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Teacup Lights

Antique teacups that have lost their saucers still make sweet gifts when fitted with candles.




  • Nested pans
  • Partially burned candles
  • Candy or candle thermometer
  • Tongs
  • New wicking
  • Teacups
  • Wick sustainers
  • Wooden skewers


  1. Step 1

    In a small pan set over a larger pan of simmering water, melt down old candles; clip the thermometer to the upper pot, and keep temperature at about 185 degrees. Remove old wicks with tongs.

  2. Step 2

    Cut a piece of wicking to the cup's height plus 2 inches. Clamp one end to a wick sustainer; tie the other end around a skewer. Dip wicking and sustainer into melted wax to coat them. Remove and stick sustainer to cup's bottom.

  3. Step 3

    Pour in the wax, stopping 1/2 inch below the cup's rim. Allow wax to set, about 1 hour. The candle will harden with a well in the center. To even it out, use another skewer to prick a circle of holes about 1/16 inch deep around the wick. Pour in melted wax until surface is 1/4 inch below rim. Cut wick.

Martha Stewart Living, December 2002



Reviews (80)

  • missingEscape 16 Jan, 2015

    I'm ready to buy some cheap teacups and some candles and make these. I'm mostly not in this kind of stuf, but I have to admit that these are really awesome!

  • Indigo C 1 Dec, 2013

    Hello! I wanted to let you know that I've featured this article in my monthly round-up of the best things I've read on the web for this month, and you can read it here: I hope you have a lovely day!

  • ragsangle 9 May, 2013

    I made these except I used aluminin foil inside the tea cup so that when the candle burns down the tea cup is easily cleaned and ready to use! Another idea by using foil anything can become a candle holder. I also bought the foil muffin pans from the dollar store and made candles then cut them apart and use them in all kinds of things for candles!

  • Monapart 24 May, 2011

    We have mentioned that tutorial in our last DIY post! There are other tutorials made with teacups, teapots and the like. Check it out! (in Spanish) ::

  • rootabaga 10 Apr, 2011

    These also look great as container for succulent plants.

  • rock63roll64 9 Jan, 2011


  • saradono 3 Dec, 2010

    Addorable gift idea! Actually made these for a "tea paerty" themed baby shower and they were a big hit.

  • mommyofnaomi 8 Feb, 2009

    This was a simple and lovely craft to make!

  • kathybeymer 31 Jan, 2009

    What timing! We actually hosted a nighttime ladies' tea party where we gave a teacup candle away to the parlor game winner. Feel free to take a look at all our decorations and food for your own party:

  • AmyLauren86 30 Jan, 2009

    As the photo shows, you could also decorate and label your own matches to go with the candles.

  • dreamdesigner 30 Jan, 2009

    pami, A nested pan is two pans used to work as a double boiler so that the heat does not touch the pan with the wax directly.

  • pami45 30 Jan, 2009

    I'm new to this craft, so bare with me. What is a nested pan?

  • halomom 29 Jan, 2009

    Yes, most teacups are able to stand the heat. The only ones that you need to be careful with are the ones that are super thin at the rim - like Noritake or other fine bone china.

    I usually buy old tea cups at flea markets and Goodwill for less than a dollar, and fill them with candles. They make wonderful gifts. I'm hosting a bridal shower in a couple of days, and I will give them as prizes.

  • purplefeekee 29 Jan, 2009

    Love this idea. Does anyone know if the teacup is able to withstand the heat of candle without being damaged?

  • JudyGK 29 Jan, 2009

    This is a wonderful idea for spring table decor.

  • lisaallan1 29 Jan, 2009

    this would be a great baby shower favor for a garden/tea party theme!

  • purple00 29 Jan, 2009

    I just love this!!! I use to collect teacups! Now I can use them as gifts! This is a "Good thing"!

  • monasmom 29 Jan, 2009

    These are not a new idea but something to build on. Years ago I glued saucer to cup, filled with reused wax and string wicking, glued a pretty old spoon to saucer, wrapped in pastel tulle gathered at top, held with and ribbon.and tiny Victorian nosegay. Sweet, dainty, and shabby!

  • lynnh96005 29 Jan, 2009

    I really like this idea! There are so many saucerless cups at flea markets and garage sales; these make for a wonderful, imaginative, and inexpensive spur-of-the-moment gift.

  • memorymaker 29 Jan, 2009

    A tea cup is design to hold liquids that are just under boiling. The wax is only supposed to be 185. I have seen this idea in mismatched glasses as well.

  • lbpumpkin 29 Jan, 2009

    This is a great way to use old candles; but, I make china teacup candles with soy wax which burns without getting hot and doesn't smoke. Of course, warming the cup before adding the warm wax is a good idea.

  • lbpumpkin 29 Jan, 2009

    This is a great way to use old candles; but, I make china teacup candles with soy wax which burns without getting hot and doesn't smoke. Of course, warming the cup before adding the warm wax is a good idea.

  • hofhine68 29 Jan, 2009

    Janicesmith - Generally they hold the hot water from tea without cracking, but if you are worried you could set up all your wicks, take everything out of the cups, fill the cups with really hot water to warm them up, then empty and dry them out and put the wick set up back in...

  • hofhine68 29 Jan, 2009

    Great directions! I plan to make these with a group of high school girls as "I appreciate you" tokens to give to others. Thanks for the step by step photographs!

  • janicesmith 29 Jan, 2009

    can china cups sustain the heat without cracking, as a candleholder? this safefy concern keeps me from wanting to do this craft.

  • winterbeach 29 Jan, 2009

    so done, by so many folks. so many times. another dust collector.

  • knewf01 29 Jan, 2009

    any idea what you can add for scented candles, as all candles are not scented, I don't know if you can buy something @ a craft store or not when I go to purchase the wicks.

  • pelican66 29 Jan, 2009

    if you're really into greening this, wouldn't a piece of aluminum foil or pop can work just as well stapled to the end of the wick as a sustainer?

  • pelican66 29 Jan, 2009

    if you're really into greening this, wouldn't a piece of aluminum foil or pop can work just as well stapled to the end of the wick as a sustainer?

  • BarbaraVdM 21 Dec, 2008

    My husband and myself made one as part of a Christmas hamper for my mother. Turned out great. Reused everything from the wax and the wick (couldn't burn it further because it was in a topiary and to close to the green) and the wick holder. Bought the cup and saucer at a thrift shop. Looks so cute!

  • punkinxoxo 6 Dec, 2008

    What a great way to Reduce, Reuse

  • bwaybabe802 11 Nov, 2008

    so pretty!!!!

  • rondaleeb 1 Nov, 2008

    This would be perfect for a wedding shower. People could take them home as party favors.

  • lelayang 21 Jul, 2008

    so cute and easy to make it

  • auntiemaryann 21 Apr, 2008

    i have a china teapot with a chipped spout that i use for melting wax. i put the whole thing in a large pot with water half way up the side. it is the ideal double boiler, easy to grip, easy to pour. i just add more wax when i need to. and a crayon for color.

  • pastel 21 Apr, 2008

    You can also use broken crayons and melt. You would follow the rule of melting the same.

  • gammy5x 21 Apr, 2008

    Opps, I forgot to say that I also used bought tea lights and round ball candles.

  • gammy5x 21 Apr, 2008

    I did something like this for my daughter's wedding, only I used pretty wine glasses. I had so much fun going around junking at yard sales, thrift shopes etc. finding pretty cut glass with many designs. The theme of the wedding was grapes/wine and the glasses looking so pretty setting around on all of the tables. They sparkled with the light shining through them showing off the designs. Very pretty!!!

  • CraftTestDummies 20 Apr, 2008

    This is lovely- and I like the idea of recycling candles that have gotten dinged up or have burned funny. I personally like the idea of permanently attaching the saucer to the teacup with some heavy-duty silicone glue. Sweet! -Jenny at CraftTestDummies

  • DebbieJ1951 20 Apr, 2008

    You don't have to put a wick in the candle if you use the candle warmer.

  • jiggsnewfoundland 20 Apr, 2008

    Maybe we should use the old ones with saucers ! so the local firemen are not included in our craft !

  • ilikewinter 20 Apr, 2008

    What a beautiful way to use pretty little teacups! I have been wondering what to do with mine!

  • flidhais 20 Apr, 2008

    When my votive broke it burned through a double thick knitted throw and still had enough heat to scorch the Lane chest it was sitting on, I was not watching it when it burned out and was lucky nothing went up in flames.

  • flidhais 20 Apr, 2008

    Be cautious since not everyone will use the same china so while enjoying the craft protect yourselves, your home and families, and your furniture.

  • flidhais 20 Apr, 2008

    A safety caution: My factory-made heavy votive holder split in two when the tea light burned out

  • Rita2529 20 Apr, 2008

    I have made these many times. I like to use them in the bathroom especially when I am having company. I have a Haviland China one there and it has burned completely out and never broke. I believe they are all okay because the lip is wide enough to not allow the heat to build up and break the cup. They can be refilled over and over.

  • praline 20 Apr, 2008

    If you are afraid of using china or you want the same affect and are scared of doing this project you can always put a tealight or a votive in... same affect and it is so pretty. My mom has been doing that for years cuz she never got into doing candles but liked the looks of it. You can pick up teacups at any Goodwill store - for less than $1.00!!!

  • bronnyb_au 20 Apr, 2008

    As a collector of vintage glass and china - I would be wary of using quality fine china for htis idea - however, I think it would be a good presentation for the slightly more sturdy pretty cups that can be picked up from thrift shops. A nice way to use up the ends of candles too.

  • rusticpumpkin 20 Apr, 2008

    Super idea, and I can't wait to try it. However, wicking comes in different sizes so be aware of this when selecting your wick. Make sure the wick diameter is at least 1/4 inch smaller than the smallest part of the teacup diameter, otherwise the heat from the flame could crack or shatter the teacup.

  • DanaLou 19 Apr, 2008

    I've enjoyed doing this kind of project before and everyone enjoys getting one. You can also use dried flower petals in your wax for an even more victorian look about it or seashells for a beachy look. You could even arrange several of them on a platter in different hights for a center piece on a table. Or even use a teapot and sugar bowl on a plater with several cups . So many cute ways to use them. DLP1947

  • goldensun 19 Apr, 2008

    Martha, the tea cups you used are very elegant and pretty. If someone gave me a tea-cup candle similar to the ones you made, I would cherish it. I am going to search for or maybe even by some tea-cups just to make some tea cup candles. Thanks for such a lovely idea.

  • austingirl 19 Apr, 2008

    Great idea especially for a bridal luncheon!

  • LISA1 19 Apr, 2008

    I love this idea! I'm always looking for ways to use old items around the house for decor. I hope Martha keeps these types of crafts coming!

  • Auntsadie 19 Apr, 2008

    What a great gift and a nice way to use those teacups that don't have "mates" and also those you find at yard sales.

  • raeseay 19 Apr, 2008

    I'm wondering if there is a danger of the teacups breaking from the heat of the candle,especially if it gets close to the bottom of the cup.

  • Piperson 19 Apr, 2008

    If you have lovely teacups why wreck them this way? There are just as many orphaned saucers as there are teacups at tag sales maybe even more. Why not shop for old saucers to mix with your old cups?

  • KaraSalka 19 Apr, 2008

    I made these for Mother's Day last year, they were a total hit, my Mother In Law and Mother loved them! You can get wax and oul to scent them at Michael's, (including the wicks). It was in expensive, and thoughtful. Making candles is also addictive, just wait. I saved my baby food jars, and used those, too.!

  • sschwedes48 19 Apr, 2008

    that's true - if you have really lovely teacups they can stand by themselves - BUT i haven't seen too many really lovely teacups at garage sales, or thrift stores - so maybe a little pretty silk ribbon or lace on a rather unattractive teacup would be just the thing to make that little cup pretty..just a thought.

  • joniken 19 Apr, 2008

    I think if you have a beautiful teacup you do not need any other adornments.

  • ovestobake 19 Apr, 2008

    I agree, sschwedes48;' these look unfinished, and rather blah. The instructions are pretty good though.

  • kellycoster 19 Apr, 2008

    This is a great idea! Easy and fun! Thanks again Martha!!!

  • sschwedes48 19 Apr, 2008

    i would love to see some pretty ribbon or lace tied around the handle...what do ya think?

    birthmothers never forget

  • taybot 10 Apr, 2008

    This is such a neat idea, I think I will make some for mother's day!

  • Sw-edie 8 Apr, 2008

    You don't need to ruin your own fine china. I have found pretty china cups at flea markets and second hand shops. There are lots of different patterns that look very nice as candles and make lovely homemade presents as well.

  • kerK 7 Apr, 2008

    I really like this idea but am unsure about ruinning the teacups has anyone found a way to protect the china

  • shannondoddroschy 1 Apr, 2008

    If you get wax in your pot, place it in the freezer until it hardens and it pops right out. This also works great for getting the old wax out of votives for this project!

  • gabriellegrant 7 Feb, 2008

    This is a great gift idea. My sister and I added a teaspoon of dried lavendar to each teacup before pouring in the wax.

  • HJRUDY1 30 Jan, 2008

    This is one that I will be trying! I love the idea of picking up lone cups at yard sales!

  • Pinklips 8 Dec, 2007

    What a nice gift idea, I will be cruising yard sales for orphan tea cups with this idea in mind for inexpensive gifts for almost anyone.

  • SoCalGuy09 4 Dec, 2007

    This is great idea especially to put new life into old china and left over wax! =D

  • eternity 2 Dec, 2007

    I think these would make really nice "heirloom" gifts. Let's say, each/all of your children like your "special "china, but obviously you can't give it to "all",so... This would be a nice way to give "each" one a piece of it and make everyone happy! Also, you don't have to stop at just teacups. Small bowls,maybe...

  • marthavisitor1 30 Nov, 2007

    these are so pretty

  • corsagemaker0026 30 Nov, 2007

    Hi- I made these about 5 years ago. I can't tell you how much essential oil to add I just added until I liked the smell. Also the cups( I bought from thrift stores and estate sales held the heat just fine. Enjoy! This is a really fun craft and great gift. - corsagemaker0026

  • JeanneP324 30 Nov, 2007

    Hi -
    I would think that the tea cups would be fine as they previously held hot beverages. I don't think wax would be any hotter - right? Jeanne

  • maryesther 30 Nov, 2007

    Great idea for old candles...what is the answer to the qusetion about using the candles...I am unable to pick up on the comment made..Thanks for the great idea....Mary

  • nanatobin 30 Nov, 2007

    This might sound like a dumb question. Can you use the candles in the cups?
    I was wondering if the cup might break. I made some in baby food jars and
    some of the jars broke when they were lit.

  • JeanneP324 30 Nov, 2007

    Hi- Has anyone added any essential oils to the candles, if so - how much? Thanks!!

  • Durantia 29 Nov, 2007

    I used a coffee can, pinched into a lip on one side, then used the large bottom of my double boiler. Also added candle scents to some. A great way to use up old candles! I also tried the idea in gel wax, with some ideas for interesting embeds, berries, lemon slices, etc.

  • AmyBrown 29 Nov, 2007

    Oops! To clarify, the cans held the wax, but we still used simmering water in another pan in which to set the cans. Also, it seemed no matter what, we got wax in the pan that held the boiling water, so you might not want to use your best pan.

  • AmyBrown 29 Nov, 2007

    When we made candles, we used spaghetti sauce cans to melt wax. They seemed to be the perfect size, plus you can squeeze them a little so that they pour out very well.