If you like filling your room with unique scents, you will probably be familiar with brands like Jo Malone or Diptyque. Or for those of us who have a lower budget, you may have come across aesthetic marble candles or even cake-shaped ones at bazaars.
However, you probably haven’t seen candles quite like these which resemble favourite local dishes like Prawn Hor Fun, fast food such as KFC fried chicken, and even bite-sized desserts such as nyonya kuih.
When we first came across JUU Candle Studio’s Instagram page, we could hardly believe the candles weren’t real. We spoke to the studio’s founder Hazel Wong to find out more about her meticulously made works. What makes the candles look hyperrealistic are the details that Hazel adds such as the peeled off skin of the mandarin oranges, the glistening finish of the steamed chicken, and the nasi lemak which appears to be half eaten. For those who are hoping that their house can be perpetually filled with the smell of freshly fried chicken though, the candles don’t actually smell like the food.
Hazel has always had an interest in the creative industry as she took a short course on Visual Arts during her university years. She worked at an advertising agency before opening up a wig business with her husband to help cancer patients and also people who have lost their hair to regain their confidence which they still run today.
She shared, “I also spent time staying in London where I learned a unique craft which is British wig making from scratch. The art of wig making in France is actually dying out. This is a very time consuming craft as it takes more than a week to finish a single wig and requires a-lot of patience. These are unlike those wigs made from a machine and these are fully handmade. We have to knot them strand by strand which requires fine work. My mentor used to work with Alexander McQueen’s team.
With a hobby in activities related to Arts & Craft, she first started studying candle crafting in 2021 and this year, Hazel opened up JUU. Considering how elaborate the candles are, it’s not surprising that it takes a long time to produce each new piece.
“It took me a few weeks to come up with the art piece during the research period.” Hazel browses through food photos, which she shares is also her hobby. She looks up reference photos of the dish from all angles. If the dish is easily accessible, she will also pick up the real thing to study it closely. She then uses different tools and equipment to work with the wax to create different textures and results.
After perfecting it, Hazel can then recreate a full set of fried chicken with crispy fries. However, she says that it may take a longer time for beginners who join her class.
The product prices vary according to the workload, complexity, materials, and time spent. “Hand-made candles require pricier materials than others. Simple versions with cute designs are at lower price ranges in comparison to the realistic ones as they take a longer time to complete.” The Hamburger Candle set, for instance, will set you back around RM480 based on your order. Customers can request for a range of ‘ingredients’ such as double cheese or without, chicken or beef burgers, onions, eggs, bacon, and more.
When asked about her own favourite works, Hazel said, “I love them all to be honest. The best sellers should be the desserts and cakes, but many love the hamburgers and nasi lemak. This is also perhaps because the nyonya kuih hasn’t been released yet. I would love to produce more local and authentic Malaysian desserts.
For those looking to pick up the craft for themselves, Hazel offers classes. She personalises the classes according to individual needs. For those with zero experience, she has an experience class priced at RM380 to make simple food like nyonya kuih or flower candles. For those who want to polish their candle crafting skill, personalised intermediate and advanced classes are priced at RM1k and above.
Looking at all the candles makes us want to pick up some KFC for ourselves!
Follow JUU Candle Studio on Instagram. You may also contact Hazel at +60126363292 to make appointments or to purchase the candles.