Be the light.

See, what happened was this:

Our neighbors moved, and when they cleared out of their house they left stuff on the curb (because that’s how we roll around here, or at least that’s how it used to be before things got fancy).

Among the treasures they left on the curb were an electronic dart board (still hanging in my son’s room, a dozen years later), and these metal votive candle holder things – a pair of them, each about 3 feet long and 4 feet tall. And I thought: those are cool. So I brought them home, cobwebs and all.

And Bernard said (maybe not in this exact order): what are you going to do with those? and: we don’t need any more junk! and: you picked up something that might have had spiders underneath?

(Also, side note: this is not the funny story that I couldn’t remember last week – a story I did, in fact, remember, but when I remembered it I realized it was funny only to me, because it was a private joke between me and my sister, and it probably wouldn’t be funny to anyone else, even though I still may share it one day, because it’s a story about life goals, and payday, and a McRib sandwich, and it might be a tiny bit funny on the right day.)

Anyway, I brought home these two candle holder things, and I put them on the porch (because, spiderwebs). And I bought a case of glass votives and filled the metal votive holder things with glass votives, and when it finally got dark I lit the candles and thought: these are very pretty.

They stayed on the porch, flanking our enormous front door (wide enough to pass a coffin through, because in 1906 houses were built with front doors that were wide enough to pass coffins through), and I enjoyed them very much, for a long time.

Until one of the dogs was on the porch, happy to be outside with the humans, and the dog’s happy wagging tail knocked over the glass votives and made a mess that had the potential to be unsafe, what with children coming and going and all.

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So I brought the candle holder things inside and put them in front of the fireplace in the room that is supposed to be a formal living room but that instead is kind of a hodge-podge multi-purpose room that has loveseats, a dining table, books, and lots of art and stationery crap in it.

A few days before Christmas last year (possibly the day before Christmas Eve…), my daughter and I headed out to buy a case of votives to replace the ones that were either empty or just un-lightable, so we could have candlelight for Christmas, because everyone looks better in candlelight, which is a magical thing that is not restricted to Christmas but that is especially magical at Christmas time.

We were in a big-box craft supply store, my daughter and I, about to put a box of candles in the cart, when my sister called to ask what I was doing.

And I said: buying candles to replace the votives in the living room.

And she said: why are you buying candles when they’re so easy to make?

And I said: candles are easy to make?

And she said: yes, and so much cheaper than buying them. And you can use soy instead of other, less environmentally friendly things, and they’ll burn clean, and you’ll like them better.

So she gave me a shopping list for supplies to make soy candles, saying how much fun it would be as a mother-daughter project. And instead of buying candles, we bought all of the supplies on the list, and we drove home.

And when we walked into the kitchen Bernard said: what the hell is all that?

And I told him the story, that it was so much cheaper and better and more environmentally friendly to make candles instead of buying them.

And he said: Christmas is the day after tomorrow, and we’re having 20 people for brunch, and you invited people for Christmas Eve, and you do not have time to make candles.

And I said: pfftt bah nonsense….

So we made candles, my girl and I. And it was not nearly as easy (at least not at first) as my sister described, but it was fun, because doing things with my girl is fun, and all of that was good.

It was so much fun, in fact, that once we finished refilling the votive holders in the rescued, repurposed, formerly spiderweb-covered candle things, we wanted to make more candles, to give as Christmas presents. And it was easy-peasy, because I had been saving these glass yogurt jars, because I couldn’t bear to recycle them, so we used those, and my daughter painted names and flowers and stuff to make them look cute, and we had a good time.


At the end of the school year my daughter asked to go on the school trip to France next summer. And we told her she would have to raise half of the money, because the trip is expensive and we want her to be invested in it and not think that trips to France just fall like manna from heaven, because they don’t or otherwise I would, bien sur and absolument, go every other week.

And my daughter said: how am I going to raise money?

And I said: well, for one thing, we could make candles.

And she said: I don’t think we can make and sell enough candles to pay for half of the trip.

And I said: every little bit counts; be of good cheer; et cetera.

And that’s how we made these, which will be for sale at the Central Gardens Artists Market on Sunday, September 8, in the cafeteria at Immaculate Conception school, on the corner of Rozelle and Central, 1-6.

– Fin –

P.S. It would be wrong not to give full credit where credit is due: many thanks to Stephanie Jones for the ceaseless inspiration and for introducing us to reactive metal paints, which we used to paint the Oui yogurt jars. Want to explore your own creative potential? Head to me & mrs. jones for a fun class or project. You will not be sorry. Also: Stephanie loves France, too.


  1. I adore this.
    Now the question is how do the rest of us schlubs get our kids to make lovely things and then more importantly find a good place to sell these lovely things and most importantly make the money to travel to France or Italy or Germany? Jawohl und als ich kann. (Don’t worry, it’s not really a question for you as much as a question for my not so distant future self to figure out. Good luck with the sale! If I were nearby I’d take two. What’s the price? And did you put cute little “made locally by junior lark in training” labels on the bottom? 😉)


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