Creative adventures – Wax luminaries

I saw this idea on Pinterest. I am usually only on Pinterest during holidays – it’s a relaxing thing to do. But this last term I used it to source out a number of ideas for our School activities week at the end of the year. I came across this idea and thought “that looks amazing, I wonder if I could do it?” So I had to have a go.

Photo courtesy of my friend Melissa
Photo courtesy of my friend Melissa

First things first. Supplies. I ended up purchasing high melt paraffin wax and battery operated tea lights from my school supplier. I am sure they could be purchased a little more cost effectively but using this contact made it super easy to get what I needed when life was so busy. I then racked my brains as to the best way to melt the wax. Fortunately the website has links to a company where the idea originally came from. There are great tips and hints for all things candles. I would strongly recommend a visit to the site before you begin. The tips there made doing this creative adventure much easier.

It was suggested that electric heat was better for the wax melting process, as was using a double boiler. As I didn’t want to use any of my kitchen implements I hopped off to the local charity stores and discovered some great metal pots and a small electric saucepan – one of which I had never seen before. Now, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend buying an electric object from an op shop, as you never know if it’s just quite right, but my Dad being an electrician, tested it out for me and said it was fine. Besides it cost only $8 so it was either going to be a bargain or a gift to charity. Win win either way, I reckon.

Equipment for wax melting

The larger of the two pots was a great size for dunking the water filled balloon into and the smaller was perfect for holding chopped up pieces of wax that needed to be ready to throw into melted wax as I used it.

Here’s my garage set up. I didn’t want to risk doing it inside. At least if the wax spilt or caught on fire it could be contained to an area of the house that wasn’t lived in all the time. I used the rectangle electric fry pan for smoothing off the top edges when the luminary was set.

My garage set up

The basic process involves filling a small balloon with warm water, leaving a gap with air in it at the top. It has to be warm water, not hot as the layers of wax won’t set. Tie a knot and use the knot to hold the balloon as it is dunked in the wax. I just used normal sized balloons. There is a bit of an art to getting the knot at the top and base in just the right place but an off kilter bowl looked quite nice too.

Number one done

Then the luminary is made by dunking the balloon in the wax multiple times. In the end I timed each dunk – about 15 seconds between layers for the first 6-8 minutes, then 30 seconds up until between 12 -15 minutes. At the bgeginnng the wax itself takes about 40 minutes to melt and come to the correct temperature. It is a process that requires evaluation as you go along and does require some patience, but the end result is quite satisfactory.

Two little ones

I gave these away as Christmas gifts with a battery operated tea light and instructions has to how to use a normal tea light if desired. A normal tea light will melt the luminary if care is not taken. The battery operated tea lights that flicker are actually quite realistic and do look quite good. I think I will always use them for this purpose.

Complete with candle

It really was a great creative adventure amongst my creative adventures of the summer. Do have a look at the links and feel free to ask any questions. It’s a great process and I love the outcome. Have fun. JP

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