Note: Although I plan to use these candle holders as our Advent Wreath, using 3 purple candles and 1 pink candle, it can be simply used as candle holders, as pictured here.
Many years ago... probably 25... we had made an Advent Wreath. I wanted something that could be used throughout the coming years and add beauty to our Christmas celebration. In one of my many Christmas books and or magazines, I found a wooden star centerpiece... I don't think it was even featured as and advent wreath, but with 4 candle holders, it worked well. Although it was beautiful, over the years it began to loosen up, and eventually it became unusable, but not before seeing my children grow up.
I decided to remake the wreath this year, excited to share it with the grandbabies. I thought I remembered which book the pattern was in, but I was unable to find it! (Trust me, an evening with a mug of hot cider, curled up on the couch in front of the fireplace with a humongous stack of old Christmas books was not a wasted evening, even if I was unsuccessful in finding the plans I was looking for!)
Anyway, Michelle and I talked about the Advent wreath and the additional star candle holders, and came up with the design as we remembered it. Later, when talking to my son Adam, he had another structural addition that I had forgotten about that helped complete the design. Tim and I worked on it together, making the base sturdier than the original. The project took a day to complete, but when you think of the years of delight it will bring, that is a small price to pay! We painted the wreath, as I did when the children were small, but it would be finished in natural wood tones.
IMPORTANT: I made my wreath and candle holders using milk paint and my beeswax and oil finish... my preferred finishing choices and what I use on children's toys because they are child safe. Directions are given as such, with suggestions for using acrylic paints or the milk paint with an polyurethane finish. Let me say this... using the beeswax and olive oil finish was a bit of a nightmare! There are so many nooks and crannies, and you cannot apply the wax to any surfaces that will need to be glued. I gave up trying to beeswax the finished piece and sprayed the whole thing with Pledge! If I were making this again, I would use a paint that does not require a separate finish. If I wanted to leave the wood natural, I would assemble the candle holders than spray with a polyurethane finish!
1" wood - we used scraps of pine from Tim's stash (yes, woodworkers have stashes, too :) Tim is guessing if you had to go out and buy wood a piece of 1" x 8" x4' should do the job. We used pine but you can use any solid wood.
paint - I used milk paint but acrylic paints can be used, perhaps preferable
finish - I used my olive oil and beeswax finish but if I were doing this again I would use an acrylic finish (see IMPORTANT NOTE above)
6 candle ferrules or 6 wooden candle cups (you will need screws if using the wooden candle cups)
high quality, heavy duty wood glue
6 candles (4 advent candles)
dremel and/or sander
hand drill and/or drill press
Make a copy of the pattern.
Cut out wood pieces. NOTE: Follow the directions found HERE for general tips on cutting out wood and preparing it for finishing. Cut out the following pieces to make the advent wreath and 2 star candle holders:
2 small stars
8 medium stars
2 large stars
4 base pieces*
4 angled blocks (for holding 4 stars)**
*For the base, rip a piece of your 1" wood into 4 pieces, 1 1/2" x 9". Sand the edges.
**For the angled blocks, cut a pieces of wood as diagrammed in the drawing below. Sand edges.
Paint all the pieces. NOTE: Information on how to work with milk paint can be found HERE. I painted by wreath as follows:
4 base pieces - green
4 angled blocks - green
2 small stars - green
2 large stars - red
8 medium stars - red
It using the olive oil and beeswax finish, it is easier to apply to the advent wreath stars before assembling the wreath. NOTE: Directions for how to make and use my olive oil and beeswax finish can be found HERE. IMPORTANT: to get the best glue bond, you do not want the waxy finish to get on surfaces that will be glued. Only finish the sides and tops of the stars. DO NOT finish the stars for the candle holders, the base or the angled blocks until the wreath and candle holders have been glued. NOTE: if using a polyurethane finish, you can wait until the pieces have been fully assembled.
Apply the wood glue to the 4 ends of the pieces and clamp together. If you do not have clamps, you can use masking tape to hold in place. If you get a good bond with the glue, you will not need to use nails or screws. HINT: Assemble on a piece of wax paper. If any of the glue happens to ooze out, it will prevent your piece from being glued to the surface you are working on.
Glue to 4 angled blocks to the back of 4 medium stars so a point is centered and pointing up.
Glue a small star to center of each large star for the candle holders.
Allow pieces to dry thoroughly.
Position 4 medium pieces on the corners of the base. Place them so a point is pointing to the middle of the wreath and so the bottom of the star overhangs the base by 1/8". Make sure the stars are centered on the corners. Glue in place. Glue the angled blocks to the centers of each base side.
When thoroughly dried, finish the unfinished pieces of the wreath with the beeswax and olive oil or polyurethane.
Drill holes the width and depth of your candle ferrules using a drill press or a hand drill. NOTE: The ferrules should fit snugly. Be careful not to cut the holes too wide. IMPORTANT: Make sure you do not go all the way through the base of the candle holders.
Gently tap ferrules into holes. (This is not pictured because we are waiting for them to come in! I will update the directions when they do.)
OPTION: If you do not have a drill press or if you are uncomfortable drilling holes, you can use wooden candle cups. Paint them to match the stars, center, and screw in place.
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