Vintage Decorative Candles

As the countdown to Christmas kicks off, it’s time to start thinking about those handmade gift ideas.

If you’re stumped for something different to create with your own hands this year, I’ve got a great idea for you.  You’re going to love this.

Throughout this post, I’ll walk you through how to make these pretty, decorative candles.  They’re super easy to make with only a few supplies.

If you have a computer, a printer and a little bit of time, you can easily customize these candles with any image you like.

Blog candle trio2
In addition to double sided tape, tissue paper and a hot air gun, you’ll also need the following: (1) ribbon (2) decorative twig and (3) assorted candles.

Make sure you use candles that have a cylinder shape with the same width from top to bottom.  I initially tried this project using tapered candles and the paper was much harder to line up and avoid creases.

Blog candle supplies2

You’ll also need an image to transfer to an 8 1/2 X 11″ sheet.  You can use a photograph, a phrase or anything that can be transferred to an 8 1/2 X 11-inch sheet.

I liked the idea of using musical notes for a vintage look so I conducted a google-search for vintage sheet music.  Loads of pages came up.

Blog candles sheet music computer
Select the desired image and then save to your file.  Most images like this are presented in a low resolution format which may make your resulting image slightly blurry.

To counter that, import the image into your photo-editing program and manually increase the resolution.

Blog candle vintage sheet5 

You’ll want to be careful about how you use images that you do not own.  Many images you find on-line are copyright protected attached restrictions on usage and penalities for violation.

This is a particularly sensitive issue if you plan to use images for commerical purposes. You can easily find what’s called “copyright-free” images which do not have usage restrictions or prohibitions.  Just google “copyright free images”.

Now that you’ve selected an image, let’s get ready to transfer it to tissue paper.

When I first tried this project out, I used vellum which is an-almost clear, lightweight paper that is commonly used in scrapbooking.  Vellum does not work, it’s far too thick for the desired result and you’ll just ruin a good candle if you use it.

Tissue paper works best for this project.  Blog candles tissue paper

Cut tissue paper down slightly smaller than an 8 1/2 X 11 inch piece of cardstock.

Use a tiny sliver of double sided tape across the top edge of the cardstock and adhere the top edge of the tissue paper to the cardstock.  Make sure the top edge is nice and flat.

The cardstock provides the right amount of support for you to run the tissue paper through your printer.

Blog candle printer2

Once the image is transferred to the tissue paper, carefully lift it off the cardstock and remove the edge from the double sided tape.

Because tissue paper is extremely fragile you may lose some of the tissue paper if it doesn’t detach completly from the double sided tape.  This shouldn’t be a problem as long as you remember to use only a sliver of tape and adhere it as close to the edge as possible.

 Blog candle paper tear

Line up the tissue paper with your candle.  You’ll need to cut enough tissue paper so that it will wrap completly around the candle.

Blog candles paper

Apply a small amount of glue to the wrong side of the tissue paper, along the top and bottom edges.

Blog candles glue

Carefully adhere the tissue paper to the candle, pressing firmly as you go to smooth out creases or air bubbles.

Blog candles paper2

Hold the candle upright and run the hot air gun along the entire candle.  The wax will melt through the tissue paper and then dry on the outside of the tissue.  This process totally embeds the tissue paper image into the wax as if it had always been there.

Don’t put the hot air gun too close to the candle because you don’t want to melt too much of the wax which will cause the candle to lose its original shape.

Blog candle hot air

If you have a slight amount of tissue paper overhanging on the bottom before you cut it, simply fold it across the bottom of the candle.

You can also just cut out a small circle of the tissue paper image and apply it to the bottom of the candle by heating it in the same way.  This gives the bottom of the candle a more finished look. Blog candle bottoms

If giving a set of candles as a gift you can embellish the front with a holiday sprig.  Don’t forget to remind the gift recipient that the candles should not be burned but used for decoration only.

Use pliers to carefully twist the wire end of the decorative stem to close off that sharp end.  Then, wrap the candles in a pretty ribbon and add the decorative stem for a perfect holiday gift.

Blog candle wire
Remember, this technique can be used for any size candle.  Placing an overall image on a larger candle may require some tissue paper piecing.

IMPORTANT: These are decorative candles ONLY and should NOT be lit.  Even though the tissue paper is embedded and coated with wax, once the flame touches the uderlying paper the flame extends beyond the wick and becomes far too wide (the width of the candle) to be considered safe.

Blog candle trio


You could decorate candles to suit any occasion or season to use as home decor or great gifts.

Instead of giving grandma and grandpa (or other loved ones) a holiday card featuring the family portrait, consider a special candle embedded with the annual family snapshot or a favorite old black and white photo.  (These would make great anniversary gifts too).

There are tons of possibilities to create your own vintage decorative candles.

Have fun and happy holidays.

  • seo hamilton

    This red ribion is looks very nice. I just like this card, the colours used for the stamp are perfect and that background script paper really caught my eye.

  • Jennie aka Tidbitz

    Wow that is fantastic! I am in awe.

  • Heidi Woodruff

    Very nice! I’ll have to save it in my files for next year, I’m out of time! Love the vintage music look. Thanks for sharing such a detailed tutorial.
    Christmas Blessings, Heidi

  • Renee

    I just saw similar candles in PB and stood there for a minute trying to remember this technique. I had planned to try vellum. glad I read here so I can use tissue paper. Thanks!

  • Ineke van den Akker

    Wow! This is fantastic. Thanks for sharing. I added you to my favorite blog addresses!
    with love from Holland,

  • Linda from Heartfire At Home

    Lisa, these are really lovely! I’m a candle lover, and a music lover too, so the combination is beautiful. Thank you for including this in my Lovely Links post linky, it was great to find your blog and meet you! 🙂
    Linda. x

  • ksharonk

    What a beautifully photographed project … 🙂

  • Thimbleanna

    Soooo pretty Lisa! I love your choice of the vintage music sheets. Thanks for sharing!

  • Allie

    Another BEAUTIFUL project, Lisa – this is really wonderful!!!

  • melissa @ the inspired room

    Those are super adorable! 🙂 You have the cutest ideas here! Hope you are enjoy the holiday season!

  • Julie Size

    Another great idea Lisa! You are fabulous!!!

  • Vicki

    Fab, Fab, Fab, Thanks, thanks, thanks!

  • berta

    Love this tutorial!!! Have you tried usuing repostionable adhesive to hold the tissue to the card stock for printing? Do you think that would work? Can’t wait to try this. Off to buy candles!

  • Bethany

    Those are beautiful!!!
    Kind of a shame you can’t safely burn them though.
    You always have the most wonderful ideas!

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