Make Ice Candles

A how-to article by Gail Lee Martin that was originally published on the eHow site.

ice candles on pinterest

Ice candle examples that I found on Pinterest and pinned to my Craft Ideas board there.

“My son used to make these striking candles back in the seventies. I think it’s a craft that’s worth bringing back. The finished candle looks quite sculptural, but they’re really pretty easy to make. Here’s how to do it.

Things You’ll Need:

  • cardboard milk carton
  • candle wax
  • a single candle (or wicking)
  • ice cubes
  • a double boiler

ice-cubes-pixabay

  1. Start with a clean cardboard milk carton, the quart-sized ones. Open the top so it’s square all the way up. Once you’ve made a few of these, try it with the larger milk cartons.
  2. Heat the wax until it’s liquified. This is what you use the double boiler for. The wax chunks go in the top and the water goes down below. You can also use one of those candlemaking machines to melt the wax.
  3. Place a wick (tied to a crossbar) in the center. The crossbar will rest on the top of the milk carton. The wick needs to go all the way to the bottom. Tie a flat washer to the bottom of the wick to give it weight and make it stay straight.
  4. Pour in a layer of wax to form the bottom of the candle. Let it set slightly. This gives it a solid base. Keep the wick as straight as possible.
  5. Pour the melted wax into the milk carton, then drop in the ice cubes. Don’t splash the hot wax.
    The ice cubes will melt, but they are cold enough to start hardening the wax. There will be interesting crevices and open spaces throughout the candle from the ice.
  6. He also added bits and pieces of crayons for unique colors. (remove the wrappers)crayons-pixabay.jpg
  7. Don’t try to move the candle until it has cooled and the wax has hardened.
  8. When the wax was set, he poured out the water from the melted ice cubes and tore the box from around his creation. They were so beautiful when lit as the overall candle had holes here and there that let the light shine in so many different ways.

milk-carton pixabay

Tips & Warnings

  • Use great caution with hot wax as it can burn you badly.
  • I wouldn’t work on this project with children around or any distractions.
  • Do not move the candle until the wax has hardened completely.
  • Check Pinterest by searching “ice candle” to find examples and more instructions.

The Wooden Nickels

“Don’t take any wooden nickels.” This old saying wasn’t adhered to by Gail and Clyde Martin. They actively sought out wooden nickels for their collection which they displayed on their living room wall.

wooden nickle collection

Gail and Clyde Martin’s wooden nickel collection.

They had vintage ones and new ones too. Sometimes local businesses would print up some as an advertising gimmick. Gail and Clyde found so many that they wouldn’t all fit into their display cases.

wooden nickels - advertising

An assortment of wooden nickels

Here is a sampling of ones they picked up over the years.

  • Dalton Museum – Coffeyville, KS
  • Greenwood County Historical Museum – Eureka, KS
  • Pony Express Museum – Marysville, KS
  • Chamber of Commerce – Waterville, KS
  • Madison Kansas Centennial

Friends and family found some further afield and sent them to boost the collection. For their 40th wedding anniversary, their daughter, Virginia had wooden nickels printed for them to give to the guests.

anniversary wooden nickel

Their specially printed wooden nickel for their 40th anniversary.

I’m sure Gail researched the history of wooden nickels and found that the earliest ones go back to the 1880s and were issued at times of coin shortages. They became popular in the 1930s when the tokens were issued at fairs and festivals to commemorate the event. Merchants also issued them offering something free if the wooden token was presented in their store.

Have you ever found a wooden nickel?

Plants From Your Pantry

(post by Virginia Allain) Last year in the spring, I took cuttings from some sweet potatoes that sprouted in my pantry. Covering them with a little soil in my patio pots enabled them to start growing. Before long they sent out nice vines that trailed nicely down the sides of the pots.

Sweet potato vine on the patio

Sweet potato vine on the patio

Now and then, I trimmed them back so they wouldn’t get too jungle-like. It reminded me of childhood times when Mom showed us how a carrot top or sweet potato cutting would put out roots if you placed it in some water.

That fall, I turned up the soil in some of the planters to put in fresh plants. To my surprise, my trowel struck something large and solid. Digging around the object, I turned up a large sweet potato. I checked all the pots where I’d put the cuttings and ended up with about 5 meals worth of the tubers.

Cooking sweet potatoes

I boil the sweet potatoes, then remove the skin, and mash them. Then I add cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, and brown sugar before baking it in a casserole dish.

I don’t usually grow vegetables in my containers on the patio, but since it was so easy to raise some sweet potatoes, I planted more this year. My crop wasn’t quite as big, but it took only a minimal amount of effort and it was free.

Have you tried planting anything from your kitchen scraps?

 

Pass-Along Plants

I saw a post on Facebook that resonated with me. Here’s what Linda H.R. was lamenting:

Anyone besides me remember the days of “Passalong Plants”? These were plants that were handed from one person to another. Nearly every time we would visit a relative or they would visit us…there was always a walk in the garden “to see what was blooming or coming up.” There would be newspaper to wrap them in to take a cutting or some plants home.

My first home after I got married…my parents visited with a cardboard box with irises wrapped in newspaper to plant which I did all up the side of the yard. Another memory was my grandfather telling me this this was his mother’s rose…I never thought about keeping that tradition going. I wish I had a cutting of that rose now.

Gail Lee Martin was one who loved to give away cuttings from her garden and divide her iris to share. Yes, they were wrapped in damp newspaper to keep them happy until they reached their new home.

Now, I have my own version of pass-along plants. When I take cuttings or divide plants, I put them in a shady place in my driveway. Then I put a notice with photos on the Next Door Neighbors page for my retirement community. Before very long, all the plants get picked up.

The most recent batch included red sisters which were too leggy, some moses-in-the-cradle, an asparagus fern, and some baby elephant ears. I hope all plant lovers keep the tradition going of sharing their plants.

Free plants for my neighbors.

Photos of the Wagon Wheel Rugs

Post by Virginia Allan
My mom and dad tried out a lot of crafts after retirement. One that they revived was the almost-lost art of the wagon wheel rug. The metal rim of an old wagon wheel serves as the base for tying the strips of cotton cloth before you start weaving.

They used old sheets torn into strips and turned out many colorful rag rugs woven on the wagon wheel. Although these are intended as throw rugs for the floor, I’ve seen people use them on a round table or to drape across the back of a sofa or chair.

They even demonstrated this technique at various pioneer days and at local history museums. Mom and Dad would be thrilled that a growing number of people are taking up the weaving of wagon wheel rugs.

There’s now a Facebook group where those making these round rag rugs are helping others to learn the craft. The folks would be so pleased that the skill is being shared with new people. Almost 200 people have joined the Facebook group and are sharing tips on making the rugs.

Photos of Gail and Clyde Martin’s Wagon Wheel Rugs

I asked my family to send me photos of their rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin. My sisters and nieces shared the pictures below. Thank goodness for email and digital cameras which made it easier for them to send these along to me.

It seems that family cats are also liking the wagon wheel rugs. They are just right to curl up on for a cat nap, it seems.

blue-rug-and-gray-yarn-cat-and-basket-nikki.jpg

Nikki’s cat and blue rug

nikki's rug blue

A wider view of the blue rug

Here are some more rugs from the family.

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orange and white wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin

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Close-up of the weaving

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Spokes of the wheel

I’m leaving the photos full-size so anyone trying to make these kinds of rugs can see the details.

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Wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin

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Detail of the center of the rug

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Detail of the spokes of the wagon wheel rug

Even more wagon wheel rugs –

 

I Love Cemeteries

I’ve always found old cemeteries fascinating. You never know what you’ll find there. Perhaps I inherited this interest from my mother. Gail Lee Martin spent many hours in graveyards while tracking down ancestors and looking for birth and death dates to add to the family tree.

Pause for a minute to scan the moss-covered stones and trace a finger over the engraved lettering.

longmeadow cemetery

I visited this cemetery in Longmeadow, Massachusetts some years ago.

Who was this person that lies beneath this gravestone? What was his life like and why did he die? Sometimes you find family groupings and can piece together the family’s story. Perhaps the father died in the war, leaving a young widow. Nearby is a stone for their child who died too young. Was it an accident, an epidemic or other misfortune?

child grave ky

A child’s grave in Frankfort, KY.

I’m always intrigued by the long-lived ones, octogenarians and even ones who lived into their nineties. It’s particularly striking when the stone is for someone who lived in the 1700s or the 1800s. In those days, the life span was much shorter, but you find some who were remarkably long-lived.

As a genealogist, I’m usually looking for specific ancestors as I wander through a cemetery. Still, I can’t resist checking out other people’s dead relatives while I’m there.

There’s something timeless and soothing about a sunny day of wending ones way among the marble markers that represent lives of those long gone. Here’s an old graveyard that I discovered in New Hampshire called the Perkins Hill Cemetery. You can read about the interesting graves I found there.

I’ve even stopped by a cemetery on a snowy day. This photo is from Ohio where I lived in the 1970s. The sky was threatening more snow and I couldn’t resist stopping to capture it with my camera. I wish I’d had a better camera back then.

ohio cemetery

A cemetery in winter near Chardon, Ohio.

Do you find graveyards scenic and interesting?

 

(all photos by Virginia Allain)

Mom And Tiny Houses

On a rainy day last week, I got out my miniature birdhouses and decorated them with paint. It’s the sort of project that Mom would have had a lot of fun with. Gail Martin was an excellent crafter and there are many memories of her sharing her talent by teaching her children and later the grandchildren.

Last year, I’d picked up some miniature unpainted birdhouses from Michael’s for $1 each. What a bargain. This seemed the perfect time to pretty them up. I already had a stash of leftover oil paints from a paint-by-number kit. Remember those? That gave me a variety of colors to use on the tiny houses.

 

 

Here’s my first attempt, using some red fabric to cover the roof and adding some heart-shaped flowers. I’ll spray this with a sealant and hope it holds up for a summer outside if I put it in a sheltered area.

The second one ended up with a birch bark theme. It was a sheet of bark that I found in the woods last year. I’m such a packrat, but now I had a use for it.

 

I was surprised at how easy it was to cut the bark with ordinary scissors. My glue gun worked fine for securing the bark to the walls of the faux birdhouse. Do you think it looks OK with a white roof or should I paint that?

These are going into my planting areas to add a little color in a few spots too shady for most plants. I’ll tuck in some moss and a little fern for a fairy garden. That’s a huge gardening trend the last few years. I haven’t seen any fairies but maybe the availability of houses will attract some.

Fairy Garden with plants and little house

The plants are mouse-ear hawkweed, red crest lichen (also called British Soldiers), and a cutting from another plant with purple flowers.

I’m sure that if fairy gardening had been thought of in the 1950s and 1960s, Gail would have loved the concept and set her children to collecting pebbles and moss to make our own miniature gardens somewhere in the yard.

You can read more about fairy gardening online. Perhaps your grandchildren would like to create one the next time they visit. They could make little houses out of bark, collect stones for a path, make a little fence out of twigs. It’s great fun for kids or even grown-ups. Don’t wait for a rainy day.

Tiny fairy house

The round fairy house needs a few more plants and some moss to go with the fern.