8.31.19_wicksandthings_gbroekema_001_1.JPG

Sandra Hills, mother of the owner of Wicks and Things, Kasey McNamee, shows Herald reporter Kelley Holland how they usually make candles at the candle bar on Saturday afternoon, Aug 31, 2019. “People don’t really think about how a candle is made. It’s just there and usually manufactured.” Hills explains as the mixture begins to set in the vessel.

As I stepped into a small building on Broadway Avenue, a flurry of scents filled the air.

Three long tables sat in front of me, each complete with trays of all of the tools needed to make a soy candle.

Wicks & Things Candle Bar opened in Bowling Green in March 2019. Since then, the owners have taught candle making to a variety of customers such as groups of friends, couples, bridal parties and even children’s birthday parties. They also offer the space for private parties in which customers can bring their own catering.

The shop also sells already-made candles as well as a variety of other items such as bath bombs and handmade goat’s milk soaps. Customers often fill small gift baskets with such items, which serve as perfect last-minute birthday surprises.

Step 1: Choosing a vessel and scent

After being greeted by Sandra Hills, one of the owners at Wicks & Things, I received an apron to start me on my candle-making journey. First things first — I would need to choose a vessel.

The shop offers a variety of large and small vessels: large ones for $30 or two small ones for the same price. And once a customer’s candle melts down, they can return the empty vessel and refill it with any scent for just half price.

After selecting a large vessel for my candle, I was tasked with choosing a scent. Sixteen different scents are available at Wicks & Things, including green tea and lemongrass, vanilla bean, lavender and chamomile and blackberry sage. Customers can also mix scents if desired.

Step 2: Attaching wicks and stabilizing them

Once I chose a seat, Hills poured my chosen scent of vanilla bean into two small cups and brought over some cotton wicks. Smaller vessels require one wick, while larger ones require two.

Hills next instructed me to peel off the adhesive on the bottom of the wicks and stick them inside the vessel directly across from one another. It was now time to stabilize the wicks.

This was done with two long metal bars, each with a groove in the center. By placing the bars on top of the vessel, I was able to wiggle the wicks into the grooves and hold them straight.

Step 3: Mixing the wax

Next came a small pitcher of hot wax, which meant it was time to mix in my scent. After pouring two cups of vanilla bean fragrance oil into the wax, I used a long spoon to mix it all up.

Hills then sat a thermometer inside the vanilla-scented wax and instructed me to wait for it to cool to about 125 degrees before I could slowly pour it into the vessel. From there, the wax would just need to settle and cool before the candle was ready to light and enjoy.

Where it all started

Hills has pursued candle making for about four years, which she picked up as a hobby soon after retiring. Her daughter and WKU alumna, Kasey McNamee, proposed the idea of turning that hobby into a business.

“She wanted something of her own, some kind of a business,” Hills said about her daughter’s interest in setting up business in Bowling Green. “Since I was in the candle-making business, she thought it would be something great to start the candle bar. She knew there was nothing like that here.”

McNamee said the candle bar fits her lifestyle in a special way, as it’s a business that allows her to work and still spend time with family. Along with that freedom, she gets to watch people create something of their own every day.

“It’s more about the experience for me and the experience for people to come together and enjoy each other’s company,” McNamee said. “To be able to connect, to be able to pour a candle and take it home.”

Features reporter Kelley Holland can be reached at 270-745-6291 and kelley.holland872@topper.wku.edu.