CANDLE MAKING WITH THE EARL OF EAST LONDON
Well, maybe i’ll start with the fact that I told a porky at the beginning of the class … “Have you tried candle making before?” they asked, “No” I replied … The truth is, I have tried making candles before … I was living with my dear friend Fred at the time and we decided to entertain ourselves one lazy Sunday afternoon with a little candle making. Having bought a kit we set to it … although unfortunately one of the ingredients in the kit came into contact with the naked flame on the hob and … WOOSH … the saucepan went up in flames – really big ones! Thankfully we were living in a garden flat so we legged it out the door and dowsed it in water – had we been on the first floor we might not have been so lucky. I guess the moral of the story is … I probably needed a little supervision if I wanted to try making candles again, hence booking into the Earl of East London’s candle making workshop.
The Earl of East London is not actually one person, but two, and they’re utterly charming. Having initially started the ‘Earl of East London’ as a lifestyle brand selling a curated mix of products from independent brands from their Saturday stall at London’s Netil Market, as a result of customer demand Paul and Niko have gone on to create their very own, hugely popular, range of hand-poured scented soy wax candles. It’s no wonder they’re doing so well – these candles smell delicious, and what i’m about to discover is that the candle making is the easy part, it’s creating the smell that’s the exciting part!
These guys really know their stuff. They talk us through the history of fragrance from the amber and musk of the Middle East where fragrance is embedded in the Muslim culture and used in both their daily life and in practicing religion, through to France which is now seen as the centre of the scent industry. They then give us a ‘blind smell test’. In this test, we’re not to say the exact fragrance we think it is, instead we have to tell them what colour or experience it reminds us of. This is the bit that I found fascinating – you can create a scented candle, not just to smell nice, but to tell a story or evoke a feeling or a memory. For example, the Earl of East London’s range of candles are all designed with ‘Travel and Memory’ in mind, and knowing this, when you smell them you get transported elsewhere. By this point in the workshop my mind was reeling – just think of the possibilities!
If you’ve ever considered starting your own scented candle brand, this workshop is a great place start, in fact they positively encourage it. We learnt about essential oils, botanic fragrance oils and the fragrance wheel, were introduced to the fragrance pyramid and the importance of the top, middle and base notes in your blend, were recommended suppliers for wax, wicks and vessels, how to pick the right and best ones and so much more.
They were right – the candle making was the easy bit. There were six of us in the class, and each of us were provided with the kit to make our own candle: a smart brown glass jar, a wick, a whisk, a clothes peg and some measuring jars. Luckily the melting of the wax was being done by someone else! We measured out a delicious blend of fig, coconut, vetiver and oregano – it smelt so good i could have smothered myself in it – and then poured it into a jug of soy wax flakes that had been melted over a bain marie. (Just in case you were wondering – soy wax is natural, cleaner burning than paraffin wax and has a longer burning time). We were then instructed to take our whisk and give 20 stirs clockwise, and 20 stirs anti clockwise. This is really important, as if the fragrance doesn’t blend with the wax properly, you won’t have a smelly all the time candle. Next up, we fixed the wick to the bottom of our glass jar using a hot glue gun and then poured our candle mixture into (and in my case – all down the side of) my glass jar. The final step was to catch the top of the wick with our clothes peg so that it would stay in the middle of the jar whilst it set. Now for some patience as I have to leave my candle behind to set … it will be posted to me in one week, complete with a personalised label – i’m beyond excited!
A big thank you to the lovely Sophie Farrah for recommending this workshop, and to the Earl of East London, I loved it! It costs £45 for a fascinating 2 hour workshop, it’s also not just for people with big candle making plans – it would be equally good as a fun thing to do on an afternoon with friends, or if you want to learn how to make a batch of candles to fill up the present drawer.
If you try making candles I’d love to see, and if you have any other candle making workshops to recommend let me know. Share pictures of what you’ve whipped up using the hashtag #MadeWithMolly and tag us @mollyandthewolf.