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STEP-BY-STEP CRAFTS SERIES: CANDLE MAKING (article first published : 2002-05-16)

Decorative candles are universally popular and to my surprise I found that making them is easier than I imagined. Cheryl Owen is an experienced crafter who has worked as a dressmaker, fashion designer and embroiderer. She is the author of many books on subjects as diverse as paper, clay, fabric, glass painting and salt dough. This is her first book on the subject of candles and it is obvious that she knows what she’s talking about.

The first section of the book deals with getting started. The very clear photographs are so good that most of the time a quick glance at them will explain the whole process faster than words. The basic techniques don’t seem that complicated and could easily be mastered using everyday kitchen equipment and utensils.

The clear layout continues throughout the book, making each of the 16 projects easy to understand. The projects are interspersed with galleries, giving further inspiration for designs and other projects.

There are various techniques for making the candles and each of the projects uses a different approach. Rolling sheets of beeswax around a wick is probably the easiest method, although my favourite design is the floating candles, which I thought would be much harder to make. I was interested to learn that some container candles use a different kind of wax called “jelly wax”, while stacked candles give a whole different effect. I learned that a frosted effect can be obtained by stirring cooling wax with a fork, while marbling is achieved when two shades of dip and carve wax are blended together.

While working my way through the projects, I became increasingly concerned that I would not be able to find all the materials needed for them, as the book was published in London. The supplier’s list at the back of the book was a welcome surprise, especially as it contained at least two addresses in Durban where materials can be acquired.

I must admit that I am a candle junkie. The warm flicker of a candle can quickly alter the mood and atmosphere of a room, often creating a tranquil, ambient scene that electric light just cannot match. Candles can be quite expensive, so I am glad to have learned how to make my own. But this book goes further than just the occasional hobbyist, as it provides enough inspiration for anyone who wants to turn candle making into a full time occupation.

I found this book an inspiration. With its clear instructions, 160 full-colour photographs and black and white templates, it effectively guides the reader through the projects. Published by Struik at the recommended price of R119.95, it is a must-have for the candle enthusiast. – Hendrik Baird




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