Saturday, October 19, 2013

DIY Diwali lights 1: Easy poured candles

I love the lights of Diwali.
I used to love sparklers as a child, how you had to hold them as far away as possible, how you could make swirly shapes that lingered in the darkness for a while, how you had to put them away carefully after they were done so no one stepped on them.
And then there were the fountains and the Catherine wheels. Yup, the lights.
So, this year, Diwali is an excuse to get crafty again. I’m going to attempt a series of posts on variations in wax and votives. Please, take note of the word 'attempt'.
Anyway, the first is on poured candles – the same ones some of us made in school. Think of this as a refresher course.

You will need
·         A cardboard mould – a box, or small carton
·         Paper tape or paper and glue
·         Thread for the wick
·         A pencil
·         Wax
·         Crayons – if you want to colour your wax
·         Double-sided tape
·         Twine (suthli)

Start by preparing your mould. This is a 'sacrificial' mould – it will be destroyed in the making of this candle. Good thing then, that mine is one of my hair dye boxes, right?
Anyway, you need to seal the ends with paper tape, much better than I did – you will see why later – and pierce a small hole in the bottom to allow the wick to pass through. Tie a nice big knot at the bottom and stick a piece of tape over it to prevent wax leakage from the hole (not shown).


Anchor the wick at the open end of the carton by tying the loose end to a pencil. This centres the wick when you pour the hot wax in.  


Prepare the wax.
A word about your melting vessel – find the oldest you can, and set it aside for crafty stuff only. Also, the way to get residual melted wax and crayon out of the vessel after you pour your candle is to heat it gently again and wipe down quickly – and carefully – with paper towels.
I always land up melting regular candles to make my own; it’s also a great way to use up slightly discoloured or worse-for-wear candles around the house. Scrape away any discoloured bits before melting; the great thing is that the little black bits that escape you at this stage will be easy to avoid when you’re pouring your candle.
If you can, break down the original candle into as small pieces as possible, to help them melt quickly. If it is like mine, leave it whole; it will melt – but slowly.
You could leave the wax the colour it is – or, especially if you’re using your garden-variety white candle, tint it with wax crayons (one crayon, incidentally, gives a way stronger colour than you would think, so consider adding half to start with, and stir well to distribute the colour).
Have an oven glove handy to pick up the vessel and pour.
Be very careful. It’s VERY hot!


Now pour a LITTLE molten wax into your mould.
If you’ve been conscientious about sealing up the bottom of your mould, you will not have any leakages.
If you do have a leakage – and you don’t have Kevin at hand to tell you – here’s what you do: Let it leak, let the mould sit in the seeping wax for a while – so that the darned thing forms a seal.
Which means, yes, let it cool. Go read a book, or go to work, or something.


Then, when all is well and calm, and you have prayed a little, heat the wax in the vessel again and pour into your mould.
If it doesn’t leak, yay!
If it does, let it settle on your kitchen slab. When cool, pick it all off (wax is nice that way), put it back into the vessel and go make another mould. Better sealed this time. Follow steps 1 to 5 again.


Allow the poured candle to cool in the mould for as long as you can bear it – overnight is good. Then DESTROY the mould – okay, peel it off as nicely as you can.
Remember, this is wax, so you can just reshape any bit by hand if you heat it gently.


At this stage, you could leave well alone – and enjoy your poured candle.
You could make a few more in which you layer the colours (see step 3 for how to clean the vessel between colours, and how to use wax crayons for colour; allow each layer to cool completely before adding another).
Or, you could wrap the bottom of the candle with twine; it gives it a less-amateurish look and it hides any discolouration at the bottom caused by the need for a wax seal. Just place one run of double-sided tape at the bottom of the candle and wrap the twine around to the height you want.
Voila, your candle is ready. Go make some more.

Also, two years ago, I did a series of easy luminarias for Diwali.
Here are the links if you would like to try those.

Vriksh Luminarias


Doily Luminarias
Next in the Diwali Lights series: Container candles 

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