Shot Glass Oil Burning Candles - Part 1

3 Materials
1 Hour

Last year I made an oil burning Hanukkah menorah for the holidays but none of you saw it because I was so busy innovating a reusable wick for the project that I was too late with my post! I can't wait to show you how easy - and sustainable - the wicks are in my next post!

With Hanukkah exactly one month away there should be more than enough time to make these for this year - whether they're for Hanukkah,
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
I used 9 glasses in total for my holiday display. If you're going to do this project, and you don't already have some shot glasses on hand, pick some up from your local thrift store. Don't forget that it doesn't matter what they look like, because we are going to fix that!

Decorating the Shot Glasses
To add sparkle, I incorporated metallic elements onto the glass - and hid the advertising in the process! You'll need to gather up:
  • Shot glasses (9 if making this for Hanukkah)
  • Clear double-sided tape
  • Rub-on silver and gold foil / glue
  • Painters tape
  • A pencil
  • Scissors
  • Paper cutter
  • Candles (for the lead candle)
  • Aquarium gravel (I used blue)
  • Recycled K-cup with foil lid
  • The glossy paper backing from a sheet of labels or self laminating cards
  • A towel or curved piece of wood (as shown below) to help keep the shot glasses steady as you work.
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
To add alternating squares of silver and gold, place a piece of 1/2" painters tape over the glossy side of the lable backing and mark 1/2" increments on the tape with a pencil. The green tape is only there to help see the marks clearly since the glossy side is too slick to mark without it (and the reverse side is too busy to see them).
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
Cut the strip of tape into 1/2" squares with the paper cutter.
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
Peel off the green tape and you'll end up with the white squares shown below. Use the scissors or the paper cutter to cut some strips of silver and gold foil slightly wider than 1/2":
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
To prevent the glass from rolling as I worked, I used a curved piece of wood I had, but you could also nestle it into a towel to keep it steady.

Measure a piece of  the double-sided tape to the length of the graphic you want to cover; 2" was perfect for my shot glasses so I could create four 1/2" squares with the foil. Apply the double sided tape right over the graphic on the glass. If you're piece is too long, trim it back to 2" using an X-acto knife.

You can see right through the tape, but not for long!
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
Take the square pieces cut earlier and apply two of them to the clear tape - glossy side down - leaving a 1/2" space in between (you can use one of the squares as a spacer as shown below). The squares will stick temporarily to the tape and act as a mask where you don't want the foil.
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
Apply the silver foil (dull side down) to the first exposed square and rub it well to adhere it to the tape. Carefully peel it back to expose the foil that's stuck to the double-sided tape. Move on to the next exposed square with the same colour of foil and adhere it in the same way. If there are any spots that were missed, you can rub a fresh piece of foil onto those areas to fill in, but it doesn't have to be perfect!
1st square received silver coloured foil
1st square received silver coloured foil
Once the first two squares are done, remove the white squares that are still covering the tape. Apply the gold foil to those remaining squares. You'll end up with alternating silver and gold metallic squares.
Gold being applied to 2nd square
Gold being applied to 2nd square
Alternating squares of silver and gold are complete and oh so blingy!
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
If you have a straight glass, you could do this foil treatment all the way around if you wish. My shot glasses are angled so I couldn't apply the tape in a straight line around the entire glass without wrinkling it.

A big advantage with this method (if you opt for cheap double-sided tape from the dollar store) is that the metallic feature can easily be removed to restore the glass just by removing the tape. You could switch up the design every year if you get bored of the look, and use a decorative washi tape, for instance, instead!

Below you can see a side-by-side comparison of the before and after. With candle light glowing from within, they are going to look phenomenal!
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
Here's how my final display looked last holiday season right before I spray painted the letters that spell out Hanukkah.
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
In the end, I came up with a better way to make the lead candle. I didn't use the oil burning method; I used a regular Hanukkah candle and made a colour for it out of the K-cup lid (foil covered) which I sunk into some aquarium gravel in the shot glass. It will all make sense when you see the next post, I promise!
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
I used fridge magnets for the letters spelling out 'Hanukkah'. They look much more elegant once they're sprayed in silver, but you could leave them colourful for the kids! It's the finishing touch to tie it all together!
upcycled shot glasses for oil burning candles part 1
Like I mentioned earlier, these shot glass oil burning candles would be stunning for Valentines Day; you could arrange your shot glasses into a heart shape!

When the glasses are done, you'll fill them half way with water, add a 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil and add a floating wick (which I'll show you how to DIY in the next post, so stay tuned for Part 2).

Watch the video below to see how the shot glasses come together in about an hour - if you choose not to spray paint the letters.
The glow of the oil burning candles really takes it to a whole different level, so be sure to check out my next post for the full reveal celebrating the Festival of Lights!

For more great holiday DIYs follow us on Hometalk and/or subscribe to Birdz of a Feather (link below). You can also follow Birdz of a Feather on:


Suggested materials:

  • Shot glasses  (Thrift store)
  • Metalic foil  (Michaels)
  • See complete list above in body of post
Birdz of a Feather

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Beautiful!
    Quick question, how do I know if my shotglasses are heat safe?

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on Nov 15, 2017

      Thanks Rivka - great question; I will update this post (and the next one that explains how to make your own wicks) with some safety precautions! But first, the only way I know of telling if glass is tempered or safety glass is to view the glass through polarized lenses in bright light - preferably sunlight. Most people have polarized sunglasses so this is ideal. If you try to view tempered glass in sunlight with a polarized pair of sunglasses, you will see lines stretching across its surface (and sometimes dark shady spots) – which is a good indicator that the glass is toughened. These are formed during the tempering process. Try it out first on a glass that you already know is heat safe: a Pyrex measuring cup or glass dish for instance that's marked microwave safe. You should notice the wavy lines I'm taking about. Note though that even glass that is heat tempered is not a guarantee against breaking or cracking. Two of the most common causes of glass breaking due to the heat from a candle flame is first, a wick that is not centered and allowed to get too close to the side, and second is a flame that gets too close to the bottom. To combat these potential problems: 1. Fill the shot glass with enough water before adding the oil. In a traditional wax candle, if the flame reaches the bottom of the container, too much heat may be concentrated at the base of the wick which could cause the glass to crack. Water in an oil burning candle will prevent that from happening because the flame never gets lower than the surface of the water. Along with the water, my DIY wicks (which I'll post tomorrow) has a binder clip that surrounds 2 metal posts. This design acts as an additional safety precaution to keep the heat from reaching the bottom of the wick/glass - however the water level will snuff out the flame before that happens. 2. Centre the wick in the glass! The binder clip will help you do this because it is oblong on the bottom which will help you place it better centred than if you use a store bought wick (which tends to be very small and circular). 3. Proper cautions should be taken when burning oil candles, as with any other style candle. Protect the surface the candle is sitting on by placing it on a heat-resistant holder (I used a metal topped plant stand - Satsumas, made by Ikea which is non combustible). 4. Keep the candle away from anything flammable (I rolled up my roman shades for instance to keep them out of the way). 5. These particular candle only burn for just over 1/2 an hour, however, never leave a burning candle unattended. I didn't check to see whether the shot glasses I used were tempered, however I've never had a problem with all the safety precautions outlined above. With proper supervision, a glass oil burning candle will give you beautiful ambient light, so keep all of the above in mind :)

  • Tova Pearl
    on Nov 15, 2017

    Is that a muji table? It's perfect! Love your upcycle...

    • Birdz of a Feather
      on Nov 15, 2017

      Thanks Tova - that's an Ikea Satsuma plant stand. It has a metal top and is perfect for my Hanukkah display because of the metal top! During the rest of the year, I grow plants there :)

Join the conversation

Your comment...