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Candle Maker Lights Fire at Weddings

Updated:
SHAWNEE, Okla. (AP) -- A Shawnee woman's fire has burned for more
than three decades as couples have lovingly stared into each
other's eyes and repeated marriage vows.

Candle artisan Betty Kennedy custom makes wax keepsakes for
couples so they have a souvenir of that special day.

Using small flowers, lace, ribbon, wedding invitations,
photographs and other items, the artisan individualizes each
wedding candle she makes.

Mrs. Kennedy's interest in candle making was piqued 35 years ago
when she attended her first candle-making workshop with her adopted
mother.

"After that first workshop I began to read everything I could
on candle making and what makes good candles," she said.
Mrs. Kennedy said her research proved that the key to making a
good candle is in the wick.

"It has to be the right size and positioned just right," she
said.

Mrs. Kennedy said she was always a craftsperson, so it seemed
only natural that she would begin making candles as a hobby.

Being a young homemaker with three children, Mrs. Kennedy said
she didn't have much time to devote to hobbies, but she did enjoy
them.

When she first began pouring candles, Mrs. Kennedy said she did
it in her home. Before long, she was asked to fashion a wedding
candle. Quickly, word got around and Mrs. Kennedy found herself
having to expand her operation.

She first moved into the garage where she set up all the
supplies needed for producing candles. A few years later, she
opened Candle and Gift Nook, where she still sells a variety of
items, including the candles she makes.

In addition to special-order wedding candles, Mrs. Kennedy said
she makes an array of others. She said the sky's the limit where
candle making is concerned and there is nothing that can't be
fashioned from wax, if the proper technique is used.

"At one show we saw a candle that looked like two records made
with a wick between the two," she said. "The wax was so hard that
it actually played like a record."

For many years, Mrs. Kennedy and her husband have been members
of the International Guild of Candle Artisans. The guild offers
many educational opportunities as well as an annual convention. At
the convention, artisans from across the United States and several
foreign countries meet, share ideas and hold competitions.

Mrs. Kennedy has placed first many times with her candles.

"The candles are judged on workmanship, burning quality,
presence and compatability of color," she said.

Mrs. Kennedy also has been chosen Candle Maker of the Year for
some of her work.

Over the years, the artisan has made sand candles, Christmas
candles and just about any candle imaginable.

One of her favorites is an octogon-shaped, hollowed-out candle
that features a votive in the center. The walls of the candle are
fashioned so thin that the flame from the votive illuminates the
fired flowers that adorn the outside.

Mrs. Kennedy said that custom making candles can be a costly
endeavor. She said the price of wax has increased drastically over
the years, as has the cost of adornments.

She said candles can be made scented or unscented, depending
upon what a person wants.

"Some people are allergic to the scents, so none are added,"
she said.

But, she said, just as many prefer smelling vanilla, spice,
jasmine, lemon, lavender, patchouli, Angel's Lace (a blend of
vanilla and patchouli), White Shoulders, White Diamonds, White
Linen and Beautiful while they watch the warm, colorful flame.

Over the years, Mrs. Kennedy said she has made more than 350
wedding candles. Her candles are in many states in the United
States and in many foreign countries, including Japan.

She said she will continue making custom candles as long as
there is a market for them, and that's how long she will stay in
business.

"I have built my business on trying to help my customers. I
teach them how to use their candles at home and what candles are
appropriate for what," she said.

(Copyright 1999 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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