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The Catskills: A Natural Dream Park

I moved to Delhi, NY from Philadelphia, 23 years ago with my husband and baby daughter. We were young artists, eager to escape the constraints of the city and start a new adventure in a quaint country setting. The adjustment was difficult and at times, (Read It Takes A Village Idiot: A Memoir of Life After the City) to catch my drift. I honestly wondered if we had made the right decision. Reflecting now, Delhi and the Catskills, for that matter, have changed in many ways over the last 2 decades, yet remain a natural dream park. After 911 there was a mass exodus from NYC. Buying old farm houses, farms and land, building new and renovating, new comers added an element that was slipping away, which I define as  a passion for the natural beauty found in the Catskills Mountains. There seems to be a new enthusiasm for the area, somewhat of a re-discovery and I include myself in this movement.

The seeds of prosperity have finally sprouted and it seems many "Main Streets" in Delaware County's small towns (Andes, Bovina, Delhi, Hamden and Bloomville) are enjoying the benefits of success due to new shops, eateries and an influx of fresh residents. Kabinett & Kammer in Andes offers a curated mix of vintage items. With a sophisticated country vibe, Stewart's Department Store in Delhi, sells home decor, clothing and boasts an old fashioned sewing section. Just outside the villages, farms, such as the Lucky Dog Farm in Hamden, are growing and selling specialty produce available locally as well as in NYC through a food hub. Dairy Farms in the area are making a come back. Creameries like Betty Acres Farm and Bovina Valley Farm, craft various cheeses, milk, yogurt and cream. Working with local farms, restaurants, such as Table on Ten in Bloomville and Brushlands Eating House in Bovina, utilize the "farm to table" mantra offering the freshest ingredients the land has to offer.

A witness to the transition, the rolling foothills of the Catskills luckily remain unchanged. Development and land restrictions implemented by the Watershed Agricultural Council and huge land purchases by the NYCDEP have stitched the area into a natural dream park. Home to many hiking trails, a 26 mile Rails to Trails bike path as well as rivers, lakes and reservoirs the outdoor enthusiast is never at a loss for activity. 

In the early 90's when we arrived in the area, the lack of culture and an appreciation for the arts was disheartening. It was somewhat surprising given the fact that many artists were living and working in the Catskills. But venues like the West Kortright Center and the Roxbury Arts Group have consistently promoted local visual and preforming artists. They offer workshops and draw nationally and internationally acclaimed artists. Today, a delightful mix of locals and new residents make up the community. I travel often for business and when asked, "Where is Delhi? ", I respond "it's inconveniently located, and I like it that way." The Catskills are a little slice of green heaven that I am lucky to call home.

 

 

 

 

 

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Spring is in the Air

We are happy to launch a new and enchanting collection of Wee Birds and Nested Owls in the colors of the season.  Each candle is hand finished and hand poured in our Catskill Mountains studio. The candles are 100% all natural beeswax, the ultimate material for candle making. It burns beautifully and slowly, while emitting a sweet scent of honey, and is wholesome, hypoallergenic and a renewable resource.
The new 2015 Spring collection represents objects that inspire and embody the spirit of a fresh season. The designs are perfect for Easter, bridal gifts, Mother's Day, house warming, decorating and entertaining.   

Wee Birds, based on the common yet beautiful Sparrow, have big personalities and feature intricate textural detail. They are sold in pairs. Our Nested Owls come cleverly packaged in a nest of craft crinkle paper in a set of four. A must have in my book.

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Pure Catskill's features Greentree Home Candle: A maker's Tale

The women who form the creative team of Greentree Home Candle believe in the importance of taking time to stop and smell the raw beeswax. For this tight-knit staff, creating handmade products that are both beautiful and functional is personally rewarding and reflects the tradition and craftsmanship of the Catskills region.

“It’s (an all female-team) not by design, it really just happened,” says Jenifer Green, owner and director of sales of Greentree Home Candle. “But I have to say there’s something special about working with these women.”

The candlemakers operate out of studios/production facility in Treadwell and Delhi in Delaware County. Each day, slabs of raw wax are broken into pieces and melted to an exact temperature. Top secret dye recipes that become Greentree Home Candle’s signature color palette are measured and added. The wax is then poured into molds that the candlemakers have cast themselves.

Designs and shapes are inspired by the divine (Buddha heads), nostalgia (nested hens and medicine bottles) and nature (Big Island bamboo).

As the candles set, careful attention is given to curing, bubbles and topping off.

“The process is labor intensive,” Jenifer says. “There are many steps in the production and each requires attention to detail. Beeswax is a pure material and because of that we pay a premium for it.”

Greentree sources its beeswax from a New England-based company that pulls in material from all over the world. But production assistant Juliette Consigny, who relocated to the Catskills after living in Brooklyn, has been keeping bees in her spare time. Could this be a sweet-smelling opportunity for the Greentree makers?

“We would like to start experimenting with her beeswax in the next year,” Jenifer says.

Customers are primarily wholesale – highly-curated stores like Kabinett & Kammer in Andes and ABC Carpet & Home in New York, as well as museum shops, including the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; Gardiner Museum in Toronto; Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, and de Young museum in San Francisco.

The next step for Jenifer is to increase the number of customers she reaches directly through the Greentree Home Candle website. With an eye toward makers fairs and other handmade craft fairs, she also hopes to sell more to Catskills-based customers, including a growing number of second homeowners and tourists who “appreciate and seek out handmade and artisanal products.”

Jenifer and her husband, Don Green, were bitten by the Catskills bug more than 20 years ago when they escaped city life in Philadelphia and relocated here with their daughter (only a month old at the time).

“It was relatively inexpensive to buy a house and renovate it,” Jenifer says. “I think it’s beautiful up here. The quality of life is outstanding. It’s safe.”

For years, Jenifer focused on managing the sales and marketing of GreenTree Home Furniture, Don’s heirloom quality wood furniture and accessories business. Around 2000, Jenifer introduced beeswax candles into the line in response to a sluggish economy.

“The smaller items were going faster than the larger furniture pieces,” she says.

Jenifer was working with a Stanford-based candlemaker for the first few years, and then started collaborating with another maker.

“In 2012, our sales had nearly doubled and the demand was increasing,” Jenifer says. “our candlemaker was limited in her studio. She said, ‘You need another candlemaker.’” She shared her knowledge and experience with Jenifer and Don, who set up the production facility in Treadwell.

The Greentree Home Candle aesthetic and handmade quality has attracted the attention of O, The Oprah Magazine (The January 2012 (Healthy!) O List), House Beautiful, Brides Magazine, and most recently, Design Sponge.

The high-level press is, of course, gratifying, but the makers seem to find the work itself – using their hands to produce functional goods that are pleasing to the senses -- their greatest reward.

This time of year the team is making candles 5 days a week, 8 hours a day to meet demand.

“We do stop for lunch, but time gets away from you when you’re pouring candles,” Jenifer says. “It doesn’t feel like work.”

Read Article on Pure Catskill's web site

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From Our Studio, To Your Home

Doing what we love is the most rewarding part of life. We tell a story with our designs and choice of material. Working with pure beeswax fulfills a desire to utilize a natural resource that is health and environmentally conscience. The many virtues of beeswax are too long to list, but for our purposes we especially love it because it lends itself beautifully to our renderings. Our candles burn slowly and emit the sweet scent of honey. Illuminate your life with Greentree Home Candle.

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The Hunt for Gray August

When we began planning the re-design of Greentree Home Candle's web site, it only made sense to enlist the talent of a professional photographer. Luckily, Torkil Stavdal, an accomplished NY based photographer, had some time in his busy schedule and committed a day to us. Once that was in place, the hunt for the perfect site was set into action. Sure.... the candles are beautiful, but where should we shoot them?

Thinking about a place that was rich with color, filled with textures and screaming with character, the light bulb went off as I envisioned Kabinett & Kammer, the eclectic shop owned by artist and designer Sean Scherer. The Andes NY based shop is a revolving collection of selected items that Scherer has scouted out on his regular shopping trips. This is no ordinary antique shop, this is a revolving collection of carefully selected items that are organized and displayed in vignettes throughout the shop. There is a fluid and pleasing aesthetic to the objects and their juxtaposition. There is an emphasis on vintage nautical, taxidermy, anatomy, unique utilitarian objects and age worn furniture.

Kabinett & Kammer has been selling the Greentree Home Candle collection since it opened in 2007 and I have gotten to know Sean Scherer. He generously agreed to allow us to shoot in his space this July. With a fresh coat of dark gray paint on the walls and a full shop, Torkil Stavdal, shot our candle collections in the shop and Shearer's apartment which is a feast for the eyes, to say the least.

 

 

First Row Images: Torkil Stavdal

Kabinett & Kammer
Contact:sean@kabinettandkammer.com 
7 Main Street, Andes, NY

1-845-676-4242

web: kabinettandkammer.com

 

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