Introduction: Concrete Balloon Candle Holder

These striking candle holders have a rugged yet elegant shape, and are a great addition to your outdoor area, or on your dining room table. The delicate shape is made from using a balloon as a mold to cast concrete, creating an unusual shape. Each mold will be unique, and there's no limit to the shape variations you can achieve with this method of casting.

This project is a companion to the free Concrete Class. Learn everything you need to know about getting started with concrete today!

Let's get casting!

Watch a live webinar of this project! Check out this webinar I led on June 1st 2017 to see me create this project in real-time.

We also have to more webinars coming this month, and you can sign up for those by filling out this form!

Step 1: Setup

Most concrete bought from the home store will have aggregate, since that's what gives concrete it's compression strength. For this project we'll want to remove the aggregate to give a smooth finish, and because there's no need for any compression strength from the aggregate since these candle holders won't be under any load.

Removing aggregate was discussed in detail in my free Introduction To Concrete class. Sieve the concrete to remove all the large and medium aggregate, leaving the cement and small aggregate.

The only other supply you'll need for this easy project any type of balloons.

Step 2: Balloon Support

To hold the balloon as we work on it we'll use the saved aggregate that was sieved earlier in a cup to act as a weight, the balloon will be held down by this weighted cup and make it much easier to work on.

I made a few concrete balloons so I portioned the aggregate into 3 cups. I find that disposable cups are best for messy projects like concrete, that way there's no fuss with cleanup.

Step 3: Secure Balloon

Inflate a balloon as large as you like and tie off the end.

In order to cover the balloon with concrete it will need to be secured so it doesn't move around. Orient the balloon so the tied end sits inside the cup with ballast prepared in the previous step, then secure it in place with a small piece of tape from the balloon to the cup.

Step 4: Apply Concrete to Mold

The easiest way to work with concrete and unusual molds is to use your hands. There's no tool that can match the dexterity and familiarity of your fingers, just make sure to wear gloves, as concrete will burn skin.

Gently plop gobs of cement on the top of the balloon, then tap the balloon to settle the concrete and spread it out.

Continue adding more concrete to the top and tapping until the concrete starts spilling over the sides and down towards the cup.

If any small sections of concrete start creeping faster than others you can carefully push it back upwards to prevent it breaking off. However, there really is no wrong way to do this, so let your design take whatever shape you like.

After concrete application let cure overnight.

Step 5: Remove From Mold

The balloon mold is thin and has a large surface area, so the concrete cured fast.

The balloon has pulled away a little from the cured concrete casting, and you may be able to pull the balloon out. However, it's easier to remove and less likely to break the fragile casting if you just pop the balloon.

Wear a face mask and eye protection, as the balloon can spray fine particles when it pops.

Step 6: Clean Inside of Mold

After removing the balloon carefully clean the inside of the concrete candle holder with a damp cloth.

Be gentle when handling the thin concrete castings, even though they are concrete they are still fragile. Even if a small portion of the candle holder breaks off it won't really matter, the irregular sides and organic shape of the concrete lends itself to minor mishaps.

Step 7: Paint

Painting the insides is an optional step, but will really elevate the look of the piece. From a functional perspective, lighter colors will help reflect light and make the concrete candle holders look even brighter.

I like the idea of glowing orbs in my garden, so I chose a metallic brush-on acrylic paint for my candle holders. Spray paint would also work. Any metallic or glitter paint would be a great choice for the interior paint

I had a few color choices on hand, so decided to try gold and bronze colors.

Step 8:

The last step is to add tea lights to each candle holder, depending on how large your casting is you might be able to fit 2 or even 3 tea lights inside and really boost the brightness.

Though these candle holders are fun any time of the day, they really stand out when the sun goes down.

Step 9: Wrap-Up

Using a balloon as a mold for concrete is deceptively simple, yet has a very big payoff. This is true for a lot of unusual molds for concrete, and this is just one example of how you can use everyday items as a mold to hold and shape your concrete as it cures. If you liked this project, be sure to head over to the free Concrete Class to find out what other great things you can do with concrete.

Happy making! :)

Did you make your own concrete candle holder? I want to see it!

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anita.oleksy made it! (author)2017-06-16

Do you have to grease the balloon?

mikeasaurus made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-06-16

I never have and they come out just fine :)

WH2 made it! (author)2017-05-25

I totally want to do this. However, you did mention that they were fragile. Is there a way that it could be strengthened so that it wasn't quite so fragile or brittle?

mikeasaurus made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-05-25

You could add fiberglass reinforecement. However, they will still be fragile as the walls are thin.

WH2 made it! (author)WH22017-05-25

Good point. I forgot about fiberglass. I may have to try that since I have some on hand. I almost wonder, and I may need to play with this, if you couldn't find (or make) a thin, more pliable epoxy and at least brush some on to add some holding power and some rigidity?

synthdust made it! (author)2017-05-25

So can't I just use cement instead of buying concrete and removing the aggregate?

mikeasaurus made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-05-25

You can use cement. I used concrete with the aggregate removed since that's what I had on hand.

synthdust made it! (author)synthdust2017-05-25

Ah. Okay. Maybe include that? I got some mortar mix, do you think that the aggregate in that will be too big?

mikeasaurus made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-05-25

Already included, it's in step 1 :)

JennaWrites made it! (author)2017-05-24

Brilliant and lovely! This weekend my husband and I are going to take a crack at making these with a bit of a changeup. Instead of putting tealights in, going to either drill a hole or make them WITH the hole already installed and thread L.E.D. fairy lights through. We have a gazebo that is roofed and walled with masses and masses of wisteria (gorgeous year round - early spring and we have gorgeous purple flowers cascading down and the rest of the time a rich green canopy) and english ivy. What it doesn't have is lighting - so the 'eggs' will nestled all through and solar powered L.E.D.'s. SO very excited about this project, I think it's going to be stunning in our yard. Thank you so much for putting this suggestion up. I even think we'll make loads of them, some for tea lights, but most for the L.E.D's - little bits of fairy magic all about the front and back yard.This is going to be so much fun!

mikeasaurus made it! (author)mikeasaurus2017-05-24

Glad you like them! I'm doing a live webinar of this project next week, June 1 @ 4pm PT. Check the intro for the link :)

boocat made it! (author)2017-05-24

That is just super-cool!! I must try this. They remind me of "thunder-eggs".Thank you for the tutorial.

JoãoP142 made it! (author)2017-05-23

Concrete must first completely dry before painting. Painting before that will result in breaking the paint. It can take several days. Since it's just a small portion it will probably dry in 2 weeks.

Alaskan Bev made it! (author)2017-05-23

Amazingly beautiful! Having the different light colors is an especially effective touch, rather than all white, all yellow, or whatever. The mottled orange is great, but even more effective because they are backgrounded by yellow and another light color. Looks like time to get busy!

DorlisG made it! (author)2017-05-23

Another thought. What if I made a flat base for them to sit in/on. Might make them stable.

Avatoon made it! (author)Avatoon2017-05-23

Maybe resting something on top but with support that it doesn't apply too much pressure to the balloon?

eddand made it! (author)2017-05-23

when working with stone I use a mix of 1 part lime to 2 parts portland. the lime helps the mix to adhere to a surface. lime makes it easier to work with. add sand or sphagnam moss to the mix if you want texture or bulk.

DorlisG made it! (author)2017-05-23

I live in the woods and think this would be great in the front yard. Two problems: coons and groundhogs. They have a habit of being nosey and knocking things over. If I made the concrete thicker, would that prevent them from breaking when knoocked over?

cshrock513 made it! (author)2017-05-23

What a wonderful idea. We are laying a small patio this summer and I am "so keeping some of the concrete for myself!" I already know where most of the lighting for my new patio is coming from!!!!!!!

LeslieGeee made it! (author)2017-05-23

Beautiful!!! Thank you for the inspiration!

Febee2 made it! (author)2017-01-07

I enjoyed making the candle holders. They were a lot of fun. I llike the creativity and how each one is different. I plan on making more when the snow clears ? this spring.

Manlogan made it! (author)2016-12-05

Still too cold

skidtz made it! (author)2016-10-30

Super great project. This was a great opportunity to try something weird and not worry about the outcome. And they came out great!

MadeByBarb made it! (author)2016-10-13

Very Nice! Another method is including a yarn or string:

Chitlange Sahas made it! (author)2016-08-02

never thought of using balloons that way.
Thanks for sharing.

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Bio: I'm Mike and I make crazy things at Instructables HQ in San Francisco. Follow me and try a few of my projects for yourself!
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