Tea Light Lamps (an Easy Last-Second Gift)




About: So many things to learn and make, so little time! I like things that are cool, useful, efficient, well crafted.

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

  • 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

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

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

  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!

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!


Runner Up in the
Homemade Holidays Contest



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66 Discussions


1 year ago



3 years ago

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 https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-uniq... 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!


3 years ago

Great idea!


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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.


Reply 3 years ago

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.


Reply 3 years ago

Would that be like parchment paper?


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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.


Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

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.


3 years ago

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?


3 years ago

Wow, wonderful! I'll definitely try this!


3 years ago

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

3 years ago

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.


5 years 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!


8 years ago on Introduction

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!

1 reply

Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

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


8 years ago on Step 5

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.


8 years ago on Step 3

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.