The Sweet Life

The Sweet Life: Two Robbinsville candle-makers find harmony in their environment and craft
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Cradled between the softly arching mountains that rim the Stecoah Valley, an aluminum-roofed building sits beside an abundant garden. Honeybees flit among the varied blossoms of asters, cosmos, and zinnias, honeybees flit, coating their legs with pollen. “Honeybees are a model of efficiency and ecological balance,” says Jeff Bassett, who, with his wife, Crim, owns Bee Global studio, where the couple crafts delicate beeswax candles, ornaments, lamps, and cards inlaid with pressed flowers. “We made a conscious choice to pattern our business and lives in a similarly sustainable manner.”

Crim made candles with her mother while growing up. It’s a craft she and Jeff have perfected over the years—from a humble start in the basement of Jeff’s parents’ home on Fontana Lake to the studio and gallery they’ve operated in Robbinsville since 1996. They married, live, work, and raise their two sons (plus several bee hives) on this plot of land. At root, the couple strive to live in balance with the environment—a concept that is echoed in the nature of the candle-making process.

A proper balance of temperature and texture is crucial, as raw, shiny chunks of beeswax, shipped in from professional apiarists, transition from solid to liquid to solid again. A fluctuation of even five degrees can significantly affect the malleability and appearance of a batch, explains Jeff.

The studio holds heating vats, vacuum chambers, and vibrating tables to process the wax. Shelves lining one wall are crowded with stacks of fraying construction paper. Between the pages, flowers from the garden are pressed under the weight of phone books. On a table by the shelves sit rows of hollow, golden, fist-size spheres called Beeglows. Scented candles, luminous beeswax lanterns, and dainty cards adorned with larkspur, bee balm, and other pressed blossoms take shape as well.

The self-taught candle-makers have expanded from those early days in the basement. Bee Global’s creations have found homes at independent craft shops as far away as Colorado, and their new beekeeping venture is just one more push toward sustainability, but one thing remains constant. “We’ve grown the business, and will continue to grow it,” says Jeff, “as it remains in balance.”