Decorating candles is a terrific craft you can do in the art room. Middle or high school students are generally very interested in making this useful craft. Follow these directions for three different easy project ideas.
Your children can light up someone's day with these homemade candles! Make sure to read the instructions carefully. While these lessons are geared towards multi-aged groups, some steps may need adaptations or adult supervision and assistance.
Decorating by Hand
In this activity students will use their creativity and imagination to come up with decorative designs for a hand-painted candle.
This lesson plan could be used to teach various concepts including: line, shape, and pattern. It could also be tied into many aspects of art history or artists. Some examples: patterns/designs of the Arts & Crafts Movement, Cubism/Picasso, the basic shapes of Matisse, graffiti and art of Keith Haring.
Depends on the concept of the lesson. In the example of Keith Haring and graffiti art some objectives could be:
- to appreciate the art of Keith Haring
- to design and implement a Keith Haring style image for their candle
- to be able to complete a multi-step project from beginning to end
Vocabulary (also dependent on the type of lesson plan)
line, shape, design, sketch
- pillar style candles (any size will work) color white works best
- fine or small water-color paint brushes
- acrylic paint
- cotton swabs
- rubbing alcohol
- Have students come up with a design or pattern that they will etch into their candle. Basic doodles, shapes, and designs work the best.
- Using a pencil, they should draw their designs into the wax of their candle. For younger children, it may be helpful to draw the pattern in marker first for them and have them trace over the designs.
Go over the lines once or twice (without pressing too hard) to create a groove into the wax that will catch paint.
- Using a watercolor brush, lightly dilute the paint with water, and fill in the design grooves with paint.
- When all of the designs are filled in, let the paint dry for about five minutes. If there is any excess outside the patterns, use a cotton swab to wipe away the paint. For any paint that has dried, dip a swab in rubbing alcohol and carefully wipe away the paint.
This project is geared toward older children or close adult supervision with a smaller group as it involves the use of hot wax. Students will create a decorative candle using shapes cut from construction paper.
This lesson plan could be tied to the art work & style of Matisse and his technique of "painting with scissors" (paper cut-outs).
- Students will be introduced to the art of French artist Henri Matisse
- Students will learn about colors, shapes, pattern
- Students will use construction paper to cut shapes for their candle in the same method as Matisse
line, shape, pattern, color
- paraffin wax
- container to melt the wax in
- construction paper
- large candle
- paint brush
- decorative ribbon (optional)
- confetti (optional)
- Melt some paraffin wax in a container on the stove using a double boiler method. A soup can or coffee can would work best for this depending on the size group. Be careful! The container will get hot. Before children use wax you may want to transfer a little wax at a time to an alternate container to prevent children from burning themselves.
- Have students cut their desired shapes out of construction paper. For a Mother's Day theme they may want to cut hearts and flowers out of paper. Other ideas include a celestial theme with moons & stars, party theme with polka dots or balloons, or children could create a Valentine's Day themed candle. Students may not want to use construction paper at all and instead use themed or colored party confetti.
- Once their shapes are cut, they should attach them to their candle, using glue sparingly.
- Using a brush, students will now paint the melted paraffin over their construction paper shapes. Encourage students to cover over their shapes only slightly overlapping the edges onto the candle for a clean look.
- When the wax is dry, students may want to further decorate with a coordinating ribbon. Tie ribbon around the base of candle.
Paper Candle Wraps
Using paper and embellishments, students will turn ordinary candles into eye-catching works of art by creating wraps for them. Remember, candle wraps are just for decoration only and must be removed prior to burning candles.
This candle activity could be used as an art history project. Students will research an artist or time period of their choice and then create a candle wrap based on what they learn.
- Students will learn about an artist, time period, or style in art history.
- Students will create a candle wrap based on the knowledge they gain in research.
- Students will use drawing skills and paper to create a candle wrap in the style or technique of their research.
Vocabulary (varies based on student research)
art history, appreciation
- white pillar candle
- measuring tape
- white paper and/or construction paper
- crayons, markers, paint or colored pencils
- decorative scissors (like zig zag or wavy) (optional)
- double sided tape (optional)
- embellishments like beads, glitter, ribbon, confetti (optional)
- Measure the circumference of the candle with the measuring tape.
- Cut out a wide strip of white paper at the height of choice (depending on height of candle) and 1/2" longer than the length measured in the first step.
- Students will use this strip of paper to create a design or drawing based on the theme of your/their choice. They should use a pencil to sketch their idea onto their strip, keeping in mind that the paper will wrap around their candle and connect.
- Using the art supplies provided, students will color their drawings.
- Once their drawings are complete, using the double-sided tape or some glue, students will adhere the white strip of paper to a larger piece of colored construction paper. Using scissors (regular or decorative), cut the excess paper away leaving a border of about 1/4" on the top and bottom of their white paper. There should be no visible paper on the ends that will overlap and meet around the candle.
- Now students can wrap their paper around the candle and adhere at the overlap with glue or double-sided tape. Adjust the length of the paper if necessary by trimming with scissors. The wrap must be tight to prevent it from sliding down the candle.
- Students can now further embellish their drawing by gluing beads, ribbons, gems, confetti or other objects to their designs.
These projects are a great way to introduce students to art history and art concepts in a fun way. For more resources, check out these links for more information:
- Pioneer Thinking/The Art of Candle Making: http://www.pioneerthinking.com/candles.html
- Candle & Soap Making Techniques: http://www.candletech.com/
- Candle Science/Candle Making Supplies: http://www.candlescience.com/
- Keith Haring: http://www.haring.com/art_haring/index.html