Posts Tagged ‘craft paint’

DIY: Cement Candleholders

Sunday, August 16th, 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.



Thrift Store Highboy: Elegant UpDo

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

For years, I’ve wanted to bring some glamour and elegance to my foyer.  It’s the first impression for guests, and it has been nothing short of dull for quite some time.  Since our entry is only ten feet wide, I also wanted to bring reflective light and shimmer to the space as well.

Last week I hinted at the fabulous highboy dresser I picked up at the Goodwill for $35.  Lucky me, it had only been on the floor for thirty minutes before I snatched it up.  SCORE !  With a bit of stain and some new hardware, I brought this wonderful vintage piece into the modern age, and gave it a special new glow.

Here’s the foyer Before and After:

Here’s how it all happened.  As you know, I frequent the local thrift stores looking for treasures.  I chanced upon this solid wood new arrival and hustled – no I seriously ran – to the cash register to buy it before anyone else could, with my poor little boy shouting “Mooooommmmiieee waaaaiiiit” as I dragged the poor little guy behind me.  I spent part of my weekend giving this piece the TLC it needed.

Re-staining Previously Stained Furniture:

Step One, Sanding:  Give your piece an all over good sanding, removing all varnish that may exist.  Wear a disposable mask so as not to inhale any microscopic dust.  In my case, I sanded the highboy by hand with coarse, and then medium, grade sandpaper.  (My electric sander, although faster, would have been too rough on this delicate piece.)  Work with, not against, the grain of the wood.  It took over an hour to fully sand this dresser, but hey I look on the bright side:  I got a great upper arm workout.

Step Two, Conditioning:  I’m a Minwax fan, so if you want to create better absorbency in your wood, you can consider using a wood conditioner like Minwax Wood Conditioner.  Grainy or gnarly woods like oak or pine should definitely be conditioned beforehand.

Step Three, Staining:  To stain this piece, I used a staining pad and Minwax Gel Stain in Walnut.  I truly madly deeply love this stuff.  The gel formula is thicker, unlike regular stain, so you don’t need a brush, and it doesn’t drip.  I recently used it to re-stain my entire two story oak staircase (reveal coming soon).  How convenient is it to be able to stain upside down without drips?  Brilliant !

The imperfections in the dinged up dresser soaked up this stain and were transformed into those ‘distress’ marks you’d pay so much for at a top retailer.  This gel stain buries itself in the ridges, and translates into deep character, just like a glaze on painted wood.  One caveat: this gel product dries a bit more quickly, so you must work fast to get your stain strokes right.  And don’t forget to wear gloves, cause this stain really stains !

Step Four, Reapply:  If you desire added depth from your stain product, then reapply a second coat 24 hours later.  Here’s what two out of three drawers looked like after just one coat (I applied two coats).

Step Five, Protectant:  If you’ve used a regular liquid stain product, then you will probably need to apply a polyurethane to protect your piece. I’ve used Minwax Wipe-On Poly with success in the past on several projects.   However, this gel based stain gave my piece such a nice glow that I didn’t find it necessary to add poly this time.

 You can see how the ‘Before’ piece had a washed out honey color, plenty of dinks, and old-fashioned hardware.  Just by staining the piece and adding new oil-rubbed bronze hardware from Home Depot ($12 for a set of ten), the dresser now looks like something out of a new furniture collection.

So now I need your input, playing a bit of multiple choice.

I played around with a few preliminary vignettes, and I have a favorite, but I’d appreciate your vote.  You’ll notice the flea market silver pitcher remains a constant.  I love fresh flowers in the foyer, so it stays.  And you’ll notice that a white ceramic bust makes an appearance (antique store find).   Your opinions please.

A) Botanical Print with bust and clock

B) Paris Print with bust and clock

C) Silver Candlestick with bust and clock

D) Wedding Print with pair of busts


So friends, give it to me straight.

Which scene do you prefer ?