Wednesday, November 19, 2014

How to Make Wine Cork Candles

Wax Cork Candles to Light up That Romantic Dinner

Working with wax, and mixing in pigments to create encaustic art, and decorating hurricane candles, led me to think of other ways to use leftover bits of wax candle, so this is how to make cork effect candles to place in the top of an empty wine bottle.

My goal, was to keep in the realms of crafting, using things that are normally found in the home or you would make an inexpensive purchase like PVA glue, student oils, and masking or wide adhesive tape.

What you will need


Cut the tube along its length


Mark out the tube 3" - 75mm and cut.


Open the tube ready to write

 Lines first marked out in pen/pencil and then covered in oil paint - some thick pencils will transfer from the cardboard.
Paint over using oil based paint as this takes time to dry.
Use a pencil or pen to write what you want on the cork or draw a motif - Everything should be in reverse.
Mark a line on the outside so you have 4" when flat this will give an overlap and a 1 inch diameter tube. 
 Corks have lines around them, one close to the top and the other higher to allow for the bottom to be cut away to fit in the bottle top.

Glue the outside edge and overlap using the previously marked line.

edge Use adhesive tape to hold the tube in position while the glue dries.

Tape up the tube

tape Tape up the bottom of the tube – this needs to seal the tube so the strongest tape is best or you could use additional cardboard cut to shape.

Heat old wax or crumble a cheap Candle

Add a small amount of oil paint to colour. 


Using muffin tins or tuna tins anything metal. Put the wax in enough to fill three quarters of the tin Place on a hot plate to melt.


Oil paint or wax crayon is added to create the colour of the cork. Oil gets the best consistency and you only need a small amount as shown here.


Mix in and stair until the wax is melted. As soon as the was is liquid remove from the hot plate ready to pour.


Make a wick from thin rope and dip it into the wax.


Lay out the wick to dry this I cut into three afterwards. 


Alternative to a hot plate is, place the metal container with wax in it into a bowl and pour hot boiling water around it to heat it up, this may need to be done a few times.

Pour in the wax using grips or pliers

Place the tube in a plastic container and support.

As the wax is cooling but still liquid pour in the wax to the top of the tube.

You can pour a small amount in and see if it leaks if it does let it cool – reheat the wax in the metal container then pour again as now it should be sealed.

Top up the tube

As the wax hardens it will shrink so reheat the wax left in the container and pour to the top.

Insert the wick into a cut out piece of cardboard so you can center the wick.

Alternative make a hole with a tooth pick before you top them up and insert the wick.

Let cool and then you can place in the fridge to harden – optional.

Film Cartridge

I also use film cartridges (if you can find them) I still use cardboard so I can use the transfer method of the markings and writing.

The writing can be added afterwards and when you remove the coverings any imperfections can be tidied up using a knife.

The bottom of the candle will also need cutting back to fit inside the wine bottle.


Finished cork effect Candles 



Saturday, November 1, 2014

Encaustic on a Candle – Art on a Candle

Decorating Candles Using Encaustic Painting


A few years ago, I received a strange invitation to a barbeque high up in the Aitana Mountains on the Costa Blanca. The man on the other end of the telephone asked me to bring samples of my work, that was it.

When I arrived through the high security gates, a little angst with anticipation, eight people were stood around a large grill, quaffing beers.

On the grill stood pots of wax mixed with colour pigment, a table adjacent had rows of different sized candles, various pallet knives, and a box of sponges.

Turns out he wanted to know if it was possible to create art on a candle using wax and had invited local artists from different nationalities.

The best four would be invited to create (Mass produce) candles for a price.

That was the first time I had ever heard of Encaustic painting, and even though the dodgy fella turned out to be a scammer, the experience was worth it. Anything can be achieved with wax and the willingness to fail, a little at first.

What's Encaustic Painting?

Encaustic painting involves using heated beeswax, paraffin, soy, and other plant waxes to which coloured pigments are added. The liquid/paste is applied to a surface, usually wood or canvas, but other materials can be used.

Encaustic was developed by ancient Greek ship builders, adding pigments to hot wax they used to repair their ships hulls. Some of the earliest examples of encaustic art are those of paintings attached to mummies in Ancient Egypt, about 3,000 years ago.

I have been applying wax to candles, especially to hurricane candles that burn through leaving the outside intact, the effect is superb.

The technique of mixing wax and pigment for candles is simple.

Spanish Dance Candles Use a temperature controllable hot plate. Crumble a cheap plain candle into a stainless or metal shot size pot or muffin tins and add powder pigment with a teaspoon.

Knowing the characteristics of your pigments, whether they’re transparent or opaque will influence how much pigment you use. Don’t use too much pigment if there’s not sufficient wax to stick it down, the wax will flake — practice will gets the best consistency ratio.

Techniques for applying the wax

Seascape Sponge, pallet knife, an old thin paint brush, and for detailed work a bristle-less thin paint brush with a metal end.

Start sponging backgrounds like skies and seas, form boats and sailing ships, dipping a pallet knife into the hot wax, moving it along letting the wax slip off.

With practice you can judge the speed needed to apply thick or thin lines and pallet knife larger areas in. Almost drizzle the wax, at the same time spreading it. If you go over, even on a wax back ground you can trim back with a knife and repair mistakes.

Paint layer after layer to raise a surface for a motif and also paint the side of hurricane candles for more complex work as the exterior stays intact, you can place a tea light candle inside and keep reusing.


Safety and further practice

Sea world Apart from the obvious, breathing in the fumes, heat from the wax, and the hot plate, the other thing is to not over heat the wax and don’t dip a pallet knife, brush or anything into a colour that is loaded with a different colour.
Dipping your tools into the right colour then wipe it, will clean it.

Practice on cheap candles as you can scrap them clean for another try until you get a feel for it.
Once you have and got it down. The next step is to buy a large expensive candle.
I don’t think it’s necessary to purchase Carnauba wax or Beeswax.

Using cheap clear candles crumble and melt, add powder pigments (from any art shop) or Oil paints and add Damar resin is enough.
Damar resin is mixed with beeswax to harden it and raise its melting temperature. It also keeps the wax translucent preventing blooming (whitening). It can be polished to a glossy shine.
Wax melts at 150 degrees F– 65 degrees C.

 Why not try with some wax crayons and a cheap candle dip a sponge into the hot wax and dab it onto the candle use a pallet knife to make lines

Practice Candles

I’ve seen people take days to get it and some look like they had been doing it years, which one are you?