Upcycling vintage teacups: Making teacup candles

This project is something I've been planning to make for AGES, but I only got around to it last week. There is SO much you can make with vintage china - have a look at this list for example. This is a quick and fun way to upcycle old teacups you may have lying around!
First, some back story: When Keith and I first moved in together almost a decade ago, all our glassware and china was of the cheapest, most boring IKEA variety. Completely usable, but uninteresting. Then in 2010 two of our friends got married, and for their reception they went out and bought a ton of vintage china plates, glasses and teacups from various charity shops. They mixed them up and made adorable mismatched china place settings, and after the wedding (as, unsurprisingly, they didn't have much everyday use for 80-100 dinner plates and teacups) Keith and I were invited to take some of the china home with us. I was completely in love with the idea and replaced most of our boring china with this vintage variety. This worked really well over the next several years. But there are some less than practical things about unmatched vintage china - for example, most of it was neither microwave or dishwasher safe. So once we both left school and started working and our budget wasn't as tight, we started looking around for a third option. Two years ago, we started collecting a set of tableware which I really love: Pergola by Swedish porcelain makers Rörstrand.

(Image from Rorstrand.se)
By now we have switched out almost all of our old china, and most of it has gone back to the charity shops from whence it came. But I still love many of those old cups and plates, and I've kept some of them with the intent of re-purposing them into something different. I also love "green" and earth friendly crafting - making something new out of something that would instead just become trash. This is the first project I have made so far, and it was both simple and fun.

Vintage teacup candles 

To make your own teacup candles, you can either use the stubs of old, nearly burnt-out candles, or buy shredded candle wax at the craft store. You simply melt the wax in a double boiler (put a metal or thick plastic bowl over a regular saucepan filled with barely simmering water), place a wick into the teacup and pour the wax into the cup.

I started out by using candlewick yarn, waxed yarn which you cut and tie to a pencil or skewer (as when you're making regular tall candles) and rest over the mouth of the cup. But I also had some shorter, waxed wicks which I believe are supposed to be used for making gel candles, and I actually found these easier to use. They are sturdier than the candlewick yarn, so you just pop one into the cup and hold it with your fingers as you pour the wax. In this picture, you can see the little metal plate at the bottom holding the wick in place.

I added some pink wax coloring to the wax as it melted, the color turned out a bit brighter than I was expecting but I still like them. You also have to leave the cups in place for an hour or so to let the wax set and harden - otherwise you can get creases in the surface of the wax.

All done! Right now I'm trying to decide whether to glue the cups to their saucers or not - I'm not sure whether I like the candles better with or without saucers. What do you think?

I'm planning to give these candles away (they make great hostess gifts, for example) over the coming year. And I have another vintage china project in the works, too: Making a couple of vintage china cake stands (like this one) is on my crafty to do-list for this year. I'm happy that those lovely plates and cups will get some more use, instead of languishing in my cabinets!


  1. Wow!!! Very nice Karin...it is a good idea...thank you. Valentina

  2. Wow!!! Very nice Karin...it is a good idea...thank you. Valentina