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Container Candles

February 22, 2017 , In: Ceramic Clay, Clay, General, Inspiration, Mixed Media, Tutorials
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As I said in my last post, I’ve been ignoring pretty much everything while practising hard on my wheel, and also working on developing new glazes. I’m still obsessed with lustre glazing and there’s one in particular that I’m absolutely in love with. It’s taken many test firings and lots of rejects, but I’ve finally nailed getting it how I want to look and being able to reproduce the effect.

 

This is a combination of 6 different glazes, gold lustre and 5 firings and has taken me about 4 months of testing to perfect. (It’s also a pain to photograph and has pink/purple & is more lustrous IRL!)  So now, I have to do something with it! While practising making identical sized pots on the wheel, I made a set of 4 very nearly the same, but slightly different bowls with the intention of testing reproducing my new favourite glaze. Amazingly, they all worked!

They’re quite small, so not really practical for much, so I decided to revisit something I haven’t done for years… candle making. I’m a bit of a pyromaniac, so I love the idea of bringing my work to life with fire. Today I’d like to share the process of how I make candles, and more specifically container candles. This process can be done for most non flammable containers such as mason jars and tea cups.

If you’re going to give it a try, please take necessary safety precautions for working with high temperatures.

 

Before you start, it’s important to have everything to hand. You can’t leave the wax unattended once you’ve switched the heat on, so make sure you’re prepared. Supplies needed are…

  • Newspaper to cover your surfaces – wax is a pain to remove and I got in a lot of trouble making candles in my Mum’s kitchen many years ago… it took me hours to scrape it all off!
  • A double boiler, I’ve used an old pan with a cookie cutter to hold the jug off  the bottom – wax is extremely flammable so can’t come in to contact with direct heat.
  • A metal jug or bowl for holding the wax.
  • A thermometer – I got a jug and thermometer kit for steaming milk for less than the candle making version.
  • Scales
  • Containers
  • Wicks – you will need to know the size of your container to choose the right wick size.
  • Measuring jug
  • Wooden sticks or something for stirring
  • A hot glue gun
  • Essential oil or fragrance (if you’d like scented candles)
  • Wax – I’m using eco friendly soy wax, but you can use paraffin or vegetable if you’d prefer. You can get lots of different types, some only need one pour, some are for coloured candles and some work better with scents, so research and choose which is best suited to what you’d like. 

To begin, you need to work out how much wax you need. Fill each container with water, then pour the water in to an empty measuring jug. Round it up to the nearest mark and to convert this in to how many grams you need minus 20%. Make sure to dry your containers before filling them with wax.

 

My water came to 500ml, so minus 20% means 400 grams of wax. I measured it out with a bit for luck and put the wax in to the jug, and the jug in to the pan of water. (it turned out that I needed a bit more for luck, so next time, I’ll fill the water to the top of the container to allow for the difference, but test how your particular brand measures up).

 

Make sure the container holding the wax is off the bottom of the saucepan, I used a cookie cutter to lift it up, then turn on the heat. I put it on low to heat slowly so I had time to prepare everything for pouring. At this point you must stay with the wax as it heats. If it reaches too high a temperature, certain types can ignite, so take care to keep an eye on the thermometer!

 

I’m using ready made wicks with retainers already fitted, I attached them to the bottom of the bowls using hot glue (You can also use sticky dots, but I had the glue gun already). They’re pre waxed so will stand up on their own.

 

If you’re using it, measure out your fragrance. I used 8% by weight. So 32 grams of oil for 400 grams of wax. You will need to check what percentage your wax will take. Mine says up to 12%, but as I’m using essential oil, it’s pretty strong. The oil came in a 100ml bottle and I used about 2/3 for the 400 grams, so roughly 65ml of oil. 

 

Once the wax is fully  melted and reading 85C/190F on the thermometer, it’s time to switch off the heat and add your fragrance. Leave the jug in the water so it doesn’t cool down too much. Give it a good stir for at least 2 minutes to make sure it’s fully mixed in. Pockets of unmixed oil will stop your wax from setting properly.

 

Pour the wax in to each bowl and use a skewer or similar to hold the wick in the centre while it sets.

 

After about half an hour the wax will have started to solidify at the top, but it will take a couple of hours for it to fully set. Once the top is solid, you can remove the skewers.

 

This particular wax only needs one pour, depending on what type you choose, you might need to do a second pour to level the top as some kinds sink as they cool. Once they’re fully set, trim the wicks to about 10mm and they’re finished. 

 

And one last point about safety. Over here in the UK by law you must attach safety stickers to the candles, so check your local requirements before putting anything up for sale! I got some ready made in the size I needed from Amazon.

 

It’s also a good idea to fully test the burning to make sure you have the right wick size, that they smell good, and to see how long they burn. 

 

Now all you need to do is light them and in my case relax to the wonderful soothing smell of lavender!

 

 

 

Caroline Dewison

Caroline Dewison is a lifelong addict of anything creative. She settled on ceramic beadmaking 3 years ago and can be found most days at the bottom of her garden playing with mud in her studio. She draws her inspiration from the natural world and wishes there were more hours in the day to explore all the ideas in her sketchbook. You can see more of her work on her blog - blueberribeads.co.uk.
  1. Reply

    I am just in love with your glaze! Would love to see it in reality in the sunlight!

  2. Reply

    These are gorgeous how fun! Xx

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