Hand-Carved Candles

When I was a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with hand-carved candles. I remember the shop on San Francisco's Pier 39 and the fascination I had with watching the talented artist create the gorgeous candles before my very eyes. I was eventually gifted my own beautiful pink and white candle, then another one later in shades of blue.

But as much as I loved watching the candles being made, I really REALLY wanted to try it myself. In the late-90's, my parents got me the Candle Magic Holiday Cut and Carve Candle Kit (sadly, no longer available anywhere that I was able to find, though here's an affiliate link to some other candle kits the same company made still for sale). My kit included everything I needed to make two carved candles. I made one and had a blast. It wasn't exactly stunning, but it was so much fun to do and I was thrilled to finally try a craft I'd wanted to do for years. I put the second set of candle materials away, saving it for a special occasion.

Well, as often happens when I save art supplies for a special occasion, my candle kit sat for years. I hadn't forgotten about it; in fact, I'd thought about making my next candle many times. I finally did and it was just as fun as the first time.

You start by softening the wax in warm water for 20+ minutes. Then you suspend the candle (that's Steve's tripod I'm using) and start carving with a paring knife. 

I took a few photos as I worked, which turned out to be a dumb idea. I should have carved as quickly as possible. The wax cooled rapidly in our chilly house, but I didn't notice until one of the last pieces I carved snapped right off. Oops. 

My finished candle is very uneven and clearly the work of a beginner, but I'm still happy with it. Process, not product... right?  

There are lots of happy memories in my lop-sided candle, and it burns just as bright as a perfect one would. Actually, it burns much brighter, because I could never bring myself to burn such gorgeous works of art!


Holiday Found Poem

Have you ever created a Found Poem? You take printed material, like a newspaper or magazine article, cut out words ransom-style, arrange them to form a poem, and use a glue stick to attach them to plain paper. Back in my teaching days, we got newspapers in the classroom once a week and I'd occasionally assign a Found Poem. I loved seeing the poems my students would create. Even though they were using the same newspaper, their poems were always completely different.

Our local newspaper ran a story about the Christmas at the Waterfront event, with photos from the Lighted Boat Parade. Our family loves attending and seeing the creative ways that people light up their boats. I thought it would be a fun challenge to make a Found Poem about our family traditions. I cut out the photos and a bunch of random words from the headlines in that day's paper, but as I arranged and rearranged them, my poem went a different direction.

Christmas Memories

Preserve family tradition: 
songs, treats, and making wreaths.
More important:
Including Christ this season.

Most of the words in my poem came from headlines that have absolutely nothing to do with Christmas. That's half the fun and it really challenges your creativity. If you've never done a Found Poem, I encourage you to give it a try!


Plaid's Let's Paint Live - Handmade Holiday Ornaments (Cindy's Version)

I had a blast with this month's "Let's Paint Live" with Plaid! This time, the project was Handmade Holiday Ornaments. Check out what I made:

Instructor Jessie Pniewski's ornaments look like this:

Astute readers may notice that my projects look a bit different than Jessie's. Perhaps the biggest difference is that I used cork coasters as my substrate rather than wood rounds. (Affiliate links here and throughout the post). I've never painted on cork and was curious to see how it would work. Once I decided to go off-script and use Jessie's instruction as guidance and not gospel, I made a few other modifications.


The trees are more sparsely decorated and I painted the blue background all the way to the edge. (I also put a base coat of white gesso on that coaster, but it turns out that I didn't need to. I didn't use gesso for the other two coasters and there's no obvious difference in coverage.) The buffalo plaid didn't work all that well on the cork, and I changed the deer into a mouse with a sprig of holly on one ear. The wreath got a lot bushier and gained a bow. 

But the most interesting experiment was with the rub-on. I was really curious to see how it would adhere to cork. There were a few tiny cracks, but they're barely noticeable:

I'm trying to decide how best to seal these so I can use them as coasters. My gut is saying Mod Podge Ultra, but I'm not sure what it will do to the rub-on. Only one way to find out, right?!

Anyway, thanks to Plaid for another super fun Let's Paint Live! The next one is coming up on Thursday, January 11 and I can't wait.


Quilled Poinsettia Card ... and a Winner!

I had the quilling supplies out the other day, so I whipped up a quilled poinsettia card. It's a really easy beginner project with only three shapes you need to learn. 

If you've never done quilling before, you need to know that when it comes to quilling there is an easy way and there is a thrifty way. If it's just going to be yourself or a small group, spend a little money and go the easy route. If you're going to make this in a classroom or other large group, you'll probably have no choice but to go thrifty. In the materials list below, the first item is the easy option and the second item is the thrifty option. These are affiliate links. 

Quilled Poinsettia Card



Start by cutting red cardstock or construction paper into the size of card you want. Cut a piece of white cardstock or construction paper that is slightly smaller in both directions. 

If you have quilling paper, you're ready to go. Otherwise, you need to use a paper trimmer to cut the copy paper into long, narrow strips. I like 3 mm. strips, but you can do 5 mm. or other sizes. Warning: this is tedious if you're making enough for a class of 32+ students. Make plenty of extras and do your best to make sure the strips are uniform. 

Use the quilling tool or the toothpick to make the following shapes: 6 green teardrops, 8 red teardrops, 1 yellow loose circle, and 7 yellow tight circles. 

Glue the loose circle to the center of the white paper. Arrange the green teardrops around the circle with the points facing out. Lift them one by one and glue them in place. (This is much easier to do with reverse tweezers and precision-tip glue. Otherwise, use a toothpick to apply glue to the shape as you hold it with ordinary tweezers or your fingers.) Arrange the tight circles close to one another on top of the loose circle. Glue them in place. Place the red teardrops around the yellow center, then glue them down. 

Adhere the white paper to the red card blank. 


Time to announce the winner of the Orange Art Box giveaway! Congrats to:

Barbara, please send your mailing address to cindy.mycreativelife at gmail.com and the December Orange Art Box will be on its way!


Pet Memorial Heart Box

Several friends have lost beloved pets recently. I designed this memorial heart box to hold a furry family member's ID tags, collar, or other memorabilia after they've passed. Affiliate links below. 

Pet Memorial Heart Box



Paint the wood box and two wood hearts Medium Gray. When the paint is dry, use a fine grit sandpaper (I used 400) to smooth down any lifted grain. Apply a second coat of paint. Paint the inside of the box using the same technique.

Glue the wood hearts to the box to make the ears.

Cut three pieces of floral wire, approximately 5.5" each. Glue them to the base of the heart, with them splayed out to look like whiskers.

Cut out two inner ears and a nose from pink felt. Glue them in place. Line the inside bottom of the box with felt as well.

Add a photo to the box if desired, then fill with mementos.