June 15, 2024


Specialists in fashion

Long Island crafters are fired up about handmade candles: How to make your own

Do-it-yourselfers across Long Island are fired up about homemade candles.

Ask Donesia St. Preux, who’s among a crowd of crafters whose hand-poured candles offer ways to express creativity, cope with the pandemic and other issues, as well as light the way to at-home businesses.

“I’m a crafter. I’ve made different things over the years as a hobby,” says St. Preux, 38, a single mom who lives with her 10-year-old daughter, Samara, in Lindenhurst. When things were shutting down because of COVID-19, she looked for activities they could do together at home.

They made soap. They crafted lip balm. They tried candles and, St. Preux says, “that stuck.” Like other candle makers, they began with baby steps — a kit from a craft store. As they perfected their art, loved ones responded. An entrepreneurial spark was lit.

St. Preux, who studied marketing at Baruch College in Manhattan, credits her daughter for pushing the idea to sell their work. Last summer, they launched SamaraScents, a line with lavender and pumpkin spice candles.

“This generation is just fearless,” says St. Preux. “I had to let my child lead me. It feels good to do something that we both enjoy. I see this being long term for us.”

Like fellow candle makers, they sell via various platforms — craft fairs, business websites, social media, Etsy, as well as in local stores.


Christine Chanowsky, 51, a math teacher at Cherokee Street Elementary School in Ronkonkoma who lives in Bohemia, started making candles last May as a form of self-care.

“I love candles. Making my own was like therapy for me,” she says. “My family liked what I was doing. They said, ‘Why don’t you make them and sell them?’ It’s definitely become my side hustle.” Fellow teachers are her top customers.

Called Divine Dream Treasures, Chanowsky’s line of crystal-infused affirmation candles come with positive mantras — “I inhale calmness and exhale my worries,” among them — and made its retail debut at Gem Cove Jewels in Smithtown. “I like to think that my candles help others,” she says.

Growing up in Port Washington, Kristina Spinelli, 28, burned candles as “sources of meditation and relaxation,” she says. Now living in Manhattan and working for a recruiting agency, she took up candle-making a year ago in response to “being cooped up.” Kristina’s Kandles, an environmentally friendly collection, bubbled up in the kitchen of her one-bedroom apartment she shares with her boyfriend.

Custom candles have been hits at Long Island bridal showers, bachelorette parties and sporting events. Retail candle crowd-pleasers fill the air with the nose-tickling aromas of citrus agave, vanilla crème and sea salt and lily.

For seasoned candle crafter Diana Calise, 32, who lives in Kings Park, the homey craft was ignited when her sister gave her a candle kit in 2009. “I just made one, and it didn’t burn very well,” she says with a laugh.

Calise kept at it, wick by wick, and established her Tranquil Bliss candle collections in 2011. “The work helps me focus. It’s my creative outlet,” she says. The basement of her parents’ house in East Islip is headquarters for her operation.

The running challenge: Guess that Scent. Crumb cake? Lemon verbena and thyme? Fragrances vary during production, but her intention is constant. “I’m a reiki healer,” she says. “All my candles are made with blessings and meant to bring comfort.”

That philosophy makes Calise’s candles a natural fit at the Collective Consciousness, a metaphysical and holistic healing center and retail store, in Oakdale. She is set to teach a candle making workshop there on March 19.

Tucked inside the shop is a workspace where customers can roll up their sleeves — and unfurl intentions — and customize tapers and candles in tall slender jars that sell for $9.99.

Staff help you create a candle with a purpose — love, purity or protection and so on — using available herbs, essential oils and crystals, says owner Karen Valentine. “It’s like going to an old-fashioned apothecary.”

East Hampton resident Brittany Torres, 36, studied communications in college and planned to work in a related field. Crafting candles, she says, “completely changed my life and my direction.”

She made her first candles in 2014 to give as Christmas gifts. She launched Hamptons Handpoured, a candle line merging her interests in design, wellness and small business, a few months later.

Made-to-order candles for events are a big part of her business. Her signature retail village collection features fragrances inspired by local towns. Patchogue — a mix of, yum, sandalwood, sweet pea and citrus — is her current favorite. Every candle is made in a sunroom-turned-studio at her parents’ Southampton home.

Torres speaks for herself and other candle crafters when waxing poetic about the glow from “making something with my hands that others can enjoy. I like the whole process,” she says.

How to craft your own candle

With just a handful of ingredients and tools — wax, wicks, fragrance, containers, craft thermometer — you can make your own candles. Just as when you burn candles, use caution when you craft them. Christine Chanofsky shares directions.

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil then lower to medium heat.

2. Use a hot glue gun or glue dots to secure metal wick base to the bottom of a glass or tin candle container directly in the center.

3. Using a double boiler, add 1 1/4 cup of wax flakes, stirring occasionally until melted.

4. At 180-185 degrees add 1 ounce fragrance oil.

5. Let wax cool until 135-150 degrees then pour into the container.

6. Let wax set 24 hours. Makes one 8 ounce candle.

Tip: If pouring wax into a glass jar, heat the glass to approximately 100 degrees before pouring in wax to eliminate glass fogging.

LI stores carrying handcrafted candles

Shopping for an affordable gift for a treat for yourself? Candles make sense — and scents. They add a shimmer and perfume the air. You can shop locally for handmade candles at the following stores.

Little Shoppe of Crystals

Divine Dream Treasures and Love 8 Hate Apothecary are two lines featured at the store. Prices begin at $14.

12 Main St., Sayville; 631-337-1618; littleshoppeofcrystals.com.

Healing Nature

SamaraScents 8-ounce candles are $18. “We’re not a candle shop but we’re fascinated by Samara’s story,” says owner Goduar Siafu. “And they smell great.”

116-A E. Main St., Port Jefferson; 347-249-9441; thehealingnaturestore.com.

Local Market PW

Long Island-based collections include Kristina’s Kandles, Litchfield Soap and Candle, and Urban Wanderlust. Prices range from $14-$22, based on size.

273 Main St., Port Washington; 516-744-6160; thelocalmarketpw.com.

Eastport General Store

Hamptons Handpoured 8-ounce village candles including Eastport (a mix of seashore, violet, citrus) are $28. “They’re one of our bestselling items,” says owner Amber Otto.

510 Montauk Highway, Eastport; 631-320-2081; eastportgeneralstore.com.

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