Of all seaside vacation souvenirs, nothing is more beautiful than an assortment of delicate seashells. With their variety of shapes and hues, they are lovely displayed grouped on a shelf or piled together in a shallow bowl.
But larger shells can also be transformed into elegant votive candle holders -- wonderfully unique centerpieces for festive tabletops all year round.
Casually scatter the candleholders on your tabletop along with other beach treasures, like starfish and sand dollars. When the wax burns down, simply refill the shells again.
See a list of supplies and instructions below.
Choose your shells -- the ones with deeper cavities will hold more wax and burn the longest. Clean them in a mild solution of water and bleach, and rinse with cold water.
Break up the block of paraffin, which is fairly soft, with a knife. Melt the chunks in the top of a double boiler, heating the water below to the barest simmer.
The paraffin can be used as is or dyed with bits of colored wax -- a great way to use up the ends of too-short, burned-down candles. We used pieces of sage- and mustard-colored candles for ours -- just remember, the wax will be a shade or two darker when it dries.
Cover your tabletop with newspaper. Steady the shell on a bowl or cup if necessary, and slowly pour in the melted wax.
Tip: It's much less precarious to pour the wax into the shell from a smaller saucepan or ovenproof measuring cup with a spout.
Place the wick -- we used wicks pre-attached to metal wick holders, which are great for shallow vessels -- into the center of the shell. Allow the wax to cool for at least 30 minutes -- although the surface may look hard sooner, the wax underneath takes this long to fully harden. Trim wicks.