When I first saw the influx of pretty spiralised candles on my timeline, I was ready to hand over my money to any website that stocked them. However, after discovering that some of the twirly whirly candles were astronomically expensive, I resigned myself to the fact that I would have to stick to using my plain IKEA tea lights come dinner time. That was however, until I saw an Instagram video by interior designer Gustaf Westman (who was in turn, inspired by influencer Johanne Kohlmetz) which showed a way to create the Pinterest-worthy candles at home for a fraction of the cost.
After one brief look at the condensed clip I naively thought, "that looks easy," and went ahead and ordered two sets of tapered candles in different colours from Amazon. Once they arrived, I blocked out my Sunday afternoon and converted my kitchen into a shoddy craft studio. Borrowing my housemate's Kilner jar that he uses for porridge (housemate of the year), I filled up the container with boiling water. Using tongs (also his), I plopped the candle in and waited for 30 seconds.
Here’s where things started to go wrong. Having picked pastel pink and baby blue as my colour palette, I didn’t realise that the colour from the candles would start to run. Panicking, I fished out the half-bleached candle and roughly twisted. It snapped in my hands. Changing tact, I decided to let the water cool off a little more and try again. Removing the candle from the water I tried twisting it again from both ends which also failed, leaving the candle covered in scratches rather than spirals.
Refusing to blame my failure on my own poor crafting skills, I decided that the crap quality of the candle was to blame, and decided to start moulding ‘S’ shapes out of the wax instead, leaving me with a variety of snake-like designs that look okay in the right light. I was almost ready to admit defeat when I decided to watch the video one more time and realised that I was missing one key step: the roll out.
Pouring a new batch of boiling water into the jar, I submerged one more candle before laying it on the table and pushing the full weight of my body onto the wax to flatten it. From there, I took the squished stick and began to manipulate each individual twist with my hands, which left me with something that actually looked similar to the candle in the video! As my mother would say, I was now, "cooking with gas".
As I plunged more and more candles into the water, I experimented with a variety of smaller and larger spaced out twists. It turns out the whole crux is perfecting the design quickly enough so that wax doesn't begin to crack (it did, a lot). Looking at my collection of Frankenstein candles, I eventually had to admit that I'd peaked with that first successful one and decided to call it a day.
The task is much, much harder than it looked on video. While they might look like cute swirly unicorn horns, for me these crafted candles aren't worth the stress or indeed the sadness of my housemate once he realised that everything in our kitchen, from placemats to utensils was covered in hot wax and impossible to clean.
However, if you are a dab hand at crafting and think you can do a better job than me then I will leave you with a few tips. 1. Invest in quality, non-tapered candles in dark colours. 2. Make sure to put your finished design into the candlestick you plan to display it in before it dries completely and 3. Don’t borrow anyone else's household items unless you want to spend the entire night frantically scraping off dried wax with a spoon, trust me, I know.