Handmade copper candle shields, otherwise known as Luminaries, are an artistic and beautiful way of adding a rustic atmosphere to any home. This project is easy to do and looks great when you are finished. There are an endless amount of different tools you can use to decorate your copper foil luminary, but here are the necessities: You’ll need copper foil about .005-.010″ thick (30-40 gauge), metal-cutting scissors, a hole punch, and fasteners to keep the copper foil in a cylindrical shape. Some optional supplies can include needle-nose pliers, handheld lighter, an old ballpoint pen or stylus for embossing, permanent inkpad, rubber stamps, various stencils, paints suited for metals, decorative scissors and a soft pad or a magazine for embossing the copper foil.
To start the project, you will need to cut a 6×12 inch section out of the copper foil. You can use decorative scissors to cut the top and bottom edges of the copper foil, copper kattle as it will give the luminary an additional artistic touch. Next, place the copper foil on a flat surface and use some type of smoothing tool to iron out any unwanted wrinkles in the copper. An old credit card will work well. Now, it is time for the decoration. There are endless possibilities with this project, but I’ll give you an option that you can follow if you like. You can use rubber stamps with permanent ink to imprint a design on the copper. Then, emboss the designs into the copper foil by making an indentation along the design with a stylus or an old ballpoint pen. You can “color” the copper foil by heating it with a common lighter or a candle. While heating the copper foil, avoid allowing the heat to concentrate on only one point. Keep the heat moving around the copper foil. It only takes a few seconds for the copper to change color; if you heat it for much longer, the copper will lose all its color and simply turn silver. Also, it is a good idea to use pliers to hold the copper foil over the heat source. Copper conducts heat very well and it will get very hot. You can also paint the copper foil with metal paints. However, NEVER paint before burning. Most paints are flammable and should not be exposed to open flame.
Once the decoration is finished, you can start to punch holes in the copper foil to let the candlelight shine through. I suggest using an 1/8 inch diameter for these holes. Try to space the holes evenly throughout the copper foil. If you want more light to shine through your luminary, punch more holes in your design. Also, it adds a nice touch if you use decorative hole punches.
Now you need to form the copper foil into a cylinder. First, punch three holes on one of the short sides (in this example the 6″ side) about a quarter inch from the edge. The holes at the top and bottom should be about a half inch into the copper foil. Next, carefully form the cylinder and overlap the edges about a quarter of an inch. Using a permanent marker, mark where the next holes should be made. Then punch the copper foil where indicated. After the holes have been punched, use the fasteners to hold the copper foil in place, forming a cylinder.
Now place the copper shield over a candle and enjoy watching the light dance across the room. In closing, here are some safety tips: never leave a flame unattended, wear gloves while handling copper foil to protect against the sharp edges, always heat the copper foil outside or in a well-ventilated room and always have a fire extinguisher handy as a precaution.