9 creative ways to make your holiday more brilliant
Originally published Dec. 2012 in the Santa Cruz Sentinel
“And God saw the light, that it was good.” Genesis 1:3
Add the goodness of light to your December with one of these nine super easy projects. Whether you celebrate with the glow of incandescent lights, LEDs or candle flame, light can be a powerful symbol for all that is good and sacred about the holidays. Make these projects as gifts, as a family get-together, or to create a new candle-lighting tradition. My own family lights tea candles each year to count the days between our daughters’ birthdays, from Dec. 17 to the Jan. 1. Bring more light into your home, and may your holiday be the brightest and the best yet.
1 Wad-of-lights lamp
Make a fun, inexpensive lamp with a string of white Christmas lights stuffed inside a large glass bowl, vase, bottle or glass brick. To hide the cord, use a diamond tipped drill bit to make an exit hole in the back of the glass container. Add layers of potpourri, and the warmth of the lights will bring out the fragrance. (from “Christmas Light Wad Lamps,” www.instructibles.com/ by Istram and Misthula)
Supplies: Large glass container, string of mini LED lights, diamond tipper hole saw or drill bit, potpourri
2 Honey-Scented Candles
One of the simplest ways of making candles is to roll a sheet of wax around a wick. Beeswax sheets have an impressed texture that simulates honeycomb, and are available online in many colors—the best of which is its natural golden hue. Warm the edge of beeswax with a blow dryer to begin, rolling tightly around the wick. Continue warming the beeswax and rolling slowly, keeping the edges even, until you achieves the desired candle width. (from “The Encyclopedia of Candle Making Techniques, A Step-By Step Visual Guide” by Sandier Lea)
Supplies: Beeswax sheets, primed wick, scissors
|A sconce is a type of light affixed to a wall.|
This candle sconce uses a reflective spring
form pan, a Christmas tree candle clip, and
an embossed pewter candle cuff to
catch melting wax.
3 Baking-pan sconce
Martha Stewart recommends vintage pans with an intriguing shape and aged patina for her baking pan sconces, but I used a shiny aluminum tart pan right off the Target shelf. To add the candle, clip a candle-holder made for a Christmas tree to the bottom edge of the pan. The sconce can be hung using a plate holder or by tapping a nail through the pan. (from “Parties and Projects for the Holidays, Christmas with Martha Stewart Living” by Amy Conway)
Supplies: Vintage (or new) baking pan, candle clip, plate hanger or nail, small candle
Go southwestern, and use a series of luminaria (a small paper lantern) to line your front walkway, a fence, or indoors on the mantel. For outdoors, use a small, brown paper bag and add enough sand to hold a 3-inch candle upright. For indoors, start with decorative paper, fanfold the paper and cut several notches into the folded edges (like making a snowflake). Unfold, weave ribbon through the holes, wrap the paper around a glass candleholder, and tie the ribbons to secure. (From “Paper Illuminated” by Helen Hiebert; also see Punchy Plaid Luminaria in “Paper Made!” by Kayte Terry)
Supplies: Paper that’s not completely opaque, scissors, ribbon, glass candle-holder with candle
|Candles can create a lovely ambiance at holiday time.|
A safer form of flickering candle light is also available in a battery-powered version.
5 Shiny candle cuffs
Candle cuffs around the base of a candle can be both functional (to catch dripping wax) and beautiful. Draw a simple flower-shape onto a sheet of paper, then add lines for details. Polish the soft metal with soft wire wool, place on cardboard, then trace the pattern into metal using a ball tool. Turn the cuff over and push with the tool between the raised lines to emphasize them. Cut the center hole and perimeter with old scissors. Bend the cuff at regular intervals to add dimension. (from “The Encyclopedia of Candle Making Techniques, A Step-By Step Visual Guide” by Sandie Lea)
Supplies: Metal embossing sheet, fine wire wool, old scissors, cardboard, ball tool, paper
6 Tin can lanterns
|Any soda can can be cut into a|
silvery candle holder with a snowflake
template and an old pair of scissors.
Supplies: Soup can, freezer, old towel, hammer, large nail, galvanized wire, pliers, beads
7 Snowflake candle holder
Turn any soda can into a silvery candle holder with a few household tools. To create a template, cut cardstock as long as the circumference of the can, and as wide as ½ the height of the can. Fanfold the paper into sixths, and draw a ¼-inch line along the bottom. Draw one arm of the snowflake shape (see photo) then cut it out through all six layers, allowing the ¼-inch at the bottom to hold it all together. Trim 1/8-inch off each side to separate the snowflake arms. Open up and tape the template around the bottom half of the can. Trace the design onto the can with a permanent marker, then cut out with a pair of small scissors. Be careful since the cut metal edges can be sharp. Bend down the arms of the snowflake and add the candle to the center. (from www.instructables.com by canuckgirl)
Soda can, paper, tape, small scissors, pencil, Sharpie, ruler
You can make a large 5 or 6-pointed house star several ways. Use PVC trim board and glue the angles together with PVC glue. Or use 8-gauge wire bent into the shape of a star, wrapping the ends together with 24-gauge wire. Or use long redwood stakes and screws. Attach ultra-bright LED string lights to the PVC boards by drilling holes in the boards to accommodate each light. For the wire or wooden star, attach LED or ceramic string lights with zip ties. (from www.instructables.com by dlampe—PVC version; or by gonzolo—wire version)
9 Birch branch menorah
Celebrate the Festival of Lights with a handmade menorah. Saw a thick branch long enough to hold nine candles. Keep a short perpendicular branch or two attached to the larger branch to keep the menorah from rolling. Drill the holes along the branch the same size as the diameter of the candle, making sure they are perfectly perpendicular to the branch. If the holes are a little oversized, set the candles in place with melted wax. (from www.instructables.com/id/Hanukkah-Chanukah-Meorah/ by flippingpuppy)
Supplies: Birch or oak branch long enough to fit 9 candles, power drill, candles
|I made my simple menorah by sawing a limb off|
an oak tree in our front yard and drilling
3/4-inch wide holes for the candles.