I confess, I’m a compulsive pistachio eater. About three years ago I started accumulating shells in a bag, because I was convinced that they would be useful for something, fascinated by their shape and color, or perhaps only in the hope that being impressed by the volume of the bag that grew rapidly could help me in managing my addiction (as some smokers do by building castles of empty cigarette packs). Or maybe I’m just suffering from a selective form of disposophobia. I already had a fair amount of them, when I decided to search the Internet if someone had done something beautiful and / or useful with a weird collection similar to mine. What I present in this post is a combination of a couple of ideas stolen from the internet and of my experience accumulated when in view of a recent Christmas, I made a number of candle holders to give them away. You will not need to devour a huge amount of pistachios before starting, a candle holder is made with the shells of about 30 of them. Obviously if you are suffering from my own pathology you will soon have a variety of shapes and sizes of shells available which could make your work a little easier, but it is not very important: we are going to use the shells as if they were petals, which, as everything in nature, are not all perfectly identical.
- Tealight candle.
- Pistachio shells.
- Hot glue gun with cartridges.
I used a small gun (40W) which is even better especially if you want to work with children.
- Cardboard, better if thick (otherwise you may need glue too).
- Pencil or pen to help you cut out the base.
- Scissors to cut the base.
- Two to three centimeters of adhesive tape for the internal disk.
- Newspaper or anything to protect your work plan.
- Optional: small containers to group pistachio shells according to their size.
- Optional, if you want to color the shells: acrylic paints and freezer bags.
The first step is to cut out a cardboard base. Cut out a kind of pin with the help of anything of the right size (for example a glass or the cap of a jar): the large circle should have a diameter almost double that of the candle (or about 7 cm/2.5”), the handle a diameter of about 3 cm/1.2”. If you are using a thick enough corrugated cardboard, just one layer is enough. Otherwise you may need to cut out two layers (1) and glue them together (2).
Before starting to glue the shells, it is better to prepare everything else, to avoid having to put the gun by the side while it is hot (mine drools, and honestly the ethylene vinyl acetate that dissolves does not produce the most enjoyable of the odors) or to avoid to having to turn it off and then having to bring it back to temperature.
For example, to avoid wasting too much time cleaning the shells and looking for the best shape while the gun is on, first it is useful to remove the skin from those shells with too much of it and place them in three containers according to their shapes (3), in particular if we find slightly flatter and larger shells they will be perfect for the outer disk and for the flower of the handle, the smaller shells are fine for the innermost disk, the intermediate shells for the intermediate corollas .
In fact, we will make four discs of sepals and petals (call them whatever you want, if you have a botanist in your family to make you shiver).
Now cut a strip of cardboard about the same height as the candle and long enough to wrap it (4). With the help of a little tape we make a cardboard ring and wrap it around the candle (5). Later we will glue the innermost layer of pistachios on it.
Load the gun, turn it on and wait for it to warm up according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
Glue pistachio shells around the large circle of the base to make the outer disk: put some glue on the base of a shell (6) and insert it in the thickness of the cardboard by pressing lightly. Repeat with another shell following the perimeter of the base until completing the calyx of the flower (7). If there are, use slightly flatter shells.
Do the same to make a corolla by gluing the shells almost vertically (8), always applying light pressure so that a small notch is created in the cardboard.
Now, applying the glue in a similar way, insert the shells between the two already made disks, placing them at about 45 degrees and in positions offset from the already glued shells (9).
To glue the shells in the inner cardboard ring previously made, this time you need to apply glue on one of the two edges (10). Choose small shells and continue by gluing a shell next to the previous one each time. (11)
To make the flower of the handle you must first glue two shells togheter with a little glue on the base, then add the shells always using glue on the internal base of the same (12). After a few shells, the flower will be too fragile to handle: at this point glue it on the handle of your candlestick, then you can add more petals by gluing them underneath, between the cardboard and the others. (13)
In order to decreas burrs, glue the shells in an orderly clockwise or counterclockwise fashion (instead of jumping from a point to another). Some burrs are inevitable, but after your candle holder is complete and the glue is cold, you can melt the horrible excess threads of glue by using a hairdryer for 30 seconds.
If you want a colored candle holder, you will have to color the shells before you start. I like them as they are, but I refer to this video which basically recommends to follow these steps:
- put the shells in a freezer bag
- pour a few drops of acrylic paint and a little water into the bag
- close the bag and shake it
- leave the shells to dry on a sheet of paper