Candlescaping is the art of creating decorative arrangements of candles to add warmth
and beauty to any room. Although the possibilities are limited only by the boundaries of
creativity, there are some very important rules that, for safety's sake, must be
followed at all times:
1) Be sure to place the candles on a flat, non-flammable, heat resistant surface.
On an uneven surface (such as a sloped dish or bowl), the candles will be at an angle so
that hot wax drips everywhere, and, in the worst case scenerio, the candles will fall over,
ignite your curtains, and burn down the house. (An exception to this rule is a floating
candle display in which case the water that fills the bowl keeps the candles safely level
and happy.) A non-flammable surface (such as glass, slate, and ceramic) will reduce the
risk of such a catastrophe, but be sure it is heart-resistant as well. Some materials
(certain kinds of glass, etc.) are not made to withstand extended periods of heat and will
give you and your guest a heart-attack when the plate shatters during the third course of
your romantic candle-light supper.
2) Make sure the candles are at least one inch away from each other. If they are too
close together, the flames will start to melt the wax of neighboring candles. While this
might temporarily result in a slightly disturbing and yet fascinating Dali-esque sculpture
of distorted wax, the candles will quickly become structurely unstable because of the
melted bits and you will soon be left with a nightmarish mess that has a good chance of
also meeting the requirements of a fire hazard.
3) Following the theme of a fire hazard, be sure not to use any flammable materials in
your candle arrangement. While potpourri may look colourful and lovely when sprinkled
around the base of your candles, when the candles burn too low and ignite the dried bits of
flowers, the only thing colourful (and not at all lovely) will be the words from your
3) Since we are still on the subject of fires (which is, admittedly, the whole purpose
of lighting a candle provided the fire remains quaint and under control), choose the
location of your candlescape carefully. Avoid places that are near curtains, plants, walls
(unless you like sooty smudges), and anything else that might be in dire peril from nearby
flames. Be sure to place your candlescape in a place where there are no drafts, since the
slightest breeze can cause your candle to burn unevenly and thereby shorten its lifespan.
Also, take care to put all candles out of the reach of curious children and incorrigable
4) Don't use votive candles in candlescapes unless they are contained in their own
little cup that is specifically made for use with votive candles. This type of candle
liquifies very quickly and is therefore unsuitable to be perched on its own on a
Some ideas to inspire your creativity:
- Candlescapes seem to look best with an odd number of candles of varying thickness and
height. To add even more visual interest, use different candleholders on your main tray to
give each candle a distinct look.
- The fireplace is an excellent place for your candlescaping pleasures, since it is
actually designed to be a safe receptacle for fire. You may even be able to find
candleholders that are specifically designed to hold several candles in a pleasing
arrangement suitable for just that space. Some of these are made to look like the
andirons that are used to hold the logs in place while they burn.
- Here are some suggestions for items to use in your candlescapes: glass gems, coloured
marbles, sand, polished stones, semi-precious pebbles (like rose-quartz), gravel,
seashells, and assorted glass beads.
- Choose a theme, like the seashore (sand and shells), Zen (white sand and stones), a
colour, or a particular fragrance to create just the mood you want. For example, a large
red cinnamon-scented candle in a clear glass hurricane which is surrounded by a wreath of
holly would be a splendid combination for the Christmas season.
- Placing a candlescape near a mirror can create interesting effects with the
- So long as you use common sense, there is no wrong way to design a candlescape.
Experiment with different shapes and candle fragrances. Visit stores that specialize in
selling candles (ie. Illuminations and Pier 1 Imports) for accessories and ideas. Craft
stores (such as A.C. Moore and Michael's) usually have candle sections with similar
materials and more appealing prices. (Note: While inexpensive accessories are usually just fine, be mindful of the quality of the
candle you are purchasing. In most cases, you get what you pay for. )
See also: "How to take care of candles."