Monday, March 19, 2012

Luminaries...or lumieres? Either way, lovely

I am quite excited to be writing my first actual interesting post here on Carey Creates! Two nights ago, my mom and I made some wax luminaries (or is it lumieres? I just can't decide). I first saw these on Pinterest, and that sent me to this website and tutorial: seemed pretty simple to make: just dip and dry! Well, after making these babies, I gotta tell basically is that simple!

Cute huh? We would've done them in white, like the tutorial, but to get enough wax we had to use some leftover pieces of a pink candle. That's one thing I love about this project - reusing old materials! It's perfect for that pretty candle with the wick that just seemed to disappear one day. Or, maybe if you have a couple hundred crayons.

Let's start with some ingredients!
  1. Paraffin Wax - High Melt Paraffin Wax is definitely what you need if you plan on using real candles in your luminaries. We used regular household paraffin wax, and had a few problems (as you can see in the photo above). Read on to see why.
  2. Party Balloons - NOT water balloons. They're just too small. Actually, we couldn't even fill them because they were too small to fit over the faucet. We also tried large helium balloons...that ended in a mess. Party balloons worked just dandy.
  3. A Double Boiler - we don't have a double boiler, so we improvised. See below.
  4. Cooking thermometer
  5. Two cookie sheets
  6. Parchment Paper (optional)
  7. Real tealights (in the aluminum holders) or battery-powered tealights
  8. Rice or sand (optional)
Step 1:
Set up your double boiler (or facsimile) on the stove and melt your wax. You're going to need a good amount - someone who had a similar tutorial recommended 1/2 a pound of wax for every luminary. I can't confirm that; we just used what we had, making sure we had our double boiler filled enough so we could get the desired height of our luminaries. 

This is our double boiler set-up. For more information on improvising a double boiler, go here:

Here are our wax chunks (from leftover candles) melting down. Looks a little like meat, eh? 

In the Wedding Belles tutorial, a temperature of 180 degrees for the wax was recommended. Our wax never reached that high, although maybe that has to do with the fact we used household wax rather than high melt. At least get your wax up to 160 degrees.

Step 2:
Fill your balloons. Remember, use PARTY balloons. Water balloons will be too small. 

Water balloons                      Party balloons

Here's our first balloon:

A pear-shaped balloon like this one will give you a nice rounded shape for your luminary, but other shapes can look just as good.

Step 3:
Dip your balloons. Take it slow, and keep the balloon level. Dip it until it hits the spot on the balloon you want, then gently lift it out. After each dip, set your wax-covered balloon on a cookie sheet and allow the wax to cool and harden for a bit before re-dipping. This creates a nice flat bottom for your luminary. We put parchment paper over the cookie sheet to protect the cookie sheet and keep the wax from sticking.

Note: In the Wedding Belles tutorial, the instructions say not to dip the balloon past the water level, or it will pop. I'm not sure about you, but any time I've seen a water balloon, it's been all water, no air. Sooo, I'm not really sure what they are talking about (unless they mean don't dip the entire balloon?), but if your water balloon happens to have air in it after you've filled it, don't let the wax get above the water level.

Here is our balloon after being dipped a few times, and then several times: 

Once you've reached your desired thickness (the tutorial says 1/4" to 1/2", but ours were more like 1/8" - I think 1/2" would be ridiculously thick!), wait until the wax has fully cooled and hardened, and then pop the balloon over the sink. The top edge will probably be jagged and a bit unattractive:

But that we can fix!

Step 4: 
Level the top. You can do this by using a hot cookie sheet. I stuck mine in the oven at 200 degrees, but when I took it out, it lost heat fast, so you may want to heat it on the stove on a burner and keep it there. To level the top, just melt the jagged edge of the luminary on the hot cookie sheet until the top is even and clean. 

Step 5:
Insert candle. If you plan on using real candles, first put rice or sand in your luminary. This will prevent the wax of the luminary from melting if the aluminum holder gets too hot. Also, if you're not using high melt wax, and your luminary is tall enough, the heat from the flame can melt the top edge of the luminary. That's what happened with the larger luminary in my first photo. Your best bet if not using high melt wax is to use a battery-powered candle.

And voila! Doesn't it just glow?

(Yes, that is a different luminary than the one I've been showing you. I couldn't get a good picture of the first one.)

I definitely want to make more of these; a cluster of different shapes and sizes in white would be wonderful. Or what about layering with different colors of wax? Oh the possibilities!

What do you think? Any questions? Comment below!

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wdn th said...

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