Waxing Poetic: Students Pour Homemade Candles in First Makerspace Session


Tyler Kim

Senior Danae Dang carefully pours molten wax into a jar. Careful attention to detail – in this instance a slow, steady pour to ensure that no stray bubbles form – is necessary to achieve a satisfactory final product, according to media technician Amanda Cramer.

For most students, the fall season means the return of 70 degree weather, knit sweaters and a new academic cycle. While most of campus is settling into the usual school routine, the Learning Commons has recently debuted the makerspace workshop, a place where a staff member guides students to create themed crafts and participate in hands-on activities.

The first makerspace workshop of the school year was on Oct. 21 during office hours. Students took a step out of their comfort zone and attempted to make wax candles from start to finish.

“I really like that it was something new and something you wouldn’t really do at school or really anywhere without having to pay a lot of money for,” senior Giselle Stivi said. “It’s kind of like a stress reliever. I personally never got to make candles before, so being able to make candles was actually a really cool experience for me.”

The hands-on process began with melting soy flakes at 185 degrees to create the wax. Students then chose from a wide array of dye colors to mix into the wax. After waiting for the wax to cool, they slowly poured the wax into a candle holder with a wick attached to the bottom.

Media technician Amanda Cramer and teacher librarian Melissa Misenhimer said they took inspiration from the school’s mission, “To guide learners toward excellence and citizenship in a safe, engaging, and inspiring learning environment,” to create makerspace sessions as an engaging environment in which students can learn while having fun with hands-on activities. 

Not only do the sessions provide experience in creating more technically-challenging, craft-related experiences, but they also offer students a unique opportunity to develop their own desires of leading and creating activities of their own, according to Cramer.

“It’s really nice to just kind of take a small portion of the day to relax, you know, enjoy something that’s more creative for your mind,” Stivi said. “Everything will always be about studying here at high school, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun, you know?”

Following the success of last week’s makerspace workshop, the Learning Commons staff hopes to continue hosting new crafts every week in the technology director’s office during office hours. 

Students can look forward to an activity on stage makeup and special effects related to Halloween hosted by Stivi on Oct. 28.

More information regarding future events can be found on the Learning Commons’ Instagram page @portolacommons.