Gussied-Up Candle Tutorial

Finished Candles

Finished Candles

I have an easy and cheap tutorial for you today!  I’m dressin’ up some super-cheap candles with craft store rub-on decals!

As I’ve been working on our guest room, I’ve been going to various home decor stores looking for this thing or that one, and I see all these *gorgeous* boutiquey candles in chunky, decorative glasses.  Every time, my brain says, “Oooh!  Pretty!” and I pick them up, sniff them (you would be surprised how stanky some expensive candles really can be), and *then* look at the price.  It seems that if they pass BOTH the visual that-would-look-great-in-the-guest-room-test, and the smell test, then they drastically fail the budget part of the exam.

Mainstays Candles

Mainstays Candles

It was starting to get to the point where it seemed like a joke, like the more of these chunky funky candles I priced, the more wildly expensive and unrealistic they got.  I’ve seen more than a few twenty dollar candles.  I’ve even seen one that was priced at thirty-five.  That is insanity, candle people, we intend to set this thing on fire.  I was starting to think I should just get a big, ugly, Yankee jar.  I figured I’d have to give up on the form part of the deal and just go for function.  (An I’m sorry, but those Yankee candle jars usually *are* pretty ugly, and they aren’t cheap either.)   And even at ‘just’ ten bucks, I would only be able to get one, I want at least two for the room.

So, there I was on a late-night, kiddo-cough meds run, shuffling through my least-loved box store, and I happened through the candle aisle.  Quite the selection the Mainstays line has in scents and colors, and the glass containers are quite hefty and smooth.  These candles are about four inches tall, and they smell awesome, like– I want some for my own room– good.  The clincher?  They’re less than two bucks each.  Um, yeah!  We’ll give that a shot!

I bought them, brought them home, and removed the labels.  They’re okay like that, I hadn’t really thought any more about it, and then I bought some decals for a wall clock revamp for that room– LIGHTBULB!  It’s so easy, you can probably figure it out, but here are directions anyway:

Tools and Materials–

  • inexpensive candle in a glass vessel
  • hairdryer (that’s a might-need, depending on the difficulty of peeling your labels)
  • Goo Gone  and q-tips (that’s the citrus one, not the one that smells like lighter fluid, also a might-need depending on how much sticky is left on your glass)
  • dish soap, water
  • paper towels
  • scissors
  • low-tack tape, like painter’s masking tape
  • scratch-on decals
  • popsicle stick (usually comes with the decals)
  • lighter or matches (to get your enjoy on!)
Clean Off the Factory Label

Clean Off the Factory Label

*** Start by removing the labels from your candle.  My Peach and Mango Mainstays candles came with a plastic cap on top (I’m sure to protect the wax from scratches and the like), which I left on while I was doing this part of the process.  These labels peeled really easily without any issue, and thankfully the stickers have that plastic-paper quality, which keeps them from tearing and helps them come off in one swoop.  If your label is giving you issues, you can point the hairdryer at it for a few minutes to soften the glue a little bit and help facilitate your peel.  Once you’ve gotten as much of the paper off as you can, you can treat any remaining sticky residue with a q-tip saturated with some goo gone, wiping away with a paper towel.

*** You need to do this step even if your candle didn’t have a label, because you want the decal to grab to the glass, and it has to be clean to do that.  Using a teensy amount of dish soap on a moist paper towel, wipe away hand oils, goo gone, and remaining residue from your glass.  You want to try and avoid getting anything into the wax candle part proper, so I would recommend, ‘rinsing’ by wiping with a damp paper towel.  (I actually have a multi-purpose household cleaner that I make using water, vinegar, blue dawn and orange essential oil.  I keep it in a spray bottle, and I cleaned my candles using a few spritzes of this mix on a paper towel.)  Once your candles are clean, you can safely dispose of the plastic protective caps.

Cut Apart Your Decals

Cut Apart Your Decals

*** Remove the decals from their package, and cut the chosen images apart, leaving the wax paper backing intact for this step.  If your decals have one continuous design that you want to use exactly as-is, then all you need to do is cut out that segment, all as one.  My rose decals were a bit scattered however, and I didn’t want them spaced like that on my glass candleholder.  I’ve also learned the hard way that you must cut away the parts you aren’t using, I’ve accidentally transferred images that I didn’t want on my project just with the heat of my hands and holding things the wrong way.  Don’t do that– its a mess!  Just cut it out!  (Did anyone else picture Dave Coulier when I said that?)

*** Figure out the placement of your image, and use a couple of bits of tape to hold it to the candle.  Use the pop stick to burnish over the design, pressing fairly hard (glass can be hard to transfer onto, even when it is clean), and covering all of the image area as well as you can.

Figuring Out Placement

Figuring Out Placement

***  Carefully peel back one corner of your plastic to check the transfer of your image.  If part of your image didn’t take, you can match up the design, laying it back down and scratching some more to fully remove it.

*** You can layer your decals as I am showing you to the left, just be careful to tape in areas where it isn’t touching your first layer of decal, you don’t want to lift your image.  Continue to place and scratch off your designs until your candle looks the way you want it to.  I did both mine in sort of random clusters of flowers, just on the front.  You’re done!  Light that baby up!

Lookin' Good!

Lookin’ Good!

All in all, this is a really easy project, one that could easily be done with smaller children.  And I think they turned out very sweet, maybe not fancy enough to fool your guests into thinking that its a $35 boutique candle, but if I were someone’s guest I would be afraid to burn such a thing anyway!  I was able to make both of these for less than six bucks, and that’s with plenty of decals for guest room projects left over.

I like to give people gift baskets for occasions like housewarming presents, and I may just have to use this simple idea the next time I do that!  It makes a cheapie candle feel custom pretty quickly.

**EDIT**  I decided to take my own advice, and when it came time to make a gift basket for a family wedding, I did these using the same Mainstays brand candles, and subbing out a clear wall decal for the scratch-ons.  I mentioned my process in this wall post, if you want to go get the details!

www.lovenestdesign.com/putting-together-a-wedding-giftie/

Bedecked Candles

Bedecked Candles

 

 


 


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