Monday, August 15, 2016

My Handcrafted, Cotton Batting Candlesticks

Here you can see there is a faux, cotton batting
candle for every branch. One hundred years
ago German's would have used real lighted
candles instead. I will include many more
cotton ornaments than this on the tree come
Christmas. Stay tuned for updates.
       I know that there are some of you who would prefer to use real candles on your feather tree and wouldn't mind dousing it with a bucket of water should it catch on fire! However, I think I'll just do things my own way and relax; knowing that I can be sure the tree won't need such attention should I decide to take a nap or exit for a quick trip to the kitchen for cookies.  Besides, my mother-in-law paid far too much money for this little feathered beauty for me to take chances with it!

Supply List:
  • old steel coat hangers with paper tube bottoms
  • cotton balls
  • masking tape
  • wooden tooth picks or wooden skewers
  • white school glue
  • Christmas feather tree candle holders, clip on type 
  • Krylon Glowz, glow-in-th-dark white spray paint or another brand if you find it lasts longer
  • Exacto knife or single edged razor blade (You may need one of these to cut the cardboard tube.)
Step-by-Step Directions:
  1. Gather the supplies. You may need to substitute alternative paper tubing if you do not have the old type of hangers that I used. If cannot find the appropriate size, simple use toilet paper tubes. Cut these length wise, curl them until they are the proper diameter to fit snug inside the candle holders and tape the edges together with masking tape. 
  2. Remove the tubes and cut them varying lengths to mimic real candles. I choose to make some of my candles shorter than others in order to give them the appearance of use.
  3. Cover the exterior of your cardboard candle with a layer of masking tape. Leave to top end of your tube uncovered so that you will be able to insert a fake wick later. 
  4. Now cover the masked cardboard candle with white glue and carefully wrap each candle with two lagers of cotton batting. Add extra glue in between the applied layers. 
  5. Roll out long "snake like" pieces of cotton batting to create the twist of the candle. Apply more glue to the candle in a serpentine twist pattern, like you would see on a candy cane. Spin the these snake like pieces up the sides following the spiral glue trail. Let the candle dry upright inside the clip candle holders. Apply a generous fourth coat of white glue to the faux candles and let them dry.
  6. Next you will need to twist tiny cotton batting flames onto the ends of your wooden tooth picks. These can be abstract in appearance as they are to look like tiny flames from a distance. I twisted two separate layers of cotton batting on the ends of each wick. 
  7. Spray paint your wicks separately from the candles. You will need to coat them with Glowz every year perhaps. Keeping the wicks separate from the actual candles will allow you to replace the wicks over time should you need to. 
  8. After following the specific guidelines given for the glow-in-the-dark paint, let these wicks dry and insert one into the top of each candlestick that is clamped onto your tree.
Left, old steel coat hangers with paper tube bottoms. Right, Christmas feather tree candle holders, clip on type.
"You may need to substitute alternative paper tubing if you do not have the old type of hangers that I used. If cannot find the appropriate size, simple use toilet paper tubes. Cut these length wise, curl them until they are the proper diameter to fit snug inside the candle holders and tape the edges together with masking tape."
 Left, You will need to twist tiny cotton batting flames onto the ends of your wooden tooth picks. These can be abstract in appearance as they are to look like tiny flames from a distance. I twisted two separate layers of cotton batting on the ends of each wick. Center, I poked holes into an old egg carton in order to keep my wicks upright while spraying these with glow-in-the-dark paint. I needed to use an entire can of this paint in order for the flames to be noticeably glowing. Come December I think I will try dipping them into a liquid form of the paint to see if this will help them glow even brighter. Right you can see the backside of the egg carton where the sticks are pocking through.
Left, here you can see I've put my pretend flaming wick into the hollow candle. Right, is a hollow, cotton batting candle without a wick.
more pictures of the completed cotton batting candles that I made for my feather tree this year.
I finally acquired a small, fence to set my feather tree inside. It was missing only one picket. I cut this out from an old piece of scrap wood and sanded it down to match the other pickets. Then I painted my fence a bright cherry red for Christmas. The project only cost me three dollars! I found the fence in a resale shop near my home.

       I know some of you think I have lost my mind with the scale of these candles, rest assured, I just took the pictures from downward angles in order to get closeups of the textures and shapes. The candles are not too large for the tree. These were measured against the real ones!
      Just right is a photo taken of the same set of candles without weird angles. Looks different doesn't it? You thought I'd lost it making all of these ornaments didn't you? Rest assured, I just thought this picture on the right was a bit boring. This little tree will be beautiful come Christmas, don't worry.

More Cotton Batting Christmas Displays and Ornaments For You to Explore:
       Some of you may prefer to age your own versions of these candles. Just fill a spray bottle with some very strong brewed coffee and spritz the lot until you achieve the color that you like. I prefer to let my versions age naturally.

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