Garden Cloche DIY Tutorial

I’m sure I’m not the only one using tomato cages, or garden fencing, to protect plants and new sprouts in the garden and yard.  Rather they’re protecting from animals, grand kids, or an inattentive mower, they can sometimes stay put most of the summer. That’s what made me think of a large garden cloche; if you’re going to look at it for months, why not make it more attractive? And, no one else will have one like it … that’s always a bonus, right?

My garden cloche design got a jump start when I stumbled upon a pair of wire planter baskets at a local thrift shop for a dollar. The wire spacing on them was similar to a discarded air conditioner guard I had tucked away at home.

I quickly realized I could not bend and shape the steel AC guard to match the 14″dia. of the planter basket with just my hands. After searching around, I finally found an old milk can of that size to roll, wrap, and shape it around. I used bolt cutters to cut the length of guard needed, then connected the ends together by wrapping the entire length of the seam with thin wire, crisscrossing the wire at the intersections, for a smooth seam and firm connection.  Cut the wires from bottom ring, leaving prongs to push into the ground.

  

Cut and remove the crossbars from the bottom of the basket. Once I cut them in the center, they just snapped off.

Spray both of the wire pieces black with an exterior paint recommended for metal. Let dry completely.

    

I gathered some odd lamp pieces and a short piece of threaded rod to stack and build a large finial to adorn the top of the upturned basket. One lamp piece (the base piece) will need to fit nicely inside the basket below where the crossbars were.

Spray paint the base lamp pieces black, let dry.

  

Beginning with the painted base pieces on the threaded rod, stack and build the lamp pieces. Leaving room for a small finial, use tape to mark where the threaded rod will need to be cut. Remove the rod to cut, restack the pieces, add a dab of E6000 to the tip of the rod, and twist the small finial on to tighten your pieces together firmly.

  

 

  

 

    

Cut back all but 6 or 7 of the wires on the top ring of the AC guard, these will be used to bend over the wire ring of the basket and hold it in place. Touch up the cut wires with black spray paint. Attach the basket to the top and its ready for the garden.

   

Kind of gives the garden a little majestic touch, don’t you think?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Repurposing with Salvaged Aluminum Screen Guards

Aluminum screen guards – look at all those pretty scrolls!  You may want to keep your eyes open for these my repurposing friends, they’re a treasure, and have so many possibilities, used whole or cut into smaller pieces.  I’ve had a small pile of them hoarded in my garage for sometime now and recently pulled them out when I was making for the market event last month.

My first thought was to cut them into separate scroll pieces and make brackets by trimming them with thin wood pieces as in the finishing step of my last post.  I haven’t found time to follow through on that yet, but did get them used in a couple other ways.

For pieces, we used a hack saw to cut the guard in half before grinding off the head of the rivets with a cutting wheel on a die grinder. Thank goodness my husband is much handier with a cutting wheel than I am. He got the job done smoothly and didn’t leave hardly any marks on the aluminum. After grinding, tap the rivet out with a punch if needed.

    

Scroll pieces were attached with small wood screws, in the holes already provided, to quickly dress up old boards for indoor/outdoor decor. If more holes are needed, I would suggest using a drill press.  The one with the hooks is my favorite.  The top board can be hung with the scrolls up or down, away or against the wall.  The scroll piece on the bottom board is from an old mailbox; wouldn’t it be fun to personalize?

Two guards, with their side ends cut off, fit nicely into a couple empty window panes to make a flower box and decorative wall panel. To achieve an iron finish, one guard was first spray painted with Rust-oleum gray hammered paint, let dry, brushed with a black glaze, then burnished with #1 steel wool.  The aluminum guard pieces each ran a different direction on these two projects.  With no rule of thumb to follow on how to secure them, I did what was easiest for me.  E6000 was used to glue short lengths of 1/4″ wood into the notch of the flower box guard, held tightly in place with tape until completely dry, then painted.

 

 

A notch was cut from a very thin piece of wood to fit over the painted guard on the wall panel, glued and nailed in place with a brad nailer, then touched up with paint.

  

Anyone eager to go scroll hunting yet?  I know I’ll be toting home more if I come across them while out gathering this summer.  Don’t limit your search to door guards, give those old picnic tables and awning legs a good look over too!

  

I’ll be back with an update on those brackets ……..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage Style Wooden Decorative Brackets DIY Tutorial

I’m still working like mad to get ready for the upcoming June 2nd Vintage Market. It’s been crazy around here trying get ready in such a short period of time. I’m very excited to go though, and hope all the hard work pays off.
I came up with a new bracket idea to take to the market, and also offer in varied sizes and designs, in my shop “out behind the house” this summer. Chicken wire inserts were added to give them just the right touch for some fun vintage farmstyle/country decorating. They take a little time, but I think they are worth the effort.
I traced my bracket pattern on to 1/2″ plywood. The plywood was only finished on one side, so the pattern was traced 2 face up, 2 face down, making sure the grain was running the same direction on all, then cut out with a scroll or band saw.

  

The insert pattern was centered and traced on each bracket.

Drill several large holes inside the drawn lines of the insert tracing. Cut the insert openings out with a scroll saw. I found it easier to connect some of the holes first, removing small chunks of wood from the center, then get a clean cut on the traced lines.

Sand to smooth all the rough edges before painting with exterior primer and paint so they can be used indoors or out.
Cut two pieces of chicken wire to extend over and cover the insert area, matching the pattern in the wire.
With a bracket finished side down, place the wire over the insert opening. Brush a little paint on the wire that extends on to the wood. Flatten the painted wire with a hammer. Staple the wire to the wood. Flatten the staples with a hammer so they are as flat as possible.

    

Apply some wood glue, and cover it with a matching bracket, finished side up. Clamp together tightly to dry. My brackets were large. I ended up using twice the amount of clamps that are shown in the picture below. It looked like some sort of a torture device when I sit it down to dry. Make sure to wipe away any glue that squeezes out when tightening the clamps.

  

After the brackets are dry, they can be sanded to smooth any uneven edges, and touched up with paint.

The brackets are done and can be used at this point, or, the outside edge can be trimmed with 1/4″ thick wood strips, which is how I choose to finish this pair before repainting.

  

So, what do you think? Think they’ll catch someone’s eye at the market?

River Rock Mosaic Garden Rock Art

The heat and humidity has us spending much of our time indoors lately. That’s not all bad though, the AC feels real good and there’s always an area in my house that could use a little attention; like the large catch-all area in the basement. It actually turned out to be quite fun to take on that task. I found things I’ve been looking for, things I forgot I had, and most of all, figured out I definitely need to get better at putting things away.
It made my day when I pulled a container of rocks out from under a table. Here was a garden project that I had been wanting to do for a couple years now, and never took the time. It could be done indoors, and in small steps. Alright, I could multi-task!
A couple years ago I made a big mosaic rock with some polished river rocks. It was meant for a show, but, found a welcome home in my garden instead. I thought a grouping of them would look cool, so I bought more rocks with the intentions of making some, but never took the time. Well, now, was the perfect time.

I picked out three smaller rocks I liked the shape of and washed them with hot soapy water. Then gathered my rocks, painters/masking tape, bowl of rubbing alcohol, a work rag, and some E6000, clear or white. I found my bags of rock in the floral department at Hobby Lobby. I think they were about $3 each. They weren’t as shiny as my original ones, but would do.
After washing the rocks, they were sorted by the colors and sizes I wanted to use, swished in a bowl of rubbing alcohol to remove any oils on them, and laid out to dry.

    

using a liberal amount of glue, begin gluing on the rocks you like, leaving a small space between them, 1/16″th to 1/8th”. Use a piece of tape to hold them into place until they dry. This takes some time. You may even have to use tape and a rock as a prop while drying. If you don’t wait for the rocks to dry firmly enough, they may shift as you move the rock around.

    

As I glued, I realized I was going to need tiny rocks for a few small spaces around the rounded tops and bottom edges. I picked out a big handful from a pea rock pile behind my house, and gave them a wash, so I’d have something to choose from.

Once the rock is completely covered, let it dry 24 hours.

I used gray sanded grout left over from a bathroom tile project. Grout powder settles and should be re-stirred before mixing with water. ALWAYS WEAR A MASK AND GLASSES when stirring or mixing grout powder. You do not want it to get into your eyes, lungs or nasal passages.
Grouts may differ, follow the directions on the grout package for mixing. I started with 1/2 cup of water, and stirred in about 1 1/4 cup to 1 1/2 cup grout powder. Stir until lumps are gone and it has a consistency of thick oatmeal. Cover in an airtight container and let set for 15 to 20 minutes, before grouting.
I used an old shower curtain to provide a waterproof surface to work on. You’ll also need a pair of rubber or disposable gloves, a bucket of water, old rag, and maybe a putty knife.

  

Re-stir the mixed grout. Spread the grout across the rocks, pressing it into all the crevices. You can spread the grout on neatly with a putty knife, or just lay it on with your gloved fingertips, which is the method I prefer. Make sure you cover the edges of the rocks on the bottom as well.

   

  

Once the rocks are covered with grout, let them set 30 to 40 minutes. Squeeze out a wet rag and wipe them down to expose the rocks you glued on. Let set another 10 to 15 minutes, or sooner, depending on how fast your grout is drying, then rub firmly around the rocks to remove any excess grout, and smooth the grout lines. Wipe lightly with a rinsed dampened rag. Rinse rag with clean water and wipe lightly again. The rocks should be pretty clean but still have a slight hazy look. Let dry 12 hours. ALWAYS DISPOSE OF DIRTY GROUT WATER OUTSIDE – NEVER POUR IT DOWN YOUR DRAIN! Using an outdoor faucet works best for rinsing and washing grout buckets, rags, and tools.

  

  

Spritz the rocks lightly with window cleaner and use a soft bristled toothbrush to give the exposed rocks a very light scrub and remove the haze. Use a ceramic tool/dental pick to remove any glue residue or unwanted grout. You can wipe it down with a damp rag again at this point if needed. Let dry another 12 hours. Brush the entire rock with a light coat of grout sealer, wipe and buff it dry. Follow recommended curing time on grout instructions before exposing your mosaics to saturation.

  

My grout instructions recommended waiting three weeks. Keeping that in mind, I arranged my rocks in the garden.  I do have my dumb moments once in a while, so, I really thought I was on top of my game when I remembered to move them inside when there was a threat of rain, and before the 3 weeks were up. I didn’t get to revel very long, I’m embarrassed to say. After getting no rain, I moved my rocks back, and turned on the sprinkler to water the garden, duh?  Oh well, it didn’t look like any damage was done, I guess time will tell. 🙂

Friendly reminder – mosaic rocks should be stored indoors during the cold winter months and returned to the garden after temps maintain over 32 degrees in the spring.