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!)I 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.
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:
- 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
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).The moment your done spraying wrap the candle holder in the rag pressing it into the paint with your hands.Give it just a second or two and then remove the rag.You’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).
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. 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 spot and it’s time for Mod Podging the pic in place to the outside of the candle holder. I 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.But dim the lights a bit and let the spooky really kick inYou can see how the textured paint allows some of the light through both behind and under the pictures.I 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!I hope this is helpful. If I’ve left anything too vague let me know and I’ll address it.