Project Make – Candles

I started making some candles back in December to give away as gifts, it’s not something I have done for a really long time.  The last time I made candles I was probably 10 or 11 and had a Get Set Candle Making Set by Waddingtons (sadly discontinued) and I really loved creating my own candles.  At the time there wasn’t really much information about different waxes to use and how bad certain ones can be for the environment, our homes or our health and I’m pretty sure that the kit I had used paraffin wax.  Back to today…I had a look online at what sort of waxes were available and which would be best for what I wanted to do and Soy Wax seemed to be the best so that I what I chose to create my candles with.

I’m not a candle making expert and have since learned that there are lots of techniques when it comes to candle making which I am currently researching, but if you want to make a nice candle for yourself or as a gift then I can show you my method below…

You will need

  • Soy wax *
  • Wick *
  • Wick Sustainer *
  • Blue tack
  • Scissors
  • Saucepan
  • Measuring jug
  • Container suitable for a candle *
  • Kettle
  • Pencil
  • Something to stir with.  I used a spatula.
  • Kitchen Scales
  • Pliers

Optional

  • Wax Dye *
  • Candle Scent *

I bought these items from Hobbycraft *

Before we begin I need to just outline a few things….  Please, only use scent that is suitable for candles, DO NOT use essential oils, while they do smell lovely and have healing properties. when burned the healing properties are pretty much zero, they can emit toxins when burned which can cause respiratory problems and they are a fire risk.  DO NOT add things to your candle like glitter or dried flowers, while it may make the candle look pretty it can be a fire risk and also can clog up the wick when burning so that the flame is unstable.  DO NOT use crayons or food dye to colour your candles, for one they probably won’t work, and secondly, when the crayons melt and come into contact with flame they can emit toxic fumes, and lastly, it can be a fire risk.

Method

  1. Once you have found a suitable container for your candle you then need to work out how much wax it holds.  I found this site to be really useful. Once you know how much wax you will need you will then need to weigh the wax out.  I weighed mine into the container I used to melt it down.  Make sure the container you use is dry and free from any contaminants (like dust or hair).img_0716
  2. Once you know how much wax you will need to fill your container you will then need to attach the wick to one of the wick sustainers.  To do this thread your wick through the hole in the wick sustainer and pull through.  Once the wick end is near the flat side of the wick sustainer use pliers and crimp the pointed bit of the wick sustainer around the wick to hold it in place.  DO NOT cut the wick just yet!img_0519
  3. Now you need to get your candle container, make sure that it is clean and dry.  add a tiny bit of blue tack to the underside of the wick sustainer and then press it into the base of the candle container making sure that it is attached in the centre of the base.  I used a jar and needed to use long tweezers to help get it into the correct position.
  4. We now need to use the pencil (or other long item) and wrap the free wick around it and then balance the pencil onto the top of the candle container.  This ensures that the wick will stay straight and even all the way down the candle once the wax has been poured.                                                                      img_0503                                           img_0504
  5. Now that the candle container and wick are set up you can now melt the wax you measured out.  To do this firstly fill and boil the kettle then pour the boiling water into a saucepan, add the container of wax to the saucepan of water so that the container sits in the water similar to a bain marie.  I then placed the saucepan onto the hob over a low heat just to keep the water hot and help melt the wax a bit easier.

     

  6. Optional Step if Using Scent and/or Dye.  Once your wax has melted and is of a clear appearance and runny in consistency with no visible lumps you can remove the container from the water and then add the dye and scent of your choice.  I add the dye first (follow the manufacturers instructions) and then stir until all the dye has dissolved before adding the scent (again, check the manufacturers instructions).  Dont be tempted to stir too vigorously as you don’t want to introduce any air bubbles into the wax..  Once the scent has been added stir gently, again, avoiding creating air bubbles, for around 5 mins so that the scent can distribute evenly through the wax.                                                                     img_0520img_0518img_0515
  7. If you are not using scent or dye, remove the container from the water and stir the wax for around 5 mins.  Stir slowly and gently so that you don’t get any air bubbles forming.
  8. Once the wax has cooled down a bit you can now pour it into your candle container.  Do this slowly and steadily being careful not to disturb the wick.img_0536img_0517img_0516
  9. Do not move the candle once it has been poured until it has solidified, moving the candle when in its liquid state can introduce air bubbles into the wax or disturb the wick.
  10. I chose to add a plain layer of wax to the top of my candles, I worked out how much wax I would need for the container then weighed out around 25 grams less than what was needed.  Once the wax was set in the jar I then melted the extra wax and poured on top to create a 2 tone candle.  Once you are happy with your candle and it has fully set you can then trim the wick with scissors.
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Mulled Wine Scented Candle
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Warm Gingerbread Scented Candle

11.  As I was giving these away as gifts I added a small charm and a tag with the scent name on.img_0538

Project Make – Christmas Decorations

Today on the blog I’m going to share with you instructions on how to make some simple Christmas Decorations.  These decorations can be made by adults or children and will add a fun element to your interior decor for the season!

The first decoration I am going to show you how to make is a 3D Snowflake

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For this project you will need…

  • 6 sheets of white paper (or any colour of your choice) I used white A4 printer paper
  • Scissors
  • Double sided tape or stapler
  • A hole punch
  • Cotton or string to hang

img_0569img_0691 If you are starting with rectangular paper (like I am) the first step is to cut it into a square.  To do this I folded the paper diagonally then used the straight edge as a guide and trimmed off the excess.  You will need to do this to all 6 sheets of paper.

 

 

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You can save the cut off piece and use it to make paper chains later!

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The next step is to take your square of paper and fold it along the crease you initially made then fold the triangle in half again. Again, this needs to be done to all 6 pieces of paper.

 

Once you have done this you can now begin to make the cuts in the paper.  Using the longest side as a guide, cut straight lines up the paper leaving about 1 cm uncut.  I work from the double edge fold to the single edge fold but it doesn’t matter which way you cut the paper.  Aim to make 5 or 6 cuts of equal width.

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When all 6 pieces of paper have been cut in the same way you can then open the paper out.

Now we can start to construct the snowflake.

 

 

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Place the paper as in the picture above (with the spine that is uncut running vertical), start in the middle and apply a piece of double-sided tape to one of the points of the triangle, roll it over and attach to the opposite side point so that it forms a tube.

Flip the paper over and then do the same to the next triangle point, then flip and repeat.  Do this for all the triangle points.img_0585

You should end up with something looking like the above picture.  Repeat for the other 5 pieces of paper.

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Once all of the snowflake segments have been made lay them out.  You will notice that one side has a bigger length than the other, make sure they all face the same way.  You then want to attach them together using either double-sided tape or a stapler, big side on one to small side on the other, attach at the crossed part (like in the middle picture above).  Once you have done this and attached all of them together you will then want to secure the centre points, I stapled 3 points together, then the other 3 then stapled the whole lot together (see the last picture above).  Once you have done this you can then attach the last snowflake segment to the first, making the completed snowflake.

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The last thing to do is punch a hole in one of the outer edges of the snowflake and add a piece of cotton or string so that it can be hung.  You can make bigger or smaller versions of this by varying the size of the square of paper that you start with.

Using the same method as above you can create teardrop spinners to hang.  img_0627

Just take one piece of paper, fold as above and trim excess (if starting with a rectangle), then cut the paper as before but aim to make the width between cuts around 0.5cm or narrower, open the paper out and, like before, start in the centre and attach point to point, flip and attach the next one, flip back and attach the next until you have attached all points, hole punch at one end and attach cotton or string and hang.

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The next decoration I’m going to show you how to make is one that you can make with children and is really simple…

Toilet Roll Snowflakes

For this decoration you will need

  • empty toilet toll tubes
  • scissors
  • stapler
  • paint
  • glue (PVA works best)
  • glitter
  • hole punch
  • string or cotton to hang

(hover your mouse over the photos for the instructions!)

 

What decorations do you make for the festive season?

 

Mind Crafternoon

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On Saturday I held a Crafternoon –  a crafting afternoon, in aid of Mind, the mental health charity.  I chose to host the crafting event because Mind, while I have not used all of their services, have found their on-line resources to be really helpful and informative.  1 in 4 of us, in our lifetime will experience some kind of mental health problem and its charities such as Mind that can help when these problems arise.  I believe that Mind do a really good job offering support, advice and campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health issues and wanted to support them to continue to carry out the work that they do.

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My Mind Crafternoon started with signing up for the event via the Mind website which was a really simple process of form filling with your name, address, email and the date of your Crafternoon (if it is to be held on another day aside from 1st December – the official Crafternoon date).  Once you have submitted your information Mind will then send out a kit that includes ideas of things to make including instructions, ways to raise money, bunting to cut out and make along with balloons and a money-box to keep the donations in.  They also supply the paying in forms for you to use when banking the money raised.  When I received my pack I was really amazed by how informative and helpful the pack was, there were so many tips and ideas so even the least crafty person would be able to hold an event like this!

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I first set up a Facebook event and invited some friends and then bought some notecards and invites, wrote a bit about Mind and my Crafternoon in the cards and wrote out the details of the party onto the invites then sent them out to the attendees the week before the event.

I then put my Christmas decorations up, dug out all my craft things and set them up on the table.  Sam and I baked a Vegan Devil’s Food chocolate cake and my friend Jez made some cakes and things for my event too.  My lovely neighbour, Heather, made earrings and wine glass charms to sell and I had some sets of nails that I’d decorated to sell as well so we could raise extra money for Mind.

img_0679The Vegan Devil's Food Cake Sam and I madeimg_0663img_0664img_0665

I decided to have a raffle, originally I was going to buy a tub of chocolates to raffle but decided to make a Christmas Mulled Wine scented soy candle to raffle instead.

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The Activities

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Jez showed us how to decorate compact mirrors and I decorated a phone case.  We used Mod Podge, glitter and 3d elements such as bows, flowers and pearl flat back beads to decorate them.  I’d never done this before and it was really fun!  Everyone got stuck in and it was really lovely to see how each persons style and taste came out when we all used similar elements in our work.

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Everyone’s work looked really fab and I think everyone was really pleased with the outcome!  I know I’m super happy with how my phone case turned out!  Jez was a really good teacher to have!

 

 

 

I led a Snowflake Making Masterclass using white paper, double-sided sticky and scissors to make 3d snowflakes.  It was fun to be able to share what I’d learned with my friends and see how happy they were to have been able to make something so lovely from simple sheets of paper.

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I then showed my friends how to make paper Christmas flowers from folded paper, scissors, a stapler and cotton thread.  They all agreed that it would be something fun that they could do with their children as a Christmas activity.

 

 

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And finally I did a brief demonstration showing everyone how to make Christmas Snowflakes and trees from toilet roll tubes.

 

 

 

It was a really fun day, there was a lot of chat and getting to know each other, laughter and fun, cake eating and wine drinking!  I think I will definitely be hosting another one in the future!  In fact I’ve already started thinking of different Crafternoons I could hold and the sort of themes that I could base them on!

Project Make – Hallway Floor and Back Door Mat

The hallway in my house had laminate wood flooring which hadn’t been laid very well, was a bit battered and never seemed to look clean which always irked me somewhat. I really wanted to cover it with something as I was unable to remove it due to being rented accommodation.

I looked everywhere for a hall runner rug that would fit the 4 meter 10cm length and that would also fit width ways. The hallway starts off wide at the door and becomes narrow toward the foot of the stairs which made it awkward to find something suitable that would work well. The cost of the cheapest rug that I found was around £80 and came in really mundane solid colours – brown, grey and a golden colour, and most of the others I found I didn’t really like the pattern or colour of in a higher price bracket. There was nothing that I truly loved that fitted my style, that is until I started thinking about other types of flooring.

My first thought was carpet tiles as they were pretty cheap to buy and easy to fit too but, being a hallway I thought that might be a bit impractical with dirt being bought in from outside. I then thought about vinyl flooring as it is hard-wearing and can be cleaned really easily but the patterns that were available were not really anything that I liked. I wanted something bright, fun, easy to install, easy to keep clean, and even easier to replace if I needed to for whatever reason, it also needed to fit my budget. It was when I started to rethink over getting carpet tiles that a thought occurred to me… I knew what would fit my specifications perfectly and would be a pretty unique choice for flooring…kids soft foam play area tiles!

This is the outcome! I ordered these from here. When they arrived I opened up the packets and went about sorting them into colours before starting on laying them down.

I prepped the floor by sweeping and hoovering to get up every last bit of dust and dirt, I didn’t want to cause any further damage to the laminate underneath so this was a vital step.

I then chose the colour scheme I wanted, choosing to place the coloured tiles together to create a stripe effect and placed the first tile at the foot of the stairs and worked my way back towards the door. I then removed the first tile I had laid and cut one of the edge flat, removing the “teeth” before placing it back down and shuffling the tiles up so the cut edge butted up against the rise of the step.

The next cut I made was the tile to go against the door. Once I’d got this row in I was able to work my way back up towards the stairs and remove the teeth from the side closest to the wall and move the tiles into place.  I then added the next row which just needed the teeth removing from both ends.

The third row was the trickiest as I needed to cut down some of the tiles to fit the shape of the wall so that the tiles fitted snugly without any room for movement.  To do this I took each tile, laid it over the tiles that were there and made marks where the teeth and tile met.  The tricky part to this is to remember to make the marks on the opposite side of the tile to where you are measuring otherwise you will end up with the cut going in the wrong direction… so mark the left side of the tile to be cut with the right side of the tile that is already in place.  Be sure to put the tile fully against the wall before making the mark too!

Once all the tiles were in place the only thing I needed to do was to finish the edge near the doorway, this was fairly simple as I was working with a straight edge so only needed to take a measurement and cut a straight line.  I did have to go around a pipe but that too proved to be fairly easy to navigate… once Id cut the tile to the right size I laid it down and made a mark where the cuts needed to be to fit the tile around the pipe, then using scissors I made a small cut to each mark, then refit the tile to see if the cuts were deep enough to accommodate the pipe before removing the tile and making the last cut.  I then re-fitted the tile.

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I had left over tiles and decided to use these to make a back door mat in the same way!

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What do you think of my flooring idea?  Is it something you would try in your home?

Project Make – Sofa Bolster Cushion

I have a sofa bed that I’m currently using as my day-to-day sofa and as a sofa it’s not really that comfortable.  The sofa back drops down to create the sleeping area and when the back is up it has 3 or 4 different setting that you can angle it to on a click mechanism.  I find that the back is not at the right angle for me, it’s either too straight up, or leans too far back for my seating position to be comfy.  The actual seat part of it is too narrow to sit properly on it or even to lounge on either.  I decided that it would be more comfortable to use it in the bed position with the back fully down but this means that the seat area is a bit too wide to sit on and lean back without it feeling a bit awkward.  I decided that what I really needed was some kind of cushion or many cushions that could act as a back rest so, as usual, I looked on Amazon first.  I found some really nice cushions that would work for what I wanted but they were either too expensive or would take forever to arrive so I began to think about other things I could use or if I could make something that would work instead…

I had a few old cushion inserts that I wasn’t using along with a few old duvets and a cover that I liked but wasn’t getting used anymore so I decided to try to make one.

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Firstly I got the duvets and laid them down on the floor, lined up the edges of them and laid the cushions out on the duvets.  I wanted to wrap the cushions with the duvet so I placed the cushions a little way up from the end of the duvets then folded the duvets over the cushions in order to create a pocket for them to be contained in.

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I then sewed up the pocket edge using a rough overcast stitch (over and under) that runs from the bottom corner of the pocket to the top.  I did this so that the cushions wouldn’t move around so much and so that everything was a bit more secure.  I didn’t really want the cushions and duvets to unroll once inside the cover.

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I then rolled the whole thing up and secured the middle of the roll with another set of stitches in order to stop the whole thing from unravelling.  I also stitched the corners of the duvets down so they didn’t curl up or move about.

Finally, I used an old duvet cover and placed the cushion I’d made into it and folded the cover over and around it.  I wanted to be able to remove the cover and wash it easily in the future or be able to change it over if I wanted to.

Heres the finished project!

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I’m really happy with how it turned out.  Making this has meant that I have saved money on buying cushions or even needing to buy a suitable sofa for a while.  I now have a super comfy area to sit and read that I’m able to either sit or lay on and use!

What things have you made that have improved items you own?