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As I emptied my house prior to renting it out for a year, I tried really hard to de-clutter and to recycle, rather than pack away for a later date, as many of my bits and pieces as I could. This meant when I came to refurnishing my house this autumn I had lots of nice empty surfaces available for anything new and special I might acquire. One such thing was this tea light holder, which was a birthday present from Big Sis and now has pride of place on either my mantelpiece or the surround at the base of my fire place, depending on what else I have on display at that time.
Sold exclusively by Lakeland, this is a delicate silver structure that is easy to assemble out of the box because it's obvious how the four pieces fit together, and they're designed so they'll only fit on the right way, not upside down or not really balanced. The stand is designed to hold a tea light but can be used with other candles too, for example the Yankee Votives though I wouldn't let these burn too long at a time as the ridge to catch the dripping wax is not that high (since the product is designed to have tea lights inside, with their own useful metal case). That said, it is easy to scrape the wax off, and I always find that quite satisfying too, especially when you pick it carefully and get it all off in one big piece...
The lantern looks quite attractive just on its own, but when you add a tea light it really lights up. The centre of the lantern is a cream, fairly opaque tube which is covered with a cut out silver sleeve showing a pattern of flowers and, of course, butterflies. When a lit candle is inside it makes the pattern glow, though it's a muted, romantic light rather than a bright one. On top of the sleeve sits a fanned disk with two butterflies on top who lean in so the tips of their wings touch. They spin round when a candle is lit, sending a lovely pattern onto my walls, a bit like a low key disco ball, just made of butterflies. The effect is approaching being in a butterfly garden the way they flutter past, but without the worry one will break off and fly towards you. I love butterfly shapes but sometimes in real life they make me nervous as they are so delicate I'm afraid I'll crush them if I breathe wrong. It's only with the candle in place that you can get the lantern's full effect - without the illumination it brings, the butterfly details on the side are less obvious, for example, and it looks more like shapes and less like a picture.
The lantern works well though the butterflies on top don't always spin round as they should, and I've not been able to work out why yet: it seems to be unconnected to the height of the candle left, and if the candle burns out (or you blow it out) they can sometimes keep spinning for some time too. Though it is well made, the bit that seems the least sturdy is also this disk on top as you can push the butterflies to position them, though I try not too as they look so thin I imagine they could snap extremely easily. On the other hand, the 3-legged base is excellent and I have no worries that the structure will collapse. It is wide but not excessively so, and fits easily on my mantelpiece without touching the wall behind or hanging off the front.
I light candles with a long handled gas lighter which is supremely helpful here as I can set the lantern up and then light it without having to take off the top - for a normal lighter or matches I imagine you'd have to remove everything including the central column to get access to the tea light in the bottom.
You might think it's a bit small to be a feature, but that would depend on the scale of everything else in the room, and although I don't notice it as much when it's unlit, as soon as I pop a candle in it seems to grow somewhat, and dominate the room more. You can also turn this simple structure into a fancy display with the addition of some regular candles - I have some basic glass tea light holders and when I fill these and place them on the ceramic fire surround too the whole place flickers beautifully. I can also imagine these as beautiful centre pieces on a dining table or at a wedding as they are reasonably safe with the candle part well protected and the base making it hard to knock them over. It's a step up from a plain glass in that it is aesthetically pleasing even when the candle is not lit, and the movement makes it special too.
I'm really trying not to clutter my house back up, so only special ornamenty things make the grade and get to be displayed, but this is definitely one of them. I love that it's so intricate but also so minimalist as unlit it's a simple silver, not splashed with garish covers. I love how it projects a pattern on my walls, and I love the butterfly detailing. Highly recommended.
At the moment this seems to have disappeared from the Lakeland website to make way for their Christmas range, but I'm sure it will be back next year, or a very similar version will be. Priced around £5.99 it offers excellent value for money and is well made so should last a long time.