Meet Wax Atelier, the East London-based wax artisans
The Hackney Draper is pleased to announce we will be stocking hand-crafted beeswax candles and coated cloth from Wax Atelier, in-store and online. We caught up with Wax Atelier co-founders Lola Lely and Yesenia Thibault-Picazo to discover more about their thriving wax workshop co-op, their making process and why they’re such advocates for the East London community.
(Image credit: Green Tea Twisted candles, Wax Atelier)
You probably already know this about us, but here at The Hackney Draper we thrive on beautifully made products. Everything we select for our Chatsworth Road store and online website comes with a distinct and often unique story to tell. Our latest partnership is no different. We’ve teamed-up with the East London-based wax crafters, Wax Atelier, to offer a selection of handmade beeswax candles and beeswax finished textiles - products which are made locally and sustainably, and which have a fascinating story behind them.
(Image credit: Co-Founders Lola Lely and Yesenia Thibault-Picazo, of Wax Atelier)
Lola Lely and Yesenia Thibault-Picazo, who are the co-founders of Wax Atelier, met when teaching a design course and quickly realised their shared-drive to investigate opportunities into how traditional making processes and materials might be re-thought for modern-day living. Lola was born in Hanoi and grew up in London, and Yesenia is a French-born musician and designer. Both have a passion for design and anthropology.
‘We came together about three years ago. We had both been working and designing in different mediums and materials, and we found ourselves teaching a design class together. Something we kept encouraging our students to do was ask questions like: what is the making process?’ how can it be applied for modern day? and how can we make the most out of the materials required?’.
‘We came together about three years ago. We had both been working and designing in different mediums and materials, and we found ourselves teaching a design class together'
‘Through working closely together, Lola and I started looking into the world of wax making. It’s such a unique and multi-purpose material. By working with it we have gained experience, and as a result we have started Wax Atelier.’ explains Yesenia. ‘In essence we revisit traditional techniques involving wax; paper making, candle dipping and crafted textiles. Through our making process, we are learning and exploring the interconnection between the natural world and material culture.’
(Image credit: Moss beeswax candle selection, Wax Atelier)
Browse Wax Atelier Tapered Candles, Twisted Candles, Dining Candles, and also the Wax Linen Food Wraps, available at The Hackney Draper.
‘We’re both based in East London, and I think it’s true to say that we’re also both keen advocates for the East London community. Our design studio is in Hackney Central, and our workshop has been set up in Barking. Through the Barking workshop, where we make all of our products, we are engaging with non-makers to help teach and empower the Barking community with new skills. Our hope is that through this work we have a positive impact on the neighborhood.’ says Lola. ‘Our workshop used to be a print factory until a few years ago, and it’s great to think that we are bringing making back into the community with Wax Atelier.’
‘Our workshop has been set up in Barking. Through the Barking workshop we are engaging with non-makers to help teach and empower the Barking community with new skills. Our hope is that through this work we have a positive impact on the neighborhood.’
‘East London is a really important part of Wax Atelier’s identity; it’s not just where we work, but it’s also the community of makers who are helping to produce our products. Our Barking workshop is part of a residency project offered to us by Participatory City Foundation, who invited us to train local residents in the candle and fabric making processes. The people from the local community who are involved are not experts, but curious people who want to come on this adventure and learn with both Yesenia and I.’ says Lola.
‘Our making process involves skill, but is also really good fun. It’s so hands on, you can really connect with the product and material through the process. We like exploring traditional techniques and finding a space for it in the contemporary world. It’s about looking at the past and towards the future at the same time.’ says Lola. ‘Our candles and wax cloth are made predominantly from locally sourced UK beeswax and we use the dye from bi-waste products, like Green tea, to create the colour on the candles and fabric.’
(Image credit: The dipping technique in process at the Barking workshop, and naturally dyed beeswax samples, Wax Atelier)
‘We have honed a very traditional way of making the candles. Whilst many modern day candles are made using moulds, we create ours via the Dipping Technique. The wick is drawn into the molten wax and pulled out. Everytime we do this it builds the layers of wax. The thinnest candles take eight dips whilst the chunkier and more shapely candles require more. There’s something very traditional and simple about it. Once you have finished dipping you cut it away from the rack and you let it chill for two days. Once the candle has cooled properly you can wrap it up and it’s ready to be used by the customer.’ explains Yesenia.
‘Whilst many modern candles are now made using moulds, we create ours via the Dipping Technique.’
(Image credit: The dipping technique in process at the Barking workshop, Wax Atelier)
Lola says ‘We love colour and subtle, natural palettes. It’s a key factor of our making process and end product. We don’t make things in huge batches. Every product and every batch, is naturally unique. We use natural dye to create our various candle colour ranges which include: Pink Blossom, Green Tea, Mother’s Milk, Seaweed and Moss. We’re also providing the Hackney Draper with Beeswax Linen Wrap Cloth. We dye our Linen Wrap Cloth with jojoba oil. It’s similar to the candles, but the beeswax from the candles we make also goes into coating the linen which gives it a natural protective finish. They can be used for upto a year to wrap food. People have responded really well to this product.’
(Image credit: Mother’s Milk beeswax candle selection, Wax Atelier)
‘We love colour and subtle, natural palettes. We don’t make things in huge batches. Each product and every batch, is naturally unique.’
(Image credit: Beeswax Linen Food Wrap selection, Wax Atelier)
‘We experiment with mixing different ratios of dye with the wax which always ensures a unique colour result. Towards the end of a wax bar the colour gets lighter anyway, but it’s also a lot to do with the amount of dying product you're using. It’s all a very natural process.’ says Yesenia. ‘We’re also about to start experimenting with bi-products such as orange juice dye and jasmine wax. Natural scent is going to be a big focus for us, and how we achieve that through working with bi-product wastage and repurposing the material is our next exciting challenge.’
(Image credit: Seaweed Twisted and Tapered beeswax candles, Wax Atelier)
When asked what they like about East London, Lola says ‘Creative startups and creatives in general are always really welcomed in East London. The area has a really strong heritage of making and in our own way it feels like we’re helping to bring making back to East London, and in particular, Barking.’
‘My personal vision is that east london is so super dynamic, and I love that about the area.’ says Yesenia. ‘But it’s also like a village in the big city. It’s a little melting pot of diversity and talent, and I just love it!’
‘Chatsworth Road, in particular, is always a great place to find a diverse selection of products and makers. The Hackney Draper store is like a source of knowledge for fabric and homeware. We’re very selective about who we stock our products with. The Hackney Draper feels like a great fit - it’s a beautiful shop too. In fact, it almost feels likea little theatre or art gallery. Everything is so well presented and the products work beautifully together.’
‘Whilst we’re not running workshops right at this point in time, we usually do, and we plan to start running them again when permitted. So if you fancy trying your hand at working with wax then check our website for workshop updates.’ says Lola.
The Hackney Draper is stocking a selection of Wax Atelier’s thoughtfully crafted candles, both in-store and on our online website. Shop from a selection of Twisted, Dipped, Birthday, Celebration and Tapered candle designs, and Beeswax Linen Wrap Cloth. All of which are crafted in the Wax Atelier workshop in Barking, East London, and made using UK-sourced natural beeswax and bi-product dye.
(Image credit: Blossom Twisted beeswax candle, Wax Atelier)
BEFORE YOU GO......
We asked Lola and Yesenia from Wax Atelier to name their top three places to visit in East London.
1.‘For an exquisite cake-fix we’d have to recommend the ever-niche Violet cakes. It really is that rare hidden gem.’
2.‘If you’re looking for a breath of fresh air and an adventure which offers the best of both inner-city East London and natural open space and river banks, try taking a weekend stroll or a cycle through Hackney Marshes.’
3.‘Wind-down with a coffee or a glass of wine and a bit of live music at the delightful Cafe Oto in Dalston, they might even roll out their grand piano for you.’
Images: Wax Atelier