Introduction: Tea Light Lamps (an Easy Last-Second Gift)

Picture of Tea Light Lamps (an Easy Last-Second Gift)

Make a last-second gift, with long drink glasses (possibly used ones), tracing paper (or inkjet transparencies) and tee lights. It's really easy!

You can change of design whenever wanted, or revert the glasses to their initial function.

How are the candles placed and lit? read on...

If you like this instructable, please vote for it! TiA.

UPDATE Jan 13, 2010: Runner-up position in the Homemade Holidays Contest!  A big thank you to all who voted for this entry!

Step 1: Needed Stuff

Picture of Needed Stuff
  • Tracing paper, or inkjet transparency sheets
  • Narrow and tall glasses (thick enough to contain a tea light), as straight as possible
  • Tea lights
  • Steel wire (1.2mm thick), or brass or copper wire (2.5mm thick)
  • Clear adhesive tape

  • Cutting mat
  • Utility knife
  • Pencil, cissors, ruler
  • Pliers
  • Laser printer (for tracing paper) or inkjet printer (for inkjet transparencies), and computer

Step 2: Make Candle Holder

Picture of Make Candle Holder

Bend the wire as shown to hold the candle safely.

Optionally, add a bead at the top end, and stick it carefully with epoxy, reliability counts here!

Step 3: Measure Glass, Design and Print Tracing Paper Sheets

Picture of Measure Glass, Design and Print Tracing Paper Sheets
With a paper band, mark and measure the upper and lower diameters, and the height of the glass. Add 5mm to each length.

In your favorite drawing software (e.g. OpenOffice Draw), create a trapeze of measured sizes to mark the borders, and import a picture of your choice. Size it to fit into the trapeze.

Personally, since I only had tracing paper on hand, and after some trials, I choose some black/white Japaneses patterns:
  • tracing paper prints best with a laser printer (with inkjet, it will form a roll when still wet).
  • The contrast is maximum, with lots of black areas (which will give a more intimate atmosphere);
  • tracing paper is a great diffuser on white areas.
With inkjet overhead transparencies, you can use any colors you like. Instead of white areas, use light colors to serve as diffuser.

Step 4: Cut and Place Sheet

Picture of Cut and Place Sheet
  1. Cut the bottom side, and one vertical side
  2. Stick tape on the inner side as shown (see image notes)
  3. Wrap the glass and stick the paper to the tape. The paper is sticked to itself, not to the glass. Align the paper to the bottom end of the glass
  4. Cut off excess paper on the top end of the glass
  5. Remove the glass, cut off excess paper, put back the glass into the paper
  6. (UPDATE 2009-12-27) When becoming warm, the tape might come off by itself. Apply one or two small drops of glue to fix it.
That's it!

Step 5: Done!

Picture of Done!
Use the holder to raise the candle and light it. Enjoy your lamps.

Candles are no toys, handle with caution
Never leave unattended

Thanks for reading. If you like this instructable, make some and post your best ones!



ixtacoatl (author)2016-01-08

hi, laxap

i totally dig your project. i went through the comments to see if anybody had inquired about using tissue paper and decoupage glue. i was surprised that they went as far back as six years. i made this other instructable a few years back, and was wondering how you felt it would work out with your project. this way you didn't have to worry about the tape coming loose.

congrats on a sweet ible!

jeanniel1 (author)2016-01-06

Great idea!

timweaver17 (author)2009-12-21

is it possible to use wax paper or something like that?

laxap (author)timweaver172009-12-21

I don't think that you can print on wax paper.

Maybe you can print on regular paper, and, as a very final step, carefully oil it to make it translucent. I don't know what will happen to the ink... I suggest you to try and tell us.

A no-printing variant (see picture below, and notice the spiral sign): you can use translucent decorative paper, possibly textured. If you want to make signs, you will need patience, an x-acto knife, and to glue the paper to the glass.

Jaie (author)laxap2009-12-22

 Actually, you can very easily print with an inkjet printer on wax paper. I know many people use that for making transfers to go on fabric. I'd think if anything the concept might open even more decorating

Catley (author)Jaie2015-12-24

Jaie, if you are still watching this thread, thank you for the link. I might use it sometime to make transfers. But I think people should be let know that it is not wax paper that is used for that purpose. The site you link to uses freezer paper; the two are not the same. When I was a kid, before there was freezer paper (so far as I know), there was wax/waxed paper, and that was what mothers used to wrap kids' sandwiches. I've never tried, but think it would be too waxy to print on.

mrsnone (author)Catley2015-12-25

Would that be like parchment paper?

timweaver17 (author)laxap2009-12-21

Yeah, I found some semi-transparent paper laying around. I was just looking for options that didn't involve spending 30+ dollars on 50+ sheets of clear plastic just to make 3. But I also came up with an alternative to buying 2.5 mm wire. (what gauge is that by the way?) But I had some somewhat fine copper wire that I folded over 4 times, and then put an end in an eye hook and then grabbed the other end with needlenose pliers, and i then put the eye hook in the drill and spun the wire to make a thicker wire, once again so I didn't need to go buy tons of wire for a small project, because I had the fine wire already. Great instructible, I will post pictures of my results when I am finished.

milki (author)timweaver172010-06-19

Another easy alternative if you don't care about the wire gauge is to use wire coat hangars. They are pretty thick but they still get the job done.

Manuel-diaz made it! (author)2015-12-24

I made a music-themed one, but instead I used to print the design to a transparency sheet (The ones used for this and cut the tracing paper according to the shape needed to blur the light coming from the candle. I'll be my xmas gift for my crush. Thank you very much!

laxap (author)Manuel-diaz2015-12-24

It looks wonderful. Will be surely much appreciated!

Manuel-diaz (author)laxap2015-12-24

Here is a cylindrical box I made for this gift. If anyone would like a tutorial about it, let me know.

Manuel-diaz (author)2015-12-22

I am using 145grs Tracing paper, but I can't find any business in which I can print my Pattern. Using this kind of paper on printers is the same as using regular bond paper? I mean, the printer shouldn't have any trouble printing it, should it?

TeresaM7 (author)2015-12-22

Wow, wonderful! I'll definitely try this!

enuguri139 (author)2015-12-17

I have made it, when I am in high school, but instead of using a glass I have preferred to use a thin acrylic sheet by rolling it to a cylinder and use. And for the design I have designed in Photoshop.

I really like the black and white designs. Consider floral images for designs or go for the abstract transparent images.

Michelle MooreW (author)2015-12-17

I made something like this all the time but i took a photo the person, their family, etc, and copy the image in black and white onto vellum. I usually use a shorter glass, check dollar tree they have tons of options. Then i cut the vellum to fit the glass and use spray glue to adhere it, after an hour use a spray sealer which gives it a gloss . It becomes permanent and everyone who gets them always thinks i had them made somewhere. Big hit with parents when you put their kids on them.

Thruig (author)2014-01-19

Wow! Great idea snd nice work! Thanks for share ;-)

nroberts bodekor (author)2013-06-21

These are Beautiful... I am actually going to print out inverted silhouettes of our children and see how it would look! Love it!

herquiltness (author)2010-11-30

What a great quick way to get a design fix for the creator! You could use butcher paper (waxy on one side and CHEAP - I use it for hand appliqué all the time) because it will go through an inkjet printer, but not sure about the translucency.

Another idea would be to use an exacto knife to cut out shapes/designs on black paper and put tissue paper behind it when applying to the glass. I think the little beaded candle-lifter is the precious cherry on top.

Great ible!

Elle_C (author)herquiltness2011-01-26

This is a great idea. I have some tall cylinder vases from Michaels that I'd love to try this on.

craftyv (author)2010-12-25

Beautiful. I love the whole aesthetics of these elegant lights. I have used a "pretend candle" that I bought for $2 at a bargain shop. It works well and there are no worries about fire. Look out for them. I also love the idea that you can change the "picture" as required, for eg. A Christmas theme, the colour of your table setting and so on. Well done.

ChristyDurr (author)2010-11-13

I downloaded the OpenOffice and I am in the Draw but cannot find out how you got the trapazoid figure or even in the perspective view. Please help.

laxap (author)ChristyDurr2010-11-18

1. Import a bitmap (icon, or menu: Insert -> Picture -> From File)
2. Resize it if needed (hold shift and drag corner to keep aspect ratio)
3. Select it, right-click, choose: Convert -> To 3D
4. Menu: Modify -> Rotate
5. Move the right-side handle (red dot)

Does it help?

ruthdeb (author)2010-10-10

I think maybe you mean "trapezoid" instead of "trapeze?" Not trying to be nitpicky, but it took me a minute to understand what you meant... I get it now though -- and g.o.r.g.e.o.u.s idea made of household items. LOVE IT.

milki (author)2010-06-19

My tracing paper keeps on jamming the laserjet. Is there a specific kind of tracing paper I need or a special laserjet?

raee33 (author)2010-06-05

hi ther the winderfull :)

dchrist7 (author)2010-02-28

 Ive been looking for glasses similar to the ones you used, did you just have them lying around or did you buy them from somewhere? i think the tall, clear, cylindrical, flat based style has run its course, i cant even find any on Craigslist :( If anyone knows where to buy some for cheap, please let me know!

threedollarbill (author)2010-02-26

Love this. I never even thought about the holder part. haha I get pretty frustrated lighting a tea candle and trying to drop it in without disaster!!

mvs10 (author)2010-02-22

Super Idea! Thanks!

luvit (author)2010-01-14

 i burnt my lip    ):

laxap (author)luvit2010-01-14

(-;  It's what happens when you try to drink hot wax... and don't swallow the candle holder!

capricorn (author)2010-01-10

This is easy, elegant, quick, cheap and awesome.

The mark of a perfect 'ible my friend and you get a patch for doing it with open source software.


laxap (author)capricorn2010-01-10

Capricorn, thank you very very much for your nice comment and patch!

Quality open source free software (as well as hardware, and DIY) rules.

RESHMID (author)2010-01-03

this is an awesome gift idea,,thanks guys

rdk (author)2009-12-28

Laxap, how long can these candles burn without snuffing themselves? As cool as this is (and it's an excellent idea) you forgot to factor in that CO2 is heavier than air, and therefore the candle will eventually snuff itself.

At least they'll burn longer than when the glass is inverted. ;)

laxap (author)rdk2009-12-29

The experienced showed that the candles burn until they run out of wax...
No CO2 issue: it seems to be compensated by the convection effect.

rdk (author)laxap2009-12-29

Interesting, I figured the height of the glass could have smothered it. You have my apologies. It's cool and it works.

waterbaby (author)rdk2009-12-29

As long as a flame has oxygen it will burn.  If the glass had a top on it, eventually the candle would consume the available oxygen and die out, but since the glass is open the flame won't go out until the wax is used up.

laxap, this is a great idea beautifully executed -- I would never have thought to do this with a tealight in a tall, narrow container, but your candleholder is a perfect solution to getting that little tin in and out, and with a bead or decorative twist is also an attractive, even elegant, finishing detail.

Greg Madison (author)2009-12-28

Fabulous, I really like it ! ^^

laxap (author)Greg Madison2009-12-29

Great to hear this!  As said, your Tron cube was an inspiration.

spylock (author)2009-12-27

Very nice.

lil_brown_bat (author)2009-12-27

These look fantastic!  I think this would work really well as a kids' craft, with the kids tracing a pattern on the tracing paper (kids looooove to trace!) and adults doing the assembly.  If you did all the prep work (cut the paper to size, assembled candle holders, etc.) this could be a quick craft with a very satisfying result.  Thanks for a great idea -- I plan to try it soon!

laxap (author)lil_brown_bat2009-12-27

Yes, kids love to trace!

Post some results soon!

ark19 (author)2009-12-27

This is a nice idea :)

timweaver17 (author)2009-12-25

 here are mine. i decided to use battery powered tea lights, and had some trouble with the paper i used and inkjet printers, but it all went well. 

timweaver17 (author)timweaver172009-12-25


laxap (author)timweaver172009-12-25

Hey, they look very good! I like the nature motives. Good job!

The glasses proportion is very elegant.

Thanks for posting!

PS: with battery powered lights, do you still need the wires?

timweaver17 (author)laxap2009-12-26

 if  you want to tip them out everytime, then no. but I did include the wires just for the heck. thanks!

SeaLion (author)timweaver172009-12-27

From afar (in terms of distance from monitor), it looked like frosted glass tea candle holders!! If printing quality is decent, I reckon that one can use the printed side as outside to give the 'extra' frosted glass effect!

Rajabbek (author)2009-12-22

Lord, I do not know English, but the fact that you do not describe in words! Specifically there is no need to describe in words what you have created! I have to translate your comment in the translator GOOQLE, to express my admiration! Thank you

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