Q & A with Chandler Jill Smith
How long have you been making candles?
Professionally for five and a half years now, after my apprenticeship. But I’ve been 'making' things my whole life– my mother taught me to knit at four.
The founder of the company spent hours teaching me the basics and fine tuning the skills need to make candles. Chandlery requires patience.
What’s the secret in the studio?
Candle making is all about having a good rhythm; when I started, I used a metronome, and my background is as a dancer. So it’s all process; do this, do this, keep organized, like a chef moving around a kitchen. Creative and kinetic. I’m happiest when I’m moving.
What were you doing before this?
I worked in daily management in the music industry on the corporate side, contracts and administration. I was a professional ballet dancer before we raised a family. I have done many things in my life and they all have brought me different ways of doing what I now love.
What’s the appeal of beeswax?
To be around the wax is so calming. I love the process. I like the solitude. I’m just dipping candles, listening to CBC, looking at the ocean outside my window. The scent of the wax invokes all this for me. But there’s a whole revival of hand-crafted objects, an aesthetic of having fewer, more mindful things in your home. Good wine, good cheese. It’s appreciative of authenticity and simple enjoyment. Beeswax is a part of that.
What’s next for you as a candlemaker?
We are collaborating with a ceramic artist to create original designs and make our own proprietary moulds. My partner Bruce has an art and music background, and aside from lifting the 45 pound blocks of wax, he is helping me to transition all of our catalogue to our own designs.
It’s an intimate thing, to work with this magic substance and make it a part of people’s lives, connect with them and get to meet them. I’ll be asked to create a birth candle, or a candle for someone’s memorial. Even for someone’s final hours, and my work is there, witnessing that. It’s an honour and very humbling.
I get to live and work in a beautiful environment on Salt Spring Island, where there’s a lot of support and understanding of what it’s like to leave a 9-5 for a creative career. The Saturday Market is creative, dynamic, instantly collaborative – I love the camaraderie. People come to my Vancouver shows and hug me and buy a candle because they’ve had one of my pieces before and it’s meant something to them, it was part of a moment for them. That’s lovely......