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by Debbie Odom, Savannah, GA
5 1lb boxes of paraffin “Gulf Wax”
1 Pint mineral oil
Double Boiler or Electric Wok
Candy Thermometer with a metal base—not glass
Wood or plastic spoon
Deep pan of ice water
Moss Straw or towel for draining
Prepare your work space by laying out a bed of straw or moss. I prefer to use a large basket. This will be used to drain your waxed camellias.
Paraffin is extremely flammable so do not melt your wax over an open fire. Use either a double boiler or you can use an electric wok. Do not use your wok for cooking afterwards.
If you use a double boiler, you want to use one that is as wide and as deep as possible. Your pot needs to be deep enough so that your flower can be completely submersed and not touch the sides or bottom. Using a candy thermometer melt your wax to 138 degrees. Temperatures below 138 will cause the wax to glob and temperatures above 140 degrees will burn your flower and very possibly YOU.
Check and adjust your temperature often.
Choose flowers that are fresh, light in color, free of water or mist, and preferably bugs.
Cut at least a 2” stem as you will need this to hold on to the flower as you wax.
If you choose to wax flowers with powdery pollen on the stamens, you can use a small makeup brush to gently brush off some of the pollen so that it doesn’t discolor your wax.
To wax, hold the flower by the stem and pull back any leaves so that they will not get into the wax. Wax discolors the leaves and your objective is to have your waxed flower look as natural as possible.
Completely submerge your camellia into the wax using a slant approach instead of going in face first. Don’t leave your camellia in the wax too long or it could burn it. Just dip it in and remove it.
Gently shake off excess drips for a second or two and then using a slight slant entry ease your flower into the pan of cold water. Slanting entry makes the petals retain their natural shape. Plunging your flower into the water too quickly or face first will make the petals stick together and become flattened out.
Remove your flower after a few seconds and let the water drip off.
Drain your flower either on a towel or as I do , on a bed of moss or straw .
After waxing your camellias will last any where from 1 day to 3 weeks before turning brown. The wax form will hold indefinitely and can be spray painted with a metallic gold or silver spray paint.
Waxed camellias do not need water! They can be displayed in many different ways. I prefer to display my flowers in a basket of straw decorated with ribbons or sprays of ivy. They can also be displayed simply on a glass dish, lace doily , or on a glass mirror. I have used wax camellias as “cake” decorations, wreath displays, corsages, and once I created an arbor of waxed camellias. Only your imagination is your limit!