Have you noticed that good, unscented, well-made candles have become really hard to find? Gift stores are full of orange spice-scented wax lodged into overly fussy tin containers that don’t go with anything else in my house, and that Swedish megastore sells tea lights by the ton, but I’ve been needing regular, old-fashioned tapers for my grandmother’s old-fashioned brass candlesticks. After looking forever and only finding nonsense, I walked into Tilden’s on Capitol Hill.
Things have stayed mostly the same for about 30 years at this 15th Ave Capitol Hill shop, and that bodes well for things that have to do with your grandparent’s hand-me-downs.
One alleyway of the shop is lined with the tools of a particularly tragic lost art: written correspondence. In fact, some of Tilden’s cards and stationery sets seem to be actual stock from the 70s or 80s, but in a good way. Nearby, there are silk flowers. Go figure. In the back: paper napkins and plates suitable for visiting mother-in-laws, or, honest-to-gosh hipster dinner parties. They’re all wearing 80s-esque Ralph Lauren-style cabbage rose prints, so why not extend the look to the table? Gorgeous handmade cashmere throw blankets, ceramics, and other gifts are scattered throughout, and then, there is the candle nook.
Tilden’s been stocking the same East Coast and European tapers since they opened, but unfortunately, the modern world has asked some of these companies to refocus, so a few vendors are changing. Still, they’re committed to quality, drip- and smoke-free candles that burn for hours—-and most are scent-free. There are also locally made votives that are scented, and candle accessories. I hardly knew candle accessories existed, let alone that I might need them, but as a matter of fact, small wax putty-like dots would help to center and anchor my candles in some of my more odd-shaped sticks and holders.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the prices are great. I purchased a box of 12 10-inch muted gray-green tapers made in Williamsburg, Virginia for less than $24; comparable if not less than what I had priced out at big, boring chain stores that offered only stinky things in garish reds and unappealing shades of white. Tilden’s kind and helpful shopkeep told me that soon, the Colonial candlemaker will no longer supply the shop, but they’re working with the company to find a suitable replacement.
So there you have it: a burning need, realized.
Where to find: