Candles and Alternative Lighting

It’s no surprise to tell you how much I love candles, there is something lovely about lighting a candle, whether scented or not, that can add so much to any day.  I love how candles can create an ambience and atmosphere, create a cozy atmosphere on cold days, add a sense of occasion to any meal, fill the home with lovely scent, create an aura of intimacy, and add light to different areas.

But candles aren’t the only source of alternative lighting that is available for creating atmosphere and ambience and this blog post will show you some other forms of alternate lighting that I love.

First up is salt lamps.  I know there has been a lot of hype over the past year or so regarding their health benefits but for me I just really like the light that they give off when on.  I currently have 2 that I use regularly, one in my bedroom and one in my living room.  The light they give off is a soft, calming almost fire like tone which creates a lovely warming, cozy atmosphere.  It is a soft sort of light, really diffused and not overly bright, though I find I can read by the one in the bedroom which is perfect for me as having a light that is too bright can make me more awake than sleepy.

Next up is lamps.  Lamps are really good at adding directional light where you need it most, whether it’s a desk lamp, table lamp or floor lamp, they are great for brightening up certain areas or using to highlight certain aspects that you want people to notice.  I have several different types of lamp and use them for different things.  My anglepoise lamp is perfect for when I am working on something – usually an art project or when I’m at my laptop of an evening and working on my blog.  I like that you can direct the lamp in almost any way so that the light is in the right place for whatever you are working on.  I have my side lamp (the dinosaur one) which is on a timer because it gets quite dark here of an afternoon and sometimes I don’t really notice how dark it is if I’ve been absorbed in doing something.  I have the lamp behind my cuddle chair which I really only use for reading or if guests are round and its a bit dim in the room.  It creates a really nice cozy atmosphere and makes the cuddle chair even more appealing and comfy looking than normal (if that’s possible!)

And lastly, novelty lights.  All sorts of lights are in this category – fairy lights, word lights, a fish bubble lamp, this category is just about adding fun elements really rather than being proper light sources.  However, these lights can create a good atmosphere regardless of how they are used.

I have fairy lights in my bedroom around the alcove that my bed sits in, I don’t really use them (they are battery operated and eat batteries like no tomorrow) but they are nice to have on once in a while and create a really lovely, magical vibe.  I also have fairy lights in my garden, they are solar-powered and I use them to light the steps and handrail at night, there is something really lovely about sitting in the garden on a warm summers night and seeing the lights twinkling away, plus they are a safety feature too!

I have word lights, they spell the word JOY and, though they are supposed to be Christmas lights, I’m considering leaving them up for the year as I really like how sparkly and fun they are.  They add light to my shelving unit which in turn brings people’s attention to it and the items on it, and being a black unit, sometimes people don’t notice the things I have on display there.  Plus they always make me smile, even on the dullest day.

And lastly, the fish bubble lamp.  I can remember these being a bit “trendy” back in the 90’s and always wanting one but never being able to have one so when I saw one on sale locally I decided to buy it.  There is something really soothing about watching this lamp and I’m not sure if it’s the bubbles, watching the plastic fish bobbing up and down or the lights cycle through a spectrum of colour but it really does help me to calm down and relax!

 

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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

Handmade Christmas Gifts

Now that Christmas is over and the presents have been given I can share with you the things I made as gifts this year!

Wax Melts

I made these for my Mum using left over candle wax, they are scented with cherry Bakewell scent.  I used silicone ice moulds to create them and, while it was an experiment to see if it would work, they turned out perfect so I was really pleased to be able to gift them to my Mum.

Candles

The purple one is baby powder scented and I made that for my lovely neighbour.  The red jar one is cherry Bakewell which I made for myself, the layered one in the same picture is bubblegum scented (which I also kept as it was leftover wax from another candle), the candles in the glass mugs are scented with Tranquility, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Cornish Coastline and Cherry Bakewell which I gave to my brother Ben and his wife Egle.  The three jar candles are vanilla custard and cherry bakewell scented which I made for my 3 step daughters.  The jar candle on its own is bubblegum scented which I made for my little brother Richard.

Pencil Boxes

I made these for my twin niece and nephew James and Ellie.  I had bought them time telling watches in pink for Ellie and blue for James to help them learn to tell the time but when they arrived they were just in plastic sleeves.  I wanted to be able to gift them in something that was a bit more special so I purchased a load of gems and plain wooden pencil boxes from Hobbycraft along with some Modpodge and set about creating them.  I already had the Hello Kitty and Nemo flat back bits in my stash along with glitter so it was applying the modpodge and glitter, another layer of modpodge, gems and another coat of modpodge and leaving to dry before placing their watches inside and wrapping.

Journal

I made this bullet journal/diary thing for Mum because she is never without her diary.  Even when I was small I remember her always having her diary to hand and writing all sorts of memos and things into it.  I made her this so she can log everything she needs to and carry it about day-to-day.  I included a future log, a monthly overview for each month, weekly shopping and to do lists, a recipe for each month, a section for reflections on each month and lots of other things.  I even included a different holiday for each day using images that I found online (though I can’t seem to find a link…) I think she really liked it!

What did you make as gifts for people this Christmas?