It’s a well-known fact that making presents for people makes the world a better place. Not only are you taking time to create the perfect gift for your mom, brother, or girlfriend, you’re making sure there’s one fewer person at the mall and lessening the chance that someone will get trampled to death by the shopping masses. If you’ve got a little extra time and want to use your very own hands to show someone you love them, this is just the miniseries for you. See something you want to learn to make? Send me a picture to laura [at] autostraddle [dot] com and I’ll see what I can come up with.
Whether you’re living above the equator and could use a little extra light right now or chilling on the beach and need something to keep the bugs away, there’s a candle for that.
You will need:
Teacups – Teacups are easy to find at any second-hand shop or antique store. Get a whole set or unmatching but complimentary singles.
Wax – Soy wax is a good alternative to paraffin, which is what most candles are made out of and a cheaper wax than beeswax. It’s basically just soybean oil that has had its melting point raised to that it’s solid at room temperature. Beeswax is magical stuff that cleans your air and is good if you want something wholly natural.
Wicks – A candle works because the wick, well, wicks the fuel (usually wax or oil) up into the flame to keep it burning.
Wick clips – Besides being fun to say (wick clip, wick clip, wick clip), wick clips help keep your wick in place while you’re pouring your candle and keep the wick from floating to the top if all the wax melts.
Essential oils – Optional for scent. Lavender is calming, peppermint is seasonal, or something citrus-y is nice and bright in the winter.
1. If your wick came separately from your wick clips, put those suckers together. All you’ve got to do and slide the wick into the clip and clamp the little metal stem around the hole shut with pliers.
2. Set your oven to the lowest possible temperature and pop your teacups in there to warm them up. they shouldn’t get any warmer than 125ºF/50ºC
3. Set up a double boiler and melt your wax. It should reach about 185ºF/85ºC.
4. Turn off the heat and allow the wax to cool to 175ºF/80ºC. Now you can add your essential oil. Start with just a few drops and work up until you get the strength and scent you want.
5. Pull out your teacups one by one to affix the wick. Pour a little bit of wax into the cup and stick the wick clip to the bottom. Wrap the top of the wick around a chopstick or pencil rested on the top of the cup to keep the wick straight.
6. When the wax begins to solidify, you can start getting down to business. Put some newspaper under the teacup so that the wax doesn’t get everywhere (it’s possible to get off a surface or out of cloth but it’s really not a fun way to spend an hour, trust me) and then start pouring.
7. Wax expands when it’s warm, meaning that your really full teacup will be significantly less full as the candle cools. When the wax starts to set, poke a few holes in it to prevent air bubbles and then pour some more wax on top.
You will need:
1. To make the wick look like a tea bag, don’t cut it (yet). Instead, make a little label to hang off the end that looks like a tea bag label. Write the scent of the candle on one side and directions to trim the wick to 1/4″ before using it on the other side and attach it.
2. It’s hard to find pretty matchboxes at restaurants any more, so get a big box from a grocery or hardware store and decorate it. I’m sticking with the tea theme and making mine look like a box full of sugar cubes.
Now I know what to make my mom for Christmas! Thanks Laura!
These are incredible! I will defs be making these for so many people! Do you know if there are essential oils that actually smell like tea? Is that weird? Hmmm…
you could do bergamot! it doesn’t technically smell like tea but it’s the stuff that gives earl grey it’s characteristic flavor. or a mixture or peppermint and something flowery so that it smells like moroccan mint.
Ooo excellent! I love the smell of earl grey, although ironically not its taste, so that might be perfect- thank you!! I’m trying to think how I could get that green tea smell and realized maybe i could just use actual green tea haha
oooh this sounds like a great idea! just infuse a few bags in the wax, maybe? let us all know how it goes.
what laura said! if you do it please come back and tell us how it went!!
also there is such a thing as chamomile essential oil, so if you like chamomile tea there’s that. but it’s super expensive. so.
this is the CUTEST idea ever!! Totally making a few of these.
These are adorable…I’ve been wracking my brains for how to give nice gifts as a broke graduate student, and I think this might solve my problem. Thanks for posting this!!
Ah, I love these…so adorable!!!
Whaaaat?! These are adorable! Now I know what I can make for my office Pollyana gift :)
your officemates are going to be so pleased!
I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO MAKE THESE BUT NEVER KNEW HOW. YOU ARE A GODDESS THANK YOU FOR TEACHING ME. <3
This is so cute and easy! Love it!
I love them. Somebody make me one. Or seven. If I wanted colored ones, how would I do that? Do I have to buy pre-colored wax or can I use food coloring or…?
they sell special candle wax coloring! i thought it would be a good idea to use crayons but my candles kept flickering and going out. turns out that the pigment in crayons is made up of particles, not dye. so when you melt them into the candles, there are a bunch of little colorful particles swimming around that cause your candle to flicker and act weird when they get pulled to the wick.
OH MY FUCKING GOD SO PERFECT FOR MI MAMASITA
also HI LAURA!
mamacita, donde esta santa claus?
it’s a TEA LIGHT
so many likes.
I wanna make candles in teacups.
Oh my, this weekend my mom & I are having a craft marathon. I’m definitely adding this to our list!
Thanks Laura! :)
this is so cute. what else are you making?
Well a few things on the
“to craft” list: Xmas corsage, wreath, & a quilt to finish. Also I’m turning a couple of old skateboards into a shelf/lamp for my nephew.
WOW. I just made candles for the first time in my life, in teacups, literally an hour ago. One hour ago! AND THEN I opened Autostraddle and saw this article. HOW DID I KNOW HOLY SHIT MY SUPERPOWER FINALLY CAME.
It took me a few tries to figure out I needed to let the wax cool, or the essential oils (particularly the thinner ones) evaporate!
PRO TIP: You can break up crayons in the wax to give it color! It doesn’t take much at all. They also have dye blocks you can buy, but I bet you have old crayons laying around. But if you’re using beeswax, which is yellow, avoid anything purpley because then you will end up with poop candles. Hypothetically.
we are psychic! and i am very thankful for your purple + yellow tip. i tried the crayon thing but it didn’t work for me =/ maybe you have tips for making this work?
Shut the front door. I was at a total loss for roommate gifts, and you’ve just solved my dilemma. YOU ARE MY FAVORITE.