Designer Derrick Cruz, the mastermind behind cult New York accessories label Black Sheep & Prodigal Sons and affiliated curated emporium Occulter, has always created slightly esoteric objets d’art: scrimshaw amulets, horse hair jewelry and actual jawbones turned into ashtrays are just a few of the editorial highlights. But his latest creation, the “Half A Person” candle, is attracting new levels of buzz thanks to another entirely unique set of qualities. Why? It’s fashioned after a very familiar musical demigod: Morrissey.
As the Internet rapidly alerts audiences to the existence of this $185 treasure, Rolling Stone speaks to Cruz about the story behind his Moz-themed candle.
What compelled you to create the Morrissey candle?
In short, I was unsatisfied with looking at the wax bust of Napoleon I had on my desk. I have a tendency to overanalyze, so the more I stared at this figure the clearer it was that Napoleon as a person meant nothing to me. As a matter of fact, I realized that I really disliked the idea of such a tyrant immortalized in front of me. So, I set out to make it personal and meaningful. Whoever this figure was to be should inspire and comfort me in a way no one else had. I could have chosen some more seemingly admirable, but the truth is, the music of The Smiths and Morrissey genuinely changed my world view. Plus, what better way to present someone so rabidly outspoken than in an intrinsically ephemeral form? That’s something I must have learned from him.
Is it based upon a particular image of Morrissey?
It’s not based on any image in particular. Rather, it’s a synthesis of his greatest and most iconic qualities in an idealized and heroic pose. With this in mind, I worked very closely with my sculptor friend Sean Burford. His work typically involves comic book heroes, so I thought that type of dynamism and cleanness would be perfect for “Half a Person.” I knew he’d kill it on the hair, and he did.
What was the process behind the creation of the candle?
The process is a careful one. Each candle has to be poured by hand into a two-part mold made from the original sculpture. Because of the mass, it takes a day for the wax to set before it can be demolded. Demolding itself is probably the most difficult part. One has to remember where every delicate detail is so as to not break the still soft wax in the process. Once it is removed, it has to be knife cleaned to remove imperfections. It takes some love. The reason for using pure beeswax is twofold. I wanted first to continue my work to support organic US beekeepers at a time when their colonies are suffering due to CCD. And secondly, because it is truly the only type of candle good for you. All other candles are basically putting out chemical exhaust in your room.
The candle is generating some buzz right now. How did people first start to notice it? Is it already flying off the shelves?
We like to work a little under the radar when it comes to promoting the special items we make. An organic word-of-mouth and social media approach works best for us and our patrons. The response has certainly impressed us.
If this candle sells out, will more be made? Or is it limited run?
I intend to only make 600. It’s all we can really handle and all that’s necessary to make our point. Once these are gone, the song is over.
Does Black Sheep & Prodigial Sons plan to make any more candles in the image of music icons?
We will be honoring some of our other beloved icons, but not in the same way.
Has anyone in the Morrissey camp reached out to you yet?
No, no one has reached out to us. I do hope to get one in his hands, though. It would be a great honor!