Join me for this Workshop and you will learn about the most famous Japanese characters and paint them in a candle with acrylic.
The use of candles for the purpose of relaxation and decoration is very prevalent in Asian cultures like Japan’s. Painted candles – also known as e-rosoku – are sumptuous items that were long prized among samurai families. Delicate and vivid patterns such as chrysanthemums, plum blossoms and peonies are painted onto candles made of natural Japanese wax extracted from the fruits of lacquer trees.
Drawing a kanji (a Japanese character) on a candle is a way of expressing your wishes for your own home or for whomever you want to give that candle to. Kanji is symbolic or logographic. It is the most common means of written communication in the Japanese language, with more than 50,000 different symbols according to some estimates. Each kanji has a history, a meaning and a way to be drawn.
Floral painted candles originated in Tohoku (northern Japan). During the harsh winters it was difficult to get fresh flowers, therefore people started to paint flowers on the candles and used them on Buddhist altars at their homes.
To paint or draw on round surfaces, such as walls and domes, we will mix up the experience by using a technique that originated in Europe.
In Western countries, people use a similar craft on many occasions like birthdays, weddings or funerals. It may be known as a "Birthday Candle," "Memorial Candle" or "Anniversary Candle" depending on the occasion. In Japan – just like floral painted candles – the Kanji candle may be used any time of the year and also can be a nice gift for your loved ones.
Many people purchase decorative candles in stores but most of them are not painted. Typically you can find sticker labels for candles or use decal paper to decorate them, but whenever I have presented a gift of a candle painted by myself, I see that people are joyfully surprised and grateful. A homemade gift is always more precious than a pre-made one.
I have taught this craft, and variations, at the Japan Club of Guam between 2005 and 2010, and to many friends and acquaintances who became interested in it. I believe anyone can do it regardless of age or skill.
I hope to paint some candles with you!
Please note: This Workshop is recommended for ages 8+ and requires patience and a steady hand.