Upcycle Final Report: Portable Northern Lights

  My final result project is a northern lights inspired candle holder/cover.  The change from a sun-catcher to a candle cover stemmed from two events; a classmates blog post suggestion and candles I’ve been gifted.  Someone suggested I add water to my project, to help capture as well as disperse sunlight. I loved this suggestion, but had trouble incorporating it into my design (see upcycle: progress post).  My sun catcher isn’t perfectly level, I wasn’t confident in what material I use to hold the water, and I wanted to be able to replace & change the water. All those issues led me to change from an hanging sun catcher, to one that stands, with an open top.  I decided on an empty candle/candle holder to store the water, and remembered I’d been gifted a few small scented candles I never use – Instead of throwing the candle away and storing water, my sun catcher could instead be the candle holder and cover.

I ran into a multitude of problems while making my “northern lights.”  First, at the beginning, I didn’t love the progress, but didn’t know how to fix it – and I felt it was too late in the game to change everything.  Using ornaments instead of Christmas lights gave it a cold, harsh feel, and no light could go through. It wasn’t until I was more than halfway done when I discovered I could rub off the inside coating and make the glass more see-through. I changed what I could, but whenever I tried to wipe the inside of pieces already glued together, they broke off.  I left what I had and only scraped new pieces. Second, my project is fairly flimsy. While ornaments are sturdier than I expected, once they broke, they continued to break apart when I handled them. I ended up adding some tin-foil for support – I was able to cover them with ornament pieces that I left opaque. As a bonus, the tin foil allowed me to make the item larger, since the foil is so flexible.  I would have used it sooner to create a smoother finish, and a larger final piece. My final problem is all the hot glue – it drips everywhere, loose strands adhered all over my project, and globs oozed out if I used too much. I tried using various items to scrape the extra glue off, but I haven’t been very successful, and a couple times broke the pieces I was trying to clean.

Despite all these setbacks, I am satisfied with my “personal, portable” northern lights.  Since I didn’t use all the light bulbs or ornaments, I’m going to try to create a “lid” using the tin-foil and left over ornaments. I may also see if I can find a way to hang my project, so I can alternate between using natural sunlight and candles, depending on my mood or what time of day it is.  As an engineer and not an artist, I started off disliking this assignment, and discovered I enjoyed the arts and crafts part of it much more than expected. 

  Lit Candle Holder


Previous Post
Upcycle Report – Wine Cork Map of New Zealand
Next Post
Upcycle Final Report: Scrap Warrior

6 Comments. Leave new

  • Hannah, the project you did was very creative and something I have never seen before (using ornaments in that manner), so kudos. What did you think about the tin foil in the project? Why did you use that? And how could you have acheived the same goals with another material? I would have liked to see the candle in it with the lights turned off or something. Next time I recommend you do that for the audience.

  • I love the idea of the Northern Lights. I thought it was wonderful how you went through your presentation explaining your thought process and your experience. I wish we could have seen it more in person. I think the only thing I would change is, you put the candle inside of your piece, but I think it may help if you put your piece over the candle. So long as there are holes for air flow and escape it may be better. I think this would help be easier to handle and less likely to break. This is a wonderful project and I think you should be proud of what you did.

  • Hannah, nice work! Really impressed with the thought process and effort you put into your project and presentation. Also love how you tried something you haven’t done before and learned a lot!

  • Hailee Pritchard
    February 12, 2020 12:28 pm

    Hannah! Despite all of your setbacks, I think your final project turned out so well! I actually love how it’s darker on the bottom and more transparent on the top, I would have thought that was intentional in focusing the color upwards and toward the candle! I think it’s so interesting how you layered all of the glass bulbs, and had the pointy ends as the sort of “stand” for the candle holder. Despite the challenges, I think your final product is even cooler because you persevered through so many changes.

  • Your presentation was very well thought out. You provided more than enough detail to allow the audience to re-live your design and manufacturing process. Your project is very ambitious and the fact that you stuck with it even through all the challenges is amazing. You really committed to the upcyling portion of the project more than others which is also great. Good job working with such a hard material and with such an ambitious project.

  • The idea of bringing the northern lights into your room is amazing. I think you have nailed the aesthetic considering the hurdles you went through. Great job done.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.