DIY: Cement Candleholders

August 16, 2009

An idea came to me in the middle of the night.  What if I could create my own candleholders and planters with plastic items purchased from the local market ?  I knew that cement wouldn’t stick to plastic, so why not use plastic forms from my kitchen as molds for candleholders ?  I started testing this invention last weekend to see if I could create something wonderful out of something mundane.  After a few rounds of trial and error, my creation took form.  You’d never guess that these lovelies were created out of yogurt cups and plastic storage containers!

How perfect are these for lighting a twilight path to your door ?

Do you need some candlelight in your garden ?

Perhaps a romantic table for two outdoors?

Believe it or not, these cement candleholders were made with molds from plastics available at your local grocery store!

Supplies to recreate:

  1. Plastics in various sizes for outside mold.  They can be storage containers, deli containers, or juice jugs
  2. Yogurt cups for inside mold
  3. Non-stick cooking spray
  4. Plastic sheeting
  5. Rapid set cement mix from home improvement store (I recommend the 55 lb. bag over the 10 lb. box if you want to do more than just a few small tea light candleholders.)
  6. Plastic bucket for mixing
  7. Stir stick (pick up a free one in the paint department)
  8. Measuring cup
  9. Sanding pad
  10. Latex gloves
  11. Outdoor ‘Patio Paint’ in colors of choice

Step One: Clean and dry your plastic molds and yogurt cups.  Spray the inside of your plastic mold with a thin coat of cooking spray.  The cooking spray isn’t absolutely essential, but it does help ease your plastic away from the cement when you pop it out of the molds.

Step Two:  Lay down plastic sheeting on your workspace, and put on your latex gloves – cement is irritating and very drying to your hands.

Step Three: Mix your cement with 4 parts cement powder and 1 part water as directed on the bag.  It should be similar to the consistency of cake mix.

Step Four:  Working quickly, pour your cement into your plastic mold, and set your yogurt cups inside.  Use some pebbles or small rocks to weigh your yogurt cups down, because they tend to want to rise up out of the cement.

Make sure your plastic mold is on a level surface.  Gently tap your candle mold about a dozen times to bring any bubbles to the surface.

Step Five:  If your rapid set mix will solidify in 15 minutes, then let your mold sit for approximately 10 minutes, and gently twist your yogurt cups inside the mold to ease in their removal.  After the full 15 minutes, remove the yogurt cups.  When you can feel the outside cement is very warm inside its plastic mold, and when it starts to form some condensation, pop it out of the mold.  Do this just before it is permanently set.  It’s about a 2 minute window, so stay by your project.

Note:  Your plastic storage containers are completely reusable after this project – be sure to rinse any cement residue out of your mold right away.  But don’t rinse it down your indoor plumbing – after all, it is cement.

Step Six:  Take your sanding pad and gently rub away any rough edges on the surface and sides.

Step Seven:  Allow cement candleholders to fully set approximately 12 to 24 hours.

Step Eight:  If you want a painted surface, then apply several coats of outdoor ‘Patio Paint’ to your candleholders.  Allow to dry between coats.

I added some decorative rocks between Step Four and Step Five to create a more rugged looking candleholder for my younger brother’s bachelor pad.  You could also use shells, mosaics, whatever you like.

I painted the inside and outside a mushroom color that I made from a mixture of brown, gray, and green patio paint.  Nestled among succulents, this version is very zen and organic.

 

Just look what you can create out of ordinary grocery store plastics and some quick drying cement!

My favorite part about these cement candleholders is how useful they will be through the fall and through the holidays. Unlike glass votives, there is no worrying about shattered glass.  Unlike metal luminaries, there is no need to bring them indoors for fear of rust.  These homemade versions should weather outside beautifully, just like any other cement object.

Next post, I’ll share some more tips and tricks about working with cement.  And I’ll also show you how to made a few cement planters out of more plastic containers and a lemonade jug.

 

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