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!

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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
Screenshot-4775b.odg - Draw.png
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.
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Thruig1 year ago
Wow! Great idea snd nice work! Thanks for share ;-)
These are Beautiful... I am actually going to print out inverted silhouettes of our children and see how it would look! Love it!
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!
This is a great idea. I have some tall cylinder vases from Michaels that I'd love to try this on.
craftyv4 years ago
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.

ChristyDurr4 years ago
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)  ChristyDurr4 years ago
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?

ruthdeb4 years ago
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.
timweaver175 years ago
is it possible to use wax paper or something like that?
laxap (author)  timweaver175 years ago
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.
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.
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.
Jaie laxap5 years ago
 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
milki4 years ago
My tracing paper keeps on jamming the laserjet. Is there a specific kind of tracing paper I need or a special laserjet?
raee334 years ago
hi ther the winderfull :)
dchrist75 years ago
 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!
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!!
mvs105 years ago
Super Idea! Thanks!
luvit5 years ago
 i burnt my lip    ):
laxap (author)  luvit5 years ago
(-;  It's what happens when you try to drink hot wax... and don't swallow the candle holder!
capricorn5 years ago
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)  capricorn5 years ago
Capricorn, thank you very very much for your nice comment and patch!

Quality open source free software (as well as hardware, and DIY) rules.
RESHMID5 years ago
this is an awesome gift idea,,thanks guys
rdk5 years ago
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)  rdk5 years ago
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 laxap5 years ago
Interesting, I figured the height of the glass could have smothered it. You have my apologies. It's cool and it works.
waterbaby rdk5 years ago
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.
Fabulous, I really like it ! ^^
laxap (author)  Greg Madison5 years ago
Great to hear this!  As said, your Tron cube was an inspiration.
spylock5 years ago
Very nice.
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_bat5 years ago
Yes, kids love to trace!

Post some results soon!
ark195 years ago
This is a nice idea :)
timweaver175 years ago
 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. 
laxap (author)  timweaver175 years ago
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?
 if  you want to tip them out everytime, then no. but I did include the wires just for the heck. thanks!
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!
Rajabbek5 years ago
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
futeng5 years ago
Another thing someone can do, if they have more time and a stencil, is etch it using an etching chemical. Thanks for making this by the way. I'm making it, or a variation, for my mom.
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