Those of you who’ve followed this blog for a while already know that while I might talk about craft projects and even get excited about them, the plain and simple truth is that I’m not a crafty sort of person, and if I dare attempt any craft project, it’s probably not going to turn out like it’s supposed to. One need only look back at the poor, sad little pumpkin I painted recently. Oh, well. At least I tried.
Another craft project I’ve been wanting to try for years — and I mean years and years — is candle-making. Not the really serious dipping in wax sort of candle-making or anything involving odd shapes or candle molds, or anything with any degree of difficulty. I know a little bit about those things, you see. My mother — who was a very crafty woman — once got on a candle-making kick. I have no idea how it started, but once she started making candles, she couldn’t quit. Soon her kitchen was filled with waxes and scenting oils and colors and everything else that went along with really making candles. She got so good at it — in such a short time — that everyone she knew was soon clamoring to buy the candles she created. She was good at it. Very good at it.
Now, all of this happened late in her life. I was quite grown-up before she made her first candle, so I didn’t learn anything from her about the art and craft of candle-making.
All the while, though, I was wanting to make a candle. An ice candle to be more specific. I’d first heard of ice candles when I was about nine or ten years old. They sounded so simple, so fun, and so exciting! They looked pretty, too, from my nine or ten year old viewpoint. One of mother’s friends, a woman named Henrietta, made one for Christmas one year. I was fascinated by it and wanted to make one, too.
What is an ice candle? You’ve probably seen them. Here’s a quick little video.
For some reason, I never had a chance to make an ice candle as a child. My mother wasn’t too interested — or maybe she was just too busy with other craft projects — and since it was already very obvious at that point in my life that I was not crafty, it’s little wonder no one was too enthused about the idea.
And so, the idea languished.
Year after year, especially when Christmas came around, I’d think again about making an ice candle. But, I would think again. Too messy. Probably wouldn’t work. Just a waste of time.
And so, year after year, I talked myself out of it. Until this year. No, it’s not yet Christmas time, but why not make a lovely autumn candle? The more I thought about it, the more determined I became. Seriously, this is a project that children do. Crafty or not, surely I could make an ice candle.
So I saved an empty quart-sized carton, and I began collecting bits and pieces of wax. I like lighting little candles every morning, so as they burned down and melted, I kept the wax. I did purchase a little more wax from Hobby Lobby, and I picked up a bottle of pumpkin spice fragrance too.
I was nervous about it, and I kept putting it off. Finally I figured I’d better do it or just forget about it. So, I did it.
And when all was said and done, I ended up with a candle.
I can’t say that it was an especially pretty candle. It had the somewhat lacy structure that’s characteristic of an ice candle — all those little holes created when the hot wax melts the ice — but it also looked a little misshapen.
And the color? What color? Of course, considering that I made it with nothing but white, ivory, and a couple of autumn orange wax pieces, I don’t know what else I could have expected.
At least, it was a candle. For once, I had successfully completed a craft project, and while it wasn’t the most beautiful candle to ever light the darkness, it was a candle. And, yes, it did light the darkness.
You can probably see the white center at the wick. Let me explain quickly what that is. It’s a regular white taper. That’s another reason why ice candles are so easy to make. Instead of bothering with setting a wick in place, you just use another small candle. Genius, right? Once the ice candle is finished (it needs to set for about an hour after the wax is poured) you just take a knife or a pair of scissors and cut the taper down to where it’s even with the top of your ice candle.
But what happens to the water that’s caused when the ice melts? I looked at my husband, expecting him to have the answer, and he didn’t know either. I went back and re-watched the video, but there was no mention of water remaining after the ice melts. And, yes, there was water inside the candle. What to do? I did what seemed logical to me. I tipped the candle up over the sink and poured out the water. What else was I supposed to do? The candle was leaking water all over the counter.
That was when we lit the candle and I had my true moment of triumph. My candle actually worked!
After all the years of wanting, I had finally done it. I had made an ice candle. Already I was thinking ahead to Christmas. I could make dazzling white ice candles, or maybe get adventurous and make green ice candles with a pine tree fragrance. Or red candles. Or maybe I could get really fancy and combine more than one color.
Oh, by the way, in case you’re wondering, my ice candle didn’t have much fragrance. I probably didn’t use enough of the pumpkin spice scent.
That was one more note I made to myself. Next time, use more fragrance. That was right along with a note to check into how to properly color candle wax.
Yes, I was just filled with ideas and plans, and excitement… until I looked over at my candle and realized it was no longer lighting any darkness. It had gone out.
I tried lighting it again. It sputtered. It snapped. It popped. It crackled. Again. Snap, crackle, and pop. Come to think of it, my candle looked a bit like a leaning tower of Rice Krispies, and it sure sounded that way, too.
For several days my husband and I both fussed with the candle. I pulled off a bit of the wax surrounding the center taper. I got it to burn a little longer. Well, it worked for a while, we told each other. It was still better than most of my craft projects ever turn out.
Finally, I did get the candle burning again, and I have to admit it looked nice.
Finally it burned itself down, and I gathered up all the bits and pieces of wax. I’ll be saving them to make another candle.
Whether or not it will be an ice candle, I don’t know. Now that I’ve attempted candle-making, I want to try it again. It really wasn’t all that difficult, and I really think this is one craft I might be able to learn.