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Pillar Candles

So, you want to have candles in your Haunt, but you don’t want to risk burning your house down? And, the flickering battery-operated lights sold in stores don’t quite get the job done? What you need to do is to turn those tiny, dull lights into tall pillar candles.

Supplies

  • 1 and 1/2" PVC pipe
  • Expanding Spray Foam
  • Battery-Operated Tea Lights
  • Hot Glue Gun & Glue
  • Spray Paint
  • Tea Lights
The first step in this build is to find your tea lights. The cheaper, the better. For our project, we were fortunate to find a set of 24 tea lights for sale at Sam’s Club in a package that included an extra 24 batteries. Sam’s Club had them for sale as a seasonal item starting in early October, and they were gone by Christmas. Tea lights can be used in so many places and in so many props, that it’s always worth picking up extra when you can get a good deal.

The Pipe

To start, grab your PVC pipe and cut it into various lengths. Since you want your candles to have a “melted” look, it’s best to make some tall and some short. As you’re cutting, think about where you might want to display the candles. Short candles go great in front of tombstones, and tall candles work well when paired with larger features.



The Foam

Expanding spray foam is very sticky and it is nearly impossible to get off of something once it has been sprayed there. Keep this in mind when you prepare to fill the pipe with foam. You may want to lay down paper or some other protective covering before you begin your work.

Stand all of the pipe bits on their ends and spray the foam into them. The foam will expand very quickly, so start small and give it time to grow. The goal is to have about a 1/2 inch of foam stick out over the top of the pipe. Whatever sticks out will be cut off later. Once all of the pipes have been filled, leave them overnight to dry.

After the foam is dry, using a saw, cut the excess foam off of the top of each of the candles. Then, cut some of the foam out of the top of the pipe to create a spot for the tea light to fit. The best way to do this is to use a Forstner Drill Bit that is the same size as the pipe. This will make a nice clean cut. Whatever you use to cut, go down low enough so that the base of the candle sits below the top of the pipe, but keep it up high enough so that the “flame” sticks out above.



The Glue

This prop takes a lot of glue, so be prepared with an extra package. The hotter you can get the glue, the better. Start off by putting a ring of glue around the top of the pipe and then keep layering it on to mimic the look of dripping wax. It’s best to hold the glue gun still and slowly turn the pipe, pausing at points to create extra long drips. The shorter the candle, the more wax build-up you want.

When you think you might have enough glue on the pipe, go back and add more. This is one step where there’s no such thing as too much. For the best effect, you want your candles to look like they are spilling over with fresh wax.



The Paint

To paint the candles, find a spot with good air-flow and go for it. If your pipe has any text printed on the side, you’ll want to pay extra attention to those areas. Be sure to follow the instructions printed on the side of the can. It may take an extra coat of paint to get everything covered up just right.

For our candles, we thought that painting them black would make them look extra spooky. This turned out to be a big mistake. The candles looked great when the lights were on, but the moment we placed them in the graveyard, they disappeared into the darkness. For this year, we are planning on repainting the candles satin white so that they’ll stand out even better.



References

A big “thank you” needs to go out to jimmyzdc from Halloween Forum for the idea/inspiration.
 

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Good stuff! Very helpful. They look great.

If that black paint was flat matte paint, I'd tell you to spray white over it, but from the looks of it I don't think it is.

Dr. Kreepy on youtube, when modifying a cheap hockey mask, sprayed the mask first with flat black paint, and then a layer or so of flat white. And it looked very rich and stark.
 

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Just cut my PVC pipe(I'm doing 3 candles for now, small, medium, large) filled it with foam(got a little too liberal with the foam the first spray, had to take off some excess as it was expanding which is fine) and now they're drying and waiting for me to carve out the top, paint the tealights, paint the candles themselves, and then that's it.
 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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Good tips loach160, I think they look great, agreed it would be difficult to see them in the dark. You may be able to dry brush them with some various shades of grey to lighten them up or redo in lighter colour. Here are some tombstones candles I finished a couple of months ago, they are spray painted white and antiqued. They show up well in the dark.

The black may not work outdoors, but I think the black version would be fantastic indoors and might be perfect in our haunted music room!! It's on my list to try!

 

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Good tips loach160, I think they look great, agreed it would be difficult to see them in the dark. You may be able to dry brush them with some various shades of grey to lighten them up or redo in lighter colour. Here are some tombstones candles I finished a couple of months ago, they are spray painted white and antiqued. They show up well in the dark.

The black may not work outdoors, but I think the black version would be fantastic indoors and might be perfect in our haunted music room!! It's on my list to try!




Yours look great! Did you use raw umber as a wash?
 

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Queen of Halloween
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Is it possible, that when filling the pipes with foam, to just leave enough space for the tea light (eliminating the drilling step)? Of course the foam expands, so you'd have to make sure you don't go over board with the foam. I ask because I intend on making some this year, but do not have a drill.
 

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Is it possible, that when filling the pipes with foam, to just leave enough space for the tea light (eliminating the drilling step)? Of course the foam expands, so you'd have to make sure you don't go over board with the foam. I ask because I intend on making some this year, but do not have a drill.
Miss Mandy. I wouldn't recomend it. However, once the stuff dries, you could cut and carve the hole where the tea light goes with a small knife or a spoon even. (It might not be as pretty)

Get the foam thats for "small" cracks not "large" Im pretty sure the can is blue but double check. The can for small cracks doesn't expand as much as the foam for large cracks.

Do NOT touch the foam while it is wet with your fingers. Its like a sceen from the movie "The Blob" just don't do it.

You could also buy the drill bit and do it by hand. Bottom line is this stuff is not hard and is very easy to drill or cut holes into it. hope this helps
 

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The Undead Diva
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Thanks for the tips!! Coincidentally, I was on the same wavelength as you last November and bought the same package of tea lights from Sam's Club. :)
 

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You can also get the black round foam insulation they sell at store. I think its for pipes & use that instead of great foam. It might be easier to cut & u dont need a spec drill bit either.
I lov, lov, lov the black candles!!! I think they would be fantastic for an indoor party that way u would see them. Or how about spray painting them a fluorescent color so they glow in the dark?
Might have to order that online. I dont know if they sell that at wally world/home depot.
Krylon makes it.
http://www.tcpglobal.com/spraypaintdepot/glowz.aspx
I so love the beautiful candles. Now I need a tutorial on a really cool 6 ft candleabra. Id be in heaven then~

Just saying.
 

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You can also get the black round foam insulation they sell at store. I think its for pipes & use that instead of great foam. It might be easier to cut & u dont need a spec drill bit either.
I lov, lov, lov the black candles!!! I think they would be fantastic for an indoor party that way u would see them. Or how about spray painting them a fluorescent color so they glow in the dark?
Might have to order that online. I dont know if they sell that at wally world/home depot.
Krylon makes it.
http://www.tcpglobal.com/spraypaintdepot/glowz.aspx
I so love the beautiful candles. Now I need a tutorial on a really cool 6 ft candleabra. Id be in heaven then~

Just saying.
A cheap alternative to foam and the drilling step is to use a cardboard filler. Just cut a 'sheet' of cardboard such that width is just short of the length of the PVC candle. The length of the sheet should be long enough to allow the cardboard to be rolled into a tube shape that is the same diameter of the PVC. Roll up the cardboard into a solid tube shape and stuff it into the PVC. While you are doing the hot glue step, but a bit of glue on the bottom of the candle to hold the cardboard in and seal it. You can also put a bit of glue on the top of the candle too.
 

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Here to burgle your turts
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This as such an awesome project - we cheated a little and just stuck in hunks of styrofoam in to hold up the candles. I don't think these came out too bad for a first try.

 

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I really like the black candles. I would keep them indoors & put them around a fireplace, or on a table around the food (if you have guests over for a party). I would make more for outdoors. lol. Their addictive.
 

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The Undead Diva
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Loach,

Can you please explain how you did the wash? Thank you. :O)

I used an acrylic paint called brown velvet, I only used that colour to get rid of the partial bottle. It turned out to be a good choice, I don't have any left for the rest of my candles. :(
 

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my husb drilled the foam and guestimated how low the tea light would sit. He guessed wrong. They were about 1/2 inch or more too short to hold up the tea lights. So I took packing peanuts I saved after a pckg was sent. They fit perfectly & the tea lights sat at the proper height. Might glue them in, might not. They are snug inside the pvc.

I noticed some people's candles seem to glow from within. Not sure if it was bc they used insulation foam instead of great foam. I liked that look. My candles dont do that. I think unless they are in a well lit area they wont be noticed that much. My cheapo tea lights dont really flicker very well/are not that bright.

I want to make some black candles for inside. I like the look of them. I might slap some primer on 1st to get rid of the writing on pvc. I sanded it down. I had red writing & black bar code things all over the pvc. After sanding my 6-7th candle I was getting bored w/that, wanted to get to the fun stuff. It took several coats of spray paint to cover the writing. So next time I would buy a can of primer to save time. Skip the sanding.
 
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