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Handmade Holiday - Light

winter sunrise nova scotia canada

these are the darkest, shortest days of the year and any sunshine or light offers the season comfort and warmth making the gift of light always appreciated.

for my handmade holidays, i decided to go after light in two ways this year. electricity and the flame.

truth be told, after seeing Netflix's "The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell" i knew i wanted to try making candles. and when better then as part of my Christmas Crafts?

i followed a mix of her instructions and those on the package and had some good success. 

i feel like i should put a disclaimer in here though - this takes a bit of time and isn't something you can tackle on a lazy sunday morning. plan a couple of days (for the wax to set, etc) and if you are doing any carving, add another day.

  • 1lb of wax made 2 candles each moulded in foil lined toilet paper rolls (Christine McConnell's method) with some wax left over. 
  • i separated the wax - 2 parts to be dyed red and 1 part to stay white.
DIY candle making with mould
DIY candle making hot wax
  • i wanted the centre to be red and the outside white so that i could carve a design into the candles. i followed the quantity on the package to get a deep colour which looked a disappointing orange while it was cooling, but hardened to a nice red.
  • i poured the white wax over the top. this resulted in a drip effect that probably wouldn't have happened had i dipped them - but i liked it so i went with it.
  • wax is pretty forgiving but my first candle was less than perfect coming out of the mould so i took the sharp end of the knife and scraped down the sides to carve out a more even form before putting on the white.
  • the final pattern carving was a little more time consuming then i expected - again, i used the same sort of tools used in the show.
  • i was surprised how thick the white wax was because you can still see a little pinkish tinge to the candles.

DIY candle making red white

this was really an experiment for me but, honestly, it was a lot of fun and i think i'm going to see about getting my hands on some beeswax and keep experimenting.

the craft store had all sort of special wicks, weights, dyes and scents but i went basic and it worked out well. there are a lot of great ideas for candle making, including these pressed herb candles and if you are at all curious, i encourage you to go for it. the individual steps aren't complicated and don't take long - it is mostly just waiting. and seriously, take a look for the show and see what Christine McConnell carves in her ghoulish candles! genius!

homemade carved candles holly motif

for my second light project, i decided to look around the house for what i had on hand. i found a few jars, votive candles and fairy lights and that seemed like a good place to start.

DIY holiday jars with fairy lights and votive

i found two different styles of jar and decided they would work to create two different styles for light.

i set out with the intention to make two different jars that would (a) house some form of light, and (b) could be emptied of their holiday items and be used for something else if desired.

  • i spruced up a simple jar (nut butter perhaps?) with some metal foil.
  • I decided a graphic pattern would be good to counter the other jar's fancy shape and taped off some lines. tape can misbehave sometimes when you are trying to go around in a circle, but if you are careful enough about it, the ends will line up. i used an artists tape that is a little thicker than regular masking or painters tape - it comes in different widths and so it did most of the work for me.
DIY holiday votive jar pattern
DIY holiday votive jar metallic leaf
  • metal foil can be messy, so decide ahead of time what look you are going for (smooth & perfectly flat, edges that don't quite meet, bumpy and rustic, etc) - it will help you when applying the foil, just don't be too surprised if it develops a mind of its own and decides to show it. you may want to cut the sheets down into more manageable sizes.
  • find the ends of the tape and get your knife in there to start it off, the tape should pull away cleanly to give you pretty good lines.
  • i wanted this to house some green moss and a flame-less votive so i wanted to make sure the lid was impressive. i got some fake flowers and dipped a variety of them in plaster of paris. i chose a large single peony-like flower for this jar.
  • once dried, i painted them. the first layer was cream spray paint. after they dried i glued the flower & leaves on the lid.

DIY votive plaster flower detail

  • i added a little white paint to highlight some areas of the leaves and petals.
  • lastly, with the white paint still wet, i went in with a very fine brush and some metallic paint to highlight some of the edges and to help define some petals that stuck together in the plaster. having the white paint wet helped blend the colours and made sure the metallic paint wasn't too harsh a line.

DIY holiday decor votive jar with flower lid

my other choice was the McCormicks jar. the raised branding and its interesting shape it seemed like a good pick.

  • i decided fairly quickly that it should have a "window" to see in so painting the jar seemed like a good idea. I put some tape on, sketched out a general shape to compliment jar, and got out the knife.

DIY holiday snow globe vignette jar process

DIY holiday snow globe vignette jar painting process

  • i decided to paint the outside of the jar rather than the inside and loosely mixed some paint colours so that there would be some variation.
  • there are a lot of great craft paints out there, including glass paint you bake on so it becomes dishwasher safe. it is worth taking a look at the different finishes available. 
  • i had every intention of using some felted wool balls and making some pompoms for the lid of the jar, but i had some extra flowers from doing the previous jar and they were too pretty to not use.
  • ...and when i found some vintage buttons hiding in the back of the closet the wool idea got tossed for these sweet flowers and buttons!
DIY jar lid with vintage buttons and plaster flowers
DIY jar lid design with plaster flowers and vintage buttons
  • i wanted to make a little winter scene inside the jar with a little fake snow, a small bottle brush tree and a snowman.  I used some fairy lights to light it up.

DIY snow globe jar with fairy lights

get creative with your scene & look around the house for what you have - i made the snowman by glueing together some styrofoam balls and drawing on the buttons, eyes and mouth; a small piece of household copper wire makes the nose; a vintage fabric wrapped button for the hat; a piece of wool cut and tied for the scarf; and i cut the twig arms off of the fake flower stems i used on the jar lids.

this was a narrow-mouth jar which added some challenge for my big-'ol paws but i put the snow in first and then the lights towards the back of the jar. holding them back with a chopstick i could get the tree and snowman in well enough.

i'm taking this idea of a lit up snow globe and going bigger. Thursday's blog is about homemade holiday decor and i'm making the table centrepiece. this year our household is going with the idea of Country Christmas for the tree so the centrepiece will follow that theme.


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