Try This: Striped Candlesticks

Make these striped candlesticksThe days may be getting shorter, but that just means dinners are getting more romantic! As sunlight dims, I like to light candles to set the mood for cozy evenings at home. Put on some Ella Fitzgerald, and the atmosphere is complete! I'd been eyeing these gorgeous striped candlesticks at Anthropologie, but I thought I'd try to replicate the look for a little less money. 

Make these striped candlesticksI bought some fall-hued candlesticks from World Market in bordeauxwhite, rust, and olive. Then I selected acrylic paint for the stripes on each color. Regular water-based non-toxic acrylic paint will work with a little patience (just keep dabbing). See my notes about the safey of burning painted candles at the end of this post.

Make these striped candlesticksI used masking tape to make stripes in various widths on the candles, then I dabbed on the paint with a sponge brush. Make sure you don't use too much paint, or it will seep below the tape. It takes about 2-3 light coats to completely cover the wax.

Make these striped candlesticksGently peel off the tape, and now you have some striped candles!

Note: If you have any uneven paint edges, you can use the dull edge of a knife to carefully scrape off the paint from the candle pretty easily. Keep this in mind as you handle the candles, though. If you plan to move them around a lot, you may want to prime them before painting, or the paint will scratch off. (If you do use primer on the candles, do not burn them- unless you are using a water-based non-toxic primer.)

Make these striped candlesticks
Make these striped candlesticks
This project is so simple and makes a fun holiday tablescape for very little money. Take it to the next level with an eclectic array of candle holders. I found a bunch of candlestick holders at the thrift store and painted them all black. So easy—so chic! –Mandi

UPDATE: Some of you have expressed concern about the safety of burning these painted candles, or if they should be for decorative use only. I naively assumed they would be safe to burn because the craft paint I used was water-based and non-toxic. (Note: artists' oil-based/chemical-ridden acrylics are different from the water-based non-toxic craft acrylics.) But I did some research and found that many non-toxic paints may still contain less than 1% of preservatives, such as formaldehyde. Turns out, lots of items many people use everyday that are absorbed/ingested/inhaled have formaldehyde in them, so if this is something you have on your radar (like if you use organic shampoo, avoid decaf coffee, don't use nailpolish— that sort of thing), definitely look for a paint that specifically advertises being formaldehyde free. Look out for heavy metals too, which probably won't be found in water-based craft acrylic paints anyway.

I know some people that won't burn candles in their home at all because of the co2 it releases into the air. However, for use in my home, I'm okay with a little bit of co2 from the candles, and since there is very, very little "non-toxic" paint on these candles, I'm personally okay with the occasional burning of them. You may feel differently about it and choose to only use these for decorative use, or to find formaldehyde free paint, or to skip this project altogether, so I hope I did an okay job explaining what I found in my research so you can make the decision that's right for you. -Mandi

Credits // Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with Stella and Valentine from the Signature Collection.

  • Aww, these are so chic, Mandi! I love the idea of pairing them with some DIY candlestick holders as well. These sorts of simple craft projects that I can do in an afternoon are my favorites 🙂

    Cat
    http://oddlylovely.com

  • These are really cute, but acrylic paint is basically a thin layer of plastic once applied to any surface. When it burns, it burns really quickly and will put off toxic fumes that can give people around it severe headaches. Thought you’d want to know.

  • The candles are adorable, but I agree Krista that it is so important to check what you are applying to them if you are burning vs. using for a decorative purpose. Acrylic paints are water-based, however they can contain small amounts of ammonia, formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals which are released in the air if burned. I’m sure there are non-toxic versions (which may have been used here, not sure), though I still would not feel safe burning them as that’s not what their purpose is. Also, metallic versions could be especially harmful if burned if somebody is trying this project at home.

    I think these candles are so cute and are a great project if meant as purely decorative! If translating these to a functional piece I might do stripes a the bottom of the candles (maybe thinner to get more in or varied in width like an ombre effect) that way you could burn the top half and stop burning before you got down to the paint.

  • Looked into the comments to find out if someone already mentioned or asked what happens when the paint burns. Thank you!

  • NOT a good idea. Acrylic paint is plastic, so burning these candles would release toxins into your home. As well, acrylic is an oil product that can be highly combustible. If your insurance company found out you were burning paint coated candles and your home caught fire, I’m pretty sure your insurance would be null and void.

    Think before you craft people.

  • If you plan to burn these candles, you’d definitely want to use a water-safe non-toxic variety. Use a heavy-metal free variety too. The Americana brand paint I used claims to be safe and non-toxic, but they do not list ingredients on the bottle. I did just read that there are sometimes toxins in non-toxic paint, just as there often is in many shampoos and other commonly absorbed/inhaled items. If you are very worried about this, I would not burn the candle, or I would look for a kind of paint that specifically says “formaldehyde-free” on the bottle. -Mandi

  • I assumed since the paint I used was water-based and says non-toxic that it would be safe to burn. I did some research and found that many non-toxic paints may still contain less than 1% of preservatives, such as formaldehyde. Turns out, lots of items people use everyday that are absorbed/ingested/inhaled have formaldehyde in them, so if this is something you have on your radar (like if you use organic shampoo, avoid decaf coffee, and don’t use nailpolish), definitely look for a paint that specifically advertises being formaldehyde free. Look out for heavy metals too, which probably won’t be found in water-based acrylic paints anyway.

    I know some people that won’t burn candles in their home at all because of the co2 it releases into the air. However, for use in my home, I’m okay with a little bit of co2 from the candles, and there is very little “non-toxic” paint on these candles, I’m personally okay with burning it with minimal use for the holidays, but I definitely leave it up to your judgement! I hope I did an okay job explaining what I found in my research. -Mandi

    • I just wanted you to know that I found BATTERY OPERATED plastic taper candles at the dollar tree today! Hooray! No need to worry about the paint toxicity because they don’t “burn”. I’m so excited to try your idea on one today. Now, I’m off to paint. 🙂

  • Love this idea. I am also ok with a bit of co2 in my house. But thanks for the extra safety info! 🙂

  • Wow I love that you managed to score the awesome candle holders from the thrift store. And painted black, they definitely make the project standout!

  • These are so, so cute. I love the candlestick idea as well. The whole project reminds me of an eclectic store I really love in my old city. I’ve stopped burning candles that aren’t beeswax (because of fragrances and even the regular wax) but I’m kind of a freak about natural stuff. They’re more expensive though, so I miss burning candles constantly. I would totally do this for decoration! I always love your ideas Mandi.

  • I think these are really cute! I have a few candle bases that could use a cute stripey candle in them.

  • gorgeous! and there are so many color combinations to choose from so you can use them whenever. thanks for sharing!

    love, arielle
    a simple elegance

  • Gah! So cute!

    I’m doing this and keeping the candles out year round – I love stripes and they look so funky and fun.

    Thanks guys!

    xo
    K

  • Hi Mandi, I looked into this further as it’s a project my sister would absolutely love and I wanted to check more on the safety before passing it on to her. I reached out to the Americana brand directly and pasted their response below. The company’s website did mention using them to paint on candles but didn’t list any specifics. I still think this is a great functional project for tapers if only the bottom half is painted and only the top half burned – or simply just made a decorative item. Thanks again for such a cute project!

    Response from Deco Arts / Americana Acrylic Paints:
    When painting on candles, we recommend only painting on the larger ones (not narrow/small like tapers or votives). For best results, first clean the candle with rubbing alcohol to remove any oily residue. Prime the candle with our Adhesion Medium or mix the medium with the first coat of paint you apply. After that, just use the paint as is. Do not paint the wick area. You are correct in that the paint does not melt with the wax. It forms a skin on the exterior of the candle. Once your candle is done, you can enjoy your artwork indefinitely by burning the candle down about an inch which creates little wells around the wick(s). Each time you want to safely burn the candle, insert little tea lights in the well(s). The tea lights can be replaced and your artwork will be preserved.

  • They are so pretty! We burn tons of candles in Sweden on cold nights. So I think I may steer clear of the acrylic paint but I love the idea. I am so excited to see that the wax foil comes in gold ( http://www.pandurohobby.se/Katalog/95-Sasonger/9550-Ljus/955010-Ljusdekor/1/040941-Vaxfolie-guld-blank-2-st )!!

    I used crayons for my Easter dip dyed candles ( http://caroleandellie.com/blog/2014/4/17/easter-glad-pask-diy-dip-yellow-candle ) and they turned out fine (with the sent of classrooms and a childhood gone by). Not sure how non-toxic it was but they sure are pretty!

  • There is NOTHING wrong with CO2 inside the house (or outside, for that matter)!! CO2 is a perfectly safe, natural, non-toxic compound that we breathe out with every human or animal breath we exhale. Plants both inside and out MUST have CO2 to photosynthesize to live. In fact, CO2 is GOOD for the environment. Don’t believe the enviro nuts non-scientific garbage, please.

    (Been a chemist and biochemist for 35 years)