Sunday, December 7, 2008

How to Unlock the Power of the Not so Humbe Tea Light

There are two keys to using tea lights successfully.
First, when you think tea lights, think quantity. A single tea light is a poor, lonely thing, pining for its fellows.
Glass or metal in particular completely transform the self-effacing tea light. Second, think containers.
Enhance the effect by grouping glowing glasses on a polished tray- silver for preference, but other colors work equally well. Even inexpensive embossed glasses are transformed with a tea light inside. Put them inside cut-glass wineglasses.
And remember that although they are comparatively tiny, they can burn for four (or even more) hours.
Put them in transparent holders. Arranged around a table centerpiece, they will provide lots of light at the table level - but remember to add taller candles to light your guests' faces as well.
There are plenty designed especially for tea lights; equally, you might spot something you can adapt to achieve a totally unusual effect. Or look for colored glass containers.
What about arranging tea lights in a long shallow container (glass, metal, wood or pottery work equally well) surrounded by decorative objects - stones, shells, balls, even unshelled nuts.
You can put tea lights in shallow glass containers and float them in water-filled bowls.
Then build up the centerpiece using herbs, berries and flowers. Soak the foam in water to soften, drain, and then press the tea lights into the foam, spacing them carefully. If you're dining al fresco, create a centerpiece using florist's foam (either a ring or a block) as a base.
If you're going to use them near food, remember to choose the unscented variety.
And there's that wonderful trick of using candles in a brown paper bag that nowadays seems relegated to lighting the way to youthful parties, but is far too good to be wasted on teenagers.
Put a little sand in a bag, fold over the top a few times to make a more rigid top, cut some holes (or not, as you please) in the sides, and you have a wonderful way to light a drive, highlight a staircase or line the perimeter of a deck.
Tea lights liquefy quickly because they are made of a less refined wax, so make sure you spend a few cents more on getting the right quality, but do throw away any that show signs of smoking.
You can get more helpful information at her website, Justine van Zyl provides information for people who want to make better decisions about the candles they buy online.


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