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Cut 'n Curl Candle Project I

By Bob Sherman

Although quite beautiful, Cut 'n Curl candles are the most challenging type of candle to make. They require many hours of practice to master, and because of the rather large amount of materials and equipment needed are not well suited to the casual candle maker.

There are as many techniques for Cut 'n Curl as there are people making them and the following information shows how I do it, although I have never done Cut 'n Curl on a commercial basis. Be sure to read through all the instructions before starting as you will need to have some materials prepared for immediate use. This article will cover the basics.

Note that it takes a lot of practice to get decent results so don't be discouraged at first. It will take many attempts to get a good candle so resign yourself to it and jump in. These are just candles and you will have many ugly ones to burn before you get proficient at this technique if you are like most people.

Most of the items you may need can be ordered directly from this page for your convenience. The Materials list is at the bottom of the page.

PLEASE NOTE!! - Candle making can be dangerous if proper safety procedures are not followed. Please read these Safety Rules before attempting any candle making projects.

You will also need to know basic candle making skills before beginning as this article will not be covering them. Basic pillar candle making can be learned in our free Introduction To Candle Making Course

WAX FORMULA

Core Candles:
140 MP paraffin wax, no additives

Dipping Wax:
140 MP paraffin wax, no additives
Pigment Dye - I use approximately 1 ounce per pound of wax

Please be patient, the images may take a moment to load.


1. Make some core candles, leaving approximately 6 inches of wick to form a loop for dipping. Traditionally, these are made with star candles and for beginners I recommend a 5 point star. Straight or tapered is largely a matter of personal preference although straight is more commonly used by pros. Melting the dipping wax takes a long time so stockpile a bunch of core candles before proceeding.

2. Never place dipping vats on direct heat - always form a double boiler with an old pot for each. You will need one vat for each color and an extra (or a tall bucket) to use for the water dip.

NOTE: Placing vats on direct heat is a fire hazard and Will Destroy the vat.

* Pigment is composed of solid particles of color which are heavier than paraffin. Because of this, the color vats need to be stirred regularly to keep the particles from settling.
3. Fill each dipping vat to be used with 140 mp paraffin to within 2 inches of the top. Add 1/2 to 1 ounce of pigment per pound of wax. Although it is faster to melt the wax in a pouring pot first, the large volume of wax needed makes that impractical. Once melted, adjust the temperature to approximately 155 degrees F. it is important to monitor the temperature of each vat so placing a thermometer in each is a good idea.

4. Once your vats are melted and at the correct temperature, make the first dip. Note: The first dip is held in the wax for a 30 second heat soak.

* Wax always adheres best to warm wax, so you do not want to allow full cooling between dips.

5. Immediately dip the candle in and out of your water bath. Use the palm of your hand to gently wipe off any water drops that remain.

* If dipped at the correct speed, rarely will water adhere or the wax run. This takes some practice as it is impossible to describe.

6. Dip the candle in and out of the second color. Then dip in the water bath. This is repeated in whatever color pattern is desired.

* Dipping repeatedly in one color provides a thicker layer of one color. You must dip in water after each wax dip regardless of the pattern desired.

7. The wick loop should be suspended from a hook so that it is at your eye level. A large sharp knife should be used to cut away the drips from the candle bottom 8. Spiral Twist Cut - For this cut we will use a round Xacto® router blade. These look like a knife blade that has been bent into a circle, and are available from most well stocked hobby and craft stores. Many professional candle carvers have tools custom made. A custom version of this would be shaped like a J instead of a circle.

9. Start the cut in the valley between two star points. When the bottom of your cut is reached, slide the blade off.

* Try to cut at a uniform depth at all times for the best appearance.

10. Immediately begin twisting the wax into uniform spirals. If your cutting depth varied, it will be very noticeable here.

11. Press the spiral back into the groove. Repeat for each valley on the candle.

* All cuts must be complete before the candle cools too much - don't stop to admire your work.

12. A close up of the spiral.
 

11. Additional short cuts were made with the same tool along the points of the star except they were just bent down and not spiraled.

* Note the bottom 2 cuts on either side of the spiral. The left hand cut was shallower than the right hand cut making a visible difference between them.

12. Trim the wick to 1/4 inch and your candle is complete.

 

Candle Making Supplies And Materials

The following candle making supplies and other materials were used to make this candle. Clicking on the item name will bring you to that item's page with a full description.

Item Amount Used
Star Candle Mold For beginners I recommend a 5 point 6 1/2 inch star since there is less area to carve before it cools.
Pigment Approximately 1/2 ounce per pound of wax in as many colors as you desire to use.
Thermometer One for each vat is best, however you can get by with only one.
Melting / Pouring Pot One, used mostly for making core candles
#1/0 Square Braid Wick To make core candles with. Note: depending on several factors you may need a larger or smaller wick.
140 Melt Point Wax You will need lots of this to fill those vats. Each vat will take approximately 11 pounds of wax.
6 inch Dipping Vats One for each color dip and one to hold water.
Wooden Spoons Purchase at a housewares store or a dollar store.
Heavy Wire Used to make a hook for hanging the candle during carving.
Xacto® blades and handle At the very least you will need an Xacto® router blade and a handle to hold it. Xacto® also makes some other blades that are useful and sharp such as several sizes of large flat blades and a triangular router blade. Any really good craft, hobby, or art supply store should have these.
Sharp Knife Used to cut off drips.
Old Pots One cooking pot will be needed for each color vat to be used. Garage sales and thrift shops are a great source for these.

This project covers the bare basics of this technique. Additional projects will present other techniques.

Project Articles in this series:

Cut 'n Curl Project I
Cut 'n Curl Project II
Cut 'n Curl Project III
Cut 'n Curl Candle Project IV


Disclaimer: The information presented here is accurate to the best of my knowledge and common candle making practices as of the time of this writing - January 2006. The author and the publisher accept no liability for the use or misuse of any of the information presented in this article. This article is presented for informational purposes and is used at your own risk.

Author: Bob Sherman

Publisher: Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc.

This article is provided free of charge for use. Candles may be made and sold using this design royalty free, however no portion of this article may be reproduced for publication elsewhere without express permission from Bobby's Craft Boutique Inc. with the following exceptions:

  • Non profit organizations such as religious groups, scouts, 4h, etc... may use this information without permission for printed materials provided it is used without modification and credit is given to both the author and onestopcandle.com
  • Reprinting to the web is prohibited without permission, however web sites wishing to link to this article may do so without permission.

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