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Encaustic on a Candle - Art on a Candle

Updated on July 3, 2015

Decorating Candles Using Encaustic Painting

A few years ago, I received a strange invitation to a barbeque high up in the Aitana Mountains on the Costa Blanca. The man on the other end of the telephone asked me to bring samples of my work, that was it.

When I arrived through the high security gates, a little angst with anticipation, eight people were stood around a large grill, quaffing beers.

On the grill stood pots of wax mixed with colour pigment, a table adjacent had rows of different sized candles, various pallet knives, and a box of sponges.

Turns out he wanted to know if it was possible to create art on a candle using wax and had invited local artists from different nationalities.

The best four would be invited to create (Mass produce) candles for a price.

That was the first time I had ever heard of Encaustic painting, and even though the dodgy fella turned out to be a scammer, the experience was worth it. Anything can be achieved with wax and the willingness to fail, a little at first.

What's Encaustic Painting?

Encaustic painting involves using heated beeswax, paraffin, soy, and other plant waxes to which coloured pigments are added. The liquid/paste is applied to a surface, usually wood or canvas, but other materials can be used.

Encaustic was developed by ancient Greek ship builders, adding pigments to hot wax they used to repair their ships hulls. Some of the earliest examples of encaustic art are those of paintings attached to mummies in Ancient Egypt, about 3,000 years ago.

I have been applying wax to candles, especially to hurricane candles that burn through leaving the outside intact, the effect is superb.

Spanish Dance Candles
Spanish Dance Candles

The technique of mixing wax and pigment for candles is simple.

Use a temperature controllable hot plate. Crumble a cheap plain candle into a stainless or metal shot size pot or muffin tins and add powder pigment with a teaspoon.

Knowing the characteristics of your pigments, whether they're transparent or opaque will influence how much pigment you use. Don't use too much pigment if there's not sufficient wax to stick it down, the wax will flake -- practice will gets the best consistency ratio.

Griddles for melting the wax and keeping it hot.

Seascape
Seascape

Techniques for applying the wax

Sponge, pallet knife, an old thin paint brush, and for detailed work a bristle-less thin paint brush with a metal end.

Start sponging backgrounds like skies and seas, form boats and sailing ships, dipping a pallet knife into the hot wax, moving it along letting the wax slip off.

With practice you can judge the speed needed to apply thick or thin lines and pallet knife larger areas in. Almost drizzle the wax, at the same time spreading it. If you go over, even on a wax back ground you can trim back with a knife and repair mistakes.

Paint layer after layer to raise a surface for a motif and also paint the side of hurricane candles for more complex work as the exterior stays intact, you can place a tea light candle inside and keep reusing.

Tools and Materials

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hot plate with adjustable heat controlLarge hurricane candle the picture continues all the way around a challenge in its selfMuffin tins for the wax and pigmentDetail with a brushPallet knife and a strong knife for carving, reducing, shaping and cleaning.My preferred tool, a Pallet knife heated on the hot plate reactivates the wax.Various tools: Sponges, practice candles, a solder gun for detail work -- if you prefer and when working with  candles I use the heat gun to heat the wax in the muffin tins to speed up the melting process.Another side of the large Hurricane candle.
Hot plate with adjustable heat control
Hot plate with adjustable heat control
Large hurricane candle the picture continues all the way around a challenge in its self
Large hurricane candle the picture continues all the way around a challenge in its self
Muffin tins for the wax and pigment
Muffin tins for the wax and pigment
Detail with a brush
Detail with a brush
Pallet knife and a strong knife for carving, reducing, shaping and cleaning.
Pallet knife and a strong knife for carving, reducing, shaping and cleaning.
My preferred tool, a Pallet knife heated on the hot plate reactivates the wax.
My preferred tool, a Pallet knife heated on the hot plate reactivates the wax.
Various tools: Sponges, practice candles, a solder gun for detail work -- if you prefer and when working with  candles I use the heat gun to heat the wax in the muffin tins to speed up the melting process.
Various tools: Sponges, practice candles, a solder gun for detail work -- if you prefer and when working with candles I use the heat gun to heat the wax in the muffin tins to speed up the melting process.
Another side of the large Hurricane candle.
Another side of the large Hurricane candle.
Sea world
Sea world

Safety and further practice

Apart from the obvious, breathing in the fumes, heat from the wax, and the hot plate, the other thing is to not over heat the wax and don't dip a pallet knife, brush or anything into a colour that is loaded with a different colour.

Dipping your tools into the right colour then wipe it, will clean it.

Practice on cheap candles as you can scrap them clean for another try until you get a feel for it.

Once you have and got it down. The next step is to buy a large expensive candle.

I don't think it's necessary to purchase Carnauba wax or Beeswax.

Using cheap clear candles crumble and melt, add powder pigments (from any art shop) or Oil paints and add Damar resin is enough.

Damar resin is mixed with beeswax to harden it and raise its melting temperature. It also keeps the wax translucent preventing blooming (whitening). It can be polished to a glossy shine.

Wax melts at 150 degrees F-- 65 degrees C.

Candles for melting, practice and decorating and pigment powder

More candle examples

Click thumbnail to view full-size
ReligiousUnder the seaSailing raceFloral
Religious
Religious
Under the sea
Under the sea
Sailing race
Sailing race
Floral
Floral

Encaustic Art

Have you ever used encaustic to create art

See results

Why not try with some wax crayons and a cheap candle dip a sponge into the hot wax and dab it onto the candle use a pallet knife to make lines

Practice Candles

I've seen people take days to get it and some look like they had been doing it years, which one are you?

Encaustic for beginners

Books by this Author

What did you think about encaustic on candles?

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    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 3 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @rosa-rodriguez22: Hi, just add a small % to your wax before the pigment. You can use the wax without it just doesn't harden as much.

    • profile image

      rosa-rodriguez22 3 years ago

      How

    • profile image

      rosa-rodriguez22 3 years ago

      How can I use resin damar?

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 3 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @rosa-rodriguez22: Hi, Art shops sell colour pigments or to start with buy a cheap candle and melt down and mix in oil colour or pigment powder and then practice.

    • profile image

      rosa-rodriguez22 3 years ago

      @rosa-rodriguez22: Thank you very much. What do I need to buy to start making the candle.?

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 3 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @rosa-rodriguez22: Hi Rosa yes you can either by heating the candle a little then apply the drawing in ink or use PVA glue using the transfer method - see https://hubpages.com/art/how-to-make-wine-cork-can...

    • profile image

      rosa-rodriguez22 3 years ago

      Can you transfer from paper to a candle?

    • Stuwaha profile image

      Stuwaha 4 years ago

      This is something that I would really love to try. I have some beautiful encaustic art trading cards that I adore as I've admired the art form for quite a while.

    • kabbalah lm profile image

      kabbalah lm 4 years ago

      It's actually an interesting form of art. I wish I had some of your talent

    • BobZau profile image

      Bob Zau 5 years ago

      I'm in awe. I've never heard of this art form before... excellent topic.

    • BLemley profile image

      Beverly Lemley 5 years ago from Raleigh, NC

      They're beautiful! Lovely work, and talent! My daughter would be very good at this; I'll have to share your article with her. Great info and thanks for sharing with others. You do beautiful work! B : )

    • PristeamDetail LM profile image

      PristeamDetail LM 5 years ago

      Very interesting. I wonder if I can get one made for my company?

    • profile image

      travelerme 5 years ago

      I think it is interesting

    • UKGhostwriter profile image

      UKGhostwriter 5 years ago

      fantasic lens - well done

    • alina nicoleta92 profile image

      alina nicoleta92 5 years ago

      Wow, really love this lens. Great job!

    • bames24 lm profile image

      bames24 lm 5 years ago

      very creative... wish I had half your talent :))

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      You're very talented! Thanks for explaining how this is done.

    • profile image

      BarbaraCasey 5 years ago

      I've seen candles with different colored waxes applied rather heavily to them... but not artwork like this. Very cool.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @MargaritasWorld: Hi MargaritasWorld, what a great idea I never thought to try so next time I have the wax out I'll let you know, thanks!

      Your art would look cool on candles.

    • MargaritasWorld profile image

      Margarita Boettcher 5 years ago from Morrison, Colorado

      That looks so much fun!! Your work on wax is brilliant! I have a few candle trios where one design is painted and layered across three rectangle candles. You can push them together or display apart. I bet your art would look amazing with that technique! If you already have pieces like that can I see?Margarita

    • Natalie W Schorr profile image

      Natalie W Schorr 5 years ago

      Very cool!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @LornsA178: Thank you and for the blessing.

    • LornsA178 profile image

      LornsA178 5 years ago

      Very interesting! Cool!

    • profile image

      KarenCookieJar 5 years ago

      These are very pretty.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @MBurgess: Hi, RiaB thanks for stopping by and for the squid like.

    • MBurgess profile image

      Maria Burgess 5 years ago from Las Vegas, Nevada

      These are wonderful! May have to try this out. This would be a great way to use up some of the wax from older candles I have, too. Thanks for sharing! =)

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @BarbRad: Thank you very much for visiting.

    • BarbRad profile image

      Barbara Radisavljevic 5 years ago from Templeton, CA

      Fascinating! I'm afraid I can't even paint on paper. I'm just not a painter. But I have a lot of friends who are. One of them is an encaustic painter and I watched her demonstrate one night.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @anonymous: Thank you NinaLouder and for stopping by.

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      anonymous 5 years ago

      So nice. I like it. Great lens.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @SusansZooCrew: Hi, thanks for the feed back and a great idea I certainly will add some more steps showing what you suggested in the next week, so once again thanks.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @anonymous: Thank you for the visit I'm glad you enjoyed the lens.

    • profile image

      SusansZooCrew 5 years ago

      Looks pretty cool! Would love to see some more details-like what brand of pigment do you use? Or some examples of what a line put down with a pallet knife looks like versus a line with a brushless brush versus a sponge. And ooooo a step by step series of pics of a painting in progress? Great lens!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Amazing to think you can be that creative on a candle. Love it!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @cmadden: Thanks cmadden!

    • profile image

      cmadden 5 years ago

      Quite an interesting lens, bookmarked!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @LiteraryMind: Thank you and for the squid-like.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Very interesting. A new and pretty craft.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @ceejaycmarshall: Thank you for visiting my lens and for the compliment.

    • ceejaycmarshall profile image

      ceejaycmarshall 5 years ago

      your quite the artist!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @healthinfo48: Thanks!

    • healthinfo48 profile image

      healthinfo48 5 years ago

      Amazing pictures and great lens!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @anonymous: Hi ebizzle and thanks for visiting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I wish I was artsy enough to do this!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @ryokomayuka: Thanks very much.

    • ryokomayuka profile image

      ryokomayuka 5 years ago from USA

      Wonderful candle and Lens. They are very good.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @SimplyTonjia: Thank you for visiting.

    • profile image

      SimplyTonjia 5 years ago

      Great article. This looks like great fun. Thank you for sharing.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @CameronPoe: Hi, CameronPoe and thank you!

    • CameronPoe profile image

      CameronPoe 5 years ago

      This is a great art form. I see them during Day of the Dead festivals here in California.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Northwestphotos: Hi, nice to meet you and thank you for your kind words.

    • Northwestphotos profile image

      Northwestphotos 5 years ago

      Wow...what a fascinating lens! I learned something new today! That's pretty incredible art!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @hughgrissettsr lm: Hi, thanks!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Close2Art LM: Thank you and for the blessing.

    • Close2Art LM profile image

      Close2Art LM 5 years ago

      Fun lens! Blessed

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 5 years ago

      great lens!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @flycatcherrr: Thank you.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @randomthings lm: My pleasure and thank you for the kind words.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @anonymous: Thank you for visiting.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Artistry at its best.. The candles are wonderful.. :D

    • flycatcherrr profile image

      flycatcherrr 5 years ago

      This looks like great fun to try.

    • randomthings lm profile image

      randomthings lm 5 years ago

      These are amazing. I have never seen anything like this. very beautiful works of art. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @anonymous: Thank you for taking the time.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      These are lovely works of art!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @entertainmentev: Hi, thank you.

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      I'll have to try this sometime. Great information!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Rangoon House: Thank you and for the blessing.

    • Rangoon House profile image

      AJ 5 years ago from Australia

      Thank you for a wonderfully instructive lens. Blessings.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @tvyps: Wow thanks very much!

    • tvyps profile image

      Teri Villars 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great stuff, you are a very artistic steeple-chaser! Blessed by a Squid Angel.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @piarejuden: Thank you and for letting me know I have been chosen.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @MarcellaCarlton: Thank you, much appreciated.

    • piarejuden profile image

      piarejuden 5 years ago

      this is pretty awesome!! Great info... congrats on being chosen by bonnie! cheers!

    • profile image

      MarcellaCarlton 5 years ago

      Very interesting lens. Beautiful candles and a great idea. We did something similar in my campfire girls day using wax in a milk carton, cut outs from old cards,

      and ivory detergent. No painting was involved though. I love your lens!

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Anna2of5: Thank you. now that you mentioned pancakes I'm going to look for a recipe on here American recipe our English pancakes are more like sweet Crêpes.

    • profile image

      Anna2of5 5 years ago

      The Flamenco dancer one is very pretty. With the pink and red of her dress. It looks like a classic painting on a candle. Nice!

    • profile image

      Anna2of5 5 years ago

      Neat Lens. I especially liked all the photos. The ones of your studio are cool. i have a griddle but they electric connection is starting to go, it makes this sortof sizzling noise. I use my griddle for pancakes and french toast ( I can fit 8 at a time :) Very handy for feeding my teenagers :). I like the cloudwork and your use of the color red, It just pops!

      Keep writing, you definately have things to talk about. Good lens.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Mystico: Hi Mystico, thank you for your kind words. What is the name of your Novel?

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Michey LM: My pleasure, thank you for saying so.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Deadicated LM: Thanks! I would liked to have seen that.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @anonymous: Iâve seen artist create realistic portraits with wax. Thanks for your kind words.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
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      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Gypzeerose: Thank you so much.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Reginald Reid: Especially a dancer on a hurricane candle as it burns down throw the middle effect is great. Thanks for reading.

    • Mystico profile image

      Mystico 5 years ago

      Loved them all. Thanks. I am going to try this at home! My mother used to make these candles by dropping ice into an old half-gallon cardboard milk container, then pour colored parafin over the ice. It would be filled with holes and leave lots of cool light patterns, too. Thanks, ShearArt

    • Reginald Reid profile image

      Reginald Reid 5 years ago

      I would love a hiphop themed candle.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Back to check on this again - when I was here before the pictures were not downloading. I have never seen anything like this, I am hecka impressed. Angel Blessed.

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Back to check on this again - when I was here before the pictures were not downloading. I have never seen anything like this, I am hecka impressed. Angel Blessed.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love the art work you've applied to the candles. Wonderful job! :-)

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      Great Squidoo Lens on Encaustic Painting; Welcome To Squidoo! I saw some awesome mummy's that had painted faces at an exhibit The Met did at the turn of the millennium, it was about the year "1 AD". The had Greco-Roman Egyptian mummy's with painted portraits of the person where the Mummies head would be:

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 5 years ago

      Very interesting, and it looks easy the way you explain. I like the candles decorated this way.

      Thanks you this is great start in Squidoo world.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @happydesertgirl: Thank you I noticed your lovely looking dog and am compelled to share my lens on fly guns my hound takes part

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @Gypzeerose: Thanks, I'm working on a few other lenses with wax so I hope you will find them interesting, we'll see.

    • happydesertgirl profile image

      happydesertgirl 5 years ago

      These candles are true art...beautiful

    • Gypzeerose profile image

      Rose Jones 5 years ago

      Never knew this existed, very interesting. Welcome to Squidoo. Pinned to my lens: Arts and Crafts I love.

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @JaneNew: Thank you I'm glad you liked them.

    • JaneNew profile image

      JaneNew 5 years ago

      These are really neat candles! nice lens

    • Mark Shearman profile image
      Author

      Mark Shearman 5 years ago from Alicante Spain

      @SusanDeppner: Thanks Susan!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Wow! Very cool candles!