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DIY Home Decor Holiday Decor

DIY Bleeding Candles: Make your own Upcycled Halloween Candles

Every practitioner of the dark arts needs ritual candles. When I saw these bleeding candles online I thought they were so cool. But, I didn’t think they were $15 – $30 cool. Also, they only came in white and I thought they’d look much better in black. I knew this would be an easy project that would let me upcycle thrift store candles for much less.

Two bleeding candles cost anywhere from $15 to $30 online.

You’ll need:

  • Black candles, as many as you want to make (optional use white or other colored candles if you prefer)
  • Red candle, the darker red the better, the dripped wax will be lighter than the source candle, so keep that in mind when selecting your red candle (or get several red candles and experiment).
  • A lighter
  • Scissors or box cutter (optional)
  • Waxed paper or newspaper
  • Candle holders (optional – but you’ll eventually need them), or a box or something you can poke a hole in to hold the candles while you work.
Inexpensive thrift store candles ready for upcycling into fabulous bleeding candles.

Make it:

I bought my candles at thrift stores, because I didn’t care if they were dinged up, I think it adds to the aged character I was aiming for. Also, they are super inexpensive and I was able to get a whole bunch of candles for less than $5.00.

A cautionary tale: I was so anxious to start, I grabbed the nearest candle holders. They look like they’ve survived a massacre and I dread trying to get all that wax off.

Prepare your work surface. This is the the step I always forget because I’m excited to just dive right into the project. I highly recommend at least putting down some newspaper or other covering because the red dye in the candle wax can stain some surfaces.

If you are using candle holders that you don’t want to have wax dripped on, cover them with a paper towel, wax paper or newspaper before you put the candle in. You can also just cut a small cross into a box to insert the candle into while working. If you’re using a temporary holder but want to keep the puddled wax at the bottom when you transfer the candle to the final holder, line the temporary holder with waxed paper.

Trim your Candles. The next step is to determine how tall you want your candles. I wanted the candles to look like a practitioner of the dark arts has used them in many a ceremony. They were too tall and sprightly to have seen so much sorrow, so I cut them off shorter (also, I was too impatient to wait for them to burn down). You can trim them at the bottom if you like, but if you go that route, make sure you trim at at spot before the candle tapers, so it’s not loose in your holder.

With tapers, it is better to trim from the top, for a more authentic look and so they don’t wobble in the holder. Using old craft scissors, a box cutter, or the strength of your bare hands, cut into (or break) the wax using care not to cut all the way through the wick. After the wax crumbles away from the wick, pull it up to expose the wick and cut it approximately 1/4 to 1/2 an inch above the top the shortened candle (you can always trim it later). I didn’t worry about making the cuts even, or the same height, since I was going for an aged look.

Burn down the top. The idea is to make it look like the candles bled while burning. With this is in mind, whether you’re starting with a fresh pristine candle, or one you’ve trimmed, you will want to burn down the new top, or broken edges, before you start dripping the red wax on. Light the candle and let it burn until the top is melted enough to look used. Once you get it to where you want it, blow out the candle.

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Building up layers will make it look like the candle has been well used in your rituals. Pause often to observe your progress, turn the candle, and adjust your drips.

The fun part! This is the best part – just don’t forget in all of your excitement to use caution while handling the lit candles. Fire and hot wax burn people and things. We only want the illusion of bleeding; real bleeding and sacrifice are not required.

Light the red candle, holding it upright a few seconds to get a good melt started. Start dripping the red wax on the top of the black candle. How long you do this, and how much you build up, is a matter of personal preference. I think I might have overdone it just a little on a couple of mine because it was simply too much fun! Build it up until it looks right to you, dripping it down different areas. Drips will tend to gather on top of each other and build up, so play with it until you get the look you want.

Once you like how it looks, light the black candle and extinguish the red one. Let the black candle burn a minute or so to burn off any wax that dripped onto the wick and to develop the proper texture on top for a candle that’s seen many a ritual.

Decorate!

Put these candles in a candle holder and place them on your mantel, your buffet, your table, your alter, wherever you perform your sacrifices. I don’t light them, because they will not “bleed” as they burn, but I think they give an appropriately spooky feel to my Halloween Mansion. Happy Haunting!

These would also look great in a spooky Candlelier or Candelabra. Looking for other spooky DIYs? Check out our Spooky Chandelier and our Faux Spell Book.

Categories
DIY Home Decor Holiday Decor

Unique and Inexpensive DIY Halloween Décor

Halloween décor doesn’t need to be gory and grotesque or cartoonish. In my Victorian house I prefer an elegant gothic approach, featuring subtle touches. Read on for classy, unique, and mature (but not boring) DIY Halloween projects.

Skull Chandelier

One of the simplest and, by far, my favorite Halloween project is adding a touch of Halloween to my chandelier.    It’s simple and inexpensive, but looks like the chandelier was made that way.

Using the same spray paint that I used to paint the chandelier makes the skulls look like they are part of the chandelier.

You’ll need:

  • A package of plastic skulls like these.
  • Spray Paint (optional) any color you want.  I used the same oil rubbed bronze that I used to paint the chandelier when I bought the house. I wanted the skulls to match so they would look like they are actually part of the chandelier. 
  • Scissors, box cutter, awl, nail, or other sharp pointy thing.
Halloween skull decorations
This was an extra skull, I used an all in one paint and primer that I had on hand, you can see that the skull chipped some. Most of them did not have an issue, but for better adhesion you can use a plastic paint or a plastic primer.

Make It:

  1. The first step is to cut the skulls.  Using an awl or large nail poke a hole through the top and the bottom of the skull.  I held the skull up next to the part of the chandelier where I wanted it to sit so could judge the angle and then marked a spot on the top and bottom by eyeing it. 
  2. After punching holes in the top and bottom, Use your craft scissors, or a box cutter, to cut a down the back seam between the holes. 
  3. Once you’ve split the back seam, round out the top and bottom holes to the size of the part you want the skull to sit on.  Take a little off at a time, and fit it as you go.  If you get it to fit snugly enough, it’ll stay in place without any assistance.. 
  4. Paint the skulls however you like.  (I’d love to see someone do these as sugar skulls!)
  5. After the skulls have dried, just squeeze them open and place on your chandelier.  After you can easily remove them for storage until next year (or leave them up year round if you like).

Want more DIY Halloween Projects? Check out our Halloween Bleeding Candles and our Faux Spell Book!

Categories
Handmade Gifts Pet Projects

Easy Fishy Cat Toys

I made these DIY fish cat toys as a gift for a friend with new kittens.  They were super easy to make and used up the scraps from another project.  Sewing the fish right-side out makes this fast and easy. 

The final quirky cat fish toys

The materials list is pretty short:

  1. Scrap fabric – cotton, heavy felt and upholstery fabric are all good choices
  2. Thread – your stitches will show so choose a color that matches, coordinates or contrasts as you like. I chose colors that matched the fabrics, but alternated them so that each fish had a thread color from one of the other fish. 
  3. Scrap felt, fleece – for catnip pouches and stuffing.  I like using pieces of fabric to stuff animal toys because I don’t have to worry about fiberfill stuffing coming out and being toxic to or choking the animal.  At worst, they will pull out a piece of scrap fabric that is too big for them to eat, and you might find a slobbery wad of fabric on the floor. 
  4. Dried Catnip
  5. Paper, paper bag, etc. for template
  6. Scissors, Pinking Shears (optional)

I started with laundered fabric scraps. You want to make sure no sizing chemicals are left, that might cause harm to your furry friends.  

I drew a fish pattern on a paper bag, which I used for exactly one fish before I realized it was too wide for the rest of my scraps.  I had initially planned for all of the fish to be the same size and shape.  But I had my heart set on using up those scraps, so I adjusted on the fly and ended up with different sizes and shapes. 

Once I cut out my fish bodies, it was time to work on the stuffing.  I’ve had commercial cat toys before that shed catnip all over the house.  I didn’t want to do that to my friend, so I took a little left over fleece and made little pouches to stuff the catnip into.  This also gave the fish a little “body”.  I wasn’t exact about the size or shape of these pouches.  Just snipped a few scraps, folded them in half and sewed two sides, making sure to back-stitch the ends so they didn’t come undone.  Once I had a bunch of little pouches I stuffed them with catnip.  After you’ve stuffed all of your catnip pouches, sew closed the final side of your pouch, again backstitching the ends to make sure they stay closed, these will be treated roughly, so you want to make sure the catnip stays inside.  Insider tip: After completing my first pouch, I made a whole fish and tossed it to my cats to see how they would react.  I wanted to make sure that the fleece wasn’t so thick that they wouldn’t smell the catnip inside.  They pounced immediately and I could tell it was working. 

Once all of my inner pouches were done I placed my two fish halves right sides out and began sewing.  I used the side of my presser foot for the seam allowance and started sewing at the tail, up and around toward the head.  I lifted the presser foot and adjusted the fabric as necessary to sew around the curves, and make clean corners.  

Sewing the fish cat toy closed.
Stuff the fish, while it is on the machine, after sewing halfway around. This saves you from having to pin and sew around the whole fish while it is stuffed.

I sewed around the fish until I was just past the head.  Made sure my needle was down, and lifted the presser foot if necessary.  Then I stuffed the pouches of catnip into the heads and bodies of the fish.  I also cut little triangles of the fabric to stuff into the tails and added some strips or small pieces wherever I thought fullness would be necessary.

Adding fabric to cat fish toy tails
I didn’t want these to be fully stuffed as my cats like floppy toys, so that’s the design I chose.  You can just as easily stuff them as full as you can, while still being able to get the presser foot back down and maintaining your seam allowance. 

Once stuffed, I finished sewing all the way around the fish. 

Sewing around the cat fish toy body.

I finished off the edges by fraying them, or using my pinking shears, to give them each an individual look.

A lovely cat fish toys for your cats or a friend’s.
A bit of leftover ribbon tied around the tails completed the gift.

Looking for other projects to use up scrap fabric? Check out these cute scrap heap monsters!