Sunday, 9 June 2013

Seashell Tealights - Tutorial

Here is another of my occasional tutorials, as usual by trial and error!  This one is how to make pretty seashells into garden tealights - I got the idea from a magazine I read recently.  Above are the materials you will need:  empty and cleaned shells, old candle ends, wicks, double sided tape, an old saucepan.  You need to test the shells beforehand by filling them with water to see if they are level and deep enough to hold a decent amount of wax.
Put your old candle ends into the saucepan and on the lowest heat.  I did consider cutting them up to make melting quicker but that would have meant small bits of wick floating about.  This way I just had the main wicks left at the bottom which were easier to avoid when pouring the wax.
While the candles are melting, put a small piece of double sided tape onto the base of each wick.
Place a wick in the lowest central part of the shell.
If you are impatient like me, you can start pouring wax as soon as there is a decent quantity melted in the bottom of the pan.  Take it very slowly, keeping an eye on where the wax runs to.  It must not run over the edge of the shell as this will mean when the tealight is lit there is the possibility of the wax running out.
I did have a couple of instances where the wax ran over the side of the shell - make sure the level of the wax reaches just below the edge of the shell when the shell is standing on a flat surface.  The wicks will fold over when they come into contact with the hot wax - you may have to prop them up with something until the surface of the wax forms a skin.  I used souvlaki sticks.  The kitchen paper was to prop up a shell that had a particularly bad spillage!
I had more wax than I needed for the four scallop shells I had planned for - I used this in a couple of oysters and a clam.
Leave the tealights to cool down - I was a bit worried about the bumpy surface caused by adding the wax in increments, but as they cooled, the surface evened out.  Tip the excess wax into a disposable container (not into screwed up kitchen paper like I did because then it runs all over your work surface and makes a big mess....) and leave to cool - then you can either re-use it or throw it away.  Pour boiling water into the pan and leave to cool - any wax left in the pan will rise to the top and form a crust which can then be thrown away.  The pan can then be thoroughly washed.  When the wax in the shells is completely cool and solid, trim the wicks to about half an inch - you will probably have a couple of inches of wick left over from each candle - don't throw these away, they could be used for other small candles.
Due to the wobbly nature of shells and the danger of melted wax and an open flame, I would recommend that these tealights are only used outside in the garden and definitely not on your best tablecloth!  I haven't tried these yet - if I find out any other potential problems, I will let you know!

* I tried out the smallest of these candles yesterday and was very pleased to discover they burn for about 3 hours, the wax only dribbles a tiny bit - would still recommend they are only used outside. Pretty!

1 comment:

Magpie Magic said...

Cool project and great use for those old candles. :-) xoxox