Minturn shop shines in natural light
If you’ve always wanted to bring a special natural piece of Colorado home with you, Lena Mosser has just the thing.
She’s opened a new handcrafted candle shop in Minturn that features candles adorned with dried, pressed locally grown botanicals that she collects herself. They include the lavender-colored Monk’s Hood, scarlet Indian Paint Brush, distinctive Black-eyed Susans, and hard-to-find Pasque flowers and delicate Columbines. The latter she grows in her garden at home. She even uses golden or orange aspen leaves.
Her small upstairs shop, is between Minturn Cellars and the Yarn Shop on William Street that’s tastefully decorated.
“It’s something unique from Colorado,” she says, chuckling. “It’s the perfect gift for any occasion. I dry and press them the old fashioned way with books and paper. (Old copies of) The Vail Daily has been helping a lot.”
She pauses while showing one of her candles as if inspiration has suddenly hit, then smiles: “My head is just full of ideas.”
Mosser spends springs and summers gathering, drying and pressing the flowers and leaves with which she adorns her candles. It’s often hard, backbreaking work but it happens in some of the prettiest places in the county.
“When I’m all sweaty and tired I think my office isn’t that bad,” she says. “I’m out in the middle of nowhere but I have to beat the sheep (that graze there) to the flowers.”
Her favorite flower gathering areas are on remote and special spots south of Eagle along Brush Creek; on Red and White Mountain and on the Muddy Pass road north of Wolcott.
A native Swede (yes, she’s blonde) from the central Swedish town of Falun, Mosser, 34, first skied in Vail in 1991 and returned again and again. In 1995, spent a summer here and like most who do, decided to stay.
She’s now married and has a lively two-year-old daughter, Ashley who this year has her own flower basket and will help mom gather. Her shop actually started as a solution to a problem many people encounter” finding an appropriate gift for someone” who in this case, was getting married. She created a unity candle adorned with flowers that was an instant hit, and soon she was making more. On a good day she can make up to 15 candles that sell for $7 to $45.
“My family gets candles every Christmas,” she says.
Over the last few years she sold her product at numerous craft fairs and even at the Minturn Market. Her candles come in a number of shapes and sizes, but each is unique. Affixing the flowers is where art overtakes craft. Columbines are the easiest to press and dry but the hardest to work with, she says, because they are so delicate. Her candles use a hard wax that burns only down the core of the candle so the decorative part remains.
Starting a candle shop was driven by equal parts inspiration and pragmatism. Having her own shop allows her to care for her daughter, who stays with her at the shop. That saves on day care costs, Mosser says. She opened her shop on Valentine’s Day.
“The hardest work is picking and pressing the flowers,” she says. “It’s time-consuming and tiring. You have to rotate them while drying so they don’t mold. It takes a lot of trial an error.”
She likes to find what she calls “treasurers,” at garage sales and auctions. Many of which end up as bases for candles.
“You’ll never know what you’ll find when you’re in my shop, it’s all natural Colorado stuff,” she says. Her shop also displays southwestern art by the late Veloy Vigil.
Her next addition to the shop will be tapered candles to complement the round and the large, square “hurricane” candles which come scented and unscented. Eventually she wants to have a part of her shop where customers can pour their own candles. She wants to model it after a shop she visited while in Denmark.
Shoppers will find she also observes a European tradition at her shop: “You can always bargain with me,” Mosser said.