Take ordinary pillar candles and transform them into ornamental decor by carving intricate designs into them. Candle wax carves easily making complex designs a possibility. With a few common clay-carving tools, create decorations, symbols, floral designs, monograms, decorative borders and swirls in a candle. Create your design and draw it by hand, or print a design from your computer and transfer the image onto the candle to carve.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Parchment paper
- Pillar candle
- Rubber gloves
- Carving knife
- Clay carving chisel
- Wire end clay tool
Cut a piece of parchment paper, as tall as the pillar candle and wide enough to wrap around once. Wrap the parchment paper around the pillar, and place two small pieces of tape, to secure the paper around the pillar.
Draw your design onto candle, over the parchment paper, using a pencil. Apply pressure when drawing. The pencil marking will be on the paper, but the pressure you place on the pencil will lightly emboss the design into the candle below the parchment. You will use the embossed area as a guide for carving. Finish the drawing and remove the parchment paper from the candle.
Put on your rubber gloves. The gloves keep the candle bits off your hands, and help you to keep a tight grip on the candle.
Carve the outlines of your design, using the pencil-embossed area as your guide, with a carving knife. Carve lightly to create shallow, embossed lines.
Chisel the candle surface, about 1/4 inch deep, using a clay carving chisel. Chisel by scraping off the top layer of the candle, lightly pushing the tool over the surface of the candle. Point the tool away from you to avoid injury. Your design will be the embossed or raised "positive" area. Chisel the rest of the candle surface, or the "negative" area away. Chisel out all negative areas.
Carve delicate details using a pointed clay-carving tool. Drag this tool, over the candle edges, to sharpen outlines and corners of your design.
Drag a wire end clay tool over the carved out areas to smooth out bumps. Pull the tool in long continuous strokes to even out surfaces.
Perform final cleanup using the pointed clay carving tool, and brush off excess candle bits using a towel.
Tips and warnings
- Candles made of at least 51% beeswax are best for carving.
- If your design is too complex to hand draw, trace the design onto the parchment paper before securing to the candle, using graphite transfer paper.
- Use caution when working with the sharp carving tools and knives. Always point the tools away from your hands and body.
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