A combination of cold weather and the coming holidays has me crafting like a madwoman. This last week I decided to try my hand at candle making and, because I will never forgo an opportunity to do a little thrifting, I decided to make them in little vintage cups and bowls.
I’m always drawn to the shelves of delicate teacups at thrift stores, but I usually refrain from buying them. I try to keep knick knacks to a minimum, but now that they have a function? You can’t hold me back. I gave myself a $2 limit for each cup and spent about a month assembling a little collection.
I love candles, but I’m pretty picky about my candle scents – a traumatic visit to Yankee Candle when I lived in Massachusetts left me with seared nasal passages, a wicked headache and a lifelong aversion to the smell of “spiced apple.” For this project I used the sharp, clean scents I love: bergamot, lavender and rosemary.
I bought all my supplies at an amazing local store called Glorybee (they also have a great online store where you can buy all the supplies I used). I made 18 candles and the final cost break down was just over $2/candle, which ain’t bad.
- Teacups or small bowls
- Pot with pour spout or metal pitcher
- Larger pot to use as double boiler
- Soy container wax – $29 for a 10 pound bag. I used just under five pounds to make my candles.
- Wick rope*
- Wick tabs
- Essential oil (your choice!)
- Glue gun
- Baking pans to use as water baths – having the cups closer in temperature to the wax helps keep the candles from getting craters and cracks
* The kind of wick you use varies with the type of wax and size of container. This size is for this project specifically.
Step One: The first order of business is assembling the vintage containers for your candles. At last! An excuse to comb thrift stores for pretty little things! Before you begin making your candles, make sure the containers are clean and dry.
Step Two: Cut lengths of wick – mine were roughly five inches – and use your hot glue gun to affix them to the wick tabs. You’ll be trimming the wicks later so they don’t need to be uniform in length, but they do need to be long enough to clear the top of your cup by an inch or two.
Step Three: Glue wicks into the center of the bottom of your cups. When the glue is dry, lay a clothespin across the top of each cup and use it to keep the wick centered and straight. Arrange the cups in the baking dishes or whatever you are using as a water bath.
Step Four: Measure out your wax. My pouring pot held about one and a half pounds of wax. I had to do three batches to fill all my containers.
Step Five: Put your pot of wax into your simmering double boiler and stir as it melts.
Step Six: Use your thermometer to measure the temperature. Heat the wax to 180 degrees then remove from heat and cool to 140 degrees. While the wax is cooling, heat water and add it to the pans you’re using as water baths.
Step Seven: When the wax is 140 degrees, stir in your essential oil. I added about half an ounce of essential oil for each pound of wax. Carefully and slowly pour wax into your containers.
The wax will become cloudy as it hardens. In the photo below, the two yellower candles in the upper right were from the second batch I made so the wax was still translucent. The other candles had been poured about half an hour before, and the wax had already become white and opaque.
Step Eight: Let the candles sit for 24 hours, then trim the wicks to about 1/8 inch in length.
And you’re done! Now package them up to give as gifts and place a few around your house to make it smell (and look) glorious!
This project took me most of a morning, though much of that time was spent assembling supplies and waiting for the wax to cool. Overall it was a straightforward process and I will definitely do it again. Please let me know if you have any questions! Come back on Wednesday for a post from Mera!
What a very good idea! I love candles, and most scented ones are way, way too scented. Yours are very unique.
I agree! It’s so hard to find ones with a scent I like. These were easy enough (and smell just right) that I’ll probably continue to make my own in the future – which happily means getting to find more little vintage vessels 🙂
Thanks Katie! These are dear. I love all your teacup finds, and great directions. ‘Tis the candle season!
Isn’t it though? Having candles lit make these loooooong dark nights a lot more cozy.
What thorough instructions! Very helpful. This is something I did for Christmas gifts way back in my hippie days (I am so old, that I was original issue hippie) but for some reason thought this was beyond me to try again. You make it look so easy. Love your choice of vessels, too.
And I have had a similar Yankee Candle experience, too. Deadly stuff! I get a headache just thinking about it.
If someone were to pose the following ‘Would you Rather,’ I’m not sure how I’d answer. Which is saying a lot.
Would you rather spend the night in the Yankee Candle Factory or in close quarters with a dead whale?
Those look lovely and would make very charming gifts. They remind me of my Great-Gran who had a collection of mismatched china trio sets.
Sweet! Thanks 🙂
So beautiful…I’m happy to learn we have another thrifting occupation…from wedding vases to teacup candles there’s a celebratory, gathering together…and bergamot, lavender and rosemary…I feel a song with herbal chorus in my heart.
What a fun project and way to use some of the random tea cups that I’ve accumulated! Thanks for sharing Katie!
I could see myself doing this! Love!
Your tutorial was detailed enough for me to tell that everything but the pouring of the hot wax was something my six year old son could handle. I gathered the other supplies this morning and took him thrifting this afternoon to scout suitable small vessels. He had great fun picking his china, including charming little sugar bowls and creamers. This evening he was able to out together a dozen candles. He is thrilled to be able to give them as Christmas gifts to grandparents, aunts and uncles. Thanks for the inspiration!
Thanks so much for sharing this – your comment totally made my night!
I loved reading the comment from Lea – – how proud her little guy must be! And wanted to add that at a local candle store yesterday, I saw candles exactly like yours (the teacups each had saucers), wrapped in cellophane and a ribbon and selling for $26! Also, I thought of you when trying to figure out containers for forcing paperwhites – I pictured you spending 10 minutes at a thrift store and having so many interesting solutions. Wouldn’t have thought of that without your candle post. Thanks!
Thank YOU Katy! I was hoping another occasion for thrifted vessels would arise, and now you’ve given me one 😉
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Oh, how absolutely darling!
I will definitely be adding this project to my holiday gift to do list this winter.
One question, do you know if any tea cups can’t handle the heat of the candle? Perhaps microwave/dishwasher safe cups would be a good option? Did you consider this when picking your tea cups?
Thank you for the continual inspiration,
Thanks Grace! I think tea cups are designed to withstand pretty high heat, so I didn’t worry about it and so far so good. I also made some unscented ones in vintage glass goblets to put on the table, which I’ve used a lot, and they are working great too. I only know what I know, but I think most dishware would work fine. 🙂 Happy crafting!
Seems sensible, as tea cups are made for boiling water. My mom brought up the tea concern when I showed her the project, so I thought I would run it by the expert! 😉