Every summer, there is the nationally known art fair in Ann Arbor, and the area is known for its large number of local artists. One of those artists is gaining attention for his locally historic creation that was a popular gift for Christmas.
Perched on the highest point in Ypsilanti sits the iconic Water Tower, a local landmark which was constructed in 1890. Ypsilanti resident and artist Rick Wedel was inspired by the highly recognizable city structure and made a replica candle of it.
"It just had this air of inevitability. It seemed like it had to happen. In fact, I was really surprised they weren't already being made. A friend of mine said somebody shouldn't just make an Ypsilanti Water Tower candle, and it's like the earth stood still for a moment."
Wedel is primarily a painter but learned through YouTube videos how to make a candle cast designed to look exactly like a mini version of the Ypsilanti Water Tower.
"I created the original out of palmer clay, and then, through a series of like four or five layers of silicone, I make a glove mold, and that captures the detail. And then, around that, there's a plaster cast."
The Ypsilanti artist began making the water tower candles about three years ago and says they have been sold and delivered now worldwide.
"I was hearing people tell me about dozens of places around the world they were going to. They've gone to Germany and the Philippines. One was taken to Australia. It was wonderful. A woman who came to tell me the one she bought last year, she hand-delivered to the Phallic Museum in Iceland."
It takes about 24 hours for the candles made of 100% soy wax to and set, and, even though they do have a wick, Wedel says he doubts many people actually burn them.
"I let people know that it's okay to burn, and I let them know that it has a long burn time. But I think, for most people, they're not interested in burning them. It's more the suggestion of functionality, you know, that it's a candle. But, really, it's being proudly displayed."
He also makes a candle replica of Ann Arbor's Burton Bell Tower and is thinking of other ideas to create.