Candle making is easy and enjoyable, says author Miranda Innes. "The possibilities are limitless, and it's not a tragedy if something goes wrong. Experimenting with color is fascinating and full of surprises.
"Making your own candles is a lovely pastime, a wonderful thing to do with your children. You can have a terribly good time doing it. It's very therapeutic."
When Ms. Innes was researching techniques for "The Book of Candles," she was cynical about some of the proposed candle-decorating ideas. "I thought, who is going to sit down and press flowers onto a candle? What a ridiculous idea. But we all ended up collecting flowers in tiny baskets like pre-Raphaelite ladies. The idea of decorating a candle with flowers is actually riveting.
"Simply attaching flowers to candles makes them beautiful objects. The flowers do strange things on the wax, and change color when they dry. The decoration makes the candles appear so delicate -- and the fact that it's do-able by someone who feels like a bull in a china shop was surprising. Sticking fresh flowers, ivy leaves and raffia on candles takes very little effort. And it's a wonderful way to personalize candles. They make lovely presents."
"The Book of Candles" includes step-by-step instructions for making dipped candles, overdipping, striping, creating molded, rolled, scented and pressed flower candles.
If you'd first like to try decorating store-bought candles, here are a few easy-to-do techniques:
*Select a stencil design. Stick one edge of the stencil to the candle with masking tape. Pull the stencil around the candle to ensure a snug fit, then tape down the other side.
*Mix the poster paint or gouache with water and a drop or two of dishwashing liquid, to the consistency of thick cream. Dab on a fine layer of color with a cosmetic sponge.
*If the base color lacks subtlety or depth, or if you want to highlight particular areas or outlines, dab on a
toning or contrasting color.
*When the paint is completely dry, peel off the masking tape and carefully remove the stencil. Avoid touching the painted area and seal the design by overdipping.
*Overdip by holding the candle firmly by the wick and immersing it in hot paraffin wax. Lift the candle out after about three seconds and allow it to dry. Do not burn it for at least an hour.
*Mix paint with a little water and dishwashing liquid. Dab color lightly over the sides and top of the candle with a sponge. Avoid getting paint on the wick.
*When the first color is dry, repeat the process with a toning color. Add a third color for extra richness. Overdip in paraffin wax
*Cut shapes of colored foil or metallic paper -- bold geometric shapes are easiest to begin with.
*Heat a teaspoon against an iron or hot plate, position each piece of foil and press it in place with the hot spoon. Finally, glue or pin on a few sequins.