did some research, and found two different options: waxes derived from natural sources such as soy wax, palm wax and beeswax; or recycling old candles. In this blog post I'll talk about natural waxes, and tomorrow I'll talk about recycling wax.

One thing to consider when choosing which wax to use is which type of candles it is best suited to. Each of the readily available natural waxes have different properties, which make them suitable for different uses. Soy wax has a low melting point, which makes it ideal for container candles. Palm wax has a much higher melting point, so works well for pillar candles, in a similar way to paraffin. Beeswax has it's own distinctive colour and fragrance, so is best used au natural, or blended with other waxes, as it does tend to be more expensive.

There are also environmental issues to consider. The supplier I use sources all of their palm wax from members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. This organisation was founded to develop and define best practices for sustainable palm cultivation, and protection of the environment. However, there has been a lot of negative press in New Zealand about de-forestation and habitat destruction due to the cultivation on palm oil crops. So at this point I'm unsure if even sustainably sourced palm wax is something I should be using.

Soy wax has become very popular in recent years, largely due to it's low environmental impact. It is a sustainable resource that doesn't damage the eco-system, and it can be grown fast enough to keep up with the rate of consumption. It seemed like a good option, and meant I could expand my range to include container candles, something I hadn't done before. So I have purchased some soy wax, which I am currently in the process of testing. Once I am happy with the results, hopefully within the next few weeks, I will be launching some new soy wax candles. So watch this space!

Tomorrow I'll explain how my candle recycling works, so stay tuned. I welcome any comments you may have about this topic.