Introduction: ZEN Toilet Roll Tea Light Stands, Table & Calendar

About: graphic designer, composer, musician

Even when my friends mostly see me as an ‘almost-all-times-activist’, this is only one part of my personality – another Wolfram is more calm, thoughtful and reflective. So frequently I do meditation in several ways. For these moments in stillness it is nice to have special places outdoors but also inside. This ZEN candle stand can help you to create such a place at your home or if you run a yoga studio or something like this – even there! You can of course also do it without any spiritual philosophically background because itself it is a nice object and easy to make. And there is also a really cool add-on: A somehow strange calendar poster: I will later spot on this but for now: Let’s start making this simple yet very beautiful thing!



  • cutter
  • pencil
  • rulers
  • brush, only if you make the table
  • saw, only if you make the table
  • teaspoon


  • 5 toilet rolls
  • 8 tea lights (candles)
  • wrappping paper
  • thin cardboard, if available
  • wallpaper adhesive (glue, Methylan)
  • wood lath, only for the table, ideal dimensions: 2,2 x 4,8 x 70 cm
  • black color, only for the table
  • old newspaper, for protecting the working area
  • sand

Step 1: Finding Good Proportions

Simple objects – like the ZEN candle stands – look good when you keep really everything simple, especially proportions. One method is to make 1/2’s and 1/3’s – and so I did. The hight of a toilet roll in Austria is ~ 99 mm (diameter: 40 mm), so we have 33 mm (1/3), 66 mm (2/3), 99 mm (3/3 = full hight) and half hight: ~ 49 mm.

Step 2: Cutting – 8 Out of 5

This is how the miracle works: 2 rolls full hight, 1 roll cut in the middle and 2 rolls cut at one third of the hight and the other part is automatically two thirds – that easy!

I made a little helper: This white paper ring is 1/3 hight of the roll. Using this ring I first draw the cutting line on the roll before cutting, also this ring can be used for drawing the line in the middle of one roll. It is not totally necessary to glue the ring but it makes life easier – best for this is a non-permanent tape but at least ‘every’ glue will work.

Step 3: Making Bottoms

If thin cardboard is available use this if not a not too thin paper will also work – for closing the rolls: this is the bottom. Draw the circles on thin cardboard a) using a roll, or b) using a compass, if available. For each roll you need a piece: draw a line with diameter of the roll (40 mm) PLUS one bigger circle: diameter + about 30 mm. Cut out at the outer line and eventually scratch softly along a little bit inside the diameter line. Then cut out little ‘teeth’ to make a ‘gear’ and bend the teeth backwards. Then turn the bottom upside down, place it on the end of a roll and press it softly down till the teeth are no more looking out of the roll. If the bottom is fitting tight there is no need for glueing it. I warmly recommend first to cut only one bottom to see how it works and if any adjustments – for example: smaller / wider diameters, length of the teeth – are necessary before you do the rest. At least cut out of wrapping paper circles of the same size, make some cuts (~ 1cm) from outside towards the center and glue it on the bottom from the other side, means: from the side you will later fill in the sand.

Place the paper (with wallpaper glue on it) on top of the roll and use a pencil to push it down quickly (~1/2 second) so it can land flat on the bottom. Hopefully! Use the pencil to place it on the bottom and make the roll totally dense from inside (fill the little gaps between bottom and wall), so no sand will come out later. Please have a look to the reference images of this step.

Step 4: Covering With Paper

Preparing the wallpaper adhesive: Please refer to the instructions on the package of your glue. In general it is a powder you have to mix with water, the one I use is 2g (one teaspoon) / 100 ml; after mixing you have to wait about 10 minutes then mixing again and you are ready to go.

Preparing the paper: I like brown wrapping paper very much, so I used this – especially for the elegant lines. And a second kind: This is maybe the cheapest paper in the world – nearly used as fill material in every parcel you receive from Amazon. This thin grey paper looks like cement / beton and this is a great look for covering objects like the ZEN candle stands and other things.

Paper dimensions: Length = coming around the roll + 15 mm overlapping; this is the same for all rolls ~ 145 mm. Hight = hight of the roll + 15 mm.

Glue the wrapping papers: Proceed glueing by following the instructions of your adhesive. Normally it is like this: a) Cover your piece totally with the adhesive, it should be really ‘wet’, b) wait a few minutes, c) cover again with adhesive, and d) place the piece.

Place the piece: Start by making the lower edge of the roll and the lower edge of the wrapping paper corresponding and wind the paper around the roll. Upper edge: make small cuts into the wrapping paper around the roll but do not cut into the roll itself. Then bend the ‘paper teeth’ inside the roll so they are glued on the wall inside the roll.

Step 5: Fill With Sand

… it’s only this! Fill in the sand until the roll is almost full ~ 5 mm under the upper edge. You can flatten and press the sand very very softly with a teaspoon to make it looking nice.

Make a little funnel of paper – this helps a lot filling in the sand without messing around :-)

Why stay the rolls open and are not closed with cement or so?
Because neither the shape of the rolls nor the ones of the candles are metrically done so perfectly, so for placing a candle on a stand the most upper part of the stand should be a bit flexible.

Step 6: Making the Table

This table is super simple done with a wooden lath – for dimensions have a look at my sketch. Cut out the 3 pieces, glue them (also possible with wallpaper adhesive; if you have a special wood glue – please use this!) and if you like: paint it black – or any color you like; less saturated shades (darker colors) are better for meditation than ‘loud’ colors.

Step 7: Place the Tea Lights

Place the tea light candles onto the stands, the stands on the table … the more symmetrically you do this the more beautiful it looks :-) … and find a good area where you can place the table.

Step 8: An Outstanding Calendar and How It Works

This is a special add-on for the ZEN tea light stands and the table – print it out and use it if you like!

How it works:
This calendar is showing the day of a month by providing different configurations of the tea light candles standing on the table. You only have to know how to count the candles – in a special way it can be seen as a simple calculator! Depending on the specific hight each roll is counting for a different amount of days. From lowest to highest roll: 1, 2, 4, 8 days. All other numbers are represented by summarizing, that means: 3 = the lowest candle plus the second lowest candle; 7 = the lowest candle + the second lowest + the highest; and so on.

The poster is showing
all the possible and needed configurations for 30 days of a month; and 31 is the mirrored configuration of 30.
I made a version with a big illustration of the complete ZEN table on top of the sheet and one version without, please use the one you like, orig. PDF dimensions are DIN A4 ( 210 x 297 mm) – if you can do x-large printing, you can scale up the calendar to your preferred size: it is vector graphic, means it stays sharp in any way.

Using this for daily meditation, you have a different configuration for each day – some kind of progress during a month, from a very small light to full when all 8 candles are lighted …

Step 9: ZEN Salabim – Done!

… and finally this it. :-)
When you make it and especially when you have it in use – it would make me glad when you let me know!

One important note for the security of yourself and others:
As always when handling with open fire:

  • Please be careful and conscious at all and all the time.
  • Do not leave a room empty when lighted candles are inside.
  • Do never leave children alone in a room with lighted candles or with any other kind of open fire.

Enjoy your ZEN !

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