David's wacky world of wax

FOR generations Suffolk has been home to artisans, craftsmen and tradesmen plying their labour across the region. Today JAMES MARSTON meets a 21st century candle maker.

James Marston

FOR generations Suffolk has been home to artisans, craftsmen and tradesmen plying their labour across the region. Today JAMES MARSTON meets a 21st century candle maker.

BUTCHER, the baker, the candlestick maker - it's a well-known phrase.

But in the modern world candles are no longer the source of light they once were when the sun goes down.

Today we put on the (electric) lights without thinking. But once upon a time we used candles to illuminate our lives after dark.

Nowadays candles are decorative objects and much in vogue.

Most Read

For 62-year-old David Coffey, of Brook House Road, Cotton, candle making has turned from a hobby into a way of making a living.

He said: “I used to be an agent in the gift trade. I was driving all over the UK and in the end I got tired of the travelling.

“Three years ago I came home one day and decided to give up my job and do something a bit different.”

More than 20 years ago David had taken a course in candle making at Otley College.

He said: “I had some moulds and wax and my wife and I used to sell what I'd made at craft fairs in the region.”

David now runs the Cotton Hills Candle Company from premises in Finbow's Yard, Station Road. Bacton.

As you walk in you are surrounded by candles of all shapes and description. There are tall ones, short ones, round ones, conical ones, tapered ones, plain ones, multicoloured ones, and the soft smell of wax fills the air.

As he worked in the shop's workshop he said: “The business is gradually growing. Candle sales in Europe in 2006 totalled £26million. Candles are more and more popular. What I try to do is something a bit different and a bit individual.”

Surrounded by blocks of wax and dyes and moulds, David is in his element.

He said: “It's very therapeutic and it's relaxing work. I like to have new ideas and try out different effects. It's quite an artistic job.”

And David is proud of his candle wizards which have won industry praise.

He described the process of making a candle

- Heat up the wax in a saucepan. - “It mustn't be too hot or it ignites”

- Add dyes and stearic acid. - “The stearic acid makes the candles last longer and burn brighter.”

- Pour into mould - “Wax contracts as it cools so you have to keep it topped up so it doesn't shrink.”

- Remove from mould - “It needs to be cold before you take it out of the mould.”

- Smooth and polish - “I use an old pair of my wife's tights.”

David said candles are affordable gifts and with his assistant Walter Smith, David also takes on specialist commission work.

He added: “I get a lot of job satisfaction because I work for myself. I do the design, manufacture and sales of the product.”

- Do you work in an old trade? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk