Gift x Gift x Gift

The objective of this project was to create a gift for your Client. Peter assigned our Clients and I got Debbie! I never met Debbie before and so we introduced ourselves, talked about our likes and dislikes.

Through our conversation I realised that Debbie said that she was supposed to be in another class with her previous classmates but was unable to get that class. Therefore, she has to take another class where she did not know anyone. She also mentioned that she was rather afraid as she did not know anyone in the class and it seemed like everyone else in the class knew each other. From talking to her, I realised that she treasures her friendship very dearly and she’s someone that is easy to click with when talking to her.

From there, I decided that one aspect of my gift shall be about friendships.

We also talked about fears and she told me to not make anything related to rats as she would simply freak out.

Lastly, I wanted to have something related to candles because I realised that candles and friendships work hand in hand as candles are a symbol of light or life.




Initial sketch/ideas

In the initial stages of my conceptualisation, I wanted to do a candle for her, with a friendship bracelet as the wick and the outer look of the candle is white but the inner is colourful, just like Debbie’s personality, she may look shy on the outside but she’s actually very energetic on the inside.


Upon consultation, Peter suggested 3 words to help trigger thoughts and ideas and the 3 words were Bubonic Plague ; Candles ; Friendship Bracelet.

Some background information of these words:-

Bubonic Plague


Bubonic Plague is transferred from rats and it is the main cause of Black Death. The reason for it being called Black Death is due to the symptoms of the disease that causes the infected to hand black hands.


Friendship Bracelets


Friendship bracelets are used to signify the friendship between friends. These handmade strung bracelets are given to friends to represent the friendship between them. It is known that once you wear the bracelets, you must let it fall off by itself as taking it off yourself means a break in the friendship.




Candles are used as a symbol of light or life. Different coloured candles may signify different type of moods or ambience.


After consultation, it was decided that i should do a wax hand and to include the Bubonic nature, I had the fingers waxed black. The friendship bracelet is to be wound at the base of the hand to act as the candle holder. Therefore, when the candle finishes burning the fingers, the candle would act as a normal candle.

The candle would also have dual functions such that it is able to be used as a candle as well as a display.

So i wondered, a gift’s characteristics is the wrapping(something to ensure that the contents inside are not seen) as well as a ribbon(aesthetics). I thought that my gift should be similar to the characteristics of a gift. The wax hands were the wrapping, the ribbon was the purple strings at the base of the hands whereas the actual gift was my friendship represented by the real friendship bracelet that is hidden inside the wax hands.

I wanted to portray the candle as a symbol of hope and life. The black areas of the wax would represent her fears. As the candle burns away her fears, she will be able to find something better(the friendship bracelet).


Final sketches/ideas

I did some sketches on how to craft the shape of the hands, whether the fingers are at the bottom or top. I also had to take in consideration on the colours of the candles. I also wanted to use my Client’s hands to give it a more personal touch.

I was initially supposed to use Alginate as a cast for the mould. However, using one lesson to test out the Alginate, I was unable to get the right consistency to make the mould. The consistency should have been a pudding consistency but I kept getting a lumpy consistency that would not harden like it is supposed to. It was only later that I realised that it was a bad batch and the Alginate could not be used.

How to use alginate to make a cast
How to use alginate to make a cast

It was a real situation for me as I was unable to have a suitable and safe method for my Client to make the mould of her hands. I wanted to use a hand glove as a substitute. However, I thought about using Plaster Bandages. I know that they are able to make moulds easily, but was not sure if it was able to withstand the wax being poured in later on or whether I was able to take out the mould.


Plaster bandages

I decided to give it a try so I got some from ArtFriend!

Testing out the plaster bandage on my fingers

Before I tried it on my Client I had to make sure that it was safe and that it would be possible to do a mould. So I tested it on my finger first to ensure it works well.

Mould of my finger

I added the wax inside the mould and cut out the mould later on.

Wax figure of my finger

I was so happy that it worked! However it was rather tough to take it out of the mould and I had to be super careful because the wax is very fragile and could break at any moment.


The video features a time-lapse of me making a cast of my client’s hand.

Moulding my Client’s hands with plaster bandages

While waiting for my Client’s mould to harden, we talked about stuff and got closer, therefore I felt like this project really got me closer to my client which was nice! 🙂

Melted the candle wax

I then double boiled the candle wax to get a liquid wax to pour into the mould.

Added a friendship bracelet into the wax hands

I added a little tinge of surprise into the wax hands.



This video features a time-lapse of how I took out the wax sculpture from the mould

Tearing apart the mould from the wax hands


After the wax hardened, I had to tear apart the mould and i had to be extra careful that the wax inside doesn’t break. It was a long process but it was quite fun too.

Wax hands with wick
Wax hands base layer

The wax hand was completed but I needed to make it look more gory to suit the mood of the bubonic plague. I realised that adding black wax around the fingers was rather unnatural and would not look gory/scary enough.


I added bits and pieces of wet plaster bandage around the fingers to make it look more disease-like. I initially wanted to burn the plaster bandage but I realised that it was hard to burn the plaster bandage when it was wet. Therefore, i burnt the dry ones and added it to the ‘affected’ areas. I realised they gave off an ash-look that suited the disease nature.

The following is the finished product!







I realised that it was quite hard to conceptualise on ideas for the gift according to the clients wants/needs and your own perception on what you should give them. It was also challenging to give something and still retain the element of surprise. The three words that was given to me definitely helped me in focusing on where I should be headed in conceptualising what to make for my Client. I had many downfalls in between this projects but I’m glad that I managed to find alternatives and it turned out all well. It was also fun for both me and my Client making the wax hands. I hope my Client likes it!



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