Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas robin tealight holder tutorial

I don’t create tutorials very often but when I was invited to take part in the Most Wanted Christmas DIY Challenge, I could hardly say no, could I?

The Most Wanted folk want everyone to have a go at making something for Christmas, and discover the fun of getting crafty.

So today I’m showing you this cute little birdhouse, complete with Christmas robin (yes, I know that robins don’t use birdhouses but let’s suspend disbelief for a moment, it is Christmas after all), glitter and the warming glow of a tealight. The project is simple but the instructions are long - sorry about that but I wanted them to be useful to new crafters as well as the more experienced among you.  

Important: Please don’t use a real candle in this project because you could well burn your house down. Battery tealights are cheap and available from Wilkinson’s, Ikea and, I believe, Asda.

To make my birdhouse, I’ve used products from Stampin’ Up!® because I am an independent SU demonstrator. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have lots of lovely SU supplies, you could compromise.

These are the Stampin’ Up! supplies I used, with alternatives where applicable in brackets.

Crumb Cake cardstock (or a natural pale brown)
Early Espresso cardstock (dark brown)
Riding Hood Red cardstock (any red will do)
Always Artichoke cardstock (any green with do)
Vellum cardstock (you could also use vellum paper, acetate or even greaseproof paper/baking parchment?)

Serene Snowflakes stamp set (any snowflake stamps, just doodle them on or leave it blank)
Riding Hood Red ink pad (or any red ink pad or brush marker)
1 3/8” circle punch (or any similar-sized circle punch)
Extra Large Two-Step Bird punch (hmm... you could try cutting out your own bird from cardstock scraps, or cutting a robin image from an old Christmas card)
Dazzling Diamonds Glitter (or any glitter, or no glitter, if you don’t like vacuuming)
Scallop Edge Punch (if you don’t have an edge punch, you could tear the edges for a wooden roof effect)
Small Heart Punch (optional)

1. Start with a piece of Crumb Cake cardstock, cut to 21cm x 12cm. This is the width of A4 so you’ll get two pieces from one sheet. Before you do anything else, stamp it all over with red snowflakes.

2. Now, score it along the long edge at 5cm. I’ve used my Fiskars Trimmer. The orange blade cuts, while the black one scores. Don’t ask me how many times I’ve used the wrong one!  Turn your piece of cardstock sideways and score at 5cm, 10cm, 15cm and 20cm. This should leave you with a 1cm strip at one side – left or right, it doesn’t matter. Mine’s on the left because I’m lefthanded.

3. Cut away the smaller section of this strip, as shown.

4. With your piece of card in the same position, ie with the cut-away section at the bottom left or bottom right, cut along the score lines from the bottom edge up to the 5cm horizontal score line.

5. Fold along all the score lines, all in the same direction, away from you. You may now attach a piece of double-sided tape to the flap, as shown, but do not assemble the box just yet.

6. Using your circle punch, punch out a circle of scrap paper and stick this to the front of your cardstock on one of the two centre panels. This gives you a guide for punching in the centre. Don’t put it too far down or your punch won’t reach.

7. With your punch upside-down, so that you can see what you are doing, punch out the circle, using the scrap piece as your guide.

8. Turn your cardstock over and apply adhesive around the edge of the aperture. Cover the hole with a piece of vellum cardstock. Vellum paper is just as good but I prefer the cardstock because it’s easier to handle and doesn’t crease so easily. If you don’t have any vellum, experiment with different materials, such as greaseproof paper/baking parchment or some coloured cellophane from a sweet wrapper! You can use clear acetate or leave it empty, but I prefer not to see the tealight inside as it spoils the effect.

9. Now you can assemble the box. I find the easiest way to do this is by folding the edges in and joining them with the cardstock lying flat on the table. This way you can get your edges to join neatly and when you let go, the box will pop up to make a square tube.

10. Stand it upside-down and fold three of the flaps down. Leave one of them sticking out, as shown, and apply adhesive. I am using Sticky Strip which is a red-line tape and very, very strong; ideal for making boxes.

Tip: I like to apply the adhesive to the flap which is joined on to the front of the box, ie the one with the circular aperture. This makes it look a little neater.

11. Fold this final flap down to finish assembling the box. Turn it the right way round and you have a basic box. You can use this box template for all kinds of projects – omit the hole and fill with shredded tissue and it makes an easy gift box or favour box. But, pressing on, we’re going to make a roof...

12. For a basic roof, you will need a piece of cardstock measuring 12cm x 6cm. If you want to scallop the edges, as I have done, or even tear them to create a rough-cut wood effect, cut your piece to 14cm x 6cm.

13. If you want to add the extra scallops to resemble tiles (again, you could tear them for a wood-effect), you will also need one piece of 6cm x 5cm cardstock, scored in half (ie, at 2.5cm) as well as EIGHT pieces of 6cm x 3cm cardstock.

Tip: If you are using the scallop edge punch, it is easier if you cut FOUR 6cm x 6cm pieces of cardstock, scallop two opposite edges and THEN cut them in half to create eight pieces. The larger pieces of cardstock are easier to slide into the punch and you end up with the same result. Just quicker.

14. Now the messy bit: glitter. Regular readers of my blog will know that I am not a big glitter fan, but at Christmas I do occasionally make an exception. To minimise mess, I have decanted my glitter into these plastic lidded takeaway pots (new ones from Home Bargains). I keep a small plastic spoon in there, too, but you won’t need it for this project.

Use a glue pen to apply adhesive to the scalloped edges and dip them into the glitter. Tap off the excess and you’re done. Well, you will be when you’ve done the 11 other edges...

15. To assemble the roof, adhere the scalloped strips to the largest roof piece, spacing them about 1cm apart. The smallest folded piece forms the top of the roof.

16. Now the front of the roof. Take a piece of Early Espresso cardstock measuring 7cm x 5cm and scallop (or tear) along the long edge. This is the bottom. Measure halfway (3.5cm) along the top edge and draw a pencil mark. Now score from this mark diagonally down to the bottom left edge and then again down to the bottom right edge. This will create three triangles.

17. Fold the two outer triangles backwards to create the gable end of your birdhouse. If you want a little heart on the front of your house, punch one from some scrap paper and fix it in position on the brown cardstock. Again, use this as a guide to punch the heart.

18. Take a scrap of red cardstock and cut a rough triangle. Attach this to the inside of the roof piece – you can pop it up with foam tape if you prefer a little dimension. I did on the finished project but not for my step-by-step pictures because I forgot!

20. Attach this to your main roof, setting it back about 5mm for an authentic look.

21. Now it’s time to make your robin (or go and find one if you don’t have the bird punch). But I cannot recommend this punch enough. It came out in April and I’ve used it for everything ever since. It’s great for using all those little scraps of cardstock that you wondered why you were saving. With the punch upside-down, you can feed little scraps into it and just punch the section that you need.

As so many rubber stamp companies are American, you don’t often see rubber stamps of British robins so this punch is a brilliant way to get round the problem.

As shown in the photo, you will need a brown body and wing, a green branch and an additional wing piece in red - this will attach to the body to represent the red breast. Complete the bird by adding the brown wing and the green branch. Now he can be attached to the front of the birdhouse.

23. And you’re done! The roof simply rests on the birdhouse so that you can get in to turn the light on and off. These would look great on a mantelpiece among some festive greenery or to decorate your table for Christmas dinner. Why not give them as cheap and cheerful teacher gifts? (They really don’t need any more mugs, honest!)

All products by Stampin' Up!® Please email me to order a catalogue, or click the link on the right to view it online.


  1. Gorgeous!!!! Fantastic tutorial too!

  2. Helen these are lovely. Your tutorial is brilliant, thanks for sharing


  3. Helen, thanks for sharing! I love visiting your blog on a regular basis for inspiration. You are a very talented lady. Merry Christmas. Karen (Australia)


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment.

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