Concrete Balloon Candle Holder

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Introduction: Concrete Balloon Candle Holder

About: 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!

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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4 People Made This Project!

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27 Discussions

Hi, I kind of like this project and planning to use this for my daughter's school project, how about using plaster of paris? do you think its possible?

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!

3 replies

I thought the same thing about the led's. Sounds like your yard is awesome!

That sounds so lovely. Thank you for the wonderful description of your wisteria!

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 :)

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

2 replies

I am going to make this concrete pillow idea for each balloon I make to customize it's nesting place and probably glue them together. If the pillow is bigger for the big ones and smaller for the little ones, I think they should blend wonderfully.

Concrete Pillow Candle Holders

by Helixivy in lighting

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

brilliant, great instructions! ThNks you!

Boni

This is very cool! What would you use to color the outside of it?

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WH2

1 year ago

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?

2 replies

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

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?

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

3 replies

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

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

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boocat

1 year ago

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