My husband and I usually celebrate Valentine’s Day with a quiet dinner at home by candlelight. (We get takeout so we don’t have to cook or clean!) This year I thought I’d make an extra special candle to put in the middle of the table. I sifted through my box of Valentine’s Day decorations and found the perfect inspiration — some vintage Valentines! I knew right away that I wanted to use the same decal technique that Jo used on her Ouija board party invitations.
Gosh, remember how fun those old cards were when we were kids? With the incredibly goofy puns and jokes? I just love looking back at them now. You can often find old Valentines on eBay or at flea markets. In case you have a hard time finding some, here’s a digital scan of the vintage Valentines I used.
Once you’ve got your designs, you need to print them onto regular white paper. The only trick here is that they MUST be printed with toner, not ink. That means that you either have to use a color laser printer, or get them color copied at an office center. Your inkjet printer at home will not work. Seriously. Don’t even try it. Just get a color copy made or find a color laser printer, OK?
Okay, lecture over. Take your pretty printed Valentines and cut them out.
Take a piece of clear Con-Tact paper and peel the backing off. Place it sticky-side-up on the table and put your cut out designs face down on top of it.
Then put the backer paper back on and flip the whole thing over so it’s face up. The backer paper will keep the Con-Tact paper from sticking to your table as you work. Then rub the designs into the Con-Tact paper using a bone folder, credit card, or scissor handle. Really rub it hard to make good contact so that the design is firmly stuck to the paper. Good contact will ensure that your finished design’s color is even and bright.
Now remove the backing paper and cut out the designs again. You don’t need to be super accurate this time, because any remaining Con-Tact paper on the edges will be clear and won’t show on the finished candle.
Now put the pieces into a bowl of water to soak. If they float, you can use a regular spoon to hold them down. Let them soak in the water for a good long while… at least an hour or two.
After they’ve soaked, you’ll be able to wipe away the paper on the back with your fingers. If it doesn’t come away easily, let them soak more. To remove the paper, just rub it away with your fingers. Don’t give in to temptation to scrape with your fingernails, because you’ll likely scrape away the color too!
Just look at that. You’ve got the design left behind on the clear plastic, and the paper is all gone. Isn’t that cool? You can see right through it! Put your pieces on a paper towel and allow them to dry thoroughly.
Now grab some Mod Podge or any other brand of decoupage medium. Be sure it’s got a matte finish (not gloss) so that the finished candle still looks like wax when you’re done. Using a disposable foam brush, apply the Mod Podge to the back of your clear decal and stick it on the side of your candle. You’ll want to use a very large white pillar candle for this — something at least 4 or 5 inches tall and wide — for best results.
Use a damp paper towel to smooth down the edges of the decals as you apply them. Leave it to dry for an hour or so. If the edges keep sticking up, you can put a loose rubber band around the candle to hold them down while the glue dries.
Then brush a layer of Mod Podge over the entire design, to even out the surface and seal it. Let dry 20-30 minutes and repeat a few more times, as desired, until you get the finish you want.
Then just light it up and put it in the center of your table. What a pretty and fun creation!
You could use this same idea for many other occasions and projects, too. You can use any images for your candle, including words and photographs. Wouldn’t this make a lovely Unity Candle for a wedding if you put the bride and groom’s photo on it? What other ideas can you guys think of?
NOTE: Mod Podge brand decoupage medium is listed on the label as being non-toxic and non-flammable, so it is safe to apply to a candle. However, to be extra safe, we suggest that you do not apply any glue to the top of the candle. And of course, never leave a burning candle unattended!