An elegant array of candles adds the finishing touch to any table setting, creating an atmosphere that cannot be equalled by any other form of lighting. Their use does not stop at tables, however, candles can be used in all areas of the home and in all kinds of containers, to marvellous effect.
At Christmas time, for instance, you may like to incorporate candles into a large, deep swag filling a wide windowsill or mantelpiece, using thick, stubby candles raised on flowerpots concealed among the greenery. Position tall candles to taper from a forest of twigs and pinecones, or trim plain altar candles, beautiful in their simplicity, with evergreens, berries and bows to stand as a sign of welcome in a window.
At other times of the year, flower pots make practical if somewhat rustic holders for candles of all kinds – from the highly-textured beeswax candles to those in traditional colours. Select the most earthy and weather-beaten flowerpots you have, and plant the candles in heavy holding material, such as gravel chippings concealed under (for safety reasons) damp moss or hay. A garland of ivy trailing around the top of the flowerpot, held in place with unobtrusive blobs of clay, will add to the pastoral look, while a large green and white gingham bow will add a touch more elegance.
A variety of household items, including pottery mugs and tumblers, casseroles and glass dishes, are ideal for holding candles of all shapes and sizes. Bargain-shop candlesticks can also be transformed with a simple verdigris look-alike technique using acrylic paints. You can even use hollowed-out vegetables – pumpkin-shaped gourds have a wonderful shape and colour – as bases for candles. Arrange these in a cluster on a dining table, a sideboard or in the kitchen, or use them as party decorations. Remember never to leave lit candles unattended.
PAINTING A CANDLESTICK
Daub the bronze-coloured surface with green acrylic paint. If you prefer a more transparent finish, thin the paint with turpentine (methylated spirits) first. Leave to dry for 10 minutes, then daub on gold acrylic paint in uneven patches.
- Cut short lengths of evergreens and holly and bind them into hunches using silver wire. Place a few stems against a candle and bind them on with silver wire. Add more bunches, binding them on all around the candle, and secure the wire. Hook on false berries, if you wish. Tie ribbon around the stems to conceal the wire. Trim the other candles in a similar way.
- Place the candles in appropriate holders and arrange them in the centre of a dining table or on a window sill among cuttings of mixed evergreens.
- A verdigris-style candlestick makes an elegant flower stand. Fix a small foam-holder and a piece of soaked stem-holding foam to the top of the candlestick with florist’s tape, and arrange a colourful combination of flowers and foliage
DISH OF CANDLES
- Fill a shallow dish two-thirds full of clean sand, and place a tall candle in the middle. Position shorter candles around it.
- Arrange a variety of pretty shells around the candles, pressing them into the sand.
- Check that all the candles are securely positioned before lighting them.
VEGETABLE CANDLE HOLDERS
- To make gourd candle holders, first break off the stalks. If the gourds are soft enough, gouge out a shallow hole from each one that is wide enough to hold a candle, using a sharp knife. If the gourds are too hard to do this – and dried ones may well be – fix the candles securely in the indentations using a little florist’s adhesive clay.
- Arrange the gourds to make an attractive group. Here, trailing stems of Chinese lanterns (winter cherry) wind through the gourds, an element that could he repeated in neighbouring flower arrangements.