At some point in life, you’ll come to realise that by mysterious (and miraculous) reasons, whiffing your favourite scent seems to invoke some form of inner happiness and comfort.
That moment of enlightenment is what got me interested in aromatherapy and, eventually, made me want to learn the craft of candle-making.
Located in the heart of Chinatown in Havelock II Shopping Centre, Diadem Candles not only sells hand-poured and lightly-scented candles, but also conducts candle-making workshops in its small studio.
Ena, our instructor who is also the lady boss behind this artisanal brand, was busy setting up the workspace when we arrived. Cheerful, amicable and bubbly, she wasted no time settling us comfortably into her studio, which can only accommodate six people in one session.
Each workshop takes approximately 2.5 hours and costs S$80 per person. You will get an informative booklet as well as a Candle Making Beginner Kit (worth $28). The latter contains a 20ml bottle of fragrance of your choice, two 90ml jars, 200g of 100% soy wax, and two wicks.
At Diadem Candles, you can choose from a wide variety of unique and classic fragrances such as Lemongrass, White Tea & Ginger, Lime Basil & Mandarin, or Lavender.
For the workshop, we decided to go with something familiar and picked Vanilla.
The thing about Diadem Candle’s candle-making workshop is that it is easy to follow. We heeded Ena’s clear instructions and proceeded to attach the wick to the glass jar with the stickers provided.
You’ll also find yourself absorbing some knowledge pertaining to the craft and its end product – the various types of candles that are available, the difference between paraffin wax, soy wax and beeswax– along the way.
We then proceeded to melt the packet of soy wax.
It was here that Ena told us that soy wax burns longer and is an environmentally friendlier alternative to paraffin wax as it produces zero toxins and reduces soot production while burning.
We were then instructed to add the fragrance to the jug of melted soy wax. It didn’t take long before the Vanilla fragrance overwhelmed the studio and wafted to the surrounding shops. Some curious shoppers even stopped and inquired about the tantalising, sweet scent.
The scent reminded us of the comforting milky warmth similar to that of vanilla ice cream. It goes without saying that our tummies started growling shortly after.
The next step involves giving the yellowish concoction a good mix. At this point, it became somewhat of an annoyance trying to ignore our tummies’ incessant protests while we proceeded to stir the mixture in both clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.
We were then told to let the temperature settle at 70 – 75 degrees Celsius before the mixture is ready to be poured into the respective jars.
Once your jars are filled, you’ll have to let the mixture settle and solidify for another 24 hours. You can choose to come back the following day, or have the completed candles delivered to your doorstep.
Throughout the workshop, we managed to quiz cheery Ena on her journey throughout the years as a self-taught candle-making artisan.
How did you get into candle-making? What made you want to do it?
I’ve always loved crafting. It started from my wedding when I made my own wedding favours. I enjoyed making the candles and everybody loved it. My family and friends suggested I open up a candle-making business in Singapore. I thought, why not?
There was also a time when I visited a farmer’s market in Australia. It had a lot of locally-made artisanal products. I realised I wanted more local products to be out there in the market, I wanted more people to support local craftsmen.
There must have been some obstacles that you faced when you first started… any points to share?
(laughs) It’s just a challenge, isn’t it? It’s just like a gamble, you just go out there. If you don’t try, you’d never know. I left my full-time job to commit full-time to candle-making. It was a huge risk.
I also needed to be out in the field and educate people, like say about soy wax and its benefits. You’ll come to realise that people will eventually follow the trend.
As you can see now, artisanal markets are popping up every now and then. For the past four years, I’ve witnessed a good growing market here. This is/was something that I wanted to see back then.
What are your future plans for the business? Any new big project coming up soon?
Yes, there’s a new big project coming up. It’s a new range of limited edition pottery (candle) vessels. I am collaborating with one local pottery brand – Euphoramics. So keep an eye out you guys!
Prices: S$80 per person per workshop (includes candle-making beginner kit)