My biggest botch was a trivet made from wine corks. I bought a piece of board to use as the base, glued all the corks together, and let it dry. It was a little uneven, but I thought it was cool. I stashed it on top of the toaster oven.
The next time I used the oven, all the glue melted, and the trivet became permanently attached to the top of the toaster oven. I guess the glue hadn't completely cured, because it only melted that one time.
I discovered the problem by reaching for the trivet and jerking the whole toaster oven off the counter onto the floor. That toaster oven kept working for years and years and years after that.
When I was learning to sew from my grandmother (I was about 9 or 10), she insisted that every single seam be as straight and perfect as she would make it. One of the first few times she set me to ripping out a seam, she handed me a straight pin. After working the threads for about 10 minutes, I helped myself to her seam ripper and finished the job. I showed it to her, and she deemed it "messy" and then insisted that I pick out all the little thread bits, wash the fabric, and iron it, before I continued with my project.
As you might imagine, I never finished that project. And I never learned to sew from her, although she now thinks my mad skills are all a result of her teaching (i took classes and learned from my mom).
So I have a love/hate thing with my seam ripper -- I love using it, but it reminds me of how inadequate I felt when Grandma said "messy" and wrinkled her nose.
Thanks so much for all the cool ideas -- I'm leaning toward the candle idea, although I'm still not sure. For some reason, I really want to paint them -- I suppose funky painted travel candles are in order then, huh?