Ahh…candlelight…nothing quite says PEACE as well as the warmth and glow of a candle in the dark of night…. Flickering, soothing, candles emanate warmth, hope, peace, love, relaxation and comfort. Candles have been around for thousands of years and people have relied on them and found many uses for them throughout time. I, for one, am a self confessed candle-aholic….I LOVE candles and have futilely tried to fight my wick addiction many times. For years, I tried to create the “perfect” lighting and sense of comfort in my home by redecorating, painting, or adding this and that, but it was not until I discovered the true beauty and simplicity of candlelight that I stopped and really focused on the endless possibilities of the “light”.
Prior to my candlelight “discovery” I had grown tired of pursuing the “perfect ambiance”. I stopped redecorating and tried to relax. One evening, as I bathed, I lit the one, small dusty little candle I had found in the back of my closet. I turned out the lights, slipped into the warm, inviting bubbles, and let the world slip a way.
I almost felt like the Calgon lady….I relaxed and watched the golden flame flicker and dance with the shadows and reflections in the mirror. Suddenly, an idea popped into my head……”AHA! That’s it!! Candlelight!” Little did I realize that I had stood straight up and yelled at the top of my lungs. The cold air hit me and brought me to my senses; as my echoes faded, I carefully lowered myself back into the inviting foam.
The next day, my head was about to burst with all of the wonderful ideas for candles and candlelight that were bouncing around in my head. I promptly went to store and looked at the candle selection. I bought a few and took them home. I couldn’t wait to light them, so I plopped them down in various spots throughout the house, lit them and waited BOOM….I was addicted!!!
Now, after several years of “candle-experimentation” I have definitely had some good and some not so good retail candle experiences. I have found that the cheapest candles are not necessarily, the best candles. And the most expensive candles, are by far, not the best candles either. I have also found that sometimes you can find the most beautiful candle COLOR but the fragrance is horrible, or the color is horrible and fragrance is wonderful! So, what is a candle lover to do?
There are several choices and resolutions to this dilemma. The first and most obvious is choosing to make your own candles, but if you do not have the time then you may wish to go the second route, which is experimenting and finding a particular brand of candles that you like. The third choice, which is my favorite and the subject for this article, is finding great bargains on good candles and turning them into something spectacular!!
After my so called ‘breakthrough wick addiction’ I began to look at candles differently than most people. I began to look beyond the candle’s color and fragrance to the candle’s ultimate potential. I guess you could say, it was the creative part of me I never knew I had! You see, I had found an ugly cinnamon candle and had set it on my kitchen counter. As I stared at the candle and tried to decide where to place it, a sudden flash hit me and I saw that a small lizard painted on the surface would go well with my Southwestern décor. I grabbed some black acrylic paint and a small brush. I began to outline a small lizard, and soon his body, head and tail took on a life of it’s own. I stepped back to admire my work. The lizard was perfect. He was awesome! I was astounded! The candle was no longer a scratched up, sad looking thing begging to be thrown away, now, it was begging to be lit!! (see photo of lizard candle)
Ever since that moment I have taken in and changed the lives of dozens of candles. I have taken candles from craft stores, craft shows, bargain stores, odd shops and yard sales and have turned them into my personal artwork. I started giving the candles as gifts, and eventually, began selling them and taking special orders. Now, my craft and hobby is advancing and I eventually plan to have my own website. Until then please enjoy the following tips for:
A Fabulous Birthday Gift in Forty Minutes
Are you searching for a unique gift for those special people in your life? Maybe a birthday is right around the corner and you just can’t find or don’t have the time to seek it out. Maybe you’re a candle lover and an art lover and would like to combine the two without having to spend a lot of money. Maybe you like to give “homemade gifts” but don’t have a lot of time to spend on one gift. Well, here is an easy to do project that will turn out so fabulous you’ll get rave reviews and all of your friends and family will want one! This project takes “Birthday Candles” to a whole new meaning! Kids and adults will love them!
Crafting items needed: One medium to large candle of your choice. Fragrance is up to you, however, since vanilla is still the number one ice cream flavor, you can’t go wrong with this fragrance! I also recommend using a light colored candle if you are attempting this for the first time.
One Medium sized candle (preferably vanilla )
One makeup sponge
Acrylic paints OR the new Candle paints (various colors)
A small paintbrush
A small, brown paper lunch bag (wrinkled)
A paper whole punch or a writing pen
This project takes approximately 30-40 minutes or less: Skill level: Easy
For this candle, I start with a light colored candle such as vanilla or white, dip my makeup sponge into light yellow acrylic paint and dab gently all over the surface of the candle. Sponge about a 4-5 inch segment at a time, letting each area dry so that you do not get paint all over your hands. Go around the body of the candle. DO NOT PAINT the top of the candle where the wick is. Once the first layer of paint is dry, look at the candle and touch up any bare spots.
When touch up is finished, use a Q tip dipped in a darker or brighter paint color and begin to make an outline for the words HAPPY BIRTHDAY. This is sort of like creating a dot-to-dot version of what you want to write on the candle. Be sure to center the word HAPPY in the middle of the candle and follow with BIRTHDAY just underneath it. You may then put ” Johnny” or the name of your choice on the third line.
Once your dot-to-dot version is completed, look over your work. Now is the time to change something if you don’t like it. Acrylic paint is pretty forgiving if you catch it before you are completely done with the project. Simply take a wet Q tip and rub on the section or area you want to remove. This may take a little while, but have some patience and you will see that it comes off with ease. Do not worry if you take too much paint off, simply go back over it. When it dries you will not be able to see the patch.
If all is well, and you do not need to correct anything, take your paintbrush and “fill in” the dots, using smooth, short strokes. You may use whatever type of writing you like, if you like block letters, or cursive, it is up to you! Your ideas and inspiration is what will make this gift completely unique and a greatly appreciated!
Once you have your lettering done, and all the paint is dry, you can add a homemade gift tag. Wrinkle up your paper sack and then tear out a section for the tag. Make a small hole with a paper punch or a pen. Take your paintbrush and paint “A hand painted original just for you” on the tag. Put Raffia through the hole and tie the Raffia around the candle. Viola! You have just created a birthday masterpiece!
Bridgette M. Crosby is a hands on “make a mess and have fun” mother, writer and crafter.
© Copyright 2002 BRIDGETTE M. CROSBY
photograph copyright Bridgette M. Crosby