'08 Halloween #20: Making a Flameless Candle


A few Halloweens ago I picked up a bunch of those 1/2" high LED flicking pumpkin tea lights for around .99 cents each. A hard price to pass up. I was excited to actually use them but soon disappointed to find they cast very little light and useless in pumpkins. I liked the flickering effect but little tea lights don't have much Halloween character so I just threw them in a drawer. Trying to make this a zero spending decorating year, I'm using everything in my arsenal. I realized those little lights could be made into larger, creepier, candle props with some personality for next to nothing. Click on images to enlarge.

Materials are simple : hot glue gun, several glue sticks, old candle holder, toilet paper tube, scissors, paint, and wood matchsticks.


Basically, I'm creating a taller candle by inserting the light into the top of the tube. The LED has an on/off switch and battery door underneath. I'll want to access these so the light should slip out the top of the tube as needed. The tube is a bit wider than the light so I split it to re wrap tighter. While the tube was open it gave me the chance to create small internal shelves to rest the light on. I marked off the depth using the LED as a template.


I snipped the heads off the matchsticks and white glued them along the depth line. The matchsticks are now the shelves. You can use just about anything for this but that's what I had close by. Overlapping the edges, I glued the tube back together letting it be snug enough to create a solid piece illusion but loose enough to easily lift the light in and out. Don't worry about the seam on the side as it will disappear soon enough.


Then I just painted everything. I used a ivory/antique white color.


Now the fun part! Using the hot glue, I just started dripping glue along the sides. I worked carefully around the top edge trying to keep the socket clean. I started there before being attached to the base so it would be less cumbersome to work on. The glue did manage to drip inside in spots no matter how careful I was. I cleaned mistakes by melting them away with the hot tip of the gun. One long bead/drip easily covered the cardboard seam.

Patience is rewarded using the hot glue here. Creating smaller drips and letting cool before the next allowed me to layer it up creating character. Too much actually re melts any drips already made.


Overall, I think it's a pretty cool prop for .99 cents and a few glue sticks. I going to make various ones with taller paper towel and fatter shipping tubes. I've "punched up" other store bought larger faux candles with hot glue as well in the past.

22 comments:

  1. Ive always wanted to make something like this. You rock! thanks for posting!

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  2. PerfessorEvil9/29/2008 5:10 PM

    Nice!
    I moved it to Lighting on HauntProject.

    One of these days I need to get on redesigning the site so one prop can be associated with more than one category. LOL

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  3. megan Jeffery9/30/2008 6:51 AM

    Wow, fantastic effect -- great seeing it "in situ" with your skully head.

    LOVE that your projects are made from materials on hand, or purchased inexpensively. (Toilet paper tubes? You're speakin' my language!)

    And thanks for sharing what you've learned (e.g. drip hot glue in stages) so that we can hop over those pitfalls when we're making our own.

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  4. I've been making a few of those for the past couple of months. I even have a few that just sit on a shelf with "wax" pooling, and a couple designed to sit on a ledge with "wax" dripping off.

    Those orange flicker candles are alright for pumpkins, but you have to use 2-3 at a time, and they work best in a low-light area. I personally have found that the 6-pack GE brand lights (find 'em at Michaels) are brighter and last longer. I can light 8 of them in my bedroom, and they give off some decent light. The GE candles are expensive though, so coupons are highly recommended!

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  5. Also, I don't like the fake-looking flames. I like to hide them further down inside the candle. That way it looks like the candle has been lit for a while, and guests have to imagine the flame.

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  6. Trader Sam,

    Beautiful work! Thanks for the tips on the led lights, I figured for 99 cents I get what I pay for.

    Yea, I'm not a big fan of seeing the flame myself but the one pictured is going to be sitting up high on top of some bookshelves and roof line so I wanted it to create as much ambiant glow as possible. I never thought of sitting them down as low as you've done for some up close table top versions, great tip!

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  7. You can make the larger pillar type candles this way using empty pringles cans - just gotta paint the insides as well.

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  8. Yes, for higher locations, I do let more of the flame show for more light. I also paint my candles because the hot glue usually glows a little under black light. That's not very convincing if the body of the candle doesn't glow a little, too. It just looks kinda odd to me.

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  9. You are so amazing! I love love love your ideas! I hope you don't mind, I saw this post on another blog and I had to come and see what it was about. I posted it on mine, but I just had to share this great idea!

    I look forward to reading more!! Thanks so much for sharing your excellent ideas!!!

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  10. I love your site and all the creativity that graces it. I will be back often to see what you have going on.

    As a Halloween lover you may want to stop by my blog littleantdesign.blospot.com - I have a great Halloween giveaway going on right now.

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  11. Genius. Fire has always been one of the harder things to control on Halloween, yet the ambiance that it provides is undeniable. I am almost certain that I am going to try and make a couple of these for my own haunt this year.

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  12. Marcie, Denise and Levit

    Happy you like and thanks for visiting.

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  13. I just found you and WOW!!!! I love your website. Thanks for sharing the candle. I'm going to use it at Thanksgiving on my table. You're fantastic!!!

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  14. I love these! One question, how do you turn the light on and off without messing up the candle?

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  15. I have the same question as Michelle - how do you turn the candle on without taking it apart?

    I am anonymous only because I can't remember my friggin google password!

    LOVE these amazing ideas!!

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  16. yes - how do you turn it on without taking it apart? I want to make these, but need to figure this out first.

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  17. Michelle and Anonymous,
    I thought I mentioned in the process, but the matchsticks act as shelves for the light to sit on. There should be a small gap left between the papertube and hot glued edges so the light so can be easily lifted out to turn on. Sorry, if I wasn't too clear about it in the steps, hope this helps.

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  18. *Wave* just found this, and I had a moment of "Why didn't I think of that." Awesome tutorial!

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  19. Loved this how-to and made my own version of it! Thanks for the info as I now have my pair o'skulls to light my way. http://mazuri-rmd.blogspot.com/2011/08/more-halloweeny-goodness.html

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  20. Dave, thanks so much for sharing. My son was just cast as Lumiere in Beauty and the Beast and I am gathering ideas for the lighted candlestick hands and head piece. The glue sticks will give the final touches I was looking for. Thanks for the inspiration and I’ll return and share a link when I am done with the final products.

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  21. Wow those are so cool! And cheap! Normally I just buy luminarias, but that's going to change now.

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