I'm addicted to Dollar Tree Altar Candles. They are those plain white jar candles that you can pick up in a variety of places, but at Dollar Tree, they are only a dollar (duh :)). So I've decorated them in just about every way I can think of (click here to see my other altar candle projects); however, I didn't have a set of candles for Thanksgiving. I needed some to replace my Halloween candles since I was putting away all the jack-o-lanterns in favor of the generic fall and Thanksgiving stuff.
I found some cute napkins at Dollar Tree when I bought my last batch of candles. They had pumpkins at the bottom and a bunch of fall/Thanksgiving words printed above. I thought the long napkins would be just the right size for the altar candles (and they were). So I grabbed two candles, the napkins, a jar of mod podge, a foam paint brush, and a paper plate.
I opened up the napkins and noticed that the second layer was loose, so I peeled the napkin apart. Sometimes the napkins will be really well embossed and you don't have to peel them apart, but if they come apart when cutting or are loose, peel them apart so they don't come apart when you're trying to glue them.
I used the jars of the candles as a guide to cut the napkins. After rolling the napkin around the jar, I noticed that the pumpkins would over lap. They were just a bit too far apart from each other on the napkin to get two pumpkins neatly on the candle, so I decided to cut two panels--it would mean two seams, but two whole pumpkins would be visible.
I glued the larger panel down first by spreading a thin layer of mod podge down on the candle with my foam brush. Use just enough glue to secure the paper to the surface. Less glue will mean less wrinkles and the napkin won't get as wet. Wet or sticky napkins tear very easily.
I arranged the napkin so it was straight at the top edge of the candle and then tapped the napkin down. Be very gentle and make sure your hands stay dry so as not to tear the napkin. I glued the free edge down after the napkin was placed by spreading a bit more glue on the candle and tapping the rest of the napkin down.
Then I switched to the other candle and repeated the process. I didn't glue the back panel on just yet because the napkins were very fragile, and I didn't want to tear it while handling the candle. The time it took to glue the first panel on the other candle was just enough time to stabilize the glue a bit. It wasn't quite dry, but it was dry enough that my fingers wouldn't tear the paper from just picking the candle up. I then glued the other panel on the back. I had to trim the panel a bit to fit so the excess wouldn't overlap the other pumpkin design. Then I spread a thin layer of glue down and tapped the napkin panel into place while trying to line up the top edge with the top of the candle jar and the bottom edge with the design of the other napkin panel.
Once it was tapped into place, I glued the free edges down where it overlapped with the first napkin panel. I tapped/very gently smoothed the napkin down.
Once the napkin panels were all glued into place, I left them to dry for about an hour so that the napkins wouldn't tear when I added the sealing layer of glue. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but the napkins are loose along the edges in some places. I like to err on the side of not tearing the napkins and just try to get them into place without fussing about if all the edges are perfect--they can be glued down better when the sealing coat of glue is applied.
Because I am impatient, I glued the bottom edges down while I was waiting for the rest of the paper to dry. I carefully flipped the jar over and painted a tiny bit of glue along the bottom edge of the candle and smoothed the napkin over with my fingers. Then I added just a bit of glue over top to seal the napkins. Then I left them flipped over to finish drying.
Once the candles were dry, I spread a sealing coat of mod podge onto the candles. I spread a thin layer, making sure not to leave blobs or clumps of glue and smoothing out any loose edges. Then I let them dry for a couple hours. Sometimes I quit there with decoupage projects, but the napkins absorbed the glue, and it didn't appear as sealed and slightly glossy as I would have liked, so I painted on a second coat and let it dry.
I ended up with cute pumpkin candles for Thanksgiving. I'm so glad I have some Thanksgiving candles to replace my Halloween ones on my kitchen table. These white jar candles are such an inexpensive blank slate. I'm always looking for a new way to decorate them. This is the first time I've used a long napkin with an irregular pattern, but they turned out great!