History in a teacup

Sipping the perfect English Breakfast out of a delicately handcrafted porcelain teacup and eating crust-less cucumber sandwiches only reminds you of one thing … England. By cleverly adapting this historic tradition, Helen Smith is bringing the elegance of Afternoon Tea into the home with a unique twist!

With a fascination and educational background in 19th century British history and design, Helen has always been passionate about the fashion for tea drinking in the UK and an avid collector of British porcelain. On a girl’s weekend back in 2009, Helen and her friends were making container candles using soy wax. Unfamiliar with this type of wax, Helen learnt that the low melting point of soy (less than 40 degrees centigrade) and the fact that it produces 90% less soot than paraffin wax, resulted in an ideal low impact candle. “It just seemed a logical extension to grab a few cups from my collection and start pouring.  The results were quite wonderful … you can simply refill again and again,” says Helen.


Attending charity sales and designer maker markets on the weekends with her new business, Eco-Antique Teacup Candles, Helen slowly discovered that people of all ages were just as captivated by the beauty of British porcelain as she was. The soy candle was just a bonus and a way to integrate porcelain into one’s home décor without it just looking like a tea cup on a shelf.

“𝒫𝑒𝑜𝓅𝓁𝑒 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝑜𝓇𝑔𝒶𝓃𝒾𝒸 𝓇𝑒𝒸𝓎𝒸𝓁𝒶𝒷𝓁𝑒 𝓃𝒶𝓉𝓊𝓇𝑒 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓅𝓇𝑜𝒹𝓊𝒸𝓉 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓎 𝓁𝑜𝓋𝑒 𝓂𝓎 𝓅𝒶𝓈𝓈𝒾𝑜𝓃 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒽𝒾𝓈𝓉𝑜𝓇𝒾𝒸𝒶𝓁 𝓅𝑜𝓇𝒸𝑒𝓁𝒶𝒾𝓃 … 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒸𝑜𝓂𝒷𝒾𝓃𝒶𝓉𝒾𝑜𝓃 𝒾𝓈 𝓅𝓇𝑒𝓉𝓉𝓎 𝓅𝑜𝓌𝑒𝓇𝒻𝓊𝓁,” says Helen.

Working out of three sheds in her backyard – one for storing all the unmade porcelain, another for her show kits, and a posh potting shed where she works her magic – Helen now makes her teacup candles full time. Driving from Scotland down to Cornwall every few months to stop in at all her regular antique suppliers, Helens’ familiarity with porcelain means that she’s very particular with what she buys, giving her customers total faith that they are getting something pretty special!

“𝐼 𝓆𝓊𝒾𝓉𝑒 𝓁𝒾𝓉𝑒𝓇𝒶𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝓂𝑜𝓋𝑒𝒹 𝒹𝑜𝓌𝓃 𝓉𝑜 𝒲𝒾𝓁𝓉𝓈𝒽𝒾𝓇𝑒 𝒻𝑜𝓇 𝓉𝓌𝑜 𝓌𝑒𝑒𝓀𝓈 𝑒𝒶𝓇𝓁𝒾𝑒𝓇 𝓉𝒽𝒾𝓈 𝓎𝑒𝒶𝓇 𝒶𝓉 𝒶 𝓂𝑜𝓂𝑒𝓃𝓉’𝓈 𝓃𝑜𝓉𝒾𝒸𝑒 𝓉𝑜 𝓃𝑒𝑔𝑜𝓉𝒾𝒶𝓉𝑒 𝒶 𝓈𝒶𝓁𝑒 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒸𝒶𝓉𝒶𝓁𝑜𝑔𝓊𝑒 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝓀𝓈 𝒷𝑒𝒻𝑜𝓇𝑒 𝒸𝒶𝓇𝑒𝒻𝓊𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝓅𝒶𝒸𝓀𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝒶𝓃𝒹 𝒷𝓇𝒾𝓃𝑔𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓉𝒽𝑒𝓂 𝒽𝑜𝓂𝑒 … 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝓉𝒽𝓇𝒾𝓁𝓁 𝑜𝒻 𝓉𝒽𝑒 𝒸𝒽𝒶𝓈𝑒 𝒾𝓈 𝑜𝓃𝑒 𝓂𝓎 𝒻𝒶𝓋𝑜𝓊𝓇𝒾𝓉𝑒 𝒶𝓈𝓅𝑒𝒸𝓉𝓈 𝑜𝒻 𝓌𝒽𝒶𝓉 𝐼 𝒹𝑜!”

Continuing to source treasured British tea porcelain and turn them into gorgeous candles so that they can be shared with the world, is what Helen said when I asked her about the future plans for Eco-Antique Teacup Candles. Confident that her product is one of the few left today that sells better in a face to face environment, Helen plans to continue attending trade shows and designer maker markets, sharing the history of her precious porcelain and lovely fragrance of her organic scented candles.

“𝒰𝓈𝒾𝓃𝑔 𝓂𝓎 𝒽𝒶𝓃𝒹𝓈 𝓉𝑜 𝓉𝓇𝒶𝓃𝓈𝒻𝑜𝓇𝓂 𝟤𝟢𝟢 𝓎𝑒𝒶𝓇’𝓈 𝓌𝑜𝓇𝓉𝒽 𝑜𝒻 𝐵𝓇𝒾𝓉𝒾𝓈𝒽 𝓉𝑒𝒶 𝓅𝑜𝓇𝒸𝑒𝓁𝒶𝒾𝓃 𝒾𝓃𝓉𝑜 𝓅𝓊𝓇𝑒-𝒷𝓊𝓇𝓃𝒾𝓃𝑔, 𝑜𝓇𝑔𝒶𝓃𝒾𝒸𝒶𝓁𝓁𝓎 𝓈𝒸𝑒𝓃𝓉𝑒𝒹 𝒸𝒶𝓃𝒹𝓁𝑒𝓈 𝒾𝓈 𝒿𝓊𝓈𝓉 𝒶 𝓅𝓊𝓇𝑒 𝓅𝓁𝑒𝒶𝓈𝓊𝓇𝑒.”

If you’d like to know where Helen will be next, check out her website and upcoming events here.

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I am a writer of the weird and wonderful happenings of everyday life with a focus on food & wine, design and travel. Dine With Design is your go-to source for feeding all of your dining, home design and travel cravings. www.dinewithdesign.com

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