A few years ago, as I was walking up and down the aisles of Decorex - an excellent London interiors trade show - I came across a brand called Parable Designs that made me stop dead in my tracks!
I just love it when that happens don't you? At trade fairs (or any exhibition actually), you are presented with so much product at once, with brand after brand promoting their designs and collections, frankly it can become a little difficult to feel 'blown away'. So it's incredibly refreshing when you come across a collection that really surprises, impresses and well, blows you away. And the Parable Designs stand did just that for me, with their presentation of the most exquisite range of candles I think I've ever seen.
I remember standing there, starring, mesmerized by their gorgeous array of ornate, intricate and beautifully made candles. I knew straight away that I wanted to know more about the brand and how they made these little wax jewels and I knew that I wanted to carry the range at Pomegranate.
THE PARABLE DESIGNS STORY
Parable was co-founded by Nigel Parker and his partner in work and life Amanda Barry in 2003, having collected an extensive collection of British and American vintage wallpaper rollers. Over 1800 rollers actually, which they started to collect in 1989 with plans to one day find a use for them.
Amanda and Nigel in their Devon workshop with their extensive collection of vintage wallpaper rollers. Photo by Andrew Montgomery for Homes & Antiques Magazine.
Eventually, having decided that they would start with a range of candles, they spent considerable time and effort on researching the provenance of the wallpaper designs and on developing techniques that would allow them to produce their collection seamlessly.
It is evidently incredibly difficult to produce items seamlessly when they are made using a mould. Most items would be cast using a two-part split mould, which would inevitably leave a seam-line or joint. This would then need to be somehow concealed (or perhaps featured) as part of the design.
Nigel and Amanda decided though that, because of the intricacy and complexity of the patterns they would adapt from their wallpaper rollers, their products absolutely had to be seamless. They spent years perfecting and engineering one-piece moulds that would mean they could reproduce the beautiful and delicate patterns in one piece, with no seams.
Let's take a peek at their workshop in Exeter in Devon.
Some of the beautiful wallpaper rollers Nigel and Amanda have collected over the years and from which they get extract the designs for their candles. Photo by Clive Doyle for Landscape Magazine.
Amanda melting the wax in preparation for pouring into the candle moulds. Photo by Andrew Montgomery for Homes & Antiques Magazine.
A candle through its production stages, from being poured into the mould, to being hand-painted and ready to go. Photo by Parable Designs.
A closeup view into one of the candle moulds. You can really see the relief of the design here. Photo by Andrew Montgomery for Homes & Antiques Magazine.
Nigel holding one of the wallpaper rollers. Photo by Andrew Montgomery for Homes & Antiques Magazine.
A closeup of a wooden wallpaper roller with its candle counterpart. Photo by Parable Designs.
Nigel peeling off the mould once the candle is ready. Notice that the mould is in one piece and the candle has no seams or joints. The pattern is pretty intricate and the deep red of this candle is beautiful - it's not yet finished though... Photo by Andrew Montgomery for Homes & Antiques Magazine.
A candle is removed from its mould - the pattern on this one even more intricate than the one above - and wait, it's not quite finished yet... Photo by Clive Doyle for Landscape Magazine.
Once the candles are removed from their moulds, they are finished off and exquisitely hand-painted in a choice of colours - here in gold. How beautiful would that candle look on your Christmas table?! Or any table to be honest :) Photo by Clive Doyle for Landscape Magazine.
THE CANDLES BY PARABLE DESIGNS
As you can see, Nigel and Amanda are passionate about producing an extremely high quality product that is unique and special and they've developed a process that has allowed them to create something truly distinctive.
Today, Parable Designs produce an extensive range of highly decorative candles in various sizes, patterns and colours. There are a number of fragrances to choose from as well and what I think is brilliant is that you can also order their candles without any scent! This is great for lighting candles at table for example, as the candle will look wonderful and add some magic to your table setting, but the fragrance won't interfere with your dishes and aromas. This is a lovely option to offer and one not always available.
Parable candles look decorative and beautiful when unlit but of course they truly come to life once that wick is lit and it starts to burn down a bit. The light from the flame glows through the pattern and really brings it to life.
This design is called Birds of Eden and is a small scale tree of life design dating from c1870, taken from a handcrafted wooden roller. The colour is Cupcake with gold detail. Photo by Parable Designs.
This candle shows the Clovelly pattern in Old Gold on Clotted Cream (well they are made in Devon after all!). It's an early Victorian delicate floral design from c1840 which would have most likely been a backprint for a larger pattern. It's as yummy as clotted cream ! Photo by Mark Luscombe-Whyte.
This is Clovelly again, this time in the rather dramatic Old Gold on Charcoal colourway. Very sharp! Photo by Mark Luscombe-Whyte.
Here is the small Clovelly candle in Fresh Linen next to the larger Heligan candle, which is named after the Lost Gardens near Mevagissey in Cornwall. It's of an ornate fern leaf design and is shown here in the Old Gold on Blossom colourway. Photo by Mark Luscombe-Whyte.
I took these pictures to show you how my own Parable candle has burnt. The top left image was just a little while after I first lit the candle, then as the wick started to burn down, the flame is pretty central to the candle forming a neat well. The larger image on the right shows the wick about a quarter of the way down - and you can really see the pattern coming to life now!
PARABLE CANDLES AT POMEGRANATE
If you'd like to purchase a candle from Parable Designs, I'm thrilled to say that they are available online at Pomegranate. At the moment, I'm offering the small rapeseed wax candle in a large choice of patterns and colours which you can see for yourself and purchase here.
Below are some of the designs that are available, all shown here in the hand-painted Gold finish. They're all priced at £30.00 and will be handmade to order for you once you place your order. And if you're interested in any of the larger sizes, designs or colours, then please do get in touch and I'll be very happy to help.
'till next time...