I love the drama of party season—sequin dresses, decadent cocktails, candlelit dinners…. And just like a group of real housewives, candlesticks are always more dramatic in large groupings. I’ll usually toss several matching candlestick holders into my cart at the store before I add up the cost and think, hmmm… I could probably DIY this!
The idea for this project arose from just such an occasion last summer when I was tempted by a set of (currently sold out) mid century inspired candlestick holders at Crate and Barrel. I couldn’t commit to the purchase because I wasn’t fully in love with their aged brass finish, but thought a similar style in a simple white would look so lovely in a large group on my table!
These candlestick holders are made from plaster, with plastic shot glasses used as molds and PVC pipe caps used to hold the candlesticks. It’s a pretty simple project, but requires precise measuring and a bit of wait time. Scroll down to check out how I made them!
–Plaster of Paris
–construction adhesive (or other strong glue that dries white)
–3/4″ PVC schedule 40 caps (these cost .$53 at Lowes)
–2 ounce plastic shot glasses and 1 ounce plastic shot glasses
–satin polyurethane or other low gloss
-nonstick cooking spray
-plastic mixing container and spoon (disposable is convenient, but not necessary)
-X-acto blade or sharp utility knife
Step Two: Mix the plaster precisely according to the box’s instructions (should be 2 parts plaster to 1 part water) and immediately pour into the molds, leaving a bit of room at the top for the cups that will be placed at the top of the stacks to hold the candlestick. In the next step, you’ll be plunging pipe caps into the plaster, and you don’t want the plaster to overflow.
Tap each cup’s bottom onto your table to allow air bubbles to escape to the surface.
Step Three: Wait 5-10 minutes for the plaster to begin to set up, then push the pipe caps into the plaster, making them almost flush with the surface of the plaster. If they won’t stay in place, the plaster hasn’t hardened enough. But don’t wait too long, or your plaster will be too thick to settle back in place around the pipe cap once the cap has been pushed in. After the caps are pushed into place, tap the cups again so that the plaster settles around the cap.
Step Four: Wait one hour, then remove the plaster from the molds. I did this by cracking the top edge of the cup with a blade, then gently dragging the blade through the crack, causing one large crack in the plastic cup. You have to be careful, but it’s actually not difficult to do this without scratching the plaster. After the cup is cracked, gently pull the cup away from the plaster, releasing the mold.
I let one round of plaster molds sit for 24 hours before removing them from the plastic (ones without the pipe caps added), and the cups actually cracked during this time, allowing me to easily peel the cups away from the dried plaster without using a blade. I’m assuming the plaster expanded ever so slightly causing the plastic to crack. Regardless of why it happened, it sure was a convenient accident!
Let the plaster dry out for 48 hours before proceeding to the next step.
Step Five: Glue together the plaster pieces to create stacked designs in various heights. Immediately wipe away any excess glue with a damp cloth. After one hour, you can mix up more plaster to fill in any gaps or indents from your plastic cups (if those bother you). Make sure to dampen the dried plaster first, and allow the newly mixed plaster to thicken slightly before trying to use it to fill the cracks. Smooth out the area with the sponge. If need be, you can sand out slight unevenness before sealing.
Finally, after the glue and patch plaster has dried completely, you can seal the candlestick holders with two coats of polyurethane so they’re protected against moisture and any tendency to crack or chip.
I think these candlestick holders would look fabulous primed and painted a matte or satin black as well, and hey—you could even try your hand at a metallic finish, à la Laura, but I think simple is perfect for my home. Just don’t skip on finishing them with either paint or polyurethane because the plaster will definitely chip, crack, and chalk mark your surfaces if you don’t.
Here they are posing for a photo on my coffee table, though they’ve since been moved to my dining room. Can’t wait to light ’em all up for a holiday party! –Mandi
Credits //Author and Photography: Mandi Johnson. Photos edited with the NEW A Beautiful Mess actions.