Like little boats, these candles float because of the way they are made. They're flat on the bottom and not too thick, so they won't tip or flip over. The molds for making them are probably residing in your kitchen cabinets right now: Muffin tins, cookie cutters, and tart molds have just the right shapes for the task. Not only that, but they make it easy to turn out dozens of candles at a time. All you have to do is melt the wax, pour it into the baking pans, add the wicks, and set the timer. Before long, you'll have 12, 24, 36, or more little lights to brighten your table (or give as gifts).
Make the candles from used tapers, pillars, or votives you have at home, or if you prefer, start from scratch with wax and dyes from a crafts store. Either way, your colorful creations will soon be bobbing in their bowls, keeping company with the moon -- and, if you're lucky, with some fireflies, too.
Pick a size. Mini-muffin candles burn for an hour or so; large ones, for three. A variety of candles in tonal hues -- such as warm reds, oranges, and yellows, like the ones we used -- look wonderful together. Vary the sizes by pouring wax into large, medium, and mini-muffin tins, and create a playful polka-dot presentation. For uniform results, pour the wax to a depth of no more than 1 inch.
Use simple, broad shapes to make sure they float. To turn a cutter into a mold, run masking tape along the edge, snip at the corners, and bend the tape so the cutter sits flat on the foil.
With a set of graduated cookie cutters, you can make stars in many sizes at once. Float some in little bowls, and set others in shallow dishes of water. Arranged on a long runner, they will supply your dinner table with a galaxy of gentle light. We like beeswax for these candles. It has a more viscous consistency when melted, which prevents it from leaking out of the molds.