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How to Make Giant Rock Candy from Upcycled Garbage

This is the first blog in a mini series on how to make all kinds of giant candy decorations from upcycled stuff! I am so excited to share all my crazy fun projects with you. Subscribe here to make sure you don't miss a single one! I'm going to be making showing you how to make a giant cupcake out of mostly trash and it's super cute! Also coming your way is gum drops and Sixlets. All made from reuse items and... they light up! Woohoo! Let's get started!

Gather Those Ol' Cardboard Boxes and a Long Stick

To make these awesome rock candy decorations, you will first need a collection of cardboard boxes of various sizes. Lighter cardboard such as cereal and frozen food boxes work well for this project. You can also use stronger cardboard such as packing boxes but it will make for a heavier final product which can be a challenge to get to stand up when all said and done. If you are able, stick to the lighter cardboard to make your life a bit easier on this one! You will also need a long sturdy stick to support your rock candy sculpture. I used old curtain rods for mine. A broom stick or long dowel is also an option. Some leftover PVC or anything else that is sturdy and cylindrical will work great as well. About 5 to 6 feet in height is ideal but there is not perfect length. It is really up to your discretion and what is available in your junk pile.

Let's Get Started

First off, you will need to gather a few more basic supplies.


- Assortment of lightweight cardboard boxes

- Sturdy stick 5-6' in length at least 1/2" in diameter

- Scissors

- Clear Packing Tape

- Paint Brush 1"-2"

- White or clear school glue (3 small size bottles from the dollar store is enough)

- Scrap white paper cut into strips (about 20 sheets depending in the size of your rock candy )

- Colored tissue paper (any color you choose - about 20

sheets depending on the size of your rock candy)

Optional Additional Supplies

- Large old can or 3 gallon bucket with heavy material inside

(rock, sand, concrete, etc, to secure the stick in the base)

- Rust-Oleum Clear Glitter Top Coat Spray (or other spray on clear coat)

- Strand of Twinkle lights if you want you rock candy to light up.

Step 1: The Starting Box

Pick a starting box and secure it to the stick with tape. If adding Twinkle Lights, thread them into the starting box. Placing the box on the stick at an angle, going corner to corner, will give you a sturdy start. If adding lights, cut a hole in the box at the top to thread the lights through. Poke holes in the box with scissors to help the light shine through.

Step 2: Build Em' Up

Continue to add boxes, building upon the starting box. Securing each one with tape to build a base structure. If adding Twinkle Lights, thread them through each box as you go. Make sure to cut or poke holes in the boxes to allow light to pass through your rock candy.

Step 3: White Paper Coat

Once you are happy with the shape you created, cover the boxes entirely with white paper (scrap is best!) and glue. Paint an area of the box with clear or white school glue, add paper strips, and top with another layer of glue to secure and create a "crust". (I do not recommend diluting the glue. There are many craft projects where diluting the glue is the best practice but sense we are aiming to create a decoration that can withstand wet weather, full strength is best for this project!) Continue until all the boxes are covered.

Step 4: Time for Color

Cover your rock candy sculpture with colored tissue paper and glue. Repeat the same process as you did with the white paper, only this time using a colored tissue paper of your choice. Continue to add paper strips until you reach a color coat you like.

Step 5: It's All About the Base

Now the you have completed the basic rock candy sculpture it is time to secure it in a heavy base.... Or, maybe it is best to do this step BEFORE you begin adding boxes on the stick! I chose to do it later, using a chair to hold up my rock candy as I worked. This allowed for it to spin freely which is both nice and a pain in the butt at the same time! It is really your choice, if you put it in a base first then it will stand nicely for you as you work and not spin, but you will have to move around it as you work. I am not sure which way is best but nonetheless, I chose to let it spin as I work and secure it in a base after the construction is done.

There are many options here! I encourage you to get create and reuse scrap items if you can! Here are some clever ideas:

I used an old coffee can for one sculpture and a 3 gallon bucket for the other. The coffee can had to be filled to the top with concrete to make it heavy enough to support the rock candy, while the 3 gallon bucket needed to be filled about 1/2 way.

If you don't want to mess with a heavy base, there is always the option of driving it straight into the ground (if it is soft enough) or drilling a hole in a block of wood and driving it down in.

Ahh, there is so many options that will work! Really, not matter which way you choose, just remember that the rock candy will be top heavy. Go big, heavy, or deep in the dirt, to ensure your candy stands tall!

Step 6

Protect your rock candy from damp weather by spraying it liberally with clear coat. I recommend using Rust-Oleum Glitter Clear Sealer, but if you are not able to find it, any spray clear coat will work. Apply it in several coats to ensure the paper and boxes are protected when placed outdoors.

Step 7

Show off your masterpiece and decorate, decorate, decorate!!


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