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Local Furniture Painter & DIY Blogger Creates Candle Collection to Express Pittsburgh Pride

(PITTSBURGH) Furniture painter, upcycler and blogger Jenni Ingram came across an empty box of vintage mason jars and kept thinking she would find a way to reuse them. It became her mission.

“I knew I could make those into something cool. I just didn’t know what,” said Ingram, who runs a blog and YouTube channel on refinishing, painting and flipping furniture. 

After a few months she had an idea.

In the true fashion of her DIY nature, and doing something completely new to her, she repurposed the mason jars into hand-poured soy candles.

“I’ve always loved burning candles, they are such an extravagance and yet I’d never made candles before,” said Ingram. “I was expecting them to smell bad. But it was surprisingly easy and fun and smelled wonderful.”

She sold her candles in a gift shop, Eleven Eleven Gifts in Evans City, where she also works part-time and sells her rehabbed furniture.

“It was just a joy project,” said Ingram, who has always been a DIYer at heart and started DIYing, refinishing furniture and using power tools with her grandfather at a young age. “I just can’t help myself, I love trying new things and creating something from nothing.”

The candles sold out that Christmas. Staying true to her entrepreneurial spirit, Ingram started Pittsburgh Candle Works in the summer of 2019 and went on to create three collections of candles: two with seasonal scents and one that is entirely inspired by the city she now calls home. 

“Pittsburgh is just a thing around here. Everyone loves local and handmade. I wanted to make something and contribute to our own Pittsburgh Makers Movement. Pittsburgh is such a unique place to live with big-hearted people, a great artistic vibe and sense of pride,” said Ingram, who is a native of Phoenix and has lived in the Pittsburgh area for seven years with her family. “We just really love it here. It’s the first place that feels like home.”

The exclusive Pittsburgh Collection features five unique-to-Pittsburgh traits and locations: The Strip, Yellow Bridges, Yinzer, Steel City and Good Neighbor.

She collaborated with local artist Shelbey Tharpe, who drew city sketches that became the custom labels for the Pittsburgh Collection. 

Tharpe’s work includes illustrations that people recognize and love, making each candle a collector’s piece.

“The Strip District is one of my favorite things about the city. It was my introduction to Pittsburgh as a young person,” said Tharpe, who grew up in Lawrence County. “My high school art teacher would take us to the city each year to explore. We would eat at Primanti’s, explore the costume store on Smallman, bop around Wholey’s, and then take some time to sit and draw. Those trips were formative for me.”

“I enjoy living here. There is a vibrant culture of small business,” said Tharpe, who owns Bōja Hair in the Strip and will graduate this spring with a degree in fine art from the Community College of Allegheny County. “Being on a first-name basis with people when I walk into shops in my neighborhood is a good feeling.”

The true upcycler and candle burner will repurpose the artistic jar and keep the good vibes of Pittsburgh nearby long after the wick has burned.

“The candle not only smells beautiful and looks beautiful, it’s a piece of artwork you can display. It has form and function,” said Ingram.

Pittsburgh Candle Works candles are available in 11 gift shops around the metro, including Eleven Eleven Gifts and online at www.pittsburghcandleworks.com

The nostalgia-inducing candles make wistful gifts for Pittsburgh natives who have moved away and homesick college students … or for locals who are enthusiastic about and take pride in the ‘Burg.

“I’m thrilled that they have been so well received,” said Ingram, who also makes the candles in bulk orders as corporate gifts, wedding gifts and new homeowner gifts for realtors. “Candles are a luxury and status symbol, but they are more importantly warm and inviting so it’s no wonder our locals like to buy them as gifts for each other.”

Ingram takes pride in giving back to the Pittsburgh community. For every candle sale,  Pittsburgh Candle Works donates $1 to the Light of Life Rescue Mission, a Christian nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization that provides life-changing recovery programs, food and shelter for Pittsburgh’s poor and homeless.

“I think it’s important that as a business, we reinvest in and support our community,” said Ingram. “It’s a ‘rising tide raises all boats’ mentality. And our mission of creating warm atmospheres just went so well with the Light of Life’s mission.”

About Pittsburgh Candle Works

Founded in 2019, Pittsburgh Candle Works brings creativity, mood and Pittsburgh-pride through it’s simple, good-smelling artistic soy candles. The candles are hand-poured and hand-made in Pittsburgh. There are currently seasonal collections and the Pittsburgh Collection with 5 scents in each. Founder and candlemaker Jenni Ingram shares her passion of DIY on her blog rootsandwingsfurniture.com. More information at pittsburghcandleworks.com

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[[Photo: https://pittsburghcandleworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PGH_CANDLE_WORKS-4398-scaled.jpg?fbclid=IwAR3iq3BFm6HYXEX8PvMwgJPy8rRN4LjNlrjMMAbDTBL-3dpMPf9Gp83cex4

Cutline: The locally-owned Pittsburgh Candle Works features a new collection with candle jars with original artwork of signature Pittsburgh icons and community traits. The soy candles are hand-poured and made in Pittsburgh by founder Jenni Ingram.]]

[[Photo: https://pittsburghcandleworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/jenni-and-shelbey-2.jpg

Cutline: Local artist Shelbey Tharpe (left) and furniture painter Jenni Ingram (right) collaborated to bring Pittsburgh pride into the home or workspace with their latest collection from Pittsburgh Candle Works. Tharpe’s sketches showcase Pittsburg iconic locations and cityscapes, while Ingram’s scents create a warm and inviting atmosphere.]]

[[Photo: https://pittsburghcandleworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/PGH_CANDLE_WORKS-2709-scaled.jpg

Cutline: The Yinzer candle has a fresh, clean scent with artwork depicting Point State Park it is one of the most iconic areas of the city we yinzers call home.]]