Good Cryptkeeping: Candles And Scents
Join Amanda Rebholz for her new column "Good Cryptkeeping!" A look at home decor and house goods that are sure to chill and thrill you.
For some of us, ‘homemaking’ isn’t as simple as they make it look on HGTV. We aren’t as interested in shiplap and parquet floors as we are in spiderweb curtains, wrought-iron candelabras, and shot glasses shaped like human skulls. If you’re like me, as soon as the orange-and-black rolls out at big box stores around early September you’re stockpiling black candles, anything with a bat on it, and trying to figure out if that plastic zombie head from the party supply aisle would be a suitable centerpiece for Christmas dinner.
But fret no more! If you find yourselves in the crossroads where Martha Stewart and Morticia Addams meet, you’re in good company. There are a plethora of amazing independent artists, creators, beauticians and chefs making spooky goods all year round to help you keep your tomb looking as fresh as a newly-killed corpse. Welcome to “Good Cryptkeeping”--- I’m your hostess, Hella Lugosi, and I’ll be introducing you to some of my favorite creeptastic finds from Bed, Bath, and Beyond the Grave. I’ll also be hosting ‘Tupper-Scare Parties’ with some of my ghoulfriends to review some of the great items we’re digging up, and each article will be themed to help you find precisely what your little black heart desires!
Everyone knows the key to really setting the atmosphere of your space lies in the lighting; the difference between soft, moody candles and a harsh overhead light is everything. Fortunately, there is no shortage of lighting alternatives for us spooky cellar-dwellers, and I was lucky enough to find a few gems for this article to introduce you to!
Combine two of my favorite things: theatrical productions and scented candles. Their product line is inspired by popular Broadway shows, and their sleek, attractive packaging provides a polished end result worthy of even the most chic home. Their scent “Prom” is my favorite, invoking the scent of crackling bonfire and wood turning to cinder under the telekinetic vengeance of Carrie White; “Chandelier” calls to mind the elegant, swooping shadows of the Phantom living beneath the Parisian opera house working to seduce Christine with his music of the night. “Close Shave” is reminiscent of a barber shop on Fleet Street, the wax speckled with a bloody red ombre hue and smelling like the corrupt Judge’s last dance with a straight razor. The tea lights come poured in matte-black tins with beautifully simple, minimalist designs on the lids, while the larger candles are in sturdy glass jars with embossed tops. It’s apparent that the creators, Alex and Patrick, have put infinite care and thought not only into the packaging and marketing behind these items, going for a much more high-end and classic appearance than a kitschy appeal, but they also have instilled real inspiration into the scents. The burn time on the full-sized candle was impressive; I clocked close to 32 hours. My only preference would’ve been if the candles had a bit more throw; “Prom” burned the strongest, and it smelled delicious as it snuffed itself out, the scent of spent matches and brimstone. However, when I put “Chandelier” on my bedside table I couldn’t smell it more than a few feet away. I am used to burning melts and candles almost nonstop though so it’s possible that someone who is a more casual user of scented burners may not have this same take on it; I like my scents strong. When I walked back into my bedroom after burning it for a few hours, however, I did notice the pleasant, subtle fragrance in the air and it was very nice and understated. From the classic design to the delicious scents and fun themes, these would make terrific gifts for any macabre fans with a flair for the dramatic. I will be treating myself to a full-sized jar of “Prom” very soon in order to revisit my own misunderstood youth and remember the pig’s blood buckets of yesteryear.
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It has an interesting backstory; the creator, Candace, is also the founder of a special effects company from Nebraska called Wetworks SFX Studios that has provided the grue for music videos, short films and commercials. Her love of horror and constant presence at conventions and trade shows led to Candace being inspired to collaborate with her sister to create candles themed around some of the most iconic horror films in existence. From the cotton-candy-and-rainwater scented “Pennywise” to scents inspired by the Black Flame Candle of “Hocus Pocus”, Lestat de Lioncourt from the Anne Rice novels, Ash from “Evil Dead” and even a corn husk-perfumed He Who Walks Behind the Rows, there is something every spooky kid can enjoy. Candace is also the patent holder and sole creator of a line of scents inspired by various phobias; her personal favorite is Feretrophobia, which is the fear of coffins and smells like earth and damp wood. The candles come in beautiful packaging with artwork inspired by imagery from the films, and even on the tea lights the burn time was long with a strong throw. After a few hours of the “It”-themed one burning on my coffee table, my living room smelled like a shady carnival after a storm. The candles are infused with essential oils and once the wick runs out you can put them in a wax warmer to get the maximum scent out of the remaining product. My personal favorite is “The Craft”-influenced, as it smells like an old dusty bookstore full of sage bundles and mysterious powders mixed with the ozone sharpness of a good lightning storm brewing. Invoke Manon and light one for your next party while you guys play ‘Light as a Feather’; it’ll be a scream!
Promo code: Macabre Scents is having an awesome giveaway on their Instagram (@macabrescents) until April 20th, so check it out now! Use coupon code FRIDAY13 to take 20% off your entire order through April 28th!
If you prefer your candles more literary than cinematic, check out this shop, where bookworms can get their fix of scents to make their tombs smell like their favorite tomes. Creator Keely has embraced popular fandoms such as “Alien” and the Anne Rice Vampire Chronicles, but many of the offerings in her candle shop focus on classic literature. There’s a delightful ‘classic horror’ collection that features Dracula, Sleepy Hollow, Frankenstein and more. The packaging is absolutely beautiful; glass jars with small personal touches (the ‘Dracula’ one comes with a tiny wax seal reminiscent of his correspondence!) and the scents are lovely. These would make incredible gifts for any librarian, English teacher or avid reader in your life, and more pop themes like ‘Stranger Things”, “Game of Thrones” and “Supernatural” would appeal to even the more casual creeps. One of the best things about Keely’s shop is that you can get most of the candles in convenient ‘mini’ sizes or put together your own sampler packs or themed bundles, which make it easy to light a wick and lose yourself in your favorite world of make believe.
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In today’s economy and climate where big-box stores and sweatshop resellers threaten the livelihood of many independent shops, it is more important than ever to support the artisans and creators who are digging deep to put fresh blood back into the horror community. The shops represented here are owned by people often operating out of their own homes or small workspaces, and all of them share a genuine love of the genre and keeping it alive by catering to fans like you and me. So the next time you decide to light your crypt, give these shops a peek--- they might just have exactly what you’re dying for!