PollenArts is the tenth in my Sunday series featuring American Artisans. There are so many exceptionally talented craftspeople, designers, and small companies across the country who share my love of handcrafted quality, and this is my chance to introduce them to you. These artisans are creating beautiful, useful and delicious products that elevate the experience of everyday cooking, dining, and entertaining. They’re using skills, techniques, and materials that might otherwise be lost in our era of mass production. Their work makes me happy, and I hope it does the same for you. Each feature will be paired with a giveaway to give you the chance to experience their work for yourselves. I’ll be doing these features every other Sunday for the foreseeable future, so be sure to check back, and enjoy!
Meet Peter and Juwels, the free-spirited creative couple behind this exquisite line of handmade beeswax candles, molded in the shape of antique bottles. They work from their idyllic studio/compound in Flagstaff Arizona, along with a flock of chickens, a couple of Nubian goats, their new baby, and lots and lots of wild bees!
It all started with the chance discovery of a single antique bottled that washed up in a tide pool while the couple was wandering along a Southern California beach. They started making the candles on the tiny stove of their 1975 Winnebago Chieftain, which was home at the time. A couple of months later Etsy highlighted the little company in a featured article, and business skyrocketed! Orders poured in by the hundreds and forced the couple of rethink their plans…they’re now living out their dreams in beautiful northern Arizona surrounded by nature and the bees that make the whole thing possible.
“We weren’t planning on making candles, but sometimes life’s adventures find you.”
I just love these candles, they have a warm, sophisticated, vintage aesthetic. Each one is incredibly detailed — the molds are made from old bottles that range from soda pop, apothecaries, and inkwells, to vintage peanut butter and Vaseline jars. Some of the prettiest are made from rare French perfume bottles. I want to collect them and set them out in groups all over my house. I especially like them for the kitchen and dining areas because beeswax is clean burning, with no artificial scent to interfere with your food.
Why Beeswax? Peter says “Most candles are made from chemical paraffin, a byproduct of petroleum. But honey bees produce an organic, smokeless, ionizing, sweet smelling fuel. It burns longer and brighter than any other wax.” Beeswax is more eco-friendly than soy, too. All natural, renewable beeswax is actually very subtly scented with the aroma of honey and the flowers from which it was made. It has a lovely buttery color, too.
I think the idea of using vintage bottles as molds is brilliant — each one is more gorgeous than the one before it, and the wax takes on the details beautifully. The couple sources the wide variety from antique shows, dealers, and diggers. My mom used to collect old bottles and display them on shelves that she had built into the kitchen window, I’ve always loved them — and every old bottle has a story to go along with it. You can see all of them in their Etsy shop, here.
The antique Rose’s lime juice bottle, above right, “…used to contain lime juice which was rationed out daily to sailors by law to prevent scurvy. I imagine there are thousands of these beautiful bottles at the bottom of the sea … The heavily embossed flowers and limes look amazing as the bottle burns down, and the features start to glow.” The one on the left is a rare perfume bottle.
These candles are surprisingly well priced considering the work involved in creating each one by hand, from raw material to beautifully detailed finished product. They make perfect housewarming and host/hostess gifts. As some of you might know my daughter just got married, and for her shower I offered her a gift from her choice of any of the Artisans that I’ve featured in this series, and she chose these candles! I think they lend a beautiful ambiance to a living space, whether you burn them, or not.
Check out this charming video – it tells the whole story and then some!
PollenArts is generously giving away a set of their handmade Milk & Honey Beeswax Candles (pictured below) —– to one lucky reader!
To enter, please visit PollenArt’s Etsy store, HERE, and leave a comment below, I’d love to hear what you think of these candles…you have until Friday the 19th to enter, and good luck!
(Giveaway ends Friday June 19th – giveaway is now closed)
*I use Random.org to pick the winner, and will announce it here on Saturday. I am not compensated in any way for these posts.
*** The winner of the giveaway is Donna Worth — congratulations Donna! ***