Madison candle maker Lyschel Bersch creates custom candles for her store Karner Blue Candle and Supply, a process she said she was surprised to learn could bring her in touch with beloved memories.
Her candles’ scents are designed to recreate a universal memory — she describes some as evoking a child’s laugh or the feeling of watching winter’s first snow fall and blowing snow crystals on a window pane. She recently developed a strawberry rhubarb candle meant to evoke the feeling of picking rhubarb in a home garden and baking in a cozy kitchen.
Bersch has worked in candle making and scent design for 20 years, including previously as the owner of Candle Cocoon on Old University Avenue. She closed that store after her children were born, but continues selling candle making supplies and her custom fragrance oils online at candlecoccoon.com.
The chandler (candle maker) holds three natural science degrees from UW-Madison. She says creating candles is a surprisingly good combination of her love of science and nature. The candle process requires testing and re-testing, an extension of her science background. And the journey to developing clean-burning candles using safe, sustainable products keeps her environmentally conscious, she said.
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Karner Blue candles are developed with no phalates or extra solvents and made from wax produced in the United States. Low-levels of solvents and quality ingredients means people with a chemical sensitivity can often enjoy Karner Blue candles, Bersch said.
When she first began creating her scents, many perfumers dismissed her ideas as impossible or too costly, she said.
“I said, ‘I want you to create childhood and laughing’ and they thought I was crazy,” she said. “But I want magic, I want you to feel something.”