I first came across Swazi candles as a kid going on summer holidays with my parents and I have been in love with them ever since. I have since been back to their factory in Swaziland whenever we were passing (normally on the way to or from Mozambique) and have had their candles sitting in my bathroom in the UK for years garnering many interested comments.
Therefore I am excited to have the chance to work with Swazi candles as my first product! As a founding member of SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade Association) they are the perfect company for me to start with.
Swazi Candles was started in an old cowshed of a former dairy in 1982 by 2 South African art graduates. In those days The Kingdom of Swaziland was a haven of peace amidst troubled countries and proved to be an excellent place for setting up a Cottage Craft industry. The mountainous countryside was beautiful, the Swazi people were warm and friendly and proved to be ideal partners for our industry.
The little workshop soon gained a reputation for producing unique candles and started attracting visitors. The vibrancy of the workshop, uniqueness of the product and the skill of the artisans resulted in Swazi Candles becoming one of Swaziland’s premier tourist attractions. By the mid nineties the humble cowshed workshop had burgeoned into an industry that employed over 200 local people and exported candles all over the world.
The Art of Millifiore
The beautifully intricate designs of Swazi Candles use the ancient technique known as “millifiore”. Millefiore, or, “thousand flowers”, first surfaced in Alexandria, but was perfected in the great glass making cities of Murano and Venice. Glass beads and other objects created there were of such beauty and finesse that they became much sought-after, valuable artifacts.
On the Africa coast, these Venetian trade beads were used as a form of currency to barter for gold and ivory. So popular did they prove that the North and West Africans came to make their own variation. Thus was born the African trade bead, rare and sought after by collectors to this day.
The art of millefiore continues in Swazi Candles. But instead of glass, the gifted candle makers of Swaziland use a special hard wax to create their colourful designs. The hard wax veneer forms the outer shell of the candle, which hardly melts when the candle is lit. Hence the rich, romantic glow of the illuminated exterior as the candle burns deeper into the container lighting up the casing. The shells of the larger can still be used even after the original inside wax is gone when refitted with a votive or tea candle.
I hope that you enjoy Swazi candles as much as I do!