DIY toy censer that won’t give someone a concussion

A few weeks ago, we took a trip to the beach for the weekend.


My boys picked up some seaweed and started “censing” things with it singing ding-dong-ding-dong as the seaweed didn’t have any bells like the priest’s censer.

For those of you totally unfamiliar, during several parts of the service, the Orthodox priest uses what is called a censer with incense in it. Orthodoxy is known for incorporating all the senses in worship. The sense of smell is not left out!


Since that beach trip, my boys have pretty much been using any swing-able object they can get their hands on as a censer to go around the house and cense with.

I decided I wanted to make them a toy version of the priest’s censer. If my boys want to be priests when they grow up, I have no problem encouraging this now. I had heard of these “toys” among seminary student families and in a few Orthodox children in churches articles I had read.

I still wasn’t completely sure if this was an OK thing to do or if a toy censer was irreverent. So I did what I always do when I have a slightly silly question about something in Orthodoxy and asked my friend that is soon to be ordained. He said, “Censers are great play items for little boys! You can use a little block of wood, maybe with a little cross on it, and then a little rope, with a bell. Something like that works wonderful. Our friend’s child would literally ‘cense’ each icon in the house, and then he would turn to each person, and each person needed to bow when he ‘censed’ them. It was really cute! I think he even had it hanging by a little hook on the wall.”

Yay, on it being OK for role playing, but the wood block suggestion was so not happening around here. See, the current problem is, many of the objects they have picked to use in this endeavor they either wind up hurting themselves or someone else with.

So, I was thinking of something a little softer and maybe slightly more decorative like an actual censer (some are so beautifully detailed, Google image search it).

Now I have to admit, normally toilet paper roll crafts gross me out. I mean that thing is in your bathroom and people touch it when… yeah. So when I see TP roll crafts all over Pinterest I can never bring myself to do them.

I made an exception because I knew I’d be covering it in felt and I couldn’t think of another more perfectly sized or shaped object for this project.

Here goes:

First I cut a TP roll in half. I traced the end and then gave myself about 1/4″ extra around that to cut circles for each end. I embroidered a cross in silver embroidery thread on one of the circles.


I punched holes at one end on opposite sides of the roll. I tied my bells inside using these holes and also tied the censer string through these holes. Normally the bells are all along the chain of the censer, but we aren’t worried about grown male priests sticking bells in their mouths. So I decided to be safe and stick mine inside.


I hot glued the felt circles over each end of the TP roll.


Then I cut a rectangle piece to fit around the exterior sides and embroidered it with more crosses and designs in the silver thread. I hot glued this around the outside of the TP roll covering the edges of the glued on circles. I made each one slightly different. I’m on an embroidery kick lately.





So there you have it. Throw this up on the list of things I’d never thought I’d be doing. Ha!


Filed under Craftopia, Faith, Family, Kiddos

4 responses to “DIY toy censer that won’t give someone a concussion

  1. Matt

    These are great! Would you be willing to sell these! I would like to put in an order for two! (I’m serious)

  2. Lisa Wuertz

    I don’t really have a ton of time to make them at the moment since I just had a baby and I’m the homeschooling mother of three more. I have been toying with the idea of opening an Etsy shop in the future with items like these and some of my embroidery. Maybe next summer-ish.

  3. Matt

    Great! Yes, there is only one other person doing something similar on etsy that I could find but I love the idea of the bells!

  4. Lisa Wuertz


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