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Light in the Darkness:
Making Découpage Candles
September '03

Découpage is a creative process of cutting or tearing paper and pasting the pieces onto an object. The word comes from the French découper, which means "to cut up" or "cut out." By the way, everything I know about découpage comes from my good friend, Kriss Marion.

Jon and I received our first candles from Kriss for Christmas 1999. We enjoyed them so much that we asked her to make our unity candles for our wedding ceremony. They looked great, and it only cost about $3.00!

decoupaging at DePaulMy students have been asking me to teach them how to découpage for months, so we finally planned a "découpage training session" as one of our excellent new-student outreach events. We met on a Tuesday, a few hours before our weekly worship meeting that night. The plan was to make the candles, let them dry for an hour or so, and then light them during our meeting. They all looked beautiful! The great thing about découpage is that it is really easy to be creative. The students came up with some great ideas that I had never thought of before.

Recently, I met with my spiritual director, and I wanted to talk to her about prayer. Sometimes it is so hard for me to be disciplined about intercessory prayer; some days it feels like a natural part of my life. Some days I remember to pray and I feel that it is necessary to clearly explain to God all of the ways that he should work in a particular person's life (which gets exhausting!). Most other days I just feel guilty.

My spiritual director and I talked about ways to engage in intercession that fit the way God created me. I was looking for some kind of way to hold up a topic or a person to God, ask him to be present there, and then to trust that God knows the best way to be active in that situation. The best idea was — you guessed it! — making some candles that represent some of the things I want to pray for. That way I can light them, pray for the topic, and trust that the Spirit can pray through me where I have no words. I might make one candle representing DePaul, one candle for family, one for friends, one for the world.... I just have to make sure I don't set off the smoke alarm. ;)

Here is a brief description of the process of making candles using découpage. Most of the "art" materials you can find at any art or craft store. If you have questions, you can always send me an email!

1 inexpensive brush, about 3/4 to 1 inch wide
1 jar of Mod Podge
waxed paper
1 glass candle-holder, or 1 candle in a glass jar
(you want to be able to see the lit candle through the glass)
tissue paper
old magazines
glitter (optional)
skinny ribbons (optional)

1. Remove any labels from your glass jar or candle-holder. I sometimes use GooGone if they are particularly persistent. You don’t have to remove them perfectly — a little bit of leftover white label is okay.

2. Choose your colors. Find some tissue paper that you like and tear it into pieces that are about 1-2" square. It looks nice to have some crumples and rough edges.

3. Choose your words and images. Look through old magazines and cut out words or pictures that you want to put in the candle. In general, smaller is better — if you cover up the whole candle with a big picture from a magazine, it doesn't look quite as great.

4. Lay down some waxed paper on your work surface so you don't get goop all over.

5. Dip your brush into the Mod Podge. Coat the glass with the Mod Podge. Stick the tissue paper on it, and cover it with more Mod Podge. Don't be shy with the Mod Podge, but don't make it too goopy either. You'll notice that your candle looks like it is covered with Elmer's Glue. Don’t worry — it will dry clear.

6. Repeat this process until the whole jar is covered with tissue paper. Then apply your magazine clips in the same way.

7. If you want, you can apply some skinny ribbon around the top of the jar in the same way.

8. If you'd like to add some glitter at the end, sprinkle some on the wet jar — it will stick. Or you can coat the rim of the jar with Mod Podge, and sprinkle glitter on top. Or you can pour some glitter on a paper plate, turn the jar over, and dip the top in the glitter.

9. The Mod Podge dries in about one hour.

10. Be sure to trim your wick to 1/4 inch.

11. Light your candle and enjoy!

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