Flower Tower in (a Few) Hour (s)

Terracotta stack

Terracotta Stack after gold leaf finish

We had the most glorious weather today! Our highs reached 75 F ( 24 C). Can you believe it? The temps should start dropping tomorrow, with much-needed rain in the forecast but today was lovely.

It was also the perfect, no-excuses day to take on my two-tiered challenge. I wrote at Crafts and Plants: My Winning Combination that I wanted to finally get around to planting a flower tower of terracotta pots. I found the idea back in 2008 in a magazine called Do It Yourself.  Today, I finally did. I also challenged myself to try something new; in this case, applying gold leaf.

As it turns out, it was really easy to do and a lot of fun. Like many things you try for the first time, there are things I would do differently. Overall though, not bad for a rookie.

Here’s what I did:

Clay Pots and Gold Leaf

Clay Pots and Gold Leaf

I picked up three clay/terracotta pots in graduating circumferences (12″, 10″ and 8″ inches) from the garden center, along with a saucer and some potting soil.

I bought a metal leaf starter kit at our local craft store. It included six pages of gold leaf, adhesive size, sealer and antiquing glaze. I had a couple of small paint brushes on hand.

I read the directions (twice) then jumped in.  Using a small paintbrush, I spread the sizing across the side of each pot, using a swirling pattern to create an organic shape. Once the sizing/glue was tacky to the touch, I applied the first sheet of leaf, brushing it into place with a soft, dry paint brush. (That was my favorite part!)

Antique finish detail

Antique finish detail

The leaf is super light and fly away, so I learned that you better have a plan. There are no second chances once it hits the adhesive. As small pieces tore off, I applied them to places with sizing. That was it!

Since the effect is as shiny as a new gold coin, I went ahead and brushed on a coat of antiquing (after sealing the gold first). I like the color but didn’t expect the brush strokes to be so apparent after it dried. The Mona Lisa Art Products Starter Kit came with enough product to complete one side of all three pots. You would need three or four kits to get enough coverage for all of them.

Stacked pots filled with soil

Stacked pots filled with soil

I raced back to the garden center late this afternoon and picked up a few cell packs. All that fresh dirt was simply begging for plants.

I planted:

  • 6 penny White Violas
  • 6 Penny Denim Jump-Up Violas
  • 6 Alyssum
  • 1 ‘Bluebird’ Nemesia fruticans

What do you think?

Flower Tower

Craft it Forward: Do You Want to Play?

Lavender Bath Salts

Lavender Bath Salts

What a fun day! I discovered a great new blog and at the same time squeaked in on her pay-it-forward 2013 offer.

What is ‘pay-it-forward’ you ask? I took part in something similar several years ago on Facebook. Here is how it works:

The first five people to comment on this post will receive something I’ve handmade. You’ll receive your handmade gift via snail mail sometime during 2013. Who doesn’t like ‘real’ mail?

I can’t say what  exactly it will be but it will follow a gardening theme. It might be a set of cards, a decorative piece, who knows. Surprises are part of the fun.

In return, please pay it forward by offering the same deal to five other people, via your blog, Facebook or Google +.

If you want to play, please comment below.  Remember, the first five to comment receive a Gardening Nirvana craft-it-forward creation.

kitty cat tag board album

Kitty-cat chipboard album

tag board purse album

Purse-shaped tag board album

Fold-out greeting card

Fold-out greeting card

Here’s a peak at a few of the crafts I put together back in 2009’s pay-it-forward.

In the meantime, check out Gjeometry.  Sewing, an adorable cat and her sidekick pooch figure prominently in her blog. Catja says:

“I have thoroughly enjoyed reading and learning from the blogs and websites of other sewers, DIY enthusiasts, crafters, designers and fashion entrepreneurs around the globe and wanted to set up shop in a little corner of that community.  Let’s be friends.”

An Apple a Day, Plus a Candle You Say?

Cutting the tea light opening

Candle Cutter in Process

It’s fun decorating with consumables. Creating centerpieces from seasonal fruit, ensures a uniquely fresh and original setting at your holiday table. I was delighted to learn how to make a Clementine Candle yesterday. It was easy to do and smelled…well…good enough to eat. Pictures and a DIY video can be found here.

Making candles from fruit reminded me of my clever Candle Carver™.  It’s a gadget that carves the perfect, tea-light sized opening in the top of an apple.  Since you only remove the top portion, you can eat the rest of the apple centerpiece when you’re done.

I think Granny Smith would be proud.

Here’s what you do:

  1. Select three to five apples with flat, level bottoms.  They’ll need to stand firm, so nothing tipsy or top heavy.
  2. Insert the candle carver at the top (or bottom) of the apple, and twist till the base sits level with the opening.
  3. Remove and compost apple top.
  4. Insert tea lights into each apple, light and enjoy
Candle Cutter

Candle Cutter

Carved Opening

Carved opening, sized for a tea light

Apples, start to finish

I used three apples stem side up and two, stem-side down for variety

Apple Candles

Apple Candles (or genetically modified Pimiento Olives?)

This also works with pears, oranges, or any other fruit with a firm, supportive center.


Thwarting Squirrels: A Different Kind of Screensaver

Screened In

I headed to my local garden center this week in search of Floating Row Covers (I blogged about them here).  I got lazy, and drifted into the Home Depot parking lot instead since it’s closer.  After a frustrating search on my own, then with the help of an employee,  it was apparent the cupboards were bare.  Sure, I could have come home and called around town or simply ordered row covers online, but I really wanted to find a solution pronto for my sunflower seed challenge: keeping squirrels at bay till the seeds grow.

I wandered the store looking for inspiration, and found a role of screening used to repair screen windows and doors.  I still wasn’t sure what I would use to support the screening, but at least it would fit two of my requirements:  it would allow air to circulate and the seeds would be easy to water.  While kneeling in the aisles comparing materials and dimensions, I noticed adjustable window screens and had my ah-ha moment.  They were perfect in every way.  The light wood and aluminum frame offered the support I needed and the screen would deter the four-legged pests.  Hurray!

With a bit of trial and hardly any error, the plan worked.  I tied a pair of the adjustable screens together using garden twine.  I folded them tee-pee style over the planter boxes and determined the angle and width of the sides.  I made a template using the back side of one of last year’s calendar, then cut scraps of an old screen into the correct shape.  Mike helped me staple those in place along the ends.  I now have functional, reusable tents for my planters.  The last step was to figure out a way to secure the tents to the planter boxes.  I found my answer on my husband’s work bench: sliding window locks!

I will bravely plant more seeds this week.  Once they emerge I’ll report back.  Wish my luck.

Assembling the Squirrel Barrier

Squirrel Barriers