Rotary Candle Holder: Final Report Part 2

Hello again, for one last time! This is an extension to the “Rotary Candle Holder: Final Report Part 1” blog where I discussed the mechanics of the rotary candle project. The purpose of this post will be to reflect on the process of its creation, including answering the following questions: What does it all mean? Compare your original project intent to what you ended up with. Did I learn anything displaying it? How did the public react? What did you learn from your project and from the class? What will you do with the project now? What would you have done differently? I will format this post by answering each of these questions independently, as follows:

What does it all mean?

This project was meant to be something worthy of gifting to my mom at the end of the semester. In that respect, I believe it was a success. It was an inspiration from a Christmas decoration I saw at my Aunt’s house last winter break, but I wanted to make it as unique as possible. In that respect as well, this was a successful project. I truly believe the “frozen pond” glass base and figure skater silhouette added a lot of character and a personal touch to the project. It still goes with the theme at my mom’s house, too. Especially during Christmas time.

Following some complications with the mechanics of the figure skater on top of the turbine (discussed in depth in the “Rotary Candle Holder: Final Report Part 1” blog post), some adaptions were made. Here are the pros and cons of those adaptions:


  • The desired aesthetic checks out
  • Everything matches (white and silver)
  • Dynamics work – Turbine turns from the hot air rising off the candle
  • Easy Assembly/Disassembly
  • My mom will still love it


  • Not exactly what I was hoping for
  • Untrustworthy (flammable components)
  • Fragile
  • Turned into more of an arts & crafts project

Although it does not exactly compare to the original intent, I believe the pros outweigh the cons, thus I would call the project a success!

Did I learn Anything by Displaying it?

It was pretty nice of Colorado to drop two more days of winter on us, perfectly surrounding the design expo. It really matched the aesthetic I was going for with my project. All semester, I was thinking a Christmas decoration might look pretty silly during an expo in the middle of an 80 degree day with two weeks to go until summer break, but mother nature gave us a few inches of powder (and mostly wet snow) to make my project fit.

As for the expo itself, I was really impressed by all of the projects there. And the turnout was incredible! There were a lot of people who came by. Many of the people who just briefly stopped by said something along the lines of, “You’re a lot more crafty than you look,” and, “It’s so sweet you made this as a gift for your mom.” Others were impressed that the turbine on top spins just by lighting the candle on fire. Most engineering students knew exactly how it works and were still amazed that it worked this well. I was given a few suggestions during the expo as well. One suggestion was to permanently attach the water jetted figure skater to the top of the turbine so it is always balanced. I had thought of this one, but I still believe the slightest tilt while spinning would throw the whole thing off balance. Another suggestion was to laminate the card stock figure skater in aluminum foil to match the aesthetic of the candle holder. Overall, the expo was a great opportunity to display my project and receive constructive criticism in person.

What did I Learn from this Process?

During the prototyping phase, I thought I learned about…

  1. Sizing
  2. Color
  3. Weight will matter
  4. Materials
  5. Method – I do not want to cut anything more by hand.

By the time it came down to polishing my final project, it turns out I didn’t learn quite enough about all of that. The sizing of the silhouette was supposed to be no more than 2.5″ tall and 0.15 thick, but in order to keep the fine detail, especially the in skates, I had to increase her height to 3.5″ and 0.40 thick. At the time that seemed plausible, but as it turns out, the skater does not stay balanced. Although the rest of the project turned out as planned, if not better than originally planned in terms of the base piece, one miscalculation can throw the whole project off, especially a project as delicate as this one.

In terms of the class itself, pretty much everything was new to me. All of the sketching skills were great to learn, and many were review, but some of it was great to refresh and practice. Then all of the 20th century design movements, fundamentals of design, and designers were new to study as well. From the very basics to the very fine concepts, I now know what the differences between aesthetics and recognize them all over in everyday life.

What Will I do Now?

In terms of this project, I’m planning to refine the figure skater silhouette on top of the turbine and gift my project to my mom. As far as life in general, I plan to go through everyday recognizing all of the varying aesthetics used in architecture, cars, products, and everything else really, and use the to my advantage as a professional engineer.

Overall, this was a great project and class overall! I would absolutely recommend taking it as a follow-up to all of the other design classes offered in the department (from Freshman Projects to Component Design, Senior Design, and Design for Manufacturability). This finally offers an opportunity to be free of all the constraints and make a couple projects we can be proud of. The process to get there is just as tough and taxing but worth the end result!

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Final Project Report: Rotating Candle Holder
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Perpetual Motion Machine Presentation

2 Comments. Leave new

  • Oksana Schuppan
    May 5, 2017 9:53 pm

    I love your design. So simple and elegant. I have no doubt your mom will love it! Also, you’re right about the snow playing into your aesthetic. So cool! I was deeply impressed by the detail in every element of your design. I remember looking at the fingers and the metal edge of the skates on your ice skater at the expo and thinking how precise and well-planned your design must have been for them to turn out so tiny yet flawless. The snowflakes were a great touch too.

    I can picture these candle holders selling well in any ski town in Colorado. Perhaps you could play with different designs for the top piece. Also, since your original skater was too heavy/unbalanced for the top, I believe a smaller skater would look just as appealing. Lovely end result! I like that you stuck with your original vision as well!

  • Kira Sadighi
    May 4, 2017 3:07 pm

    Hey Alex
    “You’re a lot more crafty than you look” haha, what, you don’t have a hipster beard and a paintbrush in hand? I didn’t know you used a water jet! We have one of those at CU? About the figure skater on top being permanently attached, is the problem that she weights too much and will tip the whole thing over? In that case, maybe you could attach the whole candle set-up to the pond base so it won’t fall over. Good job Alex!


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