Special Events

Tools of the Trade: Glow for It

Contemporary designers are proving that you can have candlelit events without getting stuck in the sticks. Here we spotlight some of today's top creations.

PLAY IT SAFE

When Kathy Ruff introduced her newest candle product — a metal follower and glass flame-protector — she never thought her strongest endorsement would come from a trade show fire marshal. The owner and president of Chicago-based Tablescapes recalls her nervous moments watching the marshal do his job: “He went right up to this product and put a piece of paper over it, and I just stood there and held my breath, not knowing what the procedure was. He just kept doing this until eventually it caught fire, and then he blew it out. Finally he said, ‘This is a very good product.’”

Now Ruff knows that marshals test flame-protection products by counting to see how long the products prevent paper from igniting. She also knows that she has given candles another chance in restrictive event environments. “The beautiful feature of our products is if you're in a tent, all of a sudden you can have real candlelight again,” she says, “and you don't have to worry about drafts.”

To make the unit even more convenient for event professionals, the glass protector is sold as a separate unit “because it's going to break,” Ruff says. “We tried it with plastic and it does not work. To be able to get a little replacement piece of glass is key.” She adds that clients can use the product — sold with custom-made cylinder candles — in any candelabra, though she's recently seen a preference for “tall candelabras that can be used for a centerpiece.”

METAL MAKES SENSE

Going by the notion that candle lighting “should always be used artistically to work in har-mony with, never compete against, other lighting,” Edwin Lashley III has made a business of beautifying special events. His Waleska, Ga.-based Metallic Design Studio produces custom-made metal decor items that are designed to be “as attractive and as multi-functional as needed.”

These days, Lashley says, “trends are heading toward more organic looks.” As a result, his team is working on new designs “that only vaguely resemble traditional candelabras.”

Among his recent creations is the Hanging Votive Spiral, which he counts as his hottest selling product.

According to Lashley, the 6-foot-tall item was originally designed as a floor piece, but is often put to use as a dramatic centerpiece. “It is a simple design that takes advantage of mild steel's ability to provide structure and strength without a bulk of material,” he says. “It is also versatile in applications from elegant to contemporary.”

A NEW CLASSIC

Dedicated to tradition, Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Eastern Tabletop Manufacturing Co. produces silver-plated candlesticks and candelabras using a process the company has mastered over 50 years in business. “Our candelabras are lacquer-finished over a heavy silver plate,” says company vice president Ray Goodman, “thus, the beauty of silver without the maintenance.”

She notes the popularity of her company's taller candelabras. “Both our 18-inch candelabra and 27-inch floral candelabra have been selling tremendously well,” she says, adding, “Our new 27-inch-tall five-light candelabra with center floral pot is a real hit.”

Goodman adds, “All our candelabras are proudly manufactured in New York, U.S.A.,” and appeals to event professionals to “help rebuild the Empire State by showing your patriotism and support.”

RESOURCES: Eastern Tabletop Manufacturing Co., 888/422-4142, 718/522-4142; Metallic Design Studio, 678/300-4309; Tablescapes, 312/733-9700.

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