Pages

The journey of a thousand miles begins with...the perfect pair of shoes.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A How NOT To

One of the many, many, many things I love about bloggers is that they post so many awesome how to's. I learn so much and get so many amazing ideas. Today I'm going to go in a different direction. Oh, it started off as a how to, but so went the wrong way. I was going to scrap the post but decided I'd give you the benefit of my experience and create a how NOT to. This is long, but I think you'll learn a lesson. I know I sure did.
So, I'm sure by now you've all see those lovely Pottery Barn candles that are basically a tree trunk. No? Well, check it out:


Gorgeous, right? Also, crazy expensive. $69 for a candle? Are you kidding me? I love you PB, but come on.
I'm a member of our Spouses Club (wonderful people who do wonderful works and have a fun luncheon once a month!) and the Ways and Means committee found something similar in Poland for a fraction of the price. Fraction people. You might have caught a glimpse of mine in my Christmas decor.
Cute, huh? Yeah, and after the mark up for the Ways and Means committee it was $14. FOURTEEN! Oh, Pottery Barn. You have beautiful stuff but your prices suck.
Anyway, I brought it home and promptly burned out the very slim candle that was poured into what really is just a tree trunk. Who thought of that? Craziness. It came with a white candle that lasted a few hours, but when it was gone, I was left with a log with a hole in the top. I certainly wasn't going to throw it out (gasp!) but they don't exactly make log sized candles and tea lights (even the big ones) just looked silly. I thunk and I thunk and finally, like the Grinch up in his mountain lair an idea finally came to me! I smiled my sly Grinch-y smile and rubbed my hands together in glee. I would melt some candles I already had and pour them in the base! How hard could that be? Oh, how that thought came back to haunt me!
I jumped up from the sofa, giggling slightly and gathered my supplies, tea lights and the log and carried them off to the kitchen, still congratulating myself on my obviously superior intelligence, thriftiness and skills.


I pulled out a large deep frying pan and placed about a half inch of water in and set it on the stove. I'm a genius! Or not, whatever. Once the water warmed up, I carefully placed my many tea lights in and waited for them to melt. And waited, and waited. Hmmmm...you'd think this would be faster. I thought hey let's crank the heat up a bit, that should help. And it did! Except that the water got a little too hot and started boiling and the candles jumped a bit and wax got into the water. Drat. I was hoping to avoid wax in the frying pan, but no matter, I'd just clean it out. The large tea light was melting around the edges which is what I'd been waiting for as it would serve as the center of the candle. Of course it wouldn't just pop out of it's holder, so I needed it to melt a smidgeon. I picked it up carefully and it was HOT! Holy cow! I managed to get the metal holder out of the water without incident (if you don't care about not having fingerprints that is), picked up the candle by the wick and placed it in the center of the hole. The melted wax I poured around it and went back to waiting for the small tea lights to melt. How to get them out though? I didn't want to lose the rest of my identifying marks so I thought I'd use a pair of tongs to remove the metal casings from the water and pour it into my mold, then just pull out the extra wick I didn't need. Congratulating myself once again on my brilliance, I grabbed a pair of tongs and picked up the first tea light. It tilted a little and wax poured into the water. Darn it! No worries. Just a little wax. I managed to get the remainder into the mold, the extra wick out and grabbed for another. This time, more wax poured out and a little splashed across the stove. Grrrr. I'd have to clean the stove. There actually wasn't much wax left by the time I got it to the mold and I was getting a little frustrated. The 3rd tea light went even worse. It dropped completely out of the tongs and splashed everywhere, including all over my clothes. Nooooooooooooo!


At this point Mr. HH called to ask if I was okay, and I assured him I was and that no he did NOT need to come to the kitchen. All I needed was for him to see the counter, floor and me covered in red wax blobs. I would have NEVER heard the end of it. Ever. I quickly started cleaning up and cursing up a storm and gave up on my brilliant plan. My candle was half done, I was covered in wax and the kitchen was a mess. Great. I drug the iron out and threw some paper towels over the mess, hoping to warm it into the paper towels. It worked. I took off my shirt, and prayed Mr. HH would not decide to stroll into the kitchen. This would be hard to explain and at this point I was pretty sure I couldn't come up with anything that sounded even remotely plausible. Especially not the truth.
So my candle was still not finished, and the water on the stove obviously didn't work. I thunk and I thunk again (I might have fractured something up there, but I can't be sure) and an idea hit me while I stared down at my shirt that was not releasing the wax. I grabbed an old jar out of the glass recycling bin and tossed in some pieces of a red taper. Genius! Why hadn't I thought of this earlier? Mental high five! 3 minutes later though, and my taper had barely melted. Was this wax or kryptonite? Gah! 5 more minutes in the microwave and some of it was melted enough that I could pour it and I oh so stupidly reached in to pull it out. Bare handed. Let me tell you something. Eight minutes in a microwave makes glass HOT. Too hot to hold. I dropped the jar of hot wax and it shattered. In the microwave. Brilliant. This was clearly not my night. I cleaned the microwave and cursed my self and this stupid project to no end still determined to somehow make this work. The tea lights didn't do well in the water and the jar didn't do well in the microwave. Hmmmmm. What if I combined them though???? I grabbed another jar from the glass bin (thank goodness we hadn't taken it out!) and another taper. I used a knife to shave the taper into the jar. The solid candle took too long to melt, but I reasoned that shavings would melt pretty quickly. And you know what? I WAS RIGHT! I placed the jar in the pan of water and the shavings melted almost instantly! Clearly, I was a genius. Those first two attempts were merely experiments on the path to brilliance. When the wax was good and melted, I poured it into the mold, let it cool and voila! I had the perfect candle! Obviously I'd found my calling. Look how pretty it turned out:


So, to reiterate my findings: tea lights should not go in shallow boiling water because they will eventually move and get wax all in your pan (which is a PITA to clean afterward), glass gets really, really hot in the microwave (and it's hard to clean if it gets everywhere) and wax shavings actually melt fairly quickly. Oh, and sometimes you have to let go of your clothing even it was one of your favorites. This is why crafters and painters wear smocks. Take note. There you have it. My how not to.

14 comments:

satakieli said...

I don't envy you one bit having to clean up all that wax. I know first hand (through a fairly similar bright idea for re-using candle holders) that cleaning wax is NOT FUN. Especially out of pans, haha.

These Are The Days said...

Oh that bites, but thanks for sharing so we don't make the same mistake. Those candles are way cute...hadn't seen those before. I am back homeschooling my 7 yr old, check us out if you get a second. www.these-are-the-days.com (You know Riverside Scholars)

Working Mommy said...

VERY cute candle re-do!! As for the wax, if you have something with dried wax on it, just put it in the freezer overnight...it comes off easier!

~WM

susan said...

You were lucky to come out of this alive! :) Seriously, I am glad the only thing you lost was your fingerprints. The candle ended up well, and now you know how. As for me, I have been trying to figure out how to make the bark part!

deiala said...

Looking at the pics I think it was worth it. The candle looks just lovely. I think I'll have one of those next year...
Thanks for sharing.
Deia

Jenny said...

I was getting stressed out just reading your tale! I'm so glad that it eventually worked for you. And I will definitely keep it in mine for the future. And wow, what a great deal you got from that company.

Bonita said...

I think my blood pressure raised a notch or two reading this. One thing I don't get is how you got a wick in the middle, or did you? Please tell me you did.

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

hehe you sure know how to make a disaster sound like something envious!
Katie

Captain Dumbass said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing. I'm totally not going to try that at all.

KimAustin said...

Wish I had been there to see you make that mess and cuss! I would have been laughing! Tell everybody hello for me! Had a GREAT time in NYC!

Gina @ The Shabby Chic Cottage said...

Although I know your pain - this was hilarious! You are one funny girl. Love your "shaving" idea. Don't try to melt 4 inch pillars in the microwave either, they take FOREVER!

Staci K. said...

Thanks for the giggle! This post reminded me of my very short stint as a budding candle maker! I'm glad it finally worked out for you - the final product is great!

Lisa @ akawest said...

At least the end result was worth it. I have more than once had a mess without anything to show for it.

Kim @ Starshine Chic said...

That was hilarious. Thanks for the laugh. Glad to hear it all worked out in the end. At least now, I know what "NOT" to do. Still laughing.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...