The Art of Darkness

Tutorial: Fake Decorative Candles


These are general instructions for making a wooden candle for use in interior decor.

Materials:

  • Wooden dowel or rope molding (see below for details)
  • Wood glue (optional, see below)
  • Hot glue
  • Wire for wick
  • Spray paint
Click the thumbnails for larger images.

 
Molding
 
(I wanted to make a twisty candle but couldn’t find a turned dowel, so I glued two pieces of rope molding together. If you’re using a regular round dowel, skip Steps 1 and 2.)

Carefully saw the molding in half.

 
Glued Molding
 
Glue the two pieces together, carefully matching the twists. It’s okay if the match isn’t perfect, since hot glue covers a multitude of sins. Let dry.
 
Wick
 
Cut the dowel to the desired length of the finished candle. If using molding, you may need to even up the ends where one edge sticks over the other. Cut a short length of wire (I used floral wire, but a bit of coat hanger would be fine). Bend a loop in one end and use a hefty dollop of hot glue to glue it to the top of the dowel. When thoroughly set, bend the remaining wire up at a right angle to form the wick. (Note: Be careful to position the loop off-center so that when you bend up the wire it’ll be in the middle of the candle.)
 
Hot Glue
 
Hold the dowel upright and gloop plenty of hot glue onto the top, letting it drip down the sides like wax. Add more hot glue to the drips, extending them as desired. If using molding, make sure you drip long beads of glue down the seams to hide them. Prop the candle up somewhere to let the glue set up.
 
Paint
 
In a well-ventilated area, spray-paint the candle the desired color. Let dry. Depending on the porousness of the wood, you may need to give it several coats to look like shiny wax rather than painted wood.
 
Finished Candle
 
And you’re done. Here’s the top of the candle in a bit more detail. Place in a candleholder of your choice.
 
Another Candle
 
You can experiment with things other than dowels, too. This is another candle I made using a small turned table leg. You might also be able to use items made of heavy plastic (make sure the hot glue won’t melt it) or metal. If it looks vaguely candle-like, slap some hot glue and paint on it and see what happens.
 


A couple of other notes:

If you prefer, before dripping glue onto the candle place it in a candleholder and let the glue drip down onto it as well. If you don’t want spray paint on the candleholder, you can:

  • Cover the candleholder with plastic and masking tape before spraying, then touch up the candle base and the glue on the candleholder by hand
  • Paint the entire candle by hand
  • Leave the wood its natural color and use buff-colored hot glue
  • Paint the dowel before covering it with hot glue and use glue in a matching color

Instead of a standard candleholder, use something dramatic like an empty wine bottle (Vampire Wine, in particular).

If you want to get really fancy, use additional hot glue to attach the candle to the top of a plastic skull. (If the dowels you’re using are thin enough, mass two or three on top.) Glop on plenty of hot glue to make the skull look like a well-used part of a wizard’s study.