brings the holidays to life like the smell of pine wreaths and fresh-cut
Christmas trees. Scents Joan Hall locks into Mason jars for
year-round enjoyment with her homemade candles.
Among the numerous candle fragrances she’s
created and now offers the public as Briarcliff Candles, are holly
berry, misty mountain and old-fashioned Kentucky Christmas.
Hall is the only private fragrance formulator
of poured scented candles in eastern Kentucky and recently opened The
Country Home, a craft store at Olive Hill.
“When I first opened (the store), I
gathered wild flowers and dried them for wreaths and bouquets. I
was impressed with the fragrances of all the wild plants I was gathering
and thought it would be great to capture these scents,” she said.
A native of Olive Hill, Hall has an appreciation
for the rugged beauty of the region’s hills and hollows, a love
for Eastern Kentucky that shows in the candles she’s developed. The
fragrance Berry Hollow was named for the hollow that lay between her
childhood home and her neighbors’ house, where she and her brother
spent many happy afternoons picking blueberries.
Hall spent six months of research learning
about what goes into making a candle and how to capture the different
fragrances before she created her first one. She also wondered,
as she developed and prepared to market her new product, if people
would like her ideas. She says now because she was so sincere
in her feelings for the candles and because they represent this area
of Kentucky, folks have welcomed and supported her efforts.
Hall named the candles “Briarcliff” to
reflect the wild, rugged terrain of Eastern Kentucky. She sees
them as personal creations jarred and stored so future generations
can experience the Kentucky heritage and enjoy all the scents of an
“ I love driving down a country road
with the car windows down when the farmers are mowing hay so I developed
a candle called New Mown Hay. It really is the essence of fresh
cut grasses,” she said.
“I wanted to capture the wonderful memories
of growing up in a Kentucky home. My mother and grandmother had
large families—I’m one of 11 children—so they were
always baking. As a child I was always hungry when I came home
from school and it would be a couple of hours till suppertime. There
would always be a fried pie or a piece of spicy cake inside Grandma’s
cupboard, so that became a fragrance. Old family recipes have
inspired many of my candles like the popular Jam Cake, which seems
to be everyone’s favorite.”
The response from people who live in pother
states has surprised Hall. She has received phone calls and compliments
from as far away as Oregon and Texas. One man, whose daughter
has moved to Italy, dropped in to get a few different fragrances to
send to her. He said his daughter lighted the candles when she
got homesick for Kentucky.
“As a child, I remember at Christmas
spending time around a fresh-cut evergreen tree decorated with holly
sprigs. We didn’t have much money to spend on fancy trimmings
so we decorated with boughs of pine, dried bittersweet berries and
mistletoe growing right here in Eastern Kentucky,” Hall said.
“Another Christmas memory was my mothers
homemade fruit salad and Christmas cookies. Maybe in the future
they will end up in candles.”
Hall has been making candles for about two years
and says the whole secret is in the mixing—combining oil, some
of which comes from as far away as Washington, to wax. It two
days to make a batch, about 100 candles. She says part of the
appeal of her candles is that they are poured by hand, and so are fresher
than those commercially poured.
Hall says she plans to expand her candle line by
adding candle sculptures. She’d also like to make molds
of Kentucky folk art to be replicated as candles and marketed as such. She
would especially like a sculptured candle to offer for the Christmas
season, perhaps a backwoods Santa.
In addition to being available in Hall’s
shop, the candles can be purchased locally at Country Threads at Summit,
Hamlin’s Hideaway at Ashland and Creative Design at Grayson. They
are also sold through outlets in Indiana, Ohio and Florida.