The beginning of this week saw the birthday celebrations of not one but two lovely friends. It was a birthday bonanza of a weekend.
The tradition of putting candles on a birthday cake has been around since Ancient Greece and it was thought that the smoke from the blown-out flame will take the silent wish made before puffing your cheeks to the Gods above.
The idea of sending my friends' wishes to the heathen gods, and wanting to use the red stripy straws I had left over from Christmas, inspired me to make this birthday candle garland.
+ 2 x tissue paper, orange and yellow
+ About 2m of twine - I like to use cooking twine; it's strong but very fine so doesn't draw too much attention should you not want it to, and it's coated so it won't leave filaments stuck everywhere.
+ 5 cm circle punch (optional, you can use scissors)
+ Sharpie, or other type of marker
+ Adhesive tape - I used red washi tape, but thin cellulose tape will work, too.
+ Glue gun and extra glue sticks
+ Letter template, downloadable here, printed on 190 gsm card stock.
Prepare your letters
1. Cut up the gold grid on the template into long strips, one square across by four down. At the end you should have four strips.
2. At the top and bottom of each strip should be a tiny gold-coloured mark. Using the Sharpie or marker make an inky dot over the gold mark, enough so that it bleeds a little onto the back of the card and you can see it when you turn the card over (b).
4. Using a pencil and ruler mark a light, thin straight line from the inky dot at the top to the inky dot at the bottom on the reverse of all four cards.
5. Then, either using the circle punch or the scissors, cut out the circles following the grey line.
6. Using the two oval shapes on the template as a rough guide cut 16 flames of each the yellow and orange colour. Snip the tops into points and the bottom third off to make a flat base. Layer the yellow flame on top of the orange, sitting a little lower to create the middle of the flame. Twist the ends together and lightly pull each piece of tissue paper up to put a wave in the combined flame. Flatten out the new base of the flame, just above the twist.
7. Using the ruler, measure the half way mark of the straws and cut in two. If the end where you cut forms an oval shape gently push your pencil in the hole and lightly twist to recreate its round shape.
8. Using the glue gun squeeze glue into the opening of each half, twisting piece of straw to coat the whole top. Push the twisted end of the paper flame into the middle of the glue and jerk in and out to "catch" the glue as it cools. When the flame can be supported on its own in the middle of the straw lay the straw aside to dry completely. Repeat with all your flames and straws.
9. Working very quickly, squeeze a thick strip of glue along the pencil line on the reverse of the circle letters and push your candle into the pool of glue, leaving about 1 cm of straw exposed at the bottom. Start and finish the glue strip about 5mm away from the top and bottom of the circle - you don't want to be gluing your letter onto the table!
Keeping the circle right-side down, push to the side to completely dry. Repeat with all your candles and circles.
10. When completely dry, arrange your letters so they spell "!YADHTRIB YPPAY" - HAPPY BIRTHDAY! in reverse. There are two blank circles. The first is the space between HAPPY and BIRTHDAY and the second is to place before the exclamation mark should you wish to put your friend's name there. I've used the first, but not the second, in my demo pictures. Turn all the letters over, right-side down, so the circles are close together but not touching.
11. Take the twine and fold in half to measure where the middle is. Place the middle point on the top of the "I" candle, or between the "I" and "R" if using all the circles and lay the twine flat with each end over the first and last candle. Snip or tear your adhesive tape into eight 1.5cm strips and then snip again lengthways to make 16 skinny strips.
Making sure you keep the twine horizontal and the letters close together tape the twine to the candles.