If you like candles, then you will love carved candles!
Learning how to make hand carved candles will take you from a mere candlemaking enthusiast, to a candle making expert.
In today’s article, we will go through the process of making decorative carved candles and how to carve candles at home.
Personalizing And Decorating Homemade Candles
Learning how to make candles can be a fun experience that you can do alone or together with your family. And if you are using a candle making kit you will have all the needed supplies to start right away.
If you are making candles at home, you will have many options of personalizing your candles.
But if you really want to up your game, you might want to try and make some sculpted candles.
Where Do Decorative Carved Candles Come From?
Carving candles is a rather unknown form of art that originated from Germany. These candles are completely made out of wax, even though they look nothing like the regular candle you will find in stores.
Small pieces of the wax can be carved away completely to reveal other colors underneath the surface, or folded and twisted to create eye-catching designs. One of the most amazing things about carved candles is that they illuminate every carved petal and ornament.
Although the entire process of hand carving a candle normally doesn’t take more than an hour, it is a tricky skill that requires patience to learn. As a result, not a lot of companies specialize carved candles.
Are you ready to take on the challenge?
Carving Candles At Home Step By Step
Even though learning the right candle carving techniques takes a lot of time and effort, that doesn’t need to stop you from trying!
In the video below you can see how to carve candles with a step by step explanation of the entire process.
For quick reference afterward, we also summarized each step underneath the video.
Step 1 – Creating A Design
You can get very creative and come up with a lot of original ideas when carving your candles.
But carving candles is also a race against the clock. You only have a small time frame within you need to finish all the carvings. So you better make sure you have a general idea of what kind of carvings you want to do.
As a beginner, you might want to start out with some easy candle sculptures, before taking on anything too ambitious.
Step 2 – Dipping The Core Candle
To create several different layers of color, you will dip your core candle in waxes of different colors. In principle, you can use any kind of wax for this. But you might want to add some additives such as Vybar or stearic acid to balance out the hardness and pliability needed for carving.
The colored wax needs to be warm enough to be molten, but cold enough to stick to the core candle. If the molten wax is too hot, the wax might just drip off the core candle without leaving a new colored layer. A temperature around 165-175 degrees Fahrenheit is normally warm enough.
If you are working with many different colors, a dipping vat could be useful to keep them all at the right temperature.
Step 4 – Cooling The Candle
After holding the core candle in the colored wax for several seconds, you can take it out and rapidly cool it by plunging it into a vat of water for several seconds.
You will go through this dip and cool cycle several times until you have the desired layers of color.
Make sure not to cool the candle for too long! You want to cool just long enough for the outer layer to harden a little while keeping the center of the candle warm. If you let the candle cool down completely to room temperature it will be impossible to carve it.
Step 5 – Carving The Candle
If you go through a lot of dip and cool cycles, you will notice that some excess wax might form at the bottom of the candle. You can cut this off first and form it into a small candle while the wax is still malleable.
Then with your original design in mind, you can start carving your candle. You might be tempted to buy an elaborate candle carving kit but when you are just starting out a simple knife will do.
You will have to work quickly though because wax normally will cooldown to a point where it is too hard to carve within 15 to 20 minutes.
By changing the depth and angle between cuts, you can create different effects. Additionally, you can twist and fold pedals of wax to achieve more intrinsic designs.
While carving keep in mind that the wax is slowly cooling down and it will become more and more difficult to carve.
Step 6 – Applying The Finishing Touch
After carving the sides of the candle to achieve your desired design, it is time to finish off your candle.
First, you want to remove some wax on top around the wick to create a well. This can be done easily with a cookie-cutter or you can use your knife. This well will guarantee that the candle will burn evenly and the sides will remain intact.
Secondly, you want to smoothen out the bottom of the candle to make sure it is stable enough to stand firmly. Warm up the base of the candle using a pan or hot water and then rapidly spin the candle to level the base.
Finally, you want to dip the candle in a glaze that will protect your decorative carved candle by keeping everything in place. Additionally, the glaze will give your candle a nice glossy shine.
— EveCandles (@EveArtCandles) 4 oktober 2017
Frequently Asked Questions
The entire process seems pretty straightforward and simple when you watch the instructional video. But once you try it, many new questions will quickly pop up.
Below, we have answered some common questions that you might come across when you carve candles for the first time.
What Type Of Wax Can I Use?
Normally paraffin wax is used to make carved candles. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use any other type of candle wax.
You just need to make sure you mix the wax of your choice with an additive (such as stearin or Vybar) to obtain a good balance between hardness and pliability. Hard enough to stand firmly, yet pliable enough to be carved.
One reason why paraffin is a popular choice of wax is that it shines very bright. This means it can illuminate the carving better than many other types of wax.
Remember that some types of wax can harden faster than paraffin and will thus give you less time to carve a complicated design.
These Carved Candles Are Too Beautiful To Burn, What To Do?
Besides just being a candle that can illuminate your house, decorated candles can really be a form of art on its own. So we understand that you feel a little sad to see it burn away.
There is a nifty solution that will let you burn the candle without losing it!
You first want to burn the candle until it creates a well that is about 2 to 3 inches deep. You then insert a small votive candle or tea light inside your decorative candle.
This way you can still enjoy the lighting effect without losing the candle.
Where Do I Buy The Needed Candle Carving Supplies?
Just like anyone else that wants to start making candles, we recommend beginners to first buy a candle making kit of their preferred wax type.
If you grasp the basics of making regular candles, you can try making a carved candle.
There are some special tools that could be useful to have such as dipping vats and candle carving tools. But with some ingenuity, you can probably come up with some homemade alternatives.
Beginners might want to start by just dipping in 2 or 3 different colors and only using a small knife.
Ready To Take On The Challenge?
By now you might either think carving candles looks super easy or super difficult.
But you won’t know until you try!
Don’t expect too much from your first few tries though. It takes expert over a year to fully master the skill of candle carving.
But if you need extra motivation, you can check out the video below in which a delicious watermelon candle is carved.