Morris: Collection Story
A candle collection inspired by the art of William Morris has long been a goal of mine. I first encountered Morris and the Pre-Raphaelite movement while studying art in college and was immediately captivated by the rich stories and history that surrounded the group. I read as much as I could about them and pushed my interest to near obsession. Following graduation, I had the great fortune to work at the Delaware Art Museum, home to the largest collection of Pre-Raphaelite objects outside of Britain, and where my appreciation of Morris deepened. My study of his life and art has now spanned decades, so I’m pleased to finally release a candle collection inspired by his work.
I started designing fragrances for this in the early days of COVID. Initially, my intention was to produce items that catered to pandemic-related needs, such as soaps, lotions, and similar products. But the challenges of designing for new, unfamiliar products and the relentless chaos of those times compelled me to abandon the project. It was the last burst of creativity I invested in Werther & Gray before a long period of apathy set in. Struggling with multiple health issues and a strong desire to pursue other creative work, the likelihood of permanently closing Werther & Gray seemed high.
Fast forward to this year: I’m reenergized, in the midst of planning a relaunch of the brand with entirely new collections, the website is closed in anticipation of a new era, but things are going much slower than anticipated. I have no idea when the new candles will be ready for release, so I return to the idea of a Morris Collection. Since it was something with time already invested into it, I figure I can fast-track the collection and get the shop open much quicker.
The finished collection serves as a bridge between the old Werther & Gray and the new. I used the fragrance concepts from the previous incarnation of the Morris collection, relied on suppliers I already have accounts with, and chose some tried-and-true materials. But you’ll also find some new things here, like colorful ceramic vessels and complex, luxurious scents. (I’ll have more to say about these and other changes in a future post.)
The collection contains six Morris patterns, with three designed by the man himself, and three by his associates, John Henry Dearle, Kate Faulkner, and Kathleen Kersey. The nature-inspired aesthetic of these patterns lends easily to fragrance interpretation. Strawberry Thief is an herbal berry scent, Seaweed is a fresh, aquatic kelp scent, Marigold is a crisp green floral made with genuine marigold oil, etc.
The overall character of the group leans towards light and calming. Even the spicy outlier, Birch & Ginger Root, has a strong honey and apple top that brightens the entire fragrance. While I don’t think you need to be bound by seasonal styles, these candles are perfect for spring and summer.
Until next time,