To make the candles for this project I began with some research. How would I make the product? Which silicone to buy for the mould? Which wax would I use and how would I dye it?
I began simply with a video revealing a brand called Polycraft, it seemed pretty simple and could easily be done from home. To make the mould I would need a form that it would envelop. I orignally was going to purchase one online but remembered I have a mushroom piece I made a few years ago when I made a lot of ceramic work based around natural forms. It is a nice size and quite detailed and felt it would be a good starting point to try out for a first time moulding process. If this piece failed I would aim to make a new form better suited for the process.
To make the mould and get the best the result, the shape must be suspended and not touching any side of the container. This would be difficult as the piece has of course been fired and glazed. This is something I will have to work on.
Originally for the wax I purchased a set of 50 dinner candles that I thought I would be able to cut down and melt, but while purchasing pigment dyes to mix into the wax, it stated that it would only combine with soy or parrafin based waxes. On researching I found that the candles I had bought were a stearine based wax. So I then ordered a 1kg bag of soy wax chips to use for the process instead.
The process of dying and melting the wax I feel will be the most tricky, only a small amount, precisely 0.02-0.06oz, of the pigment would be needed to sufficently colour 1lb. of wax. “Because the melting point of the pigment is higher than the soy wax, it is necessary to first dissolve the pigment and small amount of soy wax at a temperature of 90-100 degrees. Until the pigment is completely dissolved, then add the remaining soy wax to dissolve.” This process will be tricky one and has to be done very carefully otherwise it could burst into flames. This will be done with another person around to assist. Safety first !
Working Through the Issues
I considered many ways I could potentially suspend the mushroom shape; with fishing wire, with toothpicks holding it from the bottom, I considered even making the mould in 2 halves and somehow joining them together. Lucky I came up with a way to do it !
In this first image I have the head of a small scalpel that has been pushed into the bottom of the piece. It managed to have a strong hold, but when pushed into the blue tac to keep it standing, the weight of the mushroom meant that it slowly would fall to one side. I didn’t want to risk putting it in the silicone and this happening otherwise it would damage and smear the mould inside.
The next two images reveal how I instead pushed the head of the scalpel into the top of the mushroom. I noticed it had a hole and knew I could fish something through it to enable suspension. I first tried it with embroidery thread but the weight of the mushroom was too heavy and dragged it down. I knew it would have to be something stronger and considered a long stick, and then remembered I had metal skewers for BBQ and it fit perfectly ! I’m glad I was able to suspend from the top and not the bottom as I need to remember to leave a hole in the top to pore the wax and fit the wick.