Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The art of candle making

As my business continues to grow, I am making decisions about how I want to proceed. So, after a lot of thought, I have decided to register for GST on the 1st September. Unfortunately this means I will have to add it onto my prices. So I thought I would give you, my loyal followers some advance warning (sorry this post was meant to go up yesterday morning!) You have until the end of Wednesday to purchase goodies without the added GST in my Felt shop.

I have decided to absorb the cost on some items for various reasons, and so the following items will not be increasing in price – Soy melts, Scented soy tins (excl essentials), Soy tealights and Heart tealights.

As anyone makes things to sell will know, it's always a tough balance to figure out what price to set. I read an interesting blog post last week shared by Lylly-Fysh entitled 'Why handmade is so expensive'. It's a great insight into the work that goes into handmade, so I thought I would share an overview of my processes, inspired by that post.

Stage 1: The design/prototype phase

This begins with an idea, and depending on it's complexity, may need to be drawn and designed first, or it may be based on a conventional method or mould. I'll use the teardrop as an example. I make the moulds for this candle by hand, and it has taken me many batches to perfect the design and reinforcing of the mould to get it just right. Then I need to make prototype batches to test out which wick works the best, and whether or not the candle will actually work. This has been a steep learning curve. In earlier days I have rushed this process in order to get a product out, and then not been happy with how it burned down. As you can imagine, the testing can be quite time consuming when you have to burn down each candle to see how it goes, and which one lasts the longest, and burns the nicest.

Stage 2: The production phase

Step 1: Melting the wax and preparing the moulds
This involves measuring out the correct qty of wax for the number of candles I plan to make, and melting it in a double boiler on a stovetop. While this is happening I prepare the moulds, and put the wick in them, as well as measure out the fragrance and dye.

Step 2: Pouring
Once the wax has reached the right temperature, I mix in the dye and fragrance, and pour it into the moulds, taking care not to overfill them, and hoping they are sealed up properly and won't leak. Depending on the type of candle being made, I have to repeat this up to two more times.

Step 3: Un-moulding
Usually I wait until the following day to take the candles out of the moulds, as this gives them enough time to set properly. Once I have taken them out of the mould (they are poured upside down) I melt the base of the candle to flatten it off.

Step 4: Finishing
This entails tidying up the finished candle, and adding the labels and any embellishments, such as the paper bands on the tins.

Interestingly, the finishing aspect takes longer that I think, and I always end up under-estimating how long it will take. However I take pride in getting this right, as I think the finishing touches are part what sets my products apart from others.

Most of the cost of making my candles is the actual time. Especially for the recycled candles, as I have to filter the wax first, which is quite time consuming in itself, and I don't actually factor this into the cost of my candles.

I will try very hard to make sure this is the last price increase this year – hopefully I've got it right this time!

Monday, August 29, 2011

On tour to Auckland

This weekend I am heading to Auckland, and will be mixing business and pleasure. On Friday I will be visiting shops who might be interested in stocking my candles, so if you know of any great little shops in your area that might be a good fit, do let me know.

On Sunday I will be at the Devonport Craft Market which I am very much looking forward to. If you live in Auckland, and have been admiring my products online, this will be the perfect opportunity to come and see them for real. It also means you can smell all the gorgeous different scents I have to offer, which is something you can't do online! I am also looking forward to meeting the other stallholders, and admiring their wares as well.

I will also be going to see Saltimbanco while I'm up. I have always wanted to see a Circ de Soleil performance, so I was careful to time my trip up with this years event. I'm very much looking forward to it!

If you come along to the Devonport Craft Market, do come and say hi! If you make a purchase of $20 or more, and mention you read my blog, I will give you a free tealight candle of your choice. Also don't forget to bring along your old candles to be recycled for a 10% discount off your purchase. Bring along an empty Rose in Thorns candle tin for a 20% discount.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A selection of upcoming events for interested sellers to apply for

I have just come back from a weekend selling at the Methven Craft Fair. The upgraded memorial hall is a great space for events like this, and there were lots of great stalls there. I had a successfuul weekend, and even managed to get home before the forecast heavy snow hit.

I get a few requests for my 'list' of upcoming events to apply for. Also, in my capacity as Felt support person, I get occasional emails from event organisers looking for stallholders. Here is a list of upcoming events, mostly in the Canterbury region that may still have spaces available.

Celebrate Summer party, Sumner – 4th September 2011
This will be a one day festival to celebrate the strength of our community, to commemorate the anniverary of last years earthquake and to raise funds for the Sumner redevelopment. For info on how to apply, click here.

Royal Melbourne Show – 26th - 30th September and 3rd - 4th October 2011
The 2011 Royal Melbourne Show Art, Craft and Cookery Pavilion will hold a makers market with targets those artisans and crafters who hand make contemporary or retro-style works and would like to offer them for sale. Stalls start at $75 per day. Email me for a copy of the application form, but get in quick as applications close on the 20th August. (Click the 'view profile' link on the right for my contact details.)

Centrewood Spring Fete – 15th October
Contact Jo Sutherland on 03 689 6035 for an application form, and check out their website for more information.

Ellesmere Spring Fling – 16th October 2011
This Fete will be held at Broadfield gardens, and is a fundraiser for Lincoln Community Care. For info on how to apply, click here.

Mandeville Craft Festival – 19th November 2011
The organisers of the inaugural Mandeville Craft Festival are now inviting registrations of interest. Head over to their website for more info, and to apply.

Some other upcoming events that may still have space available, and could be worth checking out, are:

Geraldine Summer Fete – 3rd November 2011
Manderley Home and Garden Festival – 5th - 6th November
Geraldine Arts and Plants Festival – 10th - 13th November

If you know of other events that other crafty sellers might be interested in, post a link or the details in the comments below. You can also check out the Felt Forum for details on upcoming events.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Methven Craft Fair

This weekend I will be at the Methven Craft Fair, on at the Methven Heritage Centre, 160 Main Street, Methven. It is a weekend affair, running from 10am - 5pm on Saturday, and 9am - 4pm on Sunday.

There will be a huge range of art, craft and giftware from all over Canterbury, with over 45 stalls. There will also be a selection of food available, including all day mini high teas. This event is a fundraiser for the Methven Playcentre. It will be a great weekend for shopping!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Winter Wonderland

A couple of weeks ago, we had a lot of snow, that transformed everything into a winter wonderland. It was beautiful!

The next day, I decided it was the perfect time for an outdoor photo shoot with some of my candles – fire and ice!

An ice candle in it's natural habitat.

Floating candles nestled in the snow.

To continue the snow theme, a selection of my candles are now stocked in Vesta Design in Queenstown. What a great way to relax after a hard day on the slopes!