The sand candle you’re about to see was apparently all the rage in the 70’s but this DIY takes it a step further!
But first, guess who’s the newest member of the International Blogger Club? I’m proudly representing my Canadian heritage through craft as one of two Canadian makers in the group! This month’s challenge is “Sands of Time”. Don’t forget to check out what the other ladies from the IBC have done with their Sands of Time challenge at the end of this post!
A perfect tie-in to this month’s theme would be to make an hour glass. After all, it’s got sand AND time. But I just couldn’t find everything I needed. So instead, I’m showing you how to carve a unique sand candle. And it just so happens that I’m turning back the hands of time (with a silent ‘S’). Reminiscing about a throwback of a trip we took over 16 years ago seems right on theme to me!
Enchanted Candles Sand Candle
It all starts with a trip to Prince Edward Island soon after I meet Hubs. Although still only my boyfriend at the time, his friends graciously invite us to use their cottage overlooking the water. Just look at that gorgeous sunrise that greets us each morning!
Once we settle in, we notice a quaint little town – Victoria by the Sea – in the local tour guide where we can learn how to carve sand candles. I just love exploring but also learning about an region through craft, so we make arrangements to meet up with Ben Smith, the owner of Enchanted Candles.
The building we work in is an old school house built in 1872 (which has since undergone renovations). As the only ones there, we have Ben’s full attention! How lucky are we?
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Carving Our Sand Candle
Ben encourages us to sketch out our designs first on the huge blackboard. Hubs chooses to do X’s and O’s. I find my inspiration right there by the seashore, so I’m carving waves and starfish. Ben then presents us with two ‘blanks’ filled with coloured wax. Red for Hubs and blue wax for me (the colour of the ocean)!
We scratch our respective designs onto the surface of the sand with an awl. Then we get to carving with nothing more than a utility knife. The tarp underfoot is an absolute necessity as we chip away at the sand!
I watch as Ben demonstrates for us. He instinctively shapes the sand with ease and his passion for the art is contagious! As my first time doing anything like this, it’s mesmerizing to see it all unfold!
When I ask Ben more about the process of making the candle blanks, he tells us that hot wax fuses with PEI sand from the Victoria shore on his own property. Any more than that he won’t divulge, but we do have an opportunity to see where they are made later that day. If memory serves, there is a huge sand filled pit brimming with the distinctive sand. That’s where he pours wax directly into the ground. You’ll see a video further down from candle expert David Constable on how to make the sand candle blank.
Inspiration at the Shore
PEI sand has such a distinctive colour.
Isn’t the red hue stunning?
But that’s not the only red feature about PEI. PEI’s provincial animal is the red fox. On another day at the beach, I didn’t even notice this little guy sneak up on me until I felt something licking my toes!
Finishing Touches on our Sand Candles
But I digress. When our carvings are complete, Ben drills through the centre for the wick.
Then he cuts a piece of wick to length.
Using a blow torch, the outside becomes darker with every pass. This is done to ‘cement’ the sand and wax outer shell together to lock in the carving.
With the wick in place, Ben fills the depression around the wick with additional wax.
One down, one to go!
Once my candle is complete, the process starts again with Hubs’ candle.
Here’s the plain wax as it melts into the depression around the wick. Ben doesn’t bother to match up the colour of this top coat of wax because it’s a perfect foil for further embellishment (which you’ll see later).
Here is Hubs’ ‘works of art’ before packing it away to take home (you’ll see them both at the end).
Of course when you compare our candles to the professional ones right below, you’ll see there’s lots of room for improvement. But that’s just what 40 years of practice will get you! All in all, not bad for our very first try :).
How to Make Sand Candle Blanks
Want to see how these sand candles are made in real time? Watch this fascinating video by candle making expert David Constable:
Meanwhile, Back at the Shop
Ben and his daughter produce candles for their Enchanted Candles shop they call ‘Sea Nest’.
Through a Google search, I read that Ben’s daughter had taken over the reigns from Ben at some point, and Ben even did a stint as Mayor.
Below you can appreciate the beauty of these master carvers! Bigger candle blanks allow more area for the wax to peek through the design. You’ll notice that there’s also further embellishment on the top of these larger candles.
A Sand Candle Makes a Wonderful Gift!
To thank our friends for allowing us to stay at their cottage, we commission a unique custom candle by Ben’s daughter to leave behind when our stay is up.
Once the candle is carved, Ben applies the finishing touches.
Three wicks are inset into the large carved candle. Crayon easily melts onto the surface of the wax with the help of a torch from high in the air.
We did four colours in eight sections; lime green, navy, light blue and white.
Ben uses a pinch of gold dust as the final touch.
Then it’s torched to move the wax around to create a stunning pattern on top.
I never did take a final shot of the decor on top of our friends’ candle, but here’s a shot of another smaller candle that’s farther along using the similar colours:
The pattern produced by the torch and the colours of the outer shell reminds me so much of this jelly fish we found on the beech. You can see gold, blue and white flecks surrounded by red! It’s as if the candle is truly inspired by nature’s beauty!
Sands of Time – Carved Sand Candles
I love how the wax peeks through the carvings in the design.
How cool is it to carve sand candles? It’s such a thrill to learn from a master carver.
Well, I think we up’d the ante on the 70s sand candle with these carved enchanted candles! What do you think?
Carving is such an interesting way to add dimension to any surface, don’t you think? Check out how I ‘cheat’ carving into glass this with fusing technique!
Pinning is always welcome and appreciated:
Int’l Bloggers Club – Sands of Time
And now onto the rest of the uber-talents participating in this IBC Sands of Time Challenge:
- Unique Creations By Anita – How to Upcycle a Sand Timer
- Interior Frugalista – How to Turn Photos into Watercolor Prints
- Birdz of a Feather – Sand Candle
- A Crafty Mix – Sands of Time Hourglass
Sara, what a beautiful story and experience for you and your hubs. These are the most beautiful candles. I loved your additional photos of your class and Victoria br the Sea.
Thank you Deana; it was probably one of our best vacations ever. The scenery and people were outstanding.
Wow, this is mesmerizing to watch and what a wonderful way to spend a vacation day! I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a sand candle before until now. PEI is on my bucket list (this Canadian girl has never been to the Maritimes) and I’ll definitely be paying a visit to Enchanted Candles.
I asked another Instagammer if Sea Nest was open this season and apparently it isn’t. Who could blame them with everything that’s going on. I hope it’s only temporary. You would really love Victoria By the Sea; I would love to go back one day.
Those are spectacular candles. Great adventure by the sea.
Thanks so much; it was a fun adventure!
Wow what an interesting way to make candles. They are true works of art. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Kim; I can’t wait to make more and brush up on my carving skills 🙂
Wow the foxes are friendly! What a beautiful place. Love this candle
That one certainly was; I haven’t come face to face with any others- lol.
This is brilliant. I have honestly never seen anything like this before. My sister is a candle maker and I showed her, she is excited to have a go. Well done on your first challenge you blew it out the water.
Thank you Anita! I never would have thought to post it if it weren’t for the challenge so thank you so much for setting the wheels in motion to allow me to join the IBC!
Tell your sister if she tries this that she should aim for as high a temperature was as possible – if she can get up to 300 I think she’ll get better seepage into the surrounding sand. Also use as little water as necessary to get the sand to hold it’s shape; you want it displaced by the wax. Also, there should be about a 3″ padding of sand on the bottom before she places the form. If she makes one, I want to hear all about it – lol – success or fail!
What a beautiful place to stay! My daughter would never leave if there’s friendly foxes around. The candles are beautiful!
Ha ha; those foxes sure are cute so I wouldn’t blame your daughter for wanting to stay. It’s a hard place to leave for many reasons!
Such a unique and creative idea Sara. They must have been so much fun to make and I love how the finished sand carving looks. It kinda reminds me of those ancient artifacts an archaeologist would unearth in a secret dig in the desert. And then there’s that little fox. Ah man, are they all that friendly?
I honestly don’t know about how friendly those foxes are. I seem to attract all manner of wildlife. For instance, whenever Hubs is outside there’s never a single wasp in sight. Then I come out and they’re somehow magnetized to me. I’d rather take my chances with the fox!
Thank you for sharing your trip and the gorgeous candles. It’s fun to see these beautiful works of art.
My pleasure Meegan!