The Cardinal

Joshua Farley

Joshua Farley, Sophomore Contributor

Josh "The Beastmaster" Farley may be best known for his years spent hunting big game in Africa, but his true passion, the flame that fuels Farley's fire is...wait for it...making custom candles in the tradition of Middle Age chandlers, or smeremongeres. 

Hundreds of years ago, the work of a smeremongere, in addition to making candles, involved overseeing the production of sauces, vinegar, soap and cheese. Today, smeremongeres like Farley, who is also an accomplished member of the CHS speech team, focus solely on "waxwork."

Farley began his apprenticeship to become a master candle maker five years ago, studying under Luther, owner of Chuck's Candles in Canton. 

Farley said, "Some kids grow up playing baseball or football or soccer. For a while I played golf. But one day when I was nine, my grandpa took the golf club out of my hand and swapped it for a freshly-poured, beeswax candlestick. It was still warm. I didn't know it at the time, but he had a a small candle making workshop in the basement of his house that had gone unused for years. That was the first new candle he'd made in a long time - I think since the 60's. He and I started making candles that day. I fell in love."

Discussing his journey to become a master chandler, Farley admitted, " It's been tough. I've been burned by hot beef tallow more times than I can count. And let me tell you, that stuff smells terrible. Try getting the stink of burnt cow fat out of your clothes." 

Farley explained that, though beef tallow - fat - was used for candle making in the Middle Ages, common practice now is to use beeswax, as the odor is far less repugnant, and the candles burn brighter. 

"For a while in the 18th century, sperm whale oil was big. But bees are just easier," he said. 

Farley isn't sure whether he plans to continue his candle making career into his college years. He would like to maintain the practice as a hobby, but he fears his equipment may not fit into the standard campus dorm room. 

"I'll probably have to leave my wick trimmers behind...," he said as he turned to look out the window contemplatively. 

In the end, though, Farley is hopeful that the pleasures of candle making will be passed on through generations of Farleys to come. 

"The way I see it, half of the day is night. And there are a lot of windowless rooms out there. So light is one of our most precious resources. And that's what I provide. Unless someone invents an alternative, I don't see candles going away any time soon." 


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