Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adventures in Candle Making-Day 2

I bought 4 pounds of soy wax today (it also happens to be much cheaper this way). I had already glued wicks into 2 fairly big containers (one a leftover jar of olives, the other a small glazed plant pot from the "Dollar Spot" at Target) and didn't want to not be able to fill them up all the way to the top. Today I ended up making 3 additional candles. And have quite a bit of wax left over. I used lemon and orange essential oils as a scent. As long as they turn out ok, I think that handmade candles are the perfect thing to have on hand as a hostess gift or a little birthday gift. I'll probably take a few home with me at Easter.
As we wait for the candles to cure (two whole weeks), here's some final thoughts about the process.
-A word about volume. The chips shrink down to about 1/2 their size. When I filled a 2 cup pyrex container, after melting, I ended up with about a cup. This should help you figure out the container size/amount of wax ratio. Felt much better about this on day 2.
-I thought that I was saving money and recycling when using leftover food jars. (And I was.)However, as I go to put the lids on the jars, I've noticed that they have the unmistakeable aroma of whatever was first in the jar (salsa, olives, roasted red peppers). Even after a very complete washing, even soaking them in dish soap solution overnight and running them in the dishwasher. Just the lid, mind you. But I had envisioned giving these as presents, with the lid on them. A jar looks a little funny without a lid. I've read that if you soak them in a 50/50 water/vinegar solution for a couple of days. I'm going to give that a go. Just a warning, that it might be better to buy a container to put your candle in. Just make sure that it's heatsafe. If the vinegar soak doesn't work, I think I'll just cut a square of fabric and tie it with ribbon over the top of the jar. So the effort will not be for nothing. But have definitely learned from this experience.
-Yesterday I thought that I had added too much fragrance into the candles. Right after I had made them, it was REALLY fragrant in here. Now that we've made it to the next morning, I have to put my nose into the jars to get any fragrance at all. So that's a good thing. Much more like a store bought candle.
-While this was not a difficult project, if you decide to try this yourself, you must be very, very careful. The melted wax temperature can get up to the 170s, so you could suffer a very bad burn. I would not attempt this with say, small children under foot or around anyone that could knock anything off the counter. Even after you pour the candles, they have to sit undisturbed for several hours before they harden. Use caution!!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Adventures in Candle Making-Day 1

(attached wicks to containers with hot glue)
(Centering the wick with pen caps. Clever, no? I came up with that one all by myself.)

Since it's the craft du jour (everyone seems to be blogging about it), I decided to try my hand at candle making. Since this was my first attempt and was starting small, I purchased a 1 lb package of microwaveable soy wax flakes, a package of 5 candle wicks and a small bottle of Pineapple Cilantro fragrance. The wax flakes were purchased in Michael's and the other items were from Hobby Lobby (they seemed to have a somewhat better selection of fragrances.) I usually save my glass jars and lids from pantry items (the two I ended up using today happened to be jars from Trader Joe's salsa) so I used these as my containers. There are many tutorials on line about soy candle making. Here are a couple that I referred to during my trials: How to make soy container candles from Apartment Therapy

How to make a soy candle from Wedding Bee

Day 1: Given my klutzy nature, I was actually nervous when beginning this project. I was not sure I could be trusted around wax around 160 degrees. I armed myself with two oven mitts, covered all kitchen surfaces in aluminum foil (I didn't seem to have a newspaper around) and went at it. Although nerve-wracking (oh, the hot wax!), this was not a difficult endeavor. The most surprising part was that a pound of wax only made two candles. I was expecting more, given that everyone (on their blogs) keep exalting how inexpensive handmade candles were. My two candles ended up costing about $6 a piece. Not a huge expenditure, but for some reason, I thought I'd end up with four candles. Guess it depends on the size of your container. I've read that you need soy candles to "cure" for about two weeks before you burn them. Let the wait begin. It will be a few weeks until I know if these "throw" (that's an official candle making term) fragrance when burned. Here's hoping! My first concern is that I added too much fragrance to the candles, I used the entire bottle of fragrance (it was only .5 oz) in these two candles and shortly thereafter, it was really stinking up the place! And making my little allergic nose itch a little. (Perhaps this isn't the hobby for me. Ha!) But a few hours have passed and either I'm used to it now, or it has dissipated. I also received a coupon for 40% off a item at Michael's today, so I think I'll get another pound of wax. Have to at least use up the rest of these wicks! Giving it another go tomorrow. Next time with essential oils.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Rolled Flower Necklace

I made this necklace yesterday using this tutorial for the rolled flowers. I ended up using hot glue (although my finger tips have some trepidation about hot glue, sometimes you just can't beat it's quick drying qualities.) After making the flowers, I ended up just hot gluing the flowers on a sort of "V" shaped piece of felt for a backing and gluing on a chain that I had around. I decided to wear it to work this morning and had a friend take a picture of it. Finally, a daytime picture! So much better than anything taken in my dark living room in the evening. It feels like spring around here today, going to be in the 60's! It seemed like the perfect day for it's debut.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Dish Mat & The Deal of the Century

(I apologize in advance for the dim pictures. I can't remember the last time we had a sunny day. Such is the life in the winter, in the mid-atlantic states.)
I started this Dish Mat, found on this blog, a couple of weeks ago, but didn't finish sewing it up until tonight. This was a stash buster project for me, didn't buy any new fabrics for this and used an old towel that had a paint stain on one side for the back. I love the way it turned out. I always handwash my pots and pans and leaving them to dryon just a dish towel, often for days on end, so it will be nice to something pretty there instead. My only advice would be to measure the place where you plan on leaving this little beauty before you cut your fabric. I was all concerned about the width of this and double checked that measurement. I should have, however, been concerned about the length of this. It does fit on my counter just fine, just takes up a little more space that I would have preferred. Everyone's kitchen is different, just a warning.
And now onto the deal of the century....
A friend of mine recently called me an opportunistic shopper. Which I suppose is more or less true. During a recent Saturday, found myself shopping the Old Navy clearance racks. All marked down items were an additional 40% off! (I ADORE a good sale!) I came upon a bin of accessories and saw this pair of really cute, yellow beaded sandals that happened to be my size, but found that they were unmarked. I had also found a really pretty scarf (ended up ringing up at under $3.00), so decided to take the shoes up to the register and just see how much they were. I had told myself that if they were under $5, I would go ahead and get them. They rang up at $0.28! As if I needed another reason to look forward to the spring. (I apologize for my un-manicured toes, pictured. I am a stickler for a good manicure, but my feet have been in a boot for the last 3 months, so I get a pass this time. Also, I don't actually have cankles. Apparently, this is what taking a picture of your own foot looks like. Eek.)