Gorgeous, fancy, formal china–especially the teacups with their tiny, curvy handles.
We all knew, with our casual lifestyles, that we’d never really use the teacups. And after over 50 years of use, it’s also an incomplete set. Still, I thought the cups were too pretty to tuck away in my basement or donate to charity.
I finally decided to use the teacups to create candles for all my mom’s adult female descendants. That way, each of us would have a way to enjoy her beautiful china and be able light a candle for her using something that she chose as a bride-to-be way back in the 1950s.
Fun and Easy
Making these was way easier and more fun than I thought it would be. I was also thrilled with the end result, so I’m sharing how to do it, in case you’d like to make a few for Valentine’s day or Mother’s day.
These teacup candles would also make a great hostess gift, bridesmaid gift, and for the ambitious bride, a fabulous (and relatively inexpensive) wedding favor.
List of Materials
Here’s my list of supplies, including links to the bits I bought online. I’m sure there’s other great options out there, but what I bought all worked for me on the first try without a hitch. As someone who once made a living designing literally hundreds of craft projects, I find that to be a minor miracle.
My teacups have a particular significance for me–they were my mom’s, who passed away in 2014, but you can also collect teacups at the thrift store, yard sales, or your favorite antique store for a dollar or two.
- Soy Wax Flakes: http://tinyurl.com/h7anfxd.
(Out of ignorance, I bought the 10lb bag. It’s A LOT. Feel free to get less.)
You can use any wax, but I really recommend the soy wax–very low smoke. The soy wax flakes are also easy to use and melt nicely during the creation process.
- Candle Dye: http://tinyurl.com/ha9dl78
I chose a solid version that came in a small variety pack because I didn’t know what I was doing and wanted to test a few colors. I was happy with the result.
- Fragrance: http://tinyurl.com/zhfyxke
I thought it would be fun to add scent to mine, but it’s not necessary. Again, I bought a variety pack. It was fun, but the smell in my studio did get a bit overwhelming. Still, I’d do it again.
- Cheap Bamboo Chopsticks: http://tinyurl.com/zwotuzu
If you make stuff, let’s face it, bamboo chopsticks are darn handy. But these aren’t completely necessary. That said, I tried to get away with not using them, but found it so annoying that I went online and bought some. I’ve used them for all kinds of projects since.
- Glue gun or super glue.
Almost all the instructions I read say to use a glue gun to glue in the wick. I generally don’t use a glue gun and I didn’t want to buy one. So I used super glue which I found awkward. It worked, but I’d have turned to a glue gun for sure if I already owned it.
- Candle Wicks.
I bought a small packet of 3″ wicks at my local Michael’s store that were pre-waxed and had the little metal thingy on the bottom to secure it to the base. If you search online, you’ll see that both Michael’s and Amazon only sell big quantities of wicks. However, when you go to the Michael’s store, you can get a little packet.
- Candy Thermometer.
I got mine at a local hardware store. You need this if you’re going to add color or scent. For some reason, I found the prospect of using the candy thermometer intimidating, but it was very easy to use and a great help.
- Some sort of double boiler or heating device.
I used an old deep fryer we weren’t going to cook with anymore.
- Tin cans. Clean and dry. One for each color.
That is, something to melt the wax in. Poke around your house. I used diced tomato cans.
How to Make Teacup Candles: Step by Step Instructions
~Because I was using an electric deep fryer, I set up a small table in my studio, covered it in newspaper, and treated it like a workstation. If you’re working on your stove, I’d still recommend that you protect your counter with newspaper or something.
~I filled a deep fryer with a few inches of water and heated it up. Do the same or fill any saucepan you might have with a few inches of water and heat it directly on your stove. Keep an eye on the heat.
~Compress one side of your tin can to make a pouring spout (see photo on right). Fill it with wax flakes, and set the can into the water to slowly melt the wax. (As you can see from my cans, I used a different can for every color, and I labeled each according to how many dye squares I used to make that color.)
~Add more wax as it melts until you have approximately enough to fill your particular teacup.
~As the wax melts, affix the wick to the bottom of your teacup. If you’re using superglue, this may take a couple of tries, but it works.
~Slide a pair of bamboo chopsticks around the wick to hold it in place. (See photo.) The first time I did this, I tried leaning a pencil against the wink to keep it centered. It worked, but the chopsticks were way easier.
~If you want to add color, this is where you need the candy thermometer. Just set it in your wax filled tin can and keep an eye on the temperature.
~Once it reads 170 degrees, break off a square or two of your chosen color, drop it in, and stir.
~To test the color, drip a little on a piece of white paper to let it dry. Once it’s dry, you’ll have a sense of the color. NOTE: It will be much more pastel than how it looks in the can.
~In fact, the color will keep getting lighter–even after my candles looked completely hardened, the next day, the color had gotten even lighter. For instance, I thought I had made the candle in this top pic a perfect salmon combining the yellow and orange, but in the end, it became more of a pale pink.
~Feel free to combine the dye colors, it makes it more fun. I created an ad hoc chart on scrap paper as I worked, noting my dye combinations with a sample wax drop of how each looked. I also labeled the tin cans with the leftover wax inside. (I’m finally wising up in my old age.)
~I based all my scenting actions on these fairly clear instructions I found online. Below is my simpler variation on their explanation.
~Check the temperature again, and make sure it’s still around 170 degrees because scent starts to burn off at 205 degrees.
~They suggest you add 1 oz of scent to 1 pound of wax. I had no idea how much wax I was using, but I knew it was way less than an pound and I only had an ounce of each scent anyway. So I just poured a decent dollop from my little 1 ounce jar into my can of wax. (At this point in the process, you might want to open a window and your cat may leave the room from the overwhelming odor but remember, your candles will smell pretty!)
~They also stress that you need to stir the scent for a couple of minutes so it thoroughly penetrates the wax.
~I followed all their recommendations–paying close attention to the temperature, using more scent and stirring much longer than I would have if I had just guessed. It worked out great, even though I was using an entirely different brand of both dye and scent.
Pour the Wax
~Using a potholder, lift your can out of your saucer and pour your wax into your teacup. Avoid the chopsticks as you pour. This step was actually much easier than I thought it would be–especially because I had taken a moment at the beginning to make a crude pouring spout. Pouring Spout = No Spilling.
~When you’re done pouring, adjust your sticks and wick to keep the wick centered if necessary. You’ve got plenty of time to do this, so don’t stress.
~Now leave it alone and let it harden. Leave it for hours. Don’t poke. Don’t decide to pull off the chopstick because you’re dying to see how it looks without it. Instead, make another candle in a different color. Then another. I made a different color for each woman in my family, and it was a blast. (See photo.)
~Several hours later, remove the chopsticks and trim the wick if necessary.
~Voila! The perfect Valentine’s, Mother’s Day, hostess, or bridesmaid gift. So much fun and pretty as can be. And now you have another great reason to poke around the thrift store or flea market.
I love everyday creativity like this: it felt great spending time considering what each woman would like best and adjusting the color til I thought it was perfect.
What do you think, will you try it? Do you have any questions?
Pin to Pinterest or leave me a comment….or both! I’d love to hear from you.
Last summer, I asked you to vote for my SXSWedu workshop proposal and your votes really helped–I was accepted and the workshop was a big success. I was so thrilled. THANK YOU to everyone who voted for me.
This year, I’m submitting again…Will you take a moment to VOTE for my group panel proposal for 2015 called Learning to Fail with Style and Grace?
I’m proposing this panel with two lovely University of Texas professors–they are both very experienced educators with some serious chops in the field of creativity research. They’re also musicians and one has done fantastic work with at-risk kids, so it should be a very practical and inspiring discussion.
HOW TO HELP:
- Click here to vote for my panel:
- If you are taken to a general overview page after logging in, please type in “Learning to Fail with Style and Grace” into the search box and my proposal should pop up. Click on it.
- You’ll see 2 videos–my video is below the video of the guy with white hair. (One of my fellow panelists.) Watching is optional.
- Click the “thumbs up” icon to vote for my panel.
- Optional: Leave a comment about how groovy I am.
- If you have time, email me afterward to let me know you voted. (It keeps me excited about the process!) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
If you have any questions for me before you vote, just hit “reply” to this email and I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can.
Participating last year really helped my business in unexpected ways including my developing creativity workshops for business professionals that I’m super excited about.
Big Hugs, Sarah
P.S. For those who’ve never heard of it, SXSW (South by Southwest) is a huge innovation conference in Austin, Texas that has several sections–music, film, digital and education. I’m submitting to the education section.
I’ve finally started my Inspiring Creatives Interview Series–conversations with creative souls I know and admire designed to help you succeed in your creative business or simply live your life as the artist you are. Or both.
Today’s interview is with the super successful Amy Noelle from Sugar Flower Cake Shop in New York City.
Amy makes a fabulous living making gorgeous edible art–that is, special occasion and wedding cakes.
The images on this page are two of her cake designs–and note, every decoration on these cakes is handmade from sugar!
I know those flowers might LOOK like she just plucked them from the garden. But they are all edible. All made by hand. All made of sugar. Crazy. (Crazy-Beautiful that is.)
Her work has been featured in STYLE Network, TV Land, Martha Stewart Weddings, and many more. To view more images of her handiwork, click here.
Amy is also a business woman extraordinaire, and she kindly shared her mistakes, her struggles and some wonderful wisdom about how she makes her creative business work.
The Entire Interview
You can listen to the whole interview by clicking here, or you can listen to individual topic segments–listed below.
Hear ‘em all or choose the topic you find most interesting or that touches on an area that you’re struggling with in your creative business.
Topic #1: Taking the Mental Leap: From Hobby to Business
Click here to listen to this segment: (3min:21sec)
Amy talks about how long she’s technically been in business, and how she switched from treating her business like a hobby to finally taking the plunge and going for it as a full-time gig.
A key take-away here is to remember the time-frame she mentions–no one is an overnight success. But it’s also interesting how certain mind shifts change everything.
Topic #2: The Emotional Roller Coaster Called Pricing
Click here to listen to this segment (7min: 36sec)
Amy and I had a fantastic discussion about pricing–how to fix it when it’s wrong, how that might affect what you thought was your target market, and why it’s not as scary or confusing as it might seem after all.
It’s great to know that someone as successful as Amy made mistakes with her pricing and how she corrected it.
This was my favorite part of our discussion because it’s such a bugaboo for so many creatives.
If you’ve ever struggled with pricing, DEFINITELY listen to this section.
Topic #3 The Struggle for Balance and What it Means to Be Clear
Click here to listen to this segment (3min: 21sec)
Find out Amy’s biggest business challenge and how she handles it.
Topic #4: Solving the Delegation Struggle–Resistance, Systems, and Freedom
Click here to listen to this segment (5min: 45sec)
Amy shares her struggle with delegating, a great example of what she did to make it happen and why systems are critical to success. Hearing what she did to might surprise you–but you can do it too!
Topic #5: A Creative Challenge: Incorporating Client Feedback into Your Design
Click here to listen to this segment (2min: 45sec)
When you’re in business, your creative challenges are different than when you’re on your own. Find out how Amy handles it.
Please Leave a Comment
Please share your thoughts in the comments. What was most useful for you? What would you like to know more about? And if you have a question for Amy, put it in the comments section and she’ll answer it there too.
I’ve submitted a proposal to teach a workshop on the intersection of creativity and collaboration called The Creative Breakthroughs Technique at a giant, uber-cool annual conference and festival called SXSW (South by Southwest) in Austin TX in 2014.
Some of you have taken a similar class with me over the phone. (Yup, art over the phone–it works!) I’m in love with this technique for building a creative momentum and providing a structure to unleash your creativity.
Building Creative Muscle
The workshop I’m proposing for SXSW includes a new and interesting addition to the original workshop–collaboration. It fascinates me that collaboration itself is such a complex creative challenge for artists and non-artists alike.
I’m targeting two different parts of the festival and adapting the workshop for each audience. The approach for the workshop for SXSW educators is geared toward helping those professionals who might not feel creative or artistic to better understand the creative process and how a more fully developed creative muscle enhances one’s thinking in every context.
For the professional SXSW digital creatives, I want to get them back to a physical, hands-on creative experience as well as move them out of their comfort zone with unexpected collaborative challenges.
Will You Please Vote for Me?
Competition is fierce and it would be a HUGE credibility boost for me to speak and teach at this conference. Almost like saying I did a TED talk. (Which, of course, is another goal…but I digress.)
Voting is a big part of their selection process. I’ve submitted one proposal to two areas of the festival.
Could you take a moment to vote for my proposal in both places?
Click here to vote for my proposal for forward thinking educators.
Click here to vote for my proposal for digital creatives:
For those of you who’d like more details about what the heck I’m talking about, here’s a recap:
I’ve submitted the same proposal to two separate arenas of the festival:
- SXSW interactive:
This show caters to super hip, bleeding edge digital creative types–they received over 3,000 proposals because of their uber-coolness factor. It’s probably a stretch for me to get in, but their theme this year is creativity and inspiration which is why I thought my workshop could be a great fit even though I’m not famous or uber-cool.
- SXSW edu:
This show is smaller and a fairly new category for SXSW. It’s dedicated to forward thinking education leaders, thinkers, and entrepreneurs. It’s also closer to my heart because I think like a teacher myself and I believe educators (esp. art educators) are some of the most maligned, under supported professionals today.
I’m starting to realize that I want to be a part of the education conversation in this country as well as a more vocal advocate for the relevance and necessity of the arts and creativity in every aspect of learning and living life.
The Upshot (Basically, Please Vote)
Thanks so much, I really really appreciate this!
This Sunday is the 10th anniversary of September 11th.
Come create with me.
I am officially inviting you to come make collages with me Sunday, September 11th at 3pm EDT when I run this month’s Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class.
Whether you’d like to create a collage that commemorates our country’s victims and heroes, reflect on your own experiences from that terrible day, or if you’d just like to honor life by doing something positive, uplifting, and life-affirming, The Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class allows it all.
I teach the class using a simple but powerful technique that guides and supports you through creating several collages while simultaneously freeing you to express yourself and experiment however you wish.
This tele-class gives you complete privacy (we’re on the phone) and helps you focus on your own artistic voice–not mine. It lets you play, try something new, and just re-connect to your creative self–it’s as simple as that.
And if you’d like to take the class for FREE, you just need to subscribe to my email newsletter.
You can do that by going to http://makegreatstuff.com and filling out the sign up form in the top right corner.
Once you’ve done that and you receive your coupon code (check your spam folder if you don’t get it very soon after signing up), just visit this page to sign up for the class: http://makegreatstuff.com/CBCTsignup/form.php
If you want to get a little more info about how it all works, click on the 2 links below:
- Detailed Description and Testimonials About the Class Here:
- See How Few Supplies You Need:
Once again, just click here to join me this Sunday, September 11th at 3pm EDT to create and connect.
Hope to see you there.
P.S. And please pass this invitation to anyone else you think would like to make art together this coming Sunday, September 11, 2011 by tweeting this URL, sharing this page as a link on Facebook, or forwarding this email. Thank you!
I finally created a Useful Links list that will be sent out to new subscribers of the Make Great Stuff newsletter.
Since you all signed up for my newsletter (or blog for that matter) before I had my act together to make this list, I thought I’d share it here as well in case you find it beneficial.
Scan through the categories I’ve created below, see what catches your eye, and start there.
The Free Trial
By signing up for the Make Great Stuff Newsletter, you were automatically issued a FREE coupon for the Creative Breakthroughs Collage Tele-Class. If you didn’t see it come into your email, please check your junk or spam folder. Then sign up for a class and we’ll send you reminders beforehand so you don’t forget.
It’s cheap, easy, and most of all, FUN & FULFILLING! You can’t beat it with a stick.
- Learn More & Read Some Powerful Testimonials About the Class Here:
- Structured Support & Why We All Need It:
If you’ve been feeling stuck, it can be excruciating to start again. You think about it all the time, but you just can’t turn thoughts into action. The momentum of not-doing can have a stranglehold, but I’ve got some great, safe ideas for helping yourself work through the ick and start creating again.
- Why it Doesn’t Help to Wait until You’re Inspired:
- Re-Claiming Your Free Time:
- Why You Shouldn’t Wait to be “In the Mood” to Create:
- The Dangers of Waiting to Be “Ready”:
- Why Resistance is so Seductive and How to Avoid Getting Ensnared:
The Fine Art of Finishing
Perhaps you love to make and dabble and try new things, but nothing ever seems to get done. Well, there’s a reason for that, and these posts explore those challenges, explain what’s hard, and help you take that final step and finish what you start. Very empowering:
- It’s Not Crappy, You’re Just in the Middle:
- What To Do After the Honeymoon is Over:
- The Difference Between Almost Finished and Finished:
- The Real Reason You Stop Before You’re Finished:
The 20 Minute Technique
I promise if you use this technique regularly, you will be more productive, feel in charge of your creativity, and start making work you love.
I used to have it as a feature of my blog, but soon it’s going to be an E-Course to help you jump-start your creativity. In the meantime though, here’s an overview of how it works and some real life examples of how I use it all the time to keep myself creating:
- What the Heck the 20 Minute Technique is and How it Works:
- A List of What You Can do in Your 20 Minutes: (halfway down the article)
- Ernest Hemingway’s Technique:
- Making Your Creativity Your Sanctuary in an Overwhelming World:
- Real Life Example:
Honoring Yourself and Your Progress
It’s easy to discount what you do or to feel silly about asserting its importance. However, part of the process of reclaiming your life as an artist is to honor yourself and own what you do. These posts are about that:
- Why You Should Frame Your Work:
- Nourishing Your Creative Heart:
- Appreciating Yourself and Why You Need to Do it!
- The Path to Measuring Up to Your Own High Standards:
- Creativity is Not Shopping: The Danger of Being a Technique Hummingbird:
Practical Techniques and Strategies that Anyone Can Use
- Creating an Annual Theme:
- Going Public (with your Family at least)
- Learning to Transition Well: Why it’s Important to your Creativity:
- The Benefits of “Mixing it Up:”
- Keep Yourself Going with a Personal Metaphor:
What do you think? What articles were most helpful–and why? Do you have a busy, creative friend who might benefit from reading some of the articles on this list as well? If so, please forward and spread the creative love!