How To Make Cement Candles (Plus How to Deal With Epic DIY Fails)

NEW concrete candles - 1.jpg


IN THIS ARTICLE:
Making friends with DIY mistakes;
No such thing as too many candles, am I right?


Remember those concrete candles I blogged about last month? After some trial and error, I finally delivered my final video (above) and written tutorial (found here on eHow). I also went with cement and not concrete. I’m happy with the final outcome but, man oh man, the road there wasn’t exactly a straight line (even though the video makes it appear so.)

Thing is, folks, this wasn’t the first video I created for this project. The first was more than a bit problematic, and I knew it when I was shooting and editing it — but I was so effing frustrated that I finished the damn thing, skipping over some important steps in order to edit out all of the problematic bits, and was ready (SO ready) to submit it and wash my hands of it all.

Here was the main (but not the only) problem — I didn’t use a mold-release agent (like Pam) because some people said that it would discolor the cement AND I was pretty sure that it would be fairly easy to cut open the plastic containers I chose with a utility knife. WRONG. I could tell you how wrong, but it’s easier just to show you.

In the end, I used a rotary tool to cut the candles out of the molds (like you would a mended limb from a plaster cast). Every single candle got damaged, but I just shot them from their good angles.

But then questions came in about the process and “what kinds of containers did you use that you could easily cut with a knife?” and I knew that the tutorial — as is — was simply not going to fly. It was also well below my own standards, and I knew it. So, I apologized for my less than stellar work, scrapped the whole video, and started from scratch.

Days of work down the drain? Loads of materials wasted? Nope. Not at all. This is going to sound cliched and Pollyanna but these mistakes were a learning experience. All part of the DIY process. Love your mistakes fellow crafters. Love every single one. 

Veteran crafters already know the importance of learning from mistakes (and even embracing them in an ahem-I-totally-meant-to-do-that sort of way), but if you’re new to the maker game, an epic fail may put you off of ever trying to make anything again.

But here’s a secret so many DIYers keep hidden: rare is the project that is totally straightforward and smooth sailing, no matter how simple it may appear. There are just too many variables (read: a million different ways to screw it all up), and tutorial creators can’t account for (read: warn you about) them all.

How to start a project over without going crazy (or how I do it, at least)

  1.  Breathe deeply and slowly count to 10.
  2. Visualize the changes that you’ll make to the process and how much smoother take two will be.
  3. Visualize the outcome.
  4. Most importantly, if you have the time, start over THE NEXT DAY. If you’ve just spent hours attempting to do something, the minute you realize you’ll have to start over is the worst. You’re still hot-headed and recovering from the irritation of your frustrated attempts. Trust me, you will feel so much less hot-headed the next day, and when things go smoother for you (because of all the lessons learned) your previous failure(s) will be like a distant memory.

Embrace the Fail

We’ve all heard that stories about how some of humankind’s most important (or just plain cool) discoveries were borne from mistakes:

  • Penicillin
  • The microwave oven
  • Fireworks
  • Scotchguard upholstery protector
  • The Slinky

Made a mistake you made when knitting your sweater sleeve? Consider embracing it and repeating the same mistake on the other sleeve. Could turn out looking pretty cool. Symmetry is a DIYers friend!

Totally screwed up a lattice pie crust or other baked good, just slap the word “rustic” in front of the recipe and call it a day. Same goes for a bad paint job on a craft. Other options: weathered, aged. Want to leave something unfinished? Try industrial or deconstructed. And of course there’s the old familiar standby (albeit currently out of fashion) — shabby chic.

In the case of my candles, the wax seeped through the cracks and coated some of the cement. I could have sanded those down, but the effect looks kinda neat, right? Also, I’m digging the porous look created by the accidental air bubbles.

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Some of the cement was also discolored by the wax, but this gave them a terrific stratified look. In fact, I might like these more than the cleaner ones.

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And, best of all, I ended up with a bunch of candles. I love candles. Can’t have enough. So the whole experience was a win-win-win as far as I’m concerned.

Make this Easy Faux Coral Sculpture!(Video)

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Image: Maya Marin | eHow


IN THIS ARTICLE:
I loves me a bargain; When it comes to decor, faux can be your friend


I’m just gonna come right out and say it. I’m cheap, y’all. Unless we’re talking about dog food (my dog dines better than I do, no question) or paying/tipping people for friendly services well rendered, I’m always going to figure out how to get the most bang for my buck. This means I will either: a) find a way to make the wanted items myself or b) patiently search high and low for the best deals.

Truth be told, my love for making stuff stems as much from my characteristic thriftiness (which I’m pretty sure I inherited from my mom) as it did my innate desire to create.

All of this to say that I’m not opposed to faux organic decor (including plants — check out my post on how to make fake plants look real!), if that means I’m saving money and/or time by going faux. But it does NOT mean that I will settle for having stuff in my house that I’m not 100% aesthetically pleased with.

Case in point — my DIY’ed faux coral sculpture which I proudly display on my living room bookcase:

Image: Maya Marin | eHow

It’s a huge (el-cheapo) IKEA bookcase that’s a whole lot darker than I’d prefer it to be, so I really wanted to add pops of color to the shelves (to draw attention away from the overt IKEA-ness of the bookcase). I love the shape and hue of red coral, but buying authentic coral (as much as I’d love to have it) was out of my price range.

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Do you know how much premium dog food I can buy with €205? No thanks. (Boulesse.com)

So, I researched my DIY options, and found this genius method (on Ohohblog.com) for making faux coral using wire, hot glue, and paint — stuff I already had in my craft stash anyway. If you make stuff on the regular, you probably do as well. If you don’t, these materials  are very affordable and can be used for literally hundreds of other projects.

I pitched a faux coral video tutorial to eHow and they loved it. So I made it, and now I present it to you. Hop on over to eHow for my full tutorial.

To obtain this lovely shade, I used mostly Delta Ceramcoat Deep Sea Coral with a few drops of Americana True Red.)

        

How To Make Fake Plants Look Real (VIDEO)

Quick — which one is the fake? (Yes, this is a trick question.) [Image: Maya Marin | eHow]


IN THIS ARTICLE:
How to rock faux plants like no one’s business.
(Seriously, it really is no one else’s business);
where to get the plants from the video


So you’ve tried time and again to keep houseplants happy and well. Yet, every time, you’ve shamefully failed to protect your green friends from slowly withering away as they cursed Fate for having fallen into your incapable hands.

Yeah. Me too. So I say, go faux. At least partially.

What?, you say. Me own FAKE plants? Those cheap, soulless, tacky, plastic abominations that will have you forever living in fear of being discovered for the fake-plant-owning-brown-thumbed-serial-flora killer that you are?

Yup. Say what you want, but I’ll have you know I went faux and I’m in good company.

But even more convincing than knowing that there are interior design legends who have embraced fake greenery is actually seeing how REAL fake plants can look provided you get quality fakes and style them well. I was so excited about the whole endeavor that I decided to pitch an idea for a video to eHow — (X Number) of Tips For Decorating With Faux Plants — and they bit.

Me, throwing in a real, fresh-cut tree branch for optimum fake-out! [mage: Maya Marin | eHow]

Of course, I had no idea what my tips would be before I pitched the idea — because that’s how I roll! I also didn’t know where I was going to buy plants that were realistic enough to fool the eye. I knew one thing for sure, though, I needed to see them IN PERSON before buying. No matter how many awesome online reviews a product gets, you never know for yourself until you lay your eyes — and hands — on the goods.

Now, I’m convinced that if you style them correctly, no one will be the wiser. Or you might be like me and just flat out tell them that they’re fake — and so, far, everyone’s been surprised to learn the truth.

So now, I enjoy the calming beauty of greenery in my home without the stress of having to keep them alive.

Pretty dang convincing faux croton plant. (Image: Maya Marin | eHow)

And without further ado, here’s my final video! And don’t forget to read my full article on eHow. (See images below to find out where I bought my fauxs.)

(Image: Maya Marin | eHow)

(Image: Maya Marin | eHow)

Video Projects Sneak Peek – Concrete Candles and Woven Rag Rug

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IN THIS ARTICLE:
Holy soy wax, that’s one spendy candle;
going from rags to rugs is trickier than expected


Concrete (Actually Cement) Candle

People just can’t seem to get enough concrete and cement craft projects these days. So to meet public demand for them, I was tasked with producing a DIY video + tutorial entitled How to Make Concrete Candles. Say what? Concrete candles? Well, they’re actually candles with concrete bases. Like this lovely specimen on Garmentory.com:

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Beautiful, I thought. Then I saw the price tag. Continue reading

Battle of the Faux Mudcloths + Mudcloth-Inspired Wall Hanging Tutorial Video

Mudcloth-inspired wall hanging — with sassy tassels! (Image: Maya Marin | eHow)


IN THIS ARTICLE:
On authentic mudcloth; My quest for the most doable
DIY faux mudcloth; My final video


True bògòlanfini, known as “mudcloth,” is a 100% hand-woven and hand-dyed textile from Mali that derives its color from fermented mud via a dyeing technique that dates back to the 1100s. It’s only in recent years, though, that this gorgeous and painstakingly made textile known for its symbolic, culturally significant, repeating motifs has enjoyed widespread popularity thanks to decor bloggers and pinners everywhere, especially those who dig the whole minimalist aesthetic. Which is, like, pretty much everyone right now. The thing is, as beautiful as true mudcloth is, it can be cost-prohibitive for a lot of people. Continue reading

How to make galaxy cushion covers video tutorial

How to Paint a Galaxy Design on Cushion Covers

Homebody space geeks — is your sofa your universe? Design your own personal nebulae! (Image: Maya Marin | ehow)


IN THIS ARTICLE:
An apology, I quit my job to work from home!,
relaunching the blog, watch my first video tutorial
– galaxy cushion covers


First, an apology. I’ve been away for so long, it’s shameful. And that’s because I’ve been working full time with a 3-hour-plus daily commute — and that’s just exhausting, both physically and emotionally. Especially for someone who needs plenty of alone-at-home recharge time, which has been scarce.

Continue reading