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Author Topic: Making candle moulds from silicone  (Read 535 times)

Offline Lesgold

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Making candle moulds from silicone
« on: January 24, 2023, 07:48:02 pm »
Hi folks

Just thought I?d show you a process I?m going through at the moment. I?ve just started making a few candles and purchased my first silicone mould for a skep beehive candle. It is a design that I really like as it is quite rustic and unrefined. That suits my style and it?s where I would like to head with candle making. Many of the candle moulds out there look amazing but they are symmetrical and smooth in their design. Quite a few candle makers use them and if you walk around farmers markets, there is a common theme that appears in every stall. I want to be a little different and have decided to design and make a few moulds that are a bit  more organic. The patterns and irregularities that appear in nature catch my attention and often blow my mind. We often see it in all sorts of places. The garden, beach or areas of the local bush present visual images that can capture a persons imagination. Quite a few years ago I used silicone to make a pattern for forming beeswax foundation. It was a simple process and the liquid silicone was a material that formed a mould without any real skill or specialised equipment required. I thought a trip down that path would be a worthwhile experience for making candle moulds. The first step was to select and order a small batch of the appropriate silicone online. EBay has heaps of the stuff so I put in an order. I decided that a small mould would be a good starting point so that I could develop a technique that would work for my situation. If the idea failed, I wouldn?t be waiting much. The first idea for a candle hit me when we took the grandkids for a play on the beach. They were having a lot of fun building a castle out of driftwood. When I came over to see what they were doing, I noticed that some of the branches had interesting textures on the bark. I quickly decided that this would be a good starting point for the experiment. A small branch was chosen and was carried back in the bottom of a pram sitting next to the one year old. This is the chosen piece
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The branch was trimmed and the ends quickly sanded.
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Imperfections were filled with some of the kids play dough and the bark and end grain was sealed with a wood sealer that I had sitting around. 5 Coates were applied as the bark was quite porous.  When this dries, the mould to hold the silicone will be constructed.

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2023, 08:15:56 am »
That is pretty interesting. I may end up doing some of the same. I?m waiting to see how yours turns out.
Jim Altmiller

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2023, 11:05:04 am »
That's going to look SO COOL!  I would absolutely buy an candle like that if I saw one.  I'd also by a mold if I saw one.  :happy:
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2023, 04:14:47 pm »
Thanks guys. As this is only an experiment, the size of the candle will be small. The blank is about 30mm in diameter and about 85mm long. If successful, scaling it up won?t be an issue. If it fails, I only waste a small amount of silicone. The only concern I have is how the silicone will react with the bark and the timber surface. Will it release clearly or tear away and grab small pieces and ruin the mould. I have just poured the silicone and should know the results tomorrow. Will post some more photos shortly.

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #4 on: January 25, 2023, 04:55:53 pm »
Les,
It should work. I have full sized pine cone molds that must have been made from real pine cones. On these molds they must have filled in the center section but most of the petals show. 
Jim Altmiller

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #5 on: January 25, 2023, 04:57:48 pm »
As I said earlier, my concern was how the timber was going to release from the mould. The timber sealer that I used didn?t give much of a build up on the bark but tended to soak in. This may actually prove to be a good thing as it will strengthen the bark when it dries. I applied 5 coats and let it dry for a couple of days. The branch was then screwed to a small piece of plywood. An off cut of melamine would have been ideal as the silicone would not adhere to it. I didn?t have any lying around so the plywood was the next choice. The surface of the plywood was covered in a clear contact (what you use to cover kids school books) and a circle drawn to allow the rest of the mould to be centred.
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You may notice that a small nail was placed into the centre of the branch to act as a guide later for the wick needle. The head of the nail was cut off. This pin was only about 3mm long.

I decided to use some PVC  plumbing pipe to hold the silicone. The size chosen gave me a silicone thickness of approximately 10mm around the branch. The pipe was cut 15mm longer than the branch and then cut in half with a hacksaw.
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Two rubber bands were used to hold the pipe together.  It was then positioned around the branch and hot melt glue sealed all cracks and held the pipe in place.
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You may not see it on the photo but the cut sides were also sealed on the outside to add strength. I was finally ready for the silicone pour. The old maths skills were used to calculate the volume of liquid required to fill the gap and the silicone was mixed and poured according to the instructions.
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It is now just a waiting game. The silicone will be allowed to cure for a day and then hopefully released from the mould tomorrow.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2023, 04:40:05 pm »
After curing, the silicone was removed from the PVC outer without any issues. To remove the branch from the inside of the mould, a curved, irregular cut was made down one side as the silicone was manipulated away from the timber. The branch was removed without incident and I could finally draw breath.
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To ensure the mould was clean, I decided to cast a block of wax to pick up any minor pieces of debris that may have been left on the surface of the silicone. It would also be a test to see if the wax would release easily. The two half cylinders of PVC were positioned around the mould and secured with rubber bands. Wax was poured and allowed to set. Here is the result of the test.
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I was really pleased with the outcome. Good detail came through on the block and it released quickly from the mould. With family coming down tomorrow, I will make and test a candle with the grandkids.

Cheers

Les

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2023, 06:44:07 pm »
Les,
Looks great.
What type of silicone did you use and where did you get it from?
Jim Altmiller

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2023, 07:11:51 pm »
Hi Jim,

Just purchased the silicone on eBay. Heaps to choose from. The one I got had a shore hardness of 25. It was a liquid that was mixed with 3% catalyst. Other silicones are a 50-50 mixture. They would work well also.

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #9 on: January 27, 2023, 01:11:31 pm »
Oh my gosh I love it!!  I would have never considered making my own molds, but it seems like this was pretty easy. 
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #10 on: January 27, 2023, 04:23:30 pm »
I agree Reagan. The process is quite simple and you don?t need any special equipment. It really comes down to your imagination. I think that really complex shapes may require a softer, more flexible silicone but there shouldn?t be many issues as long as the item has a shape that will release from a mould.

The grandkids and I made a couple of candles yesterday. I decided to glue a couple of extensions on the PVC half pipes so that the wick pin would be kept away from the molten wax.
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The candle came out looking quite good.
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The final task was to perform a test burn.
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Kept the candle burning for three hours. It worked well with no tunnelling or dripping over the edge. Looks like I got lucky in relation to wick selection.  Might try a few at the markets this Sunday and see how they go.  Now that I know that the process works, I may try out a couple of ideas that I have in mind. A larger drift wood pillar candle with deep, weathered bark may be next on the list. The cost of the silicone for this project was under $6 which was quite good when compared to commercially made silicone moulds.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2023, 04:01:59 am »
OK guys, time to move on to a bigger candle. A couple of family members went for a walk in the rain looking for some larger driftwood. After a bit of searching, this is what we came up with.
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All pieces ranged in diameter from about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Family members looked at them and couldn?t on agree which one I should use for the next project. Here is a close up of the region of the branches that I would use. Which one do you guys believe is going to make the most appealing candle? Would be happy to hear your creative thoughts.
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Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #12 on: January 29, 2023, 04:05:18 am »
And finally:
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Obviously all pieces would be allowed to dry out, deep cracks partially filled and the timber sealed before being put to use.

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #13 on: January 29, 2023, 12:43:59 pm »
My vote would be the one with the deepest, roughest bark.  My concern about the smoother ones is that after you fill in the cracks and apply the sealer, they aren't going to have enough textural definition.  If the mold, and therefore the candles, is too smooth, I'm not sure it'll be obvious that the candle is a section of a log.  It may just look like a slightly textured pillar.   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2023, 05:18:47 pm »
My thinking as well. I would like to think that shape and surface texture need to be pronounced so that the original material presented in candle form is obvious. I can?t do much on any of these wooden blocks for about a week as they were all hit by rain. I will continue to search over the coming days for that perfect piece. Any cracks that need to be repaired will only be partially filled so that the silicone doesn?t become trapped. Maintaining the natural defects and cracks should be a feature of the final product.

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #15 on: January 30, 2023, 07:58:25 pm »
I have had this piece of root for many years, I always liked it but didn?t know what to do with it. It kind of looks like the Statue of Liberty torch. It might just bee the perfect item to make wax copies of. I don?t think it would bee a good candle.
What do you think?

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Jim Altmiller

Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #16 on: January 30, 2023, 11:18:05 pm »
That?s a nice looking piece of timber Jim. There is some interesting twisted grain on the root system. I suppose it comes down to how it is cut before you could make a final judgement on it. The weathered bottom section of the second picture would look nice if you could get that feature duplicated in wax. Let us know what you decide.

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2023, 01:00:49 pm »
I have had this piece of root for many years, I always liked it but didn?t know what to do with it. It kind of looks like the Statue of Liberty torch. It might just bee the perfect item to make wax copies of. I don?t think it would bee a good candle.
What do you think?

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Jim Altmiller
I agree, it looks too top-heavy for a candle, but it does look exactly like the Statue of Liberty torch!  :grin:  It might be fun try out the silicone process on though.   
I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led.  And through the air, I am she that walks unseen.

Offline Michael Bush

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2023, 01:34:00 pm »
Make a heavy and larger base like a box at the bottom and it should stand up.
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Offline Lesgold

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Re: Making candle moulds from silicone
« Reply #19 on: February 01, 2023, 02:53:48 am »
Finally selected a block for the next candle mould. A couple of deep cracks were partly filled so that the silicone would release and the timber was sealed. Should be able to pour the silicone tonight. This candle will be about 2 inches in diameter and just under 4 inches high.
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