Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why A Mason Jar?

La Belle - "the beautiful".  How do I package a candle that is representative of it's name.  Well, I started thinking, I know, here you go again, thinking..., and I determined the three most important attributes the our perfect candles should exhibit are:
  1. Beautiful smell
  2. Beautiful burn qualities
  3. Beautiful appearance
Through diligent experimentation, I mastered the first two.  My candles smell extraordinary both when they're burning and when they're not.  The burn qualities are exceptional...a consistent burn across the top of the candle...a wax pool just as it should be.  But, how do I incorporate these qualities into a beautiful package, while at the same time maintaining the historical relevance my candles represent?

The search begins.  I scoured countless websites viewing hundreds of containers trying to determine which one would be the absolute best container for La Belle Artisan Candles.  Which one is worthy of the exceptional smell and perfect burn qualities my candles have?  Which container depicts the "artisan" craftsmanship of my creations?  Is it an apothecary jar, a Libbey, a tureen?  None of these captured the essence of hand poured, hand crafted candles. 

Then I ran across the Mason Jar.  Hmmm...a Mason Jar.  The first thought that popped into my mind was not how a candle would look in a Mason Jar, but my grandmothers delicious Mustang grape jelly that I couldn't get enough of when I was a child.  I remember my grandfather picking countless Mustang grapes each year and bringing them home to my grandmother who would tirelessly transform those bitter grapes into some of the sweetest jelly I've ever tasted.   The care required to ensure the jelly was well preserved was an art form in itself.  Maybe not for her generation but certainly for ours.  You see, my grandparents were from, what I would say to be, the last generation who preserved their food out of necessity.  So to me, canning is has quickly become a lost art form replaced by the nearest grocery store.  But I still remember those beautiful jars of preserved fruit and vegetables that lined my grandparents pantry.

Maybe this was the container that could represent the artisan craftsmanship of my candles.  After all, the preserving and canning process of years gone by required a craftsmanship all of its own.    So, where did the Mason jar come from?  Well, countless jars were patented in the early 19th century but it wasn't until a tinsmith named John Landis Mason created a jar with a screw on lid which gave rise to the ease of canning and preserving  that believe it or not is still in use today. 

This container, the Mason Jar, proved to be the container that truly represented the craftsmanship of La Belle Artisan Candles.  It has a historical significance in all of our lives.  If we search hard enough, we all have memories of family meals or a special dish that only could be found at our  grandparents house and wish that we could recreate the goodness of grandmothers cooking.  That goodness is found in our artisan candles which are individually hand crafted with the same care taken by our grandparents to ensure that their sustenance was maintained. 

Visit our store at La Belle Artisan Candles.



Sunday, September 30, 2012

Why The Name La Belle?

After working tirelessly to create the perfect candle, it was time to find a name for my creations.   Sure, I could keep it simple and call them "Bill's Candles" or "Candles by Bill", but what fun would that be?  So the search began or what some like to call, "brainstorming". 

Where should I begin?  First and foremost, I wanted a name for my candles that represented where they came from, Victoria, Texas, or at least the general vicinity.  There were a lot of names that I could think of but none that really represented the historical significance of the area.  I started running through the list of the plentiful historical events that shaped the surrounding area.  As I was generating the list, I remembered the Belle shipwreck which occurred in the late 1600's in Matagorda Bay, just a short distance from Victoria. 

In the late 1600's a French explorer named LaSalle made his way into the Gulf of Mexico in search of the mouth of the Mississippi only to find himself along the middle Texas coast.  On a cold winters day in 1687, one of his ships, Belle, ran aground in the eastern part of Matagorda Bay and began to settle into the muddy bottom.  The ship remained submerged below the muddy waters of the bay for more than 300 years until the wreck was finally discovered by the Texas Historical Commission in 1995.  Once the ships remains were discovered, the Texas Historical Commission began an unprecedented excavation of the ship.  A cofferdam was built around the ship and all the water was pumped out and the excavation began.  Over a million artifacts have been catalogued providing an insight into the life and times of the early explorers. 

Maybe I was onto something here.  A ship wreck, beautiful artifacts, Belle - French for beautiful.  That sounded like the perfect name for my candles.  La Belle (The Beautiful).  Beautiful in appearance, beautiful smell....couldn't be a better match.  And so began, La Belle Artisan Candles.



Monday, September 17, 2012

Can A Man's Man Be A Candle Maker?

Candles.  Who likes them?  Who makes them?  Are they something reserved to be admired by only females in our society?  Can a man's man be a man if he likes the way candles look and smell? 

Let me introduce myself....I'm Bill.  I like candles.  I like the way they look.  I like the way they smell.  And yes, I make them.  Why?  I really can't explain the answer to that question.  But, candles interest me.  And yes, I've toyed with the thought of making them for years.  So what stopped me from trying my hand at candle making?  Maybe it's the thought of some hidden, feminine side of me coming out.  I don't think so!  You see, I consider myself to be a man's man.  I hunt, I fish, I bring home the bacon, I channel surf with the remote while laying on the couch.  Yes, I drive my wife nuts just like any real man does.   You know, like why does she feel the need to remind me every six months that the leaky faucet needs fixing?  Honey, don't worry...I have it on my list of things to do and I will take care it. 

Well, this year, thanks to the thoughtfulness of my wife who makes mental notes of every passing comment I make in order to surprise me with gifts for my birthday and Christmas, I started making candles.  For my birthday, she bought me some candle making supplies and my quest to develop the perfect candle started to take shape. 

How hard could it be?  All you need is a jar, some wax, fragrance oil, a wick and pot to melt the wax and your done.  Well, I've found that it's not that easy.  Although I thought the first candle I made would put any Yankee Candle to shame.  Yes, my wife just smiled and agreed.  Now that I look back on the first candle, I've come to realize my wife's smile was just a simple token of love. 

I started this blog to allow you to follow my quest to make the perfect candle, to allow you to share your thoughts on what makes the perfect candle, and to show that a man's man can be a candle maker.