Archive for Handmade Gifts
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.