Inlay with Dried Fruits

This design is from another candlemaking wizard, Sue Spears, author of Candlemaking in a Weekend. Though the result is spectacular, the process is simplicity itself. There's a catch here, however. Unlike the inlaid candle described above, Ms. Spears's design is actually a candleholder made of wax — or a candle within a candle. It's also a variation of the pour-in/pour-out method already described.

Here's how she describes the “Lantern Candle with Dried Fruits”: “A wonderful, everlasting gift, this unique wax lantern would make a welcome decoration in any home. The warm colors of the dried fruit embedded in the sides glow warmly when a candle is placed inside the lantern and lit.” And she is absolutely right!

Here's How …

As Ms. Spears is British, I've modified her fruit selection just a bit to accommodate what is readily available in American supermarkets. To wit, you'll need an orange, a lemon, a lime, a peach, and a kiwi fruit.

Cut each of the fruits into thin slices. Place all on a cookie sheet in a warm oven (l50° Fahrenheit) for one to two hours, or until the fruit is dehydrated.

Using a rectangular mold — half a half-gallon milk carton is good — melt clear paraffin (about 2 pounds) and pour it into the mold. When the wax has cooled sufficiently for a layer about ¼″ thick to have formed on the top, cut out the top layer using an Exacto or craft knife, lift it out of the container with a spatula, and set aside.

Pour out the molten wax still inside and reserve. You should have an inner layer thick enough to embed the dried fruit slices firmly. You must work quickly with this method, as the wax is already partially hardened. Press slices of the dried fruit into the wax covering the sides of the molds. You needn't be particular about the order or the design as whatever you do will look spectacular! Do try, however, to use different pieces of fruit next to each other rather than piling up one kind in a single area.

Once you have embedded the fruit slices, remelt your wax, including the slice from the top, and repour. Pour to about ½″ from the top edge of the inner layer. Allow to set as before, and again cut out the top, partially hardened layer so that you can again pour out the still molten wax. You will have sealed the dried fruit in between two layers of wax — which is what makes this a permanent decorative holder rather than a mere candle.

To use your “lantern,” place a votive candle or a tealight in a glass holder into the center of the lantern and light. Then, just stand back and admire your work!

You can make the fruit-embedded inlay into a regular candle if you like. Just follow the instructions for making the bull's-eye candle on p. 246. Alternatively, you can turn the bull's-eye candle into a lantern. Both methods are interchangeable and useful fodder for your imagination.

Variations on the Theme

Either of the above methods can be used for inlaying other objects, such as seashells or dried herbs, leaves, flowers, and other plant material. You can even use pebbles or small garden stones for an outdoorsy look. Try wood bark for a rustic effect, or use vegetables such as zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, and parsley sprigs for a vegetarian surprise.

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