My grandmother was not really a Christmas tree person. She didn't like having a real tree in the house, and especially despised the flashy aluminum trees that were popular in the 50s and 60s. Instead, she put up her candle tree each year. It's a black wrought iron candelabra that's meant to hold 17 short taper Christmas candles. She must have gotten it in the late 60s. There are some curly spirals in the design of the tree, and she used to hang miniature ornaments on them, so it really was quite festive looking. There she is with the Christmas candle tree, c. 1980.
The trouble with the tree is, when you put real lit candles in it, it basically turns into a fireball. Kinda terrifying. It gives off so much heat, that the upper candles start to melt all along the sides, and then there's a massive pool of wax that drips all over everything. My grandmother used to light it for a short time on Christmas Eve, but the rest of the season it stayed unlit. I inherited the tree when she died, and I think I've only lit candles on it maybe twice, and kept them lit basically just long enough to take a picture:
I love the tree though, and for a long time I've been trying to figure out a way to use it without creating a fire hazard. So this year, I thought I would experiment with dressing up LED Christmas candles, and see if I can give some new life to the tree. My main complaint with the LED candles is not how they look when lit, but rather how they look when they are off. The little flames are made of clear silicone, and just really...well, ugly looking. So, I painted them! Here's what they look like before:
Not pretty. Now, I found that if you try to use acrylic paint on the silcone, it does this:
So the trick is, you mix in some white glue with the acrylic paint,and it goes on smoothly. I used two shades of yellow, one a little more orange than the other, and just blended them to make a nice coating for the flames. I did two coats, and let them dry.
See, now I think they look more presentable during the day. A little kitsch, but also kind of bohemian and artsy:
What I also discovered, is that when you paint the flames, they also look better when lit! The glow is warmer, and not as intense. In this pic, the one on the left is painted, and the one on the right is not:
I love this tree so much. And now, I can enjoy it lit up! These candles have timers inside, so they turn on for 18 hours, and off for 6. Love having a (non-dangerous) Christmas candles glowing in the living room. It's really gorgeous, and I think of my grandmother every time I look at it.