Adventures in Candlemaking

HeaderMy love of making things often leads to me having a ridiculous amount of… things. Blankets, jumpers, jewellery… I tend to make things and then not really know what to do with them. Because of this, I often try to make most of my Christmas presents to people. This way I have a specific reason to make things, these made things don’t overload my (already overloaded) room, and, let’s be honest, it saves me money. This year was no different, and I spent the weeks before Christmas making framed doilies and jars of homemade spice mixes.

“But where are the candles?! It’s a post about candlemaking, it says so in the title!” Indeed it does. My foray into candlemaking didn’t actually start with any sort of candlemaking plan. It sort of came about as the result of a happy accident.

As I mentioned, I made jars of homemade spice mix as Christmas presents this year. For these I ordered some glass jars online, but when they came they were smaller than I realised. Thankfully I was able to buy some larger ones from a hardware shop nearby, but I was left with a pack of sad spice jars, disappointed to not be used. I took them home to London hoping that inspiration would hit.

Then, inspiration hit! While rummaging around in my cupboard, I found a large supply of tealights that I hadn’t used. My brain-hamster started the wheels going, and I decided to combine them with my small mason jars to make cute little candles in cute little holders. I gathered the supplies I’d need and, with the help of some wonderful tutorials by Ruth at ‘living well spending less’ and Jen at somethingturquoise, began to make.

Supplies

Fortunately I had most of what I needed, only having to buy some candle wicks. What I didn’t have was a container with a spout or a food thermometer, but I figured I could do without.

First I had to crush up the tealights to make them easier to melt and so I could remove the small wicks already in them. I did this with a freezer bag and a rolling pin – much fun! Eddie cat was more than a little unhappy about the sudden loud noises, but he soon saw something shiny and forgot.

Eddie CandlesMelting my crushed wax was great fun – it just looks so pretty. I used a glass bowl on top of a pan of boiling water and this worked like a charm. The tealights didn’t give me as much melted wax as I thought they would, but I still had enough for all of the jars. I think I’ll buy some wax pellets in bulk if I make more (which I will) and use essential oils to scent them. After melting the wax I realised why it would have been a good idea to use a container with a spout instead of the glass bowl, but without a spouted container my options were limited. I decided instead to scoop the wax from the bowl with a measuring cup and then pour it into the glass jars from that. I poured in a small amount first to secure the metal disc at the base of the candle wick in order to keep it as centred as possible, then poured in enough wax to fill each jar. I’d be lying if I said that this went perfectly without creating any mess whatsoever… I think I’ll probably still be finding splashes of wax on the floor (and worktop and cupboards and cutlery…) for a while.

Candles Melting 1While this dried and hardened I cleaned up, which was trickier than the tutorials would have you believe. I tried using kitchen towel to wipe the wax away from the bowl while it was still warm, and this just sort of… spread it. I ended up boiling the kettle, putting the bowl, measuring cup and any utensils that were waxy in the sink and pouring the boiling water over them. I then waited for it to be cool enough to put my hands in but hot enough to keep the wax melted so I could wipe the wax away into the water. I’m sure there is an easier way to do this (perhaps not using the glass mixing bowl and finding a spout would be a good beginning), but it worked for the time being.

Once the wax in the jars had hardened I got my decoupage paper out and started decorating. I did all four jars in the same way this time, but for when I make more I’d like to try using PVA glue mixed with food colouring to create a coloured wash over the glass and maybe adding some glitter (there is never a reason not to have glitter).

Finished 1As I don’t have a food thermometer I hadn’t waited for the wax to reach a certain temperature before I poured, so as it cooled in the jars it sort of bowed in the middle, so the wax doesn’t look as neat as I would like. It’s not a huge problem though – as soon as the candle is lit and the wax begins to melt it all evens out. For an accidental adventure I am pretty happy with how they turned out, and am already planning an expedition to some charity shops to see what other containers I can find to use!

I’d love to hear what you think of them, and if you have any questions or suggestions, so please pop a comment in!

Finished 2

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The grand opening…!

Colours Shiny 2

Consider this post a representation of the cutting of a large ribbon with a ridiculously oversized pair of scissors as I unveil the grandest of grand openings – the opening of my Etsy shop. Huzzah!!

This is something I have been meaning to do for a long time now, but as it is new territory for me I didn’t really know the best way to do it. Of course various life-things also got in the way, and so it unfortunately got put on the back burner. Now, however, I have found the time to dedicate to it and so it is very much on the front burner!

My Etsy shop features some pieces of jewellery that I’ve handmade. I will be continuously adding to it, and of course there is the option there to have a personalised necklace made for you, so please do have a perusal and see if it takes your fancy! I am planning to also sell other handmade things (I love making crochetted blankets but have rather an abundance of them… I think they might be breeding…) which I will keep everyone posted about. I’m not sure if these will be sold through Etsy as well as the jewellery, or if I want to keep my Etsy shop specific to the jewellery and advertise my other makes and creations on here, but either way information shall be added soon!

Here is a little insight into the creation of this Etsy shop…

Although I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to set up the shop, it has taken me two days to list the items. This is mainly due to my hatred of photography. Just to be clear, I love looking at other people’s photographs and I have a huge respect for the skills, talent and patience of photographers. However, unfortunately, these are not skills or talents that I possess, and I’m not often described as patient. Therefore any endeavour to take good photos turns into a pretty large and complicated mission.

First of all, the brightest room in the flat is the kitchen. Large window, lots of light. Wonderful. However, in my naivety I didn’t realise that just because there are lots of lights doesn’t mean that good things will happen. Our small kitchen (London student flat) has 8 of them. Lights like shadows, and shadows like to ruin photographs. I spent the best part of one evening trying to figure out how to take a photo on the kitchen table without it looking like I have 8 hands. This was largely unsuccessful, and I didn’t get a single decent photo. Instead of realising that the 8 lights were the problem, I decided that the issue was that it wasn’t light enough outside, and if I waited until the next day and tried in the morning my 8 hands would magically disappear. They did not.

Shadows
I then thought that I would try using my bedroom, which has only 3 lights. Unfortunately, these 3 lights are spotlights so the light is very uneven. Possibly it would have been better if I hadn’t broken one of the lights completely by trying to swivel it round by tapping (hitting…) it with the handle of our broom, but retrospect is a wonderful thing.

Lights

Anyway, after deciding that I would use my chair as my photographing area, I draped it in tissue paper and took the camera to it. Definitely better than the kitchen, I no longer had 8 hands, but I needed to find a way to hang the jewellery so they were propped up rather than sitting flat.
The end result of this journey of multiplying hands and spotlights was, indeed, that I got the photos I wanted. However, it required me to be drilling cocktail-stick-sized holes in my chair at midnight.

Chair

The landlord won’t mind, right? All in the name of art and all that?

In case you’ve read all the way to the bottom and forgotten about visiting my shiny new Etsy shop, here is the link again!

Decoupaging a Dino

Blog. Blog blog blog. It sort of sounds like a monster (friendly), or the noise that a monster (friendly) might make as it plodded around. I might have to create a Blog Monster (friendly) at some point.

Anyway, I have made my first video! Let’s all rejoice. It consists of me making something for a friend. This friend is wonderful, but sometimes forgets how wonderful she is and so I decided to make her what I call a ‘happy jar’. In it’s most basic form it is a glass jar and a pile of post-its. However, I decided to spice it up a little by adding a simple dinosaur. Dinosaurs take anything to the next level!

Enjoy the video, featuring myself, some singing, some cat-shenanigans and a dinosaur 🐈