Thursday, February 24, 2011

Joy Stinger: : beeswax

Today we are visiting the studio of Joy Stinger. Best known as Mrs. Stinger, Joy is an almost iconic presence in the locally-harvested-honey-community here in St. Louis.
It's almost impossible to introduce Joy's craft - beeswax ornaments and handmade candles - without also mentioning the other "hats" she wears: bee keeper, bird collector, painter, furniture maker, quilter, papermaker, urban homesteader...
Joy shares her home with her husband, two dogs, two cats, 35 chickens, 35 tropical birds, one rabbit, a swimming-pool-turned-pond-full-of-fish, an aquarium and eight bee hives.
She began keeping bees 20 years ago and began creating with wax about 12 years ago when she retired from her career as a graphic artist.
Joy's studio is her basement. It is also home to her honey business.
The double boiler she uses to melt her bees' wax is just behind the red stool to the right in this next photo.
"When you're a beekeeper, you have to deal with wax," Joy said. When she started beekeeping, she made candles and gave them away. Soon she had more wax and honey and candles than she could keep up with - so she started selling. 
And then she started getting commissioned. Her work is decorative and utilitarian. She has made custom easter figures, complex nativity scenes and simple (but so beautiful) candles.
Her antique molds are displayed throughout her home. This collection is in her kitchen. 
Many of her custom molds were made from cookies that she purchased in Prague more than 12 years ago (see first photo). She brought back the cookies and made silicone molds from them.
This is her collection of wicks. It's also where she keeps her paints.
Lots of honey means lots of storage. Joy encourages her "regular" customers to return their jars for reuse, but she still has to maintain an inventory of jars for harvest time.
Candle molds.
Joy also sells bee pollen, a natural health supplement believed to help suppress allergies.
This beautiful bottle is for honey wine, yet another thing that Joy creates from scratch.
Joy was featured in the premiere issue of Where Women Cook.
You won't find Joy's business on the internet, but you can call her for a catalog. She's also a regular at the Clayton Farmers Market each year, and her honey is sold at most grocery stores in town.
Stinger's Ornaments & Honey
Thanks Joy!

1 comment:

Jzika Hoagland said...

Your photos are the best and I love your blog post about Joy Stinger. I run a small "adventure school" for families, and I'm sharing your work with them, as we have an upcoming field trip to see Joy Stinger's homestead. Thank you so much! - Jessie at Green Spiral Tours