A how-to article by Gail Lee Martin that was originally published on the eHow site.
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
a single candle (or wicking)
a double boiler
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
He also added bits and pieces of crayons for unique colors. (remove the wrappers)
Don’t try to move the candle until it has cooled and the wax has hardened.
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.
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.
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.
One of the finished rugs made by Gail and Clyde Martin – blue/white/yellow
Finished rug, still on the loom
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.
Nikki’s cat and blue rug
A wider view of the blue rug
Here are some more rugs from the family.
orange and white wagon wheel rug made by Gail and Clyde Martin
Close-up of the weaving
Spokes of the wheel
I’m leaving the photos full-size so anyone trying to make these kinds of rugs can see the details.
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.
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.
The round fairy house needs a few more plants and some moss to go with the fern.
Gail Lee Martin wrote this article for the eHow site telling how to make old light bulbs into Santa decorations. If you have some dead light bulbs, don’t toss them out.
How to Make a Santa Ornament from a Light Bulb
Here is a craft my daughter, Shannon, and I started making back in 1993. We took them to the Wesley employee’s craft fair. They were so cute and were very popular.
It’s a fun way to recycle burned out light bulbs. Here’s how to make them.
We took burned out light bulbs and turned them into Christmas tree ornaments. Start saving up bulbs now and ask your friends and family to save theirs for you too. You can also buy new ones if you can’t wait for them to burn out.
I spray painted the bulb white like Santa’s beard. Even though the bulb is whitish already, the spray paint gives a more even surface and color. It also hides the dark spot that burned out bulbs sometimes have.
Then I used a brush to hand-paint the screw top with red paint for his hat.
I hot-glued a gold string to the top to hang it with. Heavy gold thread or gold wire is fine for this or you can use red yarn.
Using canned snow, I put a rim around the red cap and some on the top for a ball.
Shannon painted and sketched on the expressive faces and added a realistic mustache with a swipe of white paint. Leftover paint-by-number paint or a kid’s paint kit works for this. You can draw on the eyes and details with permanent markers also.
Tips & Warnings
This makes recycling fun.
Check the Santa clip art site listed below in resources for ideas for Santa’s face. You can make jolly Santas, roly-poly Santas, stylized Santas, classic Santas, etc.
Post by Virginia Allain – This was an idea that I wanted to show Mom. I was sure she would be making these by the dozens in no time. These can go on a tree, decorate a package, or hang on the door handle.
Brown Paper Star Ornaments
Using a printable star pattern, trace two same-sized stars on a brown paper bag. Cut these out using pinking shears or craft scissors. Don’t worry, the pencil lines will be inside the star.
Glue the two stars together except for one tip. Leave an opening to put in the filling.
Pull apart a cotton ball so it’s loose and stuff it into the opening of the star. Use a pencil to distribute the stuffing the way you want. I like most of mine in the center. You could also use a bit of quilt batting or some used dryer sheets bunched up.
Cut a piece of raffia to loop at the top for hanging. Put the cut ends inside the opening of the star and glue it shut, securing the hanging loop.
Add that homespun, country-look with faux stitches around the edge. Use a black marker for these. Space them evenly.
Tie another piece of raffia into a bow and glue it to the front of the star. Glue some buttons to finish the theme.
Always save buttons for future use. (photo by Virginia Allain)
Anytime you discard a piece of clothing because of wear or stains, cut off the buttons and save them. A stash of buttons comes in handy to have for clothing repairs or for a craft like this.
Collect seed packets with colorful flower pictures on them. Sometimes discount stores have leftover seeds at bargain basement prices when the planting season ends.
Choose one seed packet for the front of the birdhouse. Draw a circle with a pencil in the upper half of the packet front. This represents the hole for the bird to enter. Fill in the circle with a black marker.
Cut the front packet and the back packet with a matching peak for the roof.
Shorten two packets to serve as the side walls.
Start by gluing a front and a side seed packet together along the long side. Continue gluing additional seed packets (the other side and the back) until it forms a square. Allow those to dry between each stage.
Attach two packages with glue to serve as the roof.
Glue on some accessories (spagham moss, fabric leaves, and tiny birds) to complete the birdhouse theme. You can find these in the craft or floral section at discount stores like WalMart or click on this picture to order from Amazon.
prism said on 11/25/2008 “What a great way to reuse seed packets! Would make a unique gift for wild bird lovers like my Mom. Thanks!”
mactraks said on 9/28/2008 “I never fail to be awestruck at the “recycling” projects my big sister comes up with! This is truly spectacular and easy enough for even me to do.”
(Article first published on Squidoo by Gail Martin about using yarn and rags for crafts)
My husband and I tackled a variety of crafts over the years. Many of these crafts linked back to our Kansas pioneer heritage. Examples of those include rag dolls and the wagon wheel rag rugs.
Until Clyde retired, I was always the crafty one, but once he had some free time, he joined in with many of the crafts. I’ll share with you photos of many our crafts and the instructions so you can try them out for yourself.
This photo is my husband, Clyde Martin, working on a round rag rug using a wagon wheel metal rim for the base.
I tried all sorts of crafts over the years, from stenciling on pillowcases in the 1950s to macrame plant hangers in the 1970s. After retirement, we worked on some crafts together like the wagon wheel rugs based on a vintage craft from our Kansas pioneer background.
We made large Christmas decorations from pom-poms which looked great on a wall or door. One design was a yarn wreath and another was a giant candy cane. We also made Santa faces with yarn, felt, and a bleach bottle base. People loved those and also the fluffy cats made from pom-poms.
Sometimes we get the supplies very cheaply at yard sales. The old sheets and skeins of yarn can be good buys. You don’t always find the exact colors you want though. Let your friends and family know what your needs are and they can rummage around in their excess stuff to share with you.
Here’s Clyde making a pom-pom cat.
Making useful things out of worn-out clothes or linens was a necessity back in our grandmother’s day and the “how-to” of it all was passed down from one woman to the next.
The Finished Pom-Pom Cat
After you admire the real cat in the basket, move your eyes to the base of the basket to see the yarn cat that Gail and Clyde made.
In the photo below, you see my mother with an antique quilt that’s been passed down in the family. The signatures stitched into the quilt include her mother, great-aunts and their neighbors from the 1930s. What a treasure!
Gail explains the names on the autograph quilt.
When I was a child, I remember Mom making two Sunbonnet Sue quilts with yellow squares between the designs. Those decorated the room that I shared with Susan. Those wore out years ago, but recently, I saw the one shown below and it reminded me of the pretty one Mom made.
On my father’s side of the family, there were notable quilters, including his mom, Cora Joy Martin, and his sister Dorothy (Martin) Jones. One of our cousins even opened a quilt shop that sold fabric and held quilting classes.
When I lived in Baltimore, I was president of the large quilt guild there and organized some of their quilt shows and was the newsletter editor also. Then we lived for a few years in Australia and I was delighted to find the small town of Alice Springs had a very active quilt club.
Even more than the quilting itself, I’m passionate about old quilts. They speak to me.
Here’s a gallery of family quilts.
Shannon (Martin) Hyle with a Martin family quilt. The design is called cathedral windows.
Cynthia Ross with a quilt made by an aunt, Dorothy Jones.
“I think mom, Gail Lee Martin made fabric balls like this one Christmas. Reminds me of the many Christmas projects both Dad and Mom worked together on. Like the yarn candy cane and the Santa head. Both were very nicely put together. They had to start early in the year to get them all made.” – Cynthia Ross
Here’s a YouTube video tutorial for making these no-sew folded fabric ornament balls. They give a quilted look but there’s no glue or sewing required. Just cut, fold and pin the fabric.
Here are more of Gail and Clyde’s Christmas crafts:
This reindeer ornament is made from gluing 3 wooden clothespins together. Two serve as the legs and the one pointing upwards makes the antlers. Glue on felt to serve as the tail, the nose and a bit of Christmas holly. Some googly eyes and a string to hang it. Really cute!
I’ll post Mom’s complete instructions for this tomorrow. She wrote about it for the eHow site.
Candy cane reindeer with pipe cleaner antlers and googly eyes. Made by Gail Lee Martin.
You don’t need much explanation for this candy cane reindeer. It’s pretty clear how to assemble it. It’s a fun project for kids during the holiday season.
You can get a package of wiggle eyes from Amazon or check your local craft store. Click on the photo to see the details or to look for other wiggle eyes, candy canes, pipe cleaners, felt, wooden clothespins and other craft supplies on Amazon.