Design Review/Prototype: Rotary Candle Holder

Background:

For my main project, I would like to make a Rotary Candle Holder. I was inspired by one of my Aunt’s holiday decorations when I visited her last Christmas. She had a little tea light candle under a fan, which spun when the hot air off the candle rose past the fan’s blades. Physically, it is due to the change in density of the heated air from the fire of the candle. A similar product is shown in the image below. That one is being sold on Amazon, but the original distributor is Pluto Produktor (A Scandinavian company). I had never seen anything like it before.

However, I want to make my product as unique as possible. And I would like to gift it to my mom at the end of the semester. Thus, I decided I will make my tea light candle skating-themed somehow. My mom is a figure skater, figure skating coach, and currently works at U.S. Figure Skating so I think she would love the aesthetic. I am currently thinking about using a figure skater silhouette as the main piece above the fan to spin around when the candle is lit.

The Top 5 Constraints to building a Rotary Candle Holder inspired by the image above are…

1. The Aesthetic: I’m going for a winter aesthetic. More specifically, I want the candle holder to instill feelings of skating on a frozen pond in the snow. I imagine this candle holder will be more of a winter/Christmas decoration than a year-round piece.
2. Physical Constraint of Rotation: The fan above the candle must rotate from just the fluid flow of the heated air. Since I want to place a figure skater on the top and possibly stained glass snowflakes hanging down, the fan must be as friction-free as possible.
3. Availability of Parts: Going off of constraint #2, likely the best way to create the rotational fan on top is to use a bearing. The size of that bearing must be precise, which is why this will be one of the main constraints of this project.
4. Materials: Since there is fire involved, the materials cannot be flammable. This means I cannot use wood or paper in any part of the design, just to be safe. It would also be a good idea not to use plastic as it might melt. Instead, I plan to use light metals for the frame and structure and possibly some stained glass on the hanging pieces.
5. Skills and Ability: I do not have any glass blowing or welding skills. If I want to make snowflakes out of stained glass, I will likely have to smelt them together with aluminum or something. I haven’t really figured this part out yet. Hence, it is my final constraint.

Prototyping:

To prototype the aesthetic, I decided I would just use mostly card-stock paper and turn the prototype into something of a craft project. Also, I decided to go for the outdoor skating theme, like skating on a pond in the middle of winter. Thus I kept the coloring to white and light blue. The following image shows all of the materials used to build the final prototype.

I made the fan design in PowerPoint and printed all of the materials on card stock paper at work. The skating silhouettes are courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/448811919092514459/

I used an old pen to wrap the paper around to hold a nice fit. It also provides stability for the center pillar. Then I just had to cut some of them out and tape it all together. The following image shows the post-cutting but not quite to assembly stage:

Then there was the taping and assembly process which resulted in the following images (without the snowflakes hanging down yet):

Differences from the Current Plan:

The final product will differ from the prototype in many ways. Currently, I am planning on making the final product out of a light metal (probably aluminum since it is light and inexpensive in thin sheets) so there is not risk of fire using a flammable base. Also, the snowflakes will be a blue or white glass to reflect and refract the candle light all over the room. Last, I’m thinking of using some sort of mirror or something for the pond to make it seem more like a frozen pond.

Please feel free to comment any suggestions or critiques. Thank you!

• Maxfield Scrimgeour
March 22, 2017 12:51 pm

I have never seen a rotary candle but this idea is sweet! i like the way that it adds some cool physical effects of motion to an otherwise just regular candle burning. Have you thought about a design that could incorporate different attachments for the top? This would be cool to change it based on your mood or the setting.

• Alexander Lien
March 20, 2017 8:45 pm

Wow. This is sweet. It sounds like you have your aesthetic totally planned out and I’m sure the final product will be beautiful. I think making the mirror out of pond will be a nice touch, have you thought of making the pond out of some kind of a foggy mirror or glass? The fogginess might make it seem more like a frozen pond

• Your prototype came out really great! It looks like you put a lot of effort into making it, making the cutout of the figure skater and the entire structure. The Winter aesthetic really comes through, especially with the colors and with snowflakes. It’s a good call on using sheets of metal instead of paper to prevent a fire hazard. How do you think you’ll cut the mirror to the shape of a pond? Or will you buy one that’s already round? I look forward to seeing more!

• Olivia Watkins
March 14, 2017 6:01 pm

I love that your making this for your mom I am sure she will love it ! I bought one of these when I was in Vienna last Christmas they are very popular at the Christmas markets over there! I found that the hardest part was getting the balance just right on the dangly pieces. Even if just one of them is missing the whole thing falls off its very finnicky. So maybe figuring out a way to ensure the balance of the top piece would be a great place to improve upon the design .

• I really like the aesthetic of the prototype, ice skating figure with candle is such a great idea, this would make a great decoration!

• Matthew Clark
March 13, 2017 12:18 pm

This is a really cool idea and I like how the candle’s convective heat will provide the motion of the fan blades. Having the base as a mirror would make a great landscape for the figure skater. How would you cut the mirror to the right shape? Excited to see how it turns out!

• Preston Marcoux
March 13, 2017 12:14 pm

Honestly, it is such a cool idea. So simple and yet I could see a huge demand for something like this on a popular market. It makes me want to drop the project that I am working on and pursue something similar to what you’re doing. I think the idea of using a mirror to give the pond more of an icy feel is an awesome idea and I am stoked to see this project through.