Decorating the Paschal candle
by Revd Linda Anchell
The graphics here are based on the design that I used during 2001. Adjust as needed. Wrap around the candle and write over it with a blunt instrument to give an indication of where to cut out or paint the design.
You might need to fiddle a bit with the picture to get it to the right size for your candle. (I had to crop the white bits off it, and then make it bigger. I used a very large candle one year, 2008 — a 3inch by 24inch one.
The 2010 design is at here as JPEG image or here as a pdf file.
What I did:
- I marked the candle, then with a compass point started to cut out the alpha (A) and Omega (the bottom Greek letter. which is the last letter in the Greek alphabet. Christ is the Alpha and the Omega; the first and the last.)
- I also had an engraving tool which helped to get the straight line.
- I pressed some (melted/softened) coloured wax into this and then scraped away what was left on the surface. I was amazed at what was left. It worked! [by the way, I had practised on an old candle first.]
- The wax that I use is German. It was little sheets of coloured wax for decorating candles. I had bought it at the Salamanca Markets in Hobart from a stall from a Steiner school.
- Since then I have made up some of my own by adding oil paint to beeswax.
- I use baking paper (foil would also do) to squeeze the melted/softened wax into a thin (1mm?) sheet and to keep it on.
- I used black wax for the letters and numbers. Using Oil paint mixed into the beeswax softens or melts the wax a bit because of the turpentine in the oil paint.
- Turpentine is used to thin oil paint when painting, and is also used to soften beeswax when using it to polish wood. So here it is useful as both. [I have added acrylic paint to some melted wax as a test, and one lot is still soft, and the other lot is brittle. Use acrylic to paint with.]
- I painted the cross with red acrylic paint. (It dried quickly. Oil paint was still wet the next day!)
- I had cut out the outline of the cross and pressed gold wax into it. I decided not to cut this back to the level of the candle but to keep it raised around the cross.
- The lines inside the cross are construction lines and indicate the placement of the wounds. I used upholstery nails. Prepare the holes well (preferably drill them. It helps to have a jeweller in the household!) before you put anything into the candle or it will break! Don't turn up on Saturday night or Sunday morning and try to force the tack or nail into the cross…
- Similarly, check the candle stand beforehand. We had a disaster once when the candle was forced onto a nail that should have held it firmly for a year. But instead it cracked the candle.
- One other suggestion is the "greening of the cross". One church near here twines ivy around the candle stand. I wonder about using leaves as a decoration on the other side of the candle.