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Spooky Halloween Candle Tutorial

I would be a lousy scientist.

I don’t like to experiment – I like to execute ideas perfectly the first time.

This, of course, has never happened but I just know I would like it more.

My spooky tealight holders took a lot of experimenting.

I tried small jars (too small!).

I tried red paint dripping down from the top (too silly looking)

As we know, I took a brief ill-advised, foray into glitter (too…ponies and unicorns!)spooky, glowing eye Halloween candle holders by Cheltenham roadI tried mason jars (too – “hey that’s a mason jar”).

I tried using velum for the images (too – um, the toner slides off when you try to mod podge it).

It all made me too – cranky!

But I kept at it and refined it a bit and I think I’m ready to present my final take on making spooky glowing eyed candle holders.

Halloween Decoration Tutorial

They are actually very easy to make but, for some reason, kind of wordy to explain so hang in there.

PLEASE NOTE: these are designed to be used only with electric tealights

Here is the round up of supplies I used:Make creepy candle holders for halloween

  • Glass Candle Holders or jars (can you see them?  sorry.  glass! hard to photograph). Mine are from Dollar Tree. I used only straight sided holders and looked for a variety of heights and shapes.
  • Matte Mod Podge (not pictured)
  • Spray Paint. I used black, grey and some window frosting paint I had lying around. Any color that appealed would do – the cheap stuff is perfect.
  • Rag: the more texture on it the better. It probably won’t survive the process so don’t get too attached.
  • Print outs of dour or un-photogenic Victorians (laser/toner based prints)
  • Foam brush
  • Sand Paper
  • Sharp craft knife

Finding Photos

Flickr is a great source for old photos and I stuck mostly to Daguerreotypes as they tend to be very clear (you can find great collections here and here.)

I looked for distinct faces and prominent eyes. The larger the eyes are to begin with the easier this process is and the better the results. Also, while a whole crowd of glowing eyed spooks sounds awesome – it gets less a lot less awesome as you sit there cutting out tons of little tiny holes. I learned to stick with pics that featured one or two people.

After downloading my faves I resized them to suit my candle holder dimensions and printed them out on plain paper.

Paint the Candle Holders

This part has to be done pretty fast before the spray paint dries.

Working with one candle holder at a time spray the top and bottom pretty thoroughly but just let the over-spray take care of covering the middle (it makes life easier and less messy down the road).Halloween DecorationThe moment your done spraying wrap the candle holder in the rag pressing it into the paint with your hands.Easy DIY Halloween Centerpiece Tutorial Cheltenham RoadGive it just a second or two and then remove the rag.Easy Mod Podge Halloween CraftYou’ll have a nice, decrepit texture.

Using the same rag repeat that process with as many candle holders as you want in as many colors as you want.


While the candle holders finish drying take a craft knife and cut out everybody’s eyes! (upsetting sentence #1).

I learned to go a bit wider than the subjects actual eyes – removing the whole eye socket is best (upsetting sentence #2).Creepy, Glowing Eye Halloween Decor

I focused on using pics of children this time around because my brother-in-law sent me an email after the last blog post saying that I needed more little kids because “glowing eyed evil children are better” (upsetting sentence #3) (also, what is going on with my family?!  They are kinda creeping me out)

Applying the Photos

In my first attempt at these I painted the whole candle holder solid black and then just scraped away where they eyes went.  Result? Glowing eyes but, when the lights were dimmed that was all you could really see – the faces disappeared.  So, in order to get the whole face to glow a bit along with the eyes I found that if I painted the middle lightly and then, using sandpaper, scraped away some more paint it worked out great. Creepy Glowing Eyes Halloween Decor Tutorial Cheltenham Road I didn’t sand away every trace – just most of what was there.  The streaks that remain add some nice dark spots when the candle is turned on.

A quick dry-check to make sure I sanded the right spotSpooky Halloween Decoration Tutorial and it’s time for Mod Podging the pic in place to the outside of the candle holder.  Halloween Luminary TutorialI applied one image at a time working my way around the candle holder, smoothing out the image and wiping away any excess Mod Podge.

Once everything dried I added a sealing coat of Mod Podge.

I then went back in with my craft knife and scraped away around the eyes one last time for extra glowiness.

I think they make their case in regular light.  They’d look good as a center-piece or on a mantle.Haunted Halloween Candle Holders by Cheltenham RoadBut dim the lights a bit and let the spooky really kick inGlowing Eyes Candle Holder for HalloweenYou can see how the textured paint allows some of the light through both behind and under the pictures.Dollar Store Halloween CraftsI discovered it was best to get the light up to eye level so for taller candle holders so I used a chunk of wood, a dowel or even a plastic cup to elevate the electric tealight.

Someone at Scare LA suggested that, rather than old pics, you could use pics of ex boyfriends, or your mother-in-law.  Mean! but funny!Glowing Eyes Candle Holders for Halloween by Cheltenham RoadI hope this is helpful.  If I’ve left anything too vague let me know and I’ll address it.


About cheltenhamroad

I’ve been surrounded by amazingly creative people my whole life. My mom can, and does, make anything. The family has on occasion speculated that she just whipped up my dad one day when she discovered some left over fabric and stuffing. My three sisters have mad skills ranging from needlework to cooking to out and out ART. My father’s desk when I was growing up had a model train set going around it, oh, and he made that desk-from scratch. I’m the youngest and, as you can imagine, it’s a hard series of acts to follow. Truth be told, I’ve spent many, many years suppressing the creative instincts I learned at home. But I realized (rather late in life) that few things bring me more joy than making and creating. For the longest time when I went to stores I didn’t think, “I want that” I thought, “I can make that.” And, with a deep breath and a leap, I’ve started on a very new, kinda scary path. I’ve given up my steady, dependable (dull!) corporate life to spend my days happily humming away in my garage designing, creating, painting, decoupaging and sawing and, since this blog will be an honest take on things, there is also a fair amount of tripping, spilling and swearing. Through this blog I hope to share with you the struggles and (hopefully) triumphs of a very non-businessy business person. I also hope to make this blog a resource for people who like to work with their hands and who are, like me, always looking at things and thinking “I could make that!” I’ve lived many places since I left Cheltenham Road; I currently live in Los Angeles California. So, with this preamble- Welcome to Cheltenham Road! Please come on over and make yourself comfortable – the place is always open.

45 responses »

  1. David, you are my favorite blogger! I wonder how these would look with some demonic animals instead of people?

  2. Thank you Thank you Thank you!!! I’ve been waiting for this tutorial since I saw your first post pertaining to these. I’m also thinking of maybe some demonic Santa’s, snowmen and the like! Why just decorate spooky at Halloween?? Ohhhh, some spooky “Man in the Moon” would be cool, too (and the animal idea ROCKS!)

  3. chris aka monkey

    david you are a genius.. this is the coolest spooky i have seen and i love spooky muuaaahhh i can’t wait to get all my crap together to do this and thanks for doing all the hard work for us xx

  4. So creepily fun (and perfect for my 12 year old son to make). Would it be weird creepy if I used a photo of my great grandparents? (fortunately/unfortunately they look very dour).

  5. Love these!! So unique. I can’t wait to make this the next (bonding, memory making, yes you have to, you know you love it) craft project with my grandchildren. Off to Dollar Tree. Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial!

  6. perfectly morbid and creepy–love it!


  7. These are so awesome…can’t wait to try it! Thanks for the great tutorial, too!

  8. I can’t quit laughing…at your humor. Obviously, you didn’t get the “grace” gene either (me too! maybe way back we’re related 🙂 I’ve got stories of my “experiences” working at the law firm…. Thanks for brightening my day, and giving a tutorial for the spooky candles.

  9. Awesome creepy notations! LOL! Love that dark humor! 😉 These are WAY cool and I must try them for one of my favorite holidays this year-Christmas. No, really I’ll try them for Halloween (also one of my favorite holidays.)

  10. Very very cool and so well explained how to make them.

  11. So….. For those of without time/talent/time (did I mention time?), will these be available for purchase from your Etsy Store?

  12. David, these are so amazing! Thanks for the tutorial! Just wondering… why are these only ok for battery operated light? Is it because some paint got inside the candle jar and it is flammable?

    • So glad you like them Sarah! I’m probably just erring on the side of caution with regards to the electric tealights. Since Mod Podge (the adhesive I used to hold the images in place and seal them) is, basically, a form of glue my concern was that if the actual flame heated up the glass you ran the risk of the Mod Podge melting a bit. Also, as you mentioned, it’s almost impossible not to get some paint on the inside of the candle holder – I have no idea if the heated up fumes would be particularly toxic (it certainly would be a very small amount if so) but figured why take the chance. Hope that helps!

  13. I think this is the best tutorial I’ve ever read! Plus the candled look great!

  14. LOVE this and am SO going to do it for my party this year! Thanks for the idea and detailed directions!!! 🙂

  15. Hi David! I’m Eva from Barcelona and I found an awesome idea your Halloween Candles! Last year I made a few Jack’o’lantern candles but this year I would like to try the creepy victorian one. You have made an excellent work, thank you very much for inspiring me! Just a couple of questions, about the modge podge, I have super Podge gloss at home, it would be useful as well? And once that the photographs are pasted, should I cover them with podge? Best regards from Barcelona!

    • HI Eva! I’m so glad you like the project idea. Any version of Mod Podge should work. With the glossy version you’ll just get a bit more shine on the final project (which would be fine and might actually be better now that I think about it). And yes, once the pictures are attached and dry I do a final coat of Mod Podge to seal them (just for durability). Again, any Mod Podge formula would work for the seal. Hope that helps but don’t hesitate to ask if you have any other questions. Have a great Halloween season and if you make the candles send some pics!

  16. What a fun idea!! And thank you for the details! I hate finding a cool project with details missing! Oh, and thanks for making me laugh out loud! I’m looking for pics right now and there are some super creepy ones out there!

    • Thanks Heather. I actually used creepy,old black an white photos of clowns on the ones I did this year! Freaked myself out. If you make any please send pics!

      • I made 12 yesterday for my coworkers! I only put one image on each one-mostly because I didnt print enough images off! Speaking of images, I found photography I didn’t know existed-postmortem photography! People pose with dead people!! I was super creeped out by it but couldn’t stop looking and printed the images! Lol! It will make my votive holders even more creepy and scary! I took some pics but can’t figure out how to add them to comments :/

      • Ohh, that sounds majorly creepy. Well done! I’m so glad you made some. If you have any time send some pics to my email ( I’d love to see what you’ve done.

  17. Hello. LOVE this idea. I know you said you used a laser printer but what kind of paper did you use We tired it and used just regular printer paper but the images were too translucent.

    • Hi Julie. Good question and I’m sorry you’re having trouble.
      I’m not well versed in the various brands/weights of paper etc. I use the basic, Staples brand for laser printers. I don’t know if it’s particularly thicker than other brands.
      Hope that helps.

  18. These came out amazing! Can’t wait to try!

  19. Gail Byreiter

    It looks as though you put the pictures on the outside of the jars. Wouldn’t they have looked better with them on the inside (seeing you’re using electric candles)? Just a thought.

  20. Reblogged this on aislynblayze and commented:
    These are great, & the instructions are perfectly clear. Now, me & my kids have a cool craft to get started on!!

    OH!! One thought that I had….I save old candle holders, jars, etc., I clean out the leftover wax, (I boil it out) & then you can repurpose it however you’d like! 😊 Also, to have a bit of something for a tealight to sit on inside the jar, you could use craft sand, small marbles, or even use wax beads to make a new candle in there. 👍 Just some thoughts! Thx for sharing!! 👻😊🎃👍

  21. I can’t wait to try this….LOVE IT!!

  22. I love these votives! Thank you for sharing. I’ve never used modge podge so I’m looking forward to trying this. Do you put the modge podge under the photos and then put them on the glass, also modge podge over them?

    • Thanks Becky. I drop the picture (printed on a toner based printer) in a dish of water (it helps relax the fibers of the paper so it goes on more smoothly) for just a few seconds. While the pic soaks, using a foam brush, I brush the Mod Podge onto the glass. I then take the picture out of the water, gently shake off any excess water and then smooth it in place onto the glass. After it’s dried I then seal the whole thing with some more Mod Podge for a little extra protection. Hope that helps!

  23. Are the images glued on inside or outside of glass?

    • Hi Martha. I glue the images to the outside of the jar.
      You’re the second person that’s asked that. I apologize that it’s not clear – I’ll go back in and modify the tutorial. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

  24. Katherine Barney

    These are absolutely amazing! I don’t know how I’ll ever decide between all of these spectacular Daguerreotypes. I do have a question though: Have you tried to use real candles? What happens?

    Thanks for the brilliant idea!

    • Thanks Katherine! I have never tried actual candles. I’m probably over cautious but because I use Mod Podge Decoupage medium to attach the images and I’m concerned that the heat generated by a candle might make it get melty.

  25. Your efforts were well worth it. I love these! They will look really awesome in my old house this Halloween.


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