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Gardening & More: Our frigid weather is perfect for making icy candle holders

FIRE AND ICE — Pictured are some icy spheres that were made to hold candles. Photo by Connie Oswald Stofko.
HAMBURG — Hurray! We’ve had bitter cold temperatures! Let’s hope it lasts.

That is the perfect weather for making an arrangement of frozen spheres in your garden. Here is a new twist: Add light to your arrangement by making cup-shaped candle holders out of ice.

Start out as though you are going to make a frozen sphere. Take a balloon and squirt in some food coloring, if you would like. Fill your balloon with water and tie it securely.

Set the water balloon outside, on a flat surface. The sphere will not freeze evenly. The top rounded part will freeze first and the flat part on the bottom will take longer. When you have a good, solid shell on top, but the bottom is still liquid, cut open the balloon and pour out the excess liquid.

What you will have left is a cup that you can use as a candle holder. It looks spectacular outside, when the candles or tea lights are lit.

Keeping the candles lit can be tricky. They will not stay lit if there is precipitation, or if it is windy. I found that setting your candle or tea light inside a glass holder can help a little, during breezy conditions.

Consider adding other elements such as branches, a bow, silk flowers or a Mylar balloon. Add a few evergreen branches, for a seasonal feeling.

When the sphere is frozen, carefully cut the balloon away. Ice is a lot like glass: You don’t have to chop it or saw it; if you scratch it, it will break along that score line. Snip off the end of the balloon first, then work to peel it off.

When you make your arrangement, fill your pot with snow and set your ice spheres on top. If there is no snow, crumpled paper will also work.

Set your balloons on top of newspaper, in case a balloon bursts before it is completely frozen. If your ice sphere is out of the balloon, but you want to set it aside for a while, set it on newspaper, rather than on your porch.

If the ice sphere sticks to your porch, you will have a difficult time getting it unstuck. If it sticks to the newspaper, just rip the paper. If any paper remains on the ice sphere, dip the sphere in water, to get the paper off.

If heavy snow or drifting snow is forecasted, you may want to do this project inside an unheated garage or a screened-in porch. If you must have your balloons out in the open, choose a spot where you will remember where they are and will be able to find them, if they get covered with snow.

If you have warm temperatures and no snow, set the balloons in your freezer. That is what professionals do, when they want to make an ice sculpture for a fancy dinner. If you have a deadline and want the sculpture as a decoration for a special event, this is a good backup plan.

If you have snow on the ground, but the air temperature is hovering above freezing, set the balloons in the snow and mold the snow around the balloons. Leave the balloons poking out of the snow, so you can find them.

It can take a long time to get the spheres to freeze, but once they are frozen, they will take a while to thaw, even if the temperatures bump above freezing.

Connie Oswald Stofko is the publisher of Buffalo-NiagaraGardening.com, the online gardening magazine for Western New York. Email Connie@BuffaloNiagaraGardening.com.
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