I had an epiphany while painting match boxes, pouring wax into antique tea cups, and waiting on bubbling caramel to cool: I’m a Monica.
I get these complex gift ideas I want to create and realize the supplies I need either aren’t readily available or don’t exist. And so, what was supposed to be a simple, enjoyable DIY project to surprise and delight loved ones becomes a weeks-long obsessive-compulsive rigmarole that bleeds into my work and personal life. It’s not an issue so much as an observation. I want my creations to look the way they do in my mind, I want them to be perfect, and I want them to be inexpensive. I always think “I’ll switch out money for time. My time is my currency and I have plenty!” –I don’t have plenty. At all. BUT IT’S SO WORTH IT! Every time I go through this, I end up with the best results, and they get better and better every time. While I may have some Monica qualities in the perfection-obsessed arena, I’m a total Rachel with the clean up.
So began the candle idea. These candles are simple to make and don’t take nearly as much time as I’d anticipated. Just search Pinterest for candle making and you’ll see image after image of multiple steps and lengthy instructions–it’s not rigorous in the slightest. I didn’t want to get one of those kits equipped with votives/jars, wax, scents, etc. because what’s DIY without a little struggle, scavenger hunt, and hustle? I went to the Salvation Army with low expectations and found THE MOST PERFECT tiny glass tea cups for 34 cents each, used regular wax, coated wicks, and two candle fragrances from Michaels, essential oils from Target, and chopsticks from Mali Thai next door (I get a lot of Tom Yum). I wanted to use Thrive Market for oils, but I’m a Monica, so I couldn’t *afford* to wait (and there was no online shopping during her prime and she did just fine). Here’s the candle recipe.
But what good are candles without something ~cute~ to ignite that deliciously-scented mini fire? Then came matchbooks. I tend to collect matchbooks from bars, restaurants, hotels, etc. and they are the perfect medium for creative muscle flexin’. How difficult could it be to procure some blank matchboxes? Oh, and not just blank, but oversized. Don’t know why, but they HAD to be oversized. I even considered buying bulk striking paper and crafting card stock into boxes. After depressingly coming up short during my days-long physical and digital search for these phantom, oversized, blank, ready-to-strike match boxes, I was sulk-walking through Target and came across giant Diamond matchboxes (next to the picnic supplies) for pennies. And I mean it, they were like 89 cents each. So I grabbed a bunch of those and STACKS of regular-sized matchboxes. I figured I’d try to paint over the loud red and blue Diamond branding with white acrylic paint. It worked. I was so excited to have newly painted, gleaming white matchboxes in two sizes scattered across my table begging to be adorned with brilliant and beautiful designs. But then I realized I had ZERO idea of what these designs would be.
So I busted out my watercolors–the same watercolors I have no clue how to actually use. But then this awesome thing happened: I messed up so much that when I dropped my hands, sat back, and stared at my failure, my eyes landed on the one unfortunate box that I’d taken my brush to with fervor and repeatedly wiped, painted, and re-wiped with a wet paper towel. The remnants looked almost like… wait for it… marble. And I’m basic, so I love marble. Then I looked to my left at my marble tray containing my newest White Barn candle which is gorgeously encased in a pink and grey marble votive. So, watercolor marble match boxes happened using my screw-ups and the omnipresent marble around the condo for inspiration.
I’m very pleased with the result I was STOKED with the outcome. I used a little gold acrylic paint to liven up the marble effect and called it.
DIY Winter Woods Candle Recipe
1 lb parafin wax
2 C Glitter (optional – I used Ikea Kulort)
Glass measuring cup
Small votives, tins, or jars, of your choice
Place one wick, clip side down and centered in chosen votive. Secure by placing a chopstick (or whatever you have) centered across the top of the votive and wrapping the excess wick once around the chopstick.
Bring water to boil in a saucepan (enough to where the water won’t splash inside the glass measuring cup once boiling). Place as much wax in the measuring cup as it will allow and place in the boiling water. Melt completely then transfer evenly to chosen votives. After pouring, add a lot of shakes of chosen essential oils or candle fragrances (I made 6 small candles and used all three vials). If desired, pour a ton of glitter in each votive. It will mainly settle at the bottom but also create a little glittery film on top. Dope.
I don’t really have a “technique” for the marble effect but I’ll do my best.
Marble effect water color match books
Water color tray
LOTS of paper towels
White acrylic paint
Diamond matchbooks: assorted sizes
Prep your matchbooks by painting with two coats of white acrylic paint, allow to dry completely between coats. Once fully dry, create a little texture for the background by adding a small wash of water to a section of the matchbook and quickly follow up with a small amount of color with a smaller brush just along the very top of the water wash. Be sure to blot the brush between applications of color. You’ll notice the paint begin to swirl and drip a bit with the water. If you like it, leave it. If you don’t, blot it gently with a paper towel. This stuff dries very quickly and can be sort of wiped off with a wet paper towel if you hate what you’ve done. I repeated this process with smaller and more concentrated amounts of water + color until I had something that resembled marble. To finish it up, I added a little vein of gold using acrylic paint with the tiniest brush I had and with small quick taps. I think it turned out okay! To write over the finished designs, I attempted white acrylic paint and failed miserably, so I ended up using a white out pen. It worked.