DIY Gourd Candles
If you want to immortalize your seasonal favorites, you can easily do that by creating reusable molds. Molds can be later used for making candles or soaps. They are fairly easy to make.
To make your molds more interesting choose gourds with funky shapes (like Autumn Wings) or cute miniature squashes (like Munchkins).
To make candle molds you will need:
-funky shaped gourds
-rtv silicone rubber for making molds (I used 1 kg one to make molds out of two small gourds: one Munchkin and one Autumn Wing gourd/pictured above)
-hammer and screwdriver
-few cm long and thick wood strips (or, alternatively, plastic strips and hot pen (to cut holes in the plastic strip)
-painters tape (to secure gourds to the containers)
-sharp scissors or carpet knife (to cut through plastic or to cut gourds' top off)
-plastic or silicone spatula (for mixing silicone)
- plastic deli containers (to mix the liquid silicone in)
- more plastic deli containers (or alternatively, leftover 1L plastic bottles to use as temporary mold holders); use short containers for small squashes like Munchkins and tall soup containers for bigger gourds (like Autumn Wings) *
You may also need:
-plastic table cover or trash bag
Useful tips and preparing for mold making:
*Leftover 1L bottles or tall deli containers come in handy when you want to create molds from tall gourds. For example, Autumn Wing variety gourds are thin, tall, and irregularly shaped, so it's harder to fit them into regular, small containers. You can cut the top off 1L soda bottle and create a mold holder.
* When choosing containers for mold holders, please make sure there's enough space for liquid latex at the bottom, at the sides, and at the top of the container. Mold has to be thick enough (2 cm minimum) to securely hold the wax. You don' have to make it thicker (please, don't waste the silicone).
If you use plastic bottles as mold holders, please remember that the bottoms of plastic bottles are uneven (you need to make sure to place your gourd high enough in the bottle, so the bottom is evenly filled with silicone and safe to hold the wax later). Cut bottle top off using sharp scissors (be careful, it's going to be sharp) or a hot pen.
*When you find a suitable container, remember to make a 'trial run' with the gourd inside. For example, don't pour silicone before choosing the right method of securing the gourd. If the gourd is tall enough, you can secure it with painter's tape while simultaneously fastening the tape on the outer sides of the container (pictured above). Alternatively, you can secure the pumpkins by screwing them onto the wood strips or hooking them up onto plastic strips (pictured below) and placing wood/plastic strips onto the edges of the containers, and then securing them with painter's tape. (Which will prevent gourds from floating to the surface). Use plastic strips with holes in them or cut holes using a hot pen.
Instructions for making molds:
Mix silicone mixture as instructed on the bottle and pour it right away into the container of your choice.
Pour around 2cm of liquid silicone onto the bottom of the container and place your gourd on top of it.
Make sure your gourd is safely attached to the container before pouring the rest of the liquid (please, read the instructions on how to do that in the 'useful tips' section above).
Silicone should cover the gourd on all sides. You may also brush your gourd with one silicone layer before putting it in the container.
Left molds to form for as long as it's advised on the packaging (it should be at least 12 hrs).
Remove mold from the containers. You can cut containers open using sharp scissors (just mind the sharp edges while doing that). Use a carpet knife to cut the hole at the top of the mold (for safe wax pouring) and a smaller one at the bottom (needed for putting the wick through). Don't cut holes bigger than 2cm.
Release the gourd by making a long cut at the side of the mold.
What you will need to make candles:
- a double boiler (for example cooking pot and stainless steel jug to melt wax in)
- wax pellets for pillar candles *
- wax dye (in Autumn colors)
- wicks (NOT pre-waxed, without sustainers, preferably on a spool)
- wick holders or bamboo sticks (to center the wick and hold it in place)
- carpet knife
- saucer or small plate
- box tape
- optional: fragrance / essential oil (just a drop)
*Pillar waxes shrink during the process of cooling which makes releasing the candle from the mold easy. Bee wax or paraffin should do.
Instructions for making candles:
Use double boiler to melt the wax. Pour water into the cooking pot (at least 500 ml) and put stainless steel jug (or another temperature-proof container) into the water-filled pot. Throw wax pellets or wax flakes into the steel jug and bring water to a boil. Let pellets melt and then add a drop of essential oil (or other nice fragrance) and wax dye (read instructions on the package to see how much to add). If the dye is in solid form (pictured below) you can put it in right away (just mix it together with the wax pellets).
Slowly immerse a piece of wick (rule of thumb: cut wick longer rather than shorter; you can always cut the excess off) into the hot wax (please, be careful). Try to cover 2/3 of the wick in wax (left the top clean), let it cool off (until wick gets stiff), and put it through the middle of the mold. Place mold on the saucer or a plate. You can later use the box tape (wrap it around the mold) to secure the mold and prevent leaks. Alternatively, you can re-use the deli container and simply place the mold in it while pouring the wax and waiting for it to cool off.
Center the wick using a wick holder or bamboo stick (secure it by tieing the top of the wick to the bamboo stick).
If you have to warm up the wax again, that's ok. Wax has to be hot in order to correctly make candles. Slowly pour hot wax into the molds.
It will shrink, so you may have to warm up some more wax and top it off. You can also use different colored wax to create layered candles. Just wait until one layer of wax cooled off and add another one in a different color. Let the wax cool, shrink (give it at least 12 hrs), and then release the candle from the mold.
Cut off access wick and enjoy your candles!
You can use your molds multiple times to create multi-colored, fall-themed candles or soaps.