The following is an interview with Christoff Visscher, founder of the geek-inspired candle company, Cantrip Candles. In this interview, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief Barbra Dillon chats with Visscher about the inspiration behind his candle line, the process of selecting and designing new scents, the products currently available (that would be a great fit for your next D&D campaign!), and more!
Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about Cantrip Candles, and what inspired you to create your own line of candles?
Christoff Visscher: Cantrip Candles are 100% soy wax candles designed for use with tabletop games. Each candle is scented to smell like a location or region in a fantasy world, so that when you light them, they can add further immersion to your game.
I actually started making candles as a hobby just about 2 years ago. I think I saw a random video on Facebook that inspired me to try making them myself. At the same time, I had just started getting into Dungeons and Dragons as a Dungeon Master and was having a blast preparing for games. One evening session got a bit rowdy and someone spilled beer all over the table. The plot happened to take place in a tavern at the time and one of the players said, “Hey, Christoff! You should make a beer candle!” Worlds collided, magic happened, and bam—Cantrip Candles. Although, I’ve tried the beer candle thing and it’s kind of weird.
BD: I can only imagine that making candles is a time-intensive and arduous process! How would you describe your creative process of choosing scents and making candles?
CV: Surprisingly, candle making itself isn’t too difficult. On a basic level, it involves melting wax, adding fragrance, and waiting for it to cool. The real challenge comes from the research and preparation that goes into developing scents.
Temperature, fragrance amounts, how fragrances affect each other, and even the type of wick you use all affect the quality of a candle. When you first start out, you have all these different variables, so you just pick somewhere to start experimenting.
There are literally hundreds of scents available, some natural and others artificial. On top of this, you have several companies that provide these scents and some are better than others. So, the first year of creating and experimenting involved me shopping around and comparing leather scents, wine scents, moss scents, etc. It got pretty frustrating for a while, as I wasn’t able to come up with fragrance blends that actually smelled like the locations I wanted to create. But as with everything, it just takes patience and perseverance and I eventually began to come up with some pleasingly accurate mixture.
I like to think of it as a 50/50 blend between art and science. You have the limitations of measurements, but the infinite possibilities of imagination.
BD: Give that each candle has its own geeky theme, where do you find inspiration for each candle, and what are some of the available products?
CV: The tabletop games that I play (Dungeons and Dragons, Settlers of Catan, Dead of Winter) are the largest source of inspiration. As I take my party through fields and dungeons, I describe what they see, hear, and smell. These descriptions are necessary for any good Dungeon Master, and they translate perfectly into developing the next candle.
Living in Southern California, I’m often inspired by the variety of nature around me. We are fortunate enough to have mountains, oceans, and forest all within a short drive. For example, “A Walk in The Woods” is inspired by hiking the Griffith Park trails. It’s a blend of pine and sandalwood which gives a much dryer and lighter forest fragrance than one would expect if they were smelling a forest in northern Alaska.
I also draw a lot of inspiration from my past. I lived in London for a year and fell absolutely in love with the rainy weather and old architecture. When I developed “Stonemoss Chapel,” I wanted to create a deep, rich, mossy fragrance that legitimately smelled like the wet chapel walls I encountered around the city.
BD: What do you feel defines a Cantrip candle?
CV: Oooh… tough question. If we’re being honest, there are lots of candles out there. After all, it’s an art that’s been going for 5000 years.
Cantrip Candles are different because of the ritual that goes into them. You can use them to help create a world that’s completely unique. Everything from the accurate fragrance to the thematic design of the packaging adds inspiration and immersion to your game. When you light a Cantrip Candle, you’re preparing to set your imagination into overdrive.
BD: Can you give us the inside scoop on any upcoming candle themes or scents?
CV: Of course! On top of the 8 fragrances that we already have, we’re going to release a Palace Garden scent in the next few weeks which will be our first floral type. It’s a really nice blend of bright flowers, with hints of earthy notes. It was inspired by a recent playthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time when you first meet Princess Zelda.
We also are working on an oceanside scent and a medieval marketplace scent, but I’m still not satisfied with their realism yet. They should be out before holiday season.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Cantrip Candles?
CV: We’re super active on Instagram and Twitter @cantripcandles. You can also check out our website, www.cantripcandles.com, to order our products, or simply ask us a question. For those of you who would like to know what others think about or products, we’ve got some really great reviews on our Facebook page!