Make a Picture Candle for Christmas, and Surround it With Fluffy SnowJust before Christmas, my mother would bring out the box of "picture candles" from the big box of decorations in the attic. With the flames lit, the familiar holiday images would dance in the soft candle light.
You can create your own treasures with this simple candle-making technique. We also have a creative variation - a bed of fluffy whipped-wax "snow!"
- Vintage image (PDF download).
- Vellum printer paper.
- Short pillar candle, white or cream.
- Paraffin wax (1 lb.).
- Thick craft glue or decoupage medium.
- Aluminum foil.
- Pyrex or metal wax container, large enough to dip the candle into
- Cooking pot, large enough to hold the wax container and some water.
- Stove or some other controlled blaze.
- Print your image on the vellum paper, and cut it out
- Glue the image in place on the candle (see Tips). Let it dry.
- Put a few inches of water in your pot, place your wax container in the water, and put the paraffin in your container. Heat gently, stirring occasionally, until the wax melts (about 15 minutes).
- Hold the candle by the wick (you may want to use pliers) and dip it straight down into the hot wax. Lift it out after a few seconds and let it dry. You can dip it a second time if you wish, but the image will become more obscured with each dip. Let it cool for an hour before lighting it.
Variation with Whipped Wax Snow
Whipped wax is the coolest stuff. It is also among the messiest, so fair warning. To give your candle a bed of "snow," gather together:
- Electric hand mixer - hopefully an old one you don't treasure.
- Pyrex or metal bowl.
- Forks or spoons for manipulating the whipped wax.
- Dropcloths, safety glasses, suit of armor.
- Place the candle on a piece of aluminum foil on a paper plate.
- Pour the melted wax (left over from your dipping) into a Pyrex or metal bowl. Let it cool for about 15 minutes, until the surface begins to solidify.
- With the mixer on low, begin beating the wax until it begins to thicken and froth. This will take as long as 15 minutes, but you don't need to mix constantly. Let it sit and cool for a few minutes now and then.
- When there is a layer of whipped wax about 1" thick on the top, begin to spoon it around your candle. It will be workable for only a few minutes, so shape it with a fork until you get it the way you like it. You can sprinkle lightly with glitter at this point, if you wish.
- Let it cool (or pop the paper plate in the refrigerator for a few minutes). Gently remove the aluminum foil. If you sprinkled with glitter, give it a quick spray with varnish to keep it in place.
- Vellum paper is translucent, and your printer needs to know that you are using it. When printing your image, be sure to set your printer's paper option or media type to "transparency". Your printer will adjust the color and inking accordingly.
- Short pillar candles (2.75" tall with 2.75" diameter) are easiest to work with because taller candles require a very tall container for the melted paraffin.
- You can find blocks of paraffin with the canning supplies at the grocery or hardware store. You can also buy it in quick-melting granular form at craft stores.
- The easiest way to attach the image to the candle is with thick craft glue. We tried the "paint on some hot wax" technique and the "burnish with the back of a hot spoon" technique, but really, just glue it on. Spread the glue evenly over the back of the paper with a brush. Cover it with a small piece of aluminum foil or wax paper (so it doesn't stick) and press it on for a minute until the glue sets.
- Whipping hot wax with an electric mixer will distribute little blobs of hot wax everywhere. Guard your eyes, cover everything and wear old clothes. Keep the mixer on "low".
- Don't put leftover wax down your garbage disposal. Keep it in a plastic container for your next project, or put it in the garbage. Your dishwasher should remove remnants of wax from pots, utensils and mixer beaters, but you will be better off using old or disposable things.