February 21, 2021 was the three year anniversary of when my boyfriend, Tristan, and I started dated. Our usual celebration options like going to a nice dinner or skiing were not viable choices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather than do our now normal pandemic date—hiking, picnic, or movie night—we chose Craftiversary!
I love all different type of crafts, especially learning new ones; lucky for me, Tristan attended a living history camp as a kid and knows how to dip candlesticks by hand! For our anniversary, we decided to make homemade candles the old-fashioned way, over an open fire and with a cold bucket of water.
Our candles did not come out perfect, in fact the first didn’t even burn (I’ll explain that later), but over a span of four hours we laughed until one of us was breathlessly snorting (me), forgot about everything except candles, fire, and each other, and stretched our creative abilities.
Crafts are not always perfect Pinterest replicas. A person’s hobby does not have to be perfect or be turned into a business.
On our anniversary, Tristan and I were working on a craft to create and try something new, we weren’t focused on perfection or even “success”, just fun and time spent with one another.
Perfection has persisted throughout a variety of cultures. I’m not sure if this is a recent trend but the perfection obsession has extended to hobbies. Now, if you practice a hobby and you don’t produce perfect products, you aren’t welcome to appreciate that hobby; if you do produce top-notch products you’re expected to run a small business.
What happened to practicing creativity just to be creative?
For those of you that are seasoned candle makers or even one time candle makers you will most likely notice in the next few paragraphs exactly where we went quite horribly wrong. It will probably give you a good laugh; I know it did for us!
How We Made the Candles
After about 30 minutes of work we had a great fire going in front of two large rocks in Tristan’s backyard. Snow from a recent storm still covered the entire area. It was peaceful watching the fire melt away the snow and form an icy circle.
Our candle making materials:
- Wine ice bucket to hold the melted wax
- Stick for stirring the wax
- String for wicks
- Rocks for decoration
- Bucket of water
- Vanilla extract
We started our adventure with making two hand dipped candles. Tristan, just like a witch from Salem, began dipping a candle. He told me that the key is to be fast and steady. Making candlesticks by hand is a fairly straightforward practice—you go back and forth dipping the wick in the wax and then in the water and repeat a whole bunch. However, you don’t want to hold the candle that you are forming the wax too long because the heat can melt off your hard work and you want to hold it long enough to actually make each dip productive.
The candle dipping was extremely relaxing from its meditative qualities. The simplicity and steady movements were mesmerizing.
After making the candlesticks, we moved on to candles in jars. Because we did not have the typical metal pieces for the wicks, we needed something to anchor it when the candle burns. We decided pebbles would work as an anchor and a form of decoration.
We discovered later that the pebbles were not the best idea, but I still think they looked cool.
Where Did We Go Wrong?
If you’re experienced in making candles, the above may have made you giggle or shake your head.
We realized the evening of craftiversary that there were a few things wrong with our candles, so the following weekend we made a second batch. Below are our mistakes and solutions!
The String mistake
The string we used for wicks was not cotton so our wicks didn’t burn aka our candles didn’t burn. Oops.
The following weekend Tristan remelted all of the candles we made to get the bad wicks out. We then remade them with wicks we had pulled out of old candlesticks (the original ones bought from the dollar store because we didn’t want to waste good wax and money our first time making candles)
The pebbles mistake
After experimenting with the first batch we realized we shouldn’t fill the bottom of the candle with rocks because it probably won’t burn well. However, in the second batch we still used them for decoration…this batch burns so now we realized that the rocks don’t even work for decoration because the wax does not burn evenly.
No more rocks ☹ EXCEPT because we didn’t have the metal pieces to anchor the wicks and we couldn’t pile the rocks in, I would tie the bottom of the wick tightly around a pebble then dip it in wax to seal it to the bottom of the jar. We haven’t burned to the bottom of the candle yet to determine if this will actually work or not though.
The vanilla Extract mistake
Prior to making our candles we did ZERO and I mean zero research on making scented candles; we were mostly focused on experimenting and just having fun. We decided that vanilla extract could be a great way to scent the candles.
Oh, we were so very wrong.
The extract scented the wax for maybe a quick second but then with the high heat of the fire burned off the scent. When we poured the last candle, we both thought that the wax seemed more liquidy than normal. Later in the evening when all the other jars were setting, we looked at the last one we had poured. It was an old glass jam jar so we could see that the entire bottom half of the candle was liquid and the top half was floating wax. That liquid on the bottom was ALL of the vanilla extract.
Next time we want to make scented candles we will use natural fragrance oils.
We enjoyed making the candles a lot, so we are going to keep learning, experimenting, and creating more. Next steps include buying some natural fragrance oils, making our own cotton wicks, figuring out a low waste option for securing the wicks, and learning more about properly scenting candles!
We are both super excited and I will post updates on my Instagram!
If you’re struggling to come up with fun activities for you and family, a significant other, or friends, try a new craft. You may be pleasantly surprised how much you will laugh, learn, and relax.
Remember, creativity is rarely perfect.
Stay safe ya’ll.