DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
This invention relates, e.g., to decorative candles, e.g., bearing images, and a method of making them.
One embodiment is a method of applying an image to the surface of a wax candle, comprising applying the image to a film which is removably attached to a transfer material, wherein the film is a flexible, shape-conforming material which does not exhibit structural rigidity, and applying the film to the surface of the candle.
The above method can further comprise submerging the candle and applied film into molten wax, e.g. a wax having a melting temperature which is about the same as or lower than the melting temperature of the candle to which the film is applied.
Another embodiment of the invention is a method of applying an image to the surface of a wax candle, comprising submerging the candle into molten wax, e.g. having a melting temperature which is the same as or lower than the melting temperature of the candle, the foregoing candle having applied thereto a film bearing an image, wherein the film is a flexible, shape-conforming material which does not exhibit structural rigidity.
The method of the invention comprises applying an image or graphic to the surface of a paraffin-based wax object, preferably a candle. The following discussion is directed primarily to candles; however, one of skill in the art will recognize that any wax object can be decorated by the method of the invention (e.g., a hollow wax shell or a solid wax object without a wick). A candle of the invention (sometimes referred to herein as a central core, wax core, or core) can have any desired size or shape. For example, the size can range from, e.g., a tiny, thimble sized object to a very large object, e.g., an elongated cylinder having a diameter of about 8 inches and a height of about 24 inches or more. The shape can be, e.g., square, polyhedral, trapezoidal, round, with or without a flattened bottom, cylindrical, irregular, or the like, preferably an elongated cylinder.
A candle of the invention is preferably solid wax, having a wick which protrudes from the upper surface of the candle. The composition and placement of such wicks are conventional. The candle can be of any paraffin wax based composition, and typically has a melting point of about 125° F. to about 150° F., preferably about 140° F. Optionally, the candle core can contain conventional components such as, e.g., oil and/or stearic acid, scents or aromas, or other agents known to one of skill in this art to enhance aesthetic and/or functional properties of the candle. In one embodiment, the candle core comprises about 89% paraffin, about 10% stearic acid, about 0.02% anti-oxidant, about 0.06% UV absorber and about 0.02% polyethylene. The core can be colorless (clear, translucent), or it can be colored (tinted) by conventional dyes or pigments. It can be of any color of interest, and/or can comprise a pattern, e.g., geometric designs, swirls of color, random arrangements of colors, helical designs, vertical or horizontal bands of color such as stripes, etc., or combinations of such solid hues and/or patterns.
The method of the invention can be used to apply any image or graphic of interest to a candle. The image or graphic can comprise text or designs, e.g., representational, abstract, geometric etc. designs, photographic images, or the like, or combinations thereof. In a preferred embodiment, the design is a gravure (e.g., photogravure) or lithographically applied inked halftone and/or shaded design.
The image is applied to a film (decal, decalomania, applique, covercoat) which is preferably removably attached to a transfer material. A film according to the invention is a flexible, shape-conforming material which does not exhibit structural rigidity. By not exhibiting “structural rigidity” is meant herein that the film, after having been applied to the surface of a candle, does not remain free-standing (structurally distinct, self-supporting) as the candle burns but, rather, is consumed and remains substantially flush with the top surface of the candle. An advantage of a film having this property is that, because the film does not form a freestanding structure which can burn separately as a secondary wick, the film does not ignite or “torch” as the candle burns. Furthermore, because in a candle having such a film on its surface, the film is not brought into contact with the burning wick, the film also cannot ignite or “torch” as a result of such contact. It can be advantageous if the film exhibits a degree of flexibility, elasticity and/or stretchiness so that it can be manipulated as it is applied to the candle in such a way that it completely covers the side surface(s) of the candle.
The film can be of any suitable material, e.g., a polymer or resin such as a conventional decal or decalomania material, provided that it is compatible with paraffin and retains the requisite properties (e.g., does not exhibit structural rigidity as the candle burns). By “compatible with paraffin” is meant herein that it adheres to paraffin in the absence of other binding agents. The film material can be, for example, a material (e.g., a thixotropic agent), of any suitable composition, which can be applied in liquid form to a transfer material and which can solidify to form a film of the invention. In a preferred embodiment, the solidified film has a thickness of less than about 300 μm, preferably less than about 200 μm, more preferably about 185±15 μm, and most preferably about 187±5 μm.
Exemplary films which have been shown to be operable in the invention are highly conventional, e.g., Meta 2000, 406/thix yellow, etc., and other comparable film forming material well known in the films field. Meta 2000, e.g., is available, e.g., from Hoffmann & Engehmann Aktiengesellschaft, Talstrasse 288, 6730 Neustadt/Weinstrasse, Germany. Meta 2000 is typically processed at a temperature of about 20-21° C. and 55-62% relative humidity; and, in its solid form, has a base weight, coated, of about 170±5 G/M2; a thickness/caliper of about 187±5 μm; a gum deposit of about 11±5 G/M2; a release time of about 45-60 seconds at 20° C.; and a surface with no scratches, blisters, coating skips or surface contamination that can affect printing.
A film of the invention is preferably clear (translucent), so that when it is applied to the surface of a candle, only the image thereupon remains visible and the film, itself, seems to “disappear.” However, a tinted film can also be used.
Any suitable transfer material (backing), i.e., a material which provides support for a film and to which a film can be removably attached, and which itself can be made to be flexible (e.g., by treatment with liquid) and shape conforming can be used, e.g., plastic, fabric, paper, etc. A preferred transfer material is paper, having any suitable thickness, e.g., about 10 mil. If desired, an agent which facilitates the release of the transfer material from the film can be interposed between them. In a preferred embodiment, the film is released from the transfer material by a brief soaking in water. Appropriate water soluble release agents are well-known and conventional and include, e.g., dextrine or various cellulose derivatives, such a carboxymethyl cellulose, cellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, sodium carboxymethyl cellulose, or the like. Such water releasable materials are sometimes referred to as “water-mount,” “water slide-off” or “water slide” material, e.g., paper, decal or decalomania.
A film can be applied to a transfer material by any of a variety of routine, conventional procedures. In a preferred embodiment, the film material, in the form of a liquid, is screen-printed onto the transfer material using a conventional screen printing technique, and is allowed to dry (solidify) at room temperature for an empirically determinable, optimal period of time, e.g., for about 24 hours, thereby forming a solid film having the properties described above.
An image or graphic can be introduced onto or into a film either directly or indirectly. Direct methods include, e.g., applying (e.g., printing) an image directly onto the exposed surface of a film which is attached to a transfer material. In one indirect method (a preferred embodiment), the image is first applied (e.g., printed) with ink onto a transfer material; then the film material in liquid form is spread (e.g., screen printed) onto the transfer material and, as it dries/hardens/solidifies to a solid film, the ink which is printed onto the transfer material binds to and/or becomes incorporated into or onto the film. Preferably, the transfer material (e.g., paper) is coated with a minimal amount of an agent (e.g., a lubricant such as oil) effective to inhibit ink from adhering to its surface, thereby enhancing the transfer of the image to the film.
Many conventional methods can be used to apply an image to a film or a transfer material, including, e.g., silk screening, air brushing, painting or printing (e.g., screen-printing, letterpress printing, offset printing, gravure or (offset) lithographic printing). In one embodiment, printing is performed using droplets of ink from nozzles being projected onto a surface to form a print, e.g., ink-jet printing. In a preferred embodiment, an image is printed by an offset printing technique, e.g., using a sheet fed printing press, preferably four-color (CMYK; cyan, magenta, yellow, black) offset printing. In a most preferred method, the design, e.g., a photographic image, a representational or non-representational (e.g., abstract) design, or a physical object of interest such as, e.g., a leaf or flower, is digitally scanned into a computer (e.g., scanned onto a diskette and modified in a computer as desired, for example to incorporate color(s)), and is then printed onto a transfer material, all of which methods are conventional.
Inks or other coloring materials which can be utilized in the method are conventional and are well-known in the art. They can be of any color or shade which can produce a decorative effect, can be of any suitable composition, and, preferably, are compatible with a wax surface (e.g., bond well with it, without smearing). A desirable property of the ink is that the solvent in which the ink pigment is dissolved is incapable of significantly solubilizing the wax surface of the candle to which it is applied, and/or with which it is coated, thereby reducing or eliminating smearing of the design. In one embodiment, the ink lacks a significant wax/paraffin component. Preferably, the ink has a kindling point which is less than the temperature at which the candle burns. An ink which has been demonstrated to be operable in the invention is a non-toxic ink of the Z-STYRENE: 6000 SERIES, available, e.g., from Winson Ink Co., Ltd., 43/39 Soi Walkumpeg, Bangkok 10150 Thailand. Such ink has, as its principal components, by weight per cent, 20-40% acrylated coploymer; 30-50% glycol ethers, 5-10% aromatic solvents, and 2-5% esters, and has a flashpoint of 130° F. Pigments of any desired color, preferably non-toxic ones, can be added to the ink base, following standard procedures.
A film bearing an image of interest can be released from a transfer material by conventional methods in the art. For example, in a preferred embodiment, a film attached to a water slide transfer material (e.g., paper) is immersed in water for an empirically determinable, relatively short, period of time, e.g., face down for about one minute, then face up for about one minute. In one embodiment, after such soaking, the decal plus transfer material is removed from the water; approximately one inch of the decal is removed from the backing and is positioned onto the candle by sliding the decal from the backing to the candle surface; and the decal is slid off the backing as it is rolled onto the candle.
The released film can be applied, using appropriate, conventional, methods, to any desired portion of a candle. In a preferred embodiment, the film is wrapped around the sides of a candle body, in close conforming relationship thereto; aligned to the top and bottom of the candle; and the sides are aligned so that the ends meet in a flush orientation, or slightly overlap each other, thereby substantially or completely covering the surface of the candle side(s). The design image can either face the candle body or face away from it. Of course, the film need not cover the surface of the candle completely and, e.g., it can contact the candle on as little as only a small proportion of its surface, e.g., a patch, a vertical or horizontal stripe, a helix, etc.
A film can be adhered to a candle by any suitable method. For example, one or more manual processes can be employed. In one embodiment, employing manual steps, the film is applied (e.g., wrapped around) the vertical surface of a candle by hand; and air and/or water bubbles are removed by pressing with a foam rubber squeegie. The candle is left to dry at room temperature for an empirically determinable suitable period of time (e.g., from about 30 minutes to about 48 hours), during which the film adheres to the candle. Residual bubbles can be removed by puncturing them, e.g. with a needle.