26 July 2009

New Obsession: Candle Chimnies

The way my brain works, I like to know which objects fit together in the world. I don't know why, exactly, but it is somehow satisfying when a thing fits another thing. I can pick out the right wrench or socket just from looking at the bolt head, and I love assembling things like furniture because the parts fit together just so.

Like many people, our bathroom has some candles in it, and also toilet paper. Toilet paper comes on little cardboard tubes. And one day my Tab A/Slot A, Tab B/Slot B oriented brain decided that tea light candles fit exactly inside toilet paper tubes. I tried it, and sure enough. Just so. Sweet.

Ever since then, it has been bugging me that I should be able to Do Something with that little nugget of information. I figured a TP tube would make a good candle chimney, except for that pesky 'fire + paper = bad' business. And most of the ways I could think of to fireproof a cardboard tube weren't very conducive to decorative quality (since I tend to favor delicate filigree styles).

I decided plaster might be a good way to go, but plaster tends to saturate the tube because the process of setting plaster is very efficient at making water go away. For this same reason, the plaster tends to fall off, because it becomes rigid long before the water comes back out of the cardboard, so there is no longer a stable support structure for the thing plaster. Been trying to work this out for a while now, how to preserve the structural integrity, the design options, and the not-burning-down-the-house.

Last weekend, I knocked over a full glass of wine, and it sprayed all over the wall, because our glasses are optimally designed for liquid launching. Annnnnyway: this necessitates a fresh coat of whitewash on the wall, and then the lightbulb went on. Whitewash is slaked lime, which is to say, plaster that has already absorbed all the water it is going to, and when the water that keeps it fluid evaporates, it will be just as sturdy as plaster, but without soaking the cardboard.


What you see here is my very first attempt at this method of making the thing I want to make, and it gives me a lot of hope that this is a worthwhile effort. I have delusions of making these things regularly ('cause, you know, we get re-supplied with empty TP rolls pretty regularly), and selling them online or at the flea market. The materials are cheap, the production will be easy, and the designs can be pretty much endlessly varied. And if I can sell these, I can maybe fund some of my other activities. Which would be awesome. Also, since they won't exactly be heirloom quality objects, I should be able to sell them for cheap, which everyone loves. Cheap, fancy things. I am pretty sure I can paint them and otherwise ornament them, as well.


Regan said...

This is awesome. I really couldn't envision it. It turned out great! Any local art galleries that have gift shops?

Anonymous said...

I've said it once, I'll say it again- I love the way your mind works! Never in a million years would I have been able to come up with something as ingenious as this. Something so simple, but yet so thoroughly awesome as well.

Can you start an Etsy from Austria?

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if this same concept would work for the trusty luminara?

224215152 said...

Awesome! I'm picturing it painted and trimmed with copper wire or something.

Holly said...

Regan, no idea about local galleries with gift shops, although there is a local gift shop that might sell this kind of thing.

Nic, I have an Etsy, I just don't use it. I was actually thinking of just making a load of these and pawning them off on Regan to do shipping inside the US. I have seen luminaria made on this concept (ceramic with cut-outs). I didn't like them, though. What *would* be awesome is some luminaria bags and a means of punching the cut-outs out of them, so you still get the awesome glow.

Joc - Where would you put the copper wire? I can see the paint, but for some reason my brain doesn't know where to put the wire.

I'm kind of trying not to buy anything for this that I don't/wouldn't already have around the house, but I don't know if that's going to be feasible. Will see. Whitewash actually seems to work a lot better than plaster for coating/sealing the TP tubes.