Crystal Garden Chandelier

Whoa! This summer is going by way too fast! Between enjoying Grandma/Grandpa daycare activities, a couple of week-end road trips, and participating in a few market events, I must admit, I’ve selfishly been neglecting my blog a little. Okay, maybe more than a little ..
I haven’t been totally sloughing off though, so, while relishing in an unusually quiet week-end, I thought it would be a great time to try to catch up and get back into the swing of sharing in the blogging world.
Pretty reclaimed crystals, dangling on small garden chandeliers, seem to be popping up all over lately. They’re so darn cute!

Of course, I had to give one a go!

I had plenty of crystals. I remembered a blue faucet handle in the garage, then, sorted through a box of old lamp parts to find a couple small, clear glass pieces, a brass base, and all the nuts and washers I thought I’d need. I chose a finial with a hole in it so it would be easier to add a wire for the center crystals.
What I didn’t have was a long threaded lamp pipe. You can find them in a home improvement store for under $3.00. Sweet!

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Larger holes had to be drilled through the faucet handle and some of the washers to accommodate the rod. Holes were cut bigger in some cloth pads too.
In preparation to hang the crystals, small holes were drilled in every other petal of the brass globe lamp cap.  Sand, or grind the holes smooth after drilling.

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I stacked the collected pieces in an arrangement I liked, then, removed each piece, laying them in a line, in the order they were stacked.
Run a hex nut down the threaded pipe. Put on the brass lamp cap, upturned, with the petals down. Add the faucet handle and other pieces in the order you have them laid out. If you happen to run out of rod before all the pieces are on, just run the hex nut a little further down the rod for more room. Hang on to the finial and screw the hex nut up on the rod to tighten things up. Once tightened, mark the rod with a piece of tape. Remove your pieces, once again laying them in order, and cut the rod to the length you need. Sand, or grind any sharp edges on the rod. Reassemble the piece.

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I like to use small 19 gauge, black annealed wire when working on projects like this. It can be hard to find in craft stores. I have my best luck finding it at Theisen’s.  Other Farm & Home stores may have it, or a hardware store.
I was able to cheat a bit when it came to wiring the crystals. Most of mine were already attached together with the original head pin wires. If not, I robbed a wire from another one.
I wrapped a tiny silver bead on the end of a length of wire, and threaded it through a larger silver bead that was bigger than the hole in the finial, so it would not slip through. Insert the wire down through the finial. Trim the wire off leaving enough length for a small loop to attach your crystals.  A rectangle and large teardrop crystal were used in the center.

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Large octagonal and teardrop crystals were used around the outside edge. I first tried jump rings to attach them, but didn’t like the way they looked. I ended up making a kind of “s” shaped hook, leaving the loop of the hook visible on top of the brass cap.

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Wa-Laa!

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I hope I’ve inspired a few of you to do your own garden chandelier making.  If so, I hope you’re willing to share a picture or any helpful suggestions in the comment section, Thank You! I love hearing from readers!

 

 

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Gourd Bee/Bug House

After replacing several last spring, I was very happy to find all of my perennials up and thriving when I took a little meander through my garden a couple weeks ago. It felt so good being in the garden again and thinking of plans for yard and garden projects.

There’s a big sand pile, with climbing rocks, in one corner of the garden. While a garden hose trickles, my grandson enjoys creating rivers, and mixing faux cement in a wheel barrow during warm summer months. And, like every other youngster, he’s very curious, and notices every bug and worm too.

Many wonderful Pinterest posts on bee and bug houses have peaked my interest lately.  I thought it would be fun to make one so we could observe what settles in and maybe learn something in the process.

I was able to rummage up everything I needed except for the bamboo, which I found in the garden center of a couple Home Improvement Stores, making the total cost of this project about $5.00.
Over the last month, I’ve been scrubbing dried gourds in preparation for a Farmer’s Market event, so I chose one of them as the structure for my first habitat abode.
My gourd measured 7 1/2″H x 6 1/2″W.  Rubber gloves provided grip while sawing off the front with a hack saw. Dried pulp and seeds were scraped from the inside. Sand the inside lightly to remove attached debris. Always wear a mask or bandanna over your mouth and nose when sanding gourds or cleaning out dried pulp and seeds. The dust and dried particles can irritate nasal passages and lungs.

Seal the outside of the gourd with Thompson’s Water Seal. Let dry. Drill five holes in the bottom of the gourd, at the lowest points, for drainage. Try to keep the holes within a 2″ pattern. Seal the inside of the gourd with a good layer of thinned interior/exterior wood glue. Let dry.

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Fold and cut a hole in a piece of heavy paper, slip over stem to make a roof pattern. I extended the roof out a bit in front so it would cover the bamboo openings.

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A few more holes may be needed for ventilation.

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I have an old piece of burnt aluminum siding that I like to go to when I need a rustic piece of metal sheeting. Cut off the approximate size needed and flatten with a car body hammer before tracing and cutting out the roof pattern. My roof measured 10 1/4″W x 6″Deep with a 2 1/8″ dia. hole.

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Small files worked well to smooth the sharp edges of the roof, but I found a large round file to smooth and shape the hole so it fit easily over the gourd. The roof has to be flat to fit over the gourd, then bent to shape. With the roof in place, lay the gourd on it’s back and trace the roof line on a piece of heavy paper. This pattern will be used to cut a small piece of wood as a brace under the roof peak when a shelf is made.

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Initially, I planned to hang the gourd with a wire, or dowel, through the stem, but I read that Mason bees preferred a stable home over one swinging in the breeze, so it will go on a barn board shelf, which I think actually adds a lot of character to the piece. My board was 5 1/2″W. The back was cut 15 1/2″ long. A 2″ dia. hole was drilled in the 5″ long shelf and it was screwed on from the back. The roof line pattern traced earlier was used to cut a small triangular brace for the metal roof. Hold the roofed gourd on the shelf to determine where to place the brace. Use finishing nails to attach brace to board. Seal shelf with Thompson’s Water Seal.

An extra set of hands came in handy for stapling the roof. Hold the gourd firmly with roof resting on the brace. Staple roof to the top of brace. Drill a hole in back of gourd and secure it to the board with a screw and fender washer.

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Adding the bamboo was a little tricky and took some time. I used a small tabletop scroll saw to cut the bamboo and drilled through any closed bamboo joints. Save all the trimmins! They’ll make cute little beads or embellishments for future projects.

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Start in the middle with a bundle of 5″ lengths wrapped with rubber bands. To make a more level surface, I cut old corn cobs lengthwise, broke them in half, and surrounded the base of the bundle.

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Mark bamboo and cut to surround the bundle. Hold in place with tape. When nearing the side, tuck in some small pine cones to fill in the curves, and maybe provide shelter for a few ladybugs. Things started to shift a bit as I added more bamboo, so I stuffed a cloth in the empty side and top to hold the bamboo in place. Pull the cloth out, a little at a time, as you fill in with bamboo. (Sorry, didn’t get a picture of this).

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Scrap bamboo pieces quickly filled in as I neared the top, go back and cut them to fit. Dried Teasel stems were inserted into gaps to keep the bamboo snug and secure. You may want to wear gloves or use tweezers when working with Teasel, they are stickery.  If bamboo pieces slide down, use small pliers to gently pull them back out flush. Trim off Teasel stems.

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I felt a little something was needed, so I made a simple bee with a couple glass beads, leaving a couple inches of wire at the bottom to wrap around a Teasel stem, before pushing it in.

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It’s ready for permanent occupancy as soon as I round up a post to attach it to and get it set in a patch of Bee Balm in my garden. Or, I could wire to one of my apple trees in the grove, Hmm?
It’s recommended that the house faces southeast for the warmth of the morning sun, be at least 4 feet above ground, and protected from wind and weather. Mud is also needed for bees to seal in their eggs. I think all the water activities in my sand pile address any mud concerns. 🙂

 

What new spring projects are you working on?  Please share ……

 

 

 

A New Concrete Boot Scraper

It was a few wet days, last month, that spurred an unexpected project. After admiring many creative and inspiring concrete/hypertufa boards on Pinterest, I was so dreaming of designing garden pathways and stones, as my first concrete endeavors, but instead… it was a boot scraper.

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Our old boot scraper was already settled comfortably by the back door when we moved to the family farm over 25 years ago.

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It found it’s way here in a load of salvage long before our arrival.  It has scraped many boots and shoes, propped boards to be painted, secured papers, and dog leashes.  No one ever gave it much thought until we were trying to wipe mud from our shoes, in wet grass, before entering on the other side of the house. That’s when I said, “We should make one of those mud scrapers for over here.”  My husband replied, “Wouldn’t take much, just a box of concrete and a piece of steel.”  It took me a minute to absorb…. “Hey!  I think I got something we can use!”

I’ve always had a tendency to save pieces and scraps when remodeling or updating, like the wainscoting used to build our bird feeder, in my previous post.  I find it fun to integrate the old with the new.  It’s like letting something catch it’s breath to start a whole new story.

A cast aluminum “K”, from one of the first doors we replaced, has rested on a nail in my garage for a very long time.  I’ve often looked at it as I pulled in, and thought, “I’m gonna find a good place for you someday.” That day finally came … it was the perfect “glassic touch”.

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We began by tracing the inside rim of the aluminum piece on 1/2″ plywood, and cut it out with a band saw.

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Box sides were cut from 1″x10″ pine boards, mindful that the wood grain ran horizontally on the end that the handle would be inserted in, so it can easily be split off later.

A length of 1/4″ steel rod was bent around a 5″ dia. pole, then put in a vice to trim off the ends with a hack saw. Once handle is shaped, mark the wood for placement and predrill holes. Make sure it slides in easily and fits snugly.DSC07531DSC07533DSC07540DSC07545

With a chop saw, or hack saw, cut a scrap piece of 1/8″ thick steel.  Ours was 3″ wide and approximately 13″ long.

Center and attach the circle of plywood to the inside front piece of wood, then screw the box together. Its important to keep the top edges of the box even, so the concrete can be leveled off after its poured.  Attach a piece of scrap plywood to the bottom of the assembled box, and give the inside a coat of diesel fuel to prevent the concrete from sticking.  Putting a large piece of cardboard under the box will catch any leaking concrete, and make it easier to move around, if needed.

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You’ll appreciate an extra pair of hands, and something sturdy to stir with, when mixing up an 80 lb. bag of Quikrete.  We used about 1 1/4 gal. of water and mixed it well.

Scoop the concrete in the box.  Use whatever you stirred with, or a paint stick, to tamp and work it down as you fill, especially around the outside edges, to help obtain a smooth finish on the sides when it has dried.

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After filling and tamping, slide the edge of a paint stick across the top to level.  Insert the handle into the predrilled holes.

Wait about 20 minutes, level top again with paint stick, and slowly push in the piece of steel, upright.  Let it sit approximately another 30 minutes, then brush the top lightly with a 2″ chip brush. Times will vary depending on how wet the concrete is.DSC07585DSC07590

NOTE: Before mixing concrete, you may want to spray and prepare a few small containers or molds to quickly use up any excess.  Waste Not, Want Not.

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After 24 hours, tip the box and brace it while removing the bottom. Sit it back up on the plywood, sideways, to dry another 12 hours.  Remove all the screws and tap sides off gently.  On the handle end, tap a wood chisel gently into the wood, first from the sides, then across the middle. Repeat until it splits easily; remove. Lightly sand top outside edge of concrete.

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Trace your circle pattern on your choice of glass.  Cut and grind to fit inside the aluminum circle. Dab silicone glue on the backside of the “K”, insert glass, and weigh down to dry.  Run a thin bead of silicone around the backside edge of the glass. I also glued on two 3/8″ resin beads to help brace the glass against the concrete.  Let dry.DSC07664DSC07676DSC07677DSC07734DSC07740DSC07754

Run a thick bead of silicone around the inside circumference of the concrete circle and set the aluminum piece in place.  Dry over night.

Using a baggie, pipe in an initial layer of interior/exterior sanded gray grout to fill the gap between the aluminum and concrete.  Then apply a top layer with a putty knife.  Let it dry a minute, then smooth and clean with a damp cloth. DSC07770DSC07764

Let dry 12 hours and seal with grout sealer.

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There it is.. this little “K” is once again greeting people at our door!  What do you think?

I’m thinking the time for garden projects has come to an end for the year. Its time to start thinking Fall and Christmas!

Barn Bird Feeder with Mini Barn Quilt

Welcome to glassic touch!

I’ve been eager to start my own blog for a long time, and to join the ranks of all those wonderful people who are willing to share their ideas and techniques with the world. My lack of computer savvy and a fear of not knowing what I’m doing has always held me back. Well, we can’t have anymore of that! They say “you learn by doing”, so I’m going to jump in with both feet and see how it goes!

I have a huge enthusiasm for using reclaimed items, recycled materials, glass, and wire to create unique pieces for the garden or home. For me, the most challenging and funnest step, in designing a piece, is figuring out that little touch of something special or unexpected to make it my own…. I like to call it the “glassic touch”.

We were completing a project when I decided to start my blog, and I’d like to share it with you as my first post. I hope you find it interesting and inspiring.

I came across a small pile of mismatched forgotten boards, while sorting through “my stuff” in the garage, and instantly recalled the image of an old rustic barn birdfeeder I had admired in a garden magazine several years ago. Although the boards were a mix of old narrow wainscoting and wide tongue and groove, it looked achieveable. After sketching out my idea and deciding the layout, my husband offered to help me build it.

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The size of our feeder was determined by the boards we had available. We used the narrow wainscoting for the sides and the wide for the front and back. A simple frame was built from scrap lumber and the boards were attached with a brad nailer, painted red, then lightly sanded. I rescued a 1 1/2″W x 1/4″ thick piece of rough shipping crate lath from the trash bin to trim out the side entries. The trim pieces were cut, attached, and painted white. My completed barn measurements, without a base, are 20 1/2″L x 11 1/2″W. The side peaks are 14 1/2″H.

For the base, we used a piece of 3/4″plywood, cut 22 1/2″L x 13″W and a 1 1/2″thick plank cut 20 1/2″L x 11″W. Both were sanded and treated with Thompson’s Water Seal.

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Please be careful with this next step, cut steel edges are very sharp and jagged! You may want to wear gloves. Using tin snips, cut a piece of corrugated steel, with furrows running lengthwise, 20″L x approximately 23 1/2″W. For a neater appearance, cut the steel so the sides are matching. For example, I needed the roof to be 23 1/2″W, but went a bit wider so I was at the top of a furrow on each side. I was lucky on this step and had a scrap of steel that was in very good condition on one end and I only had to make 2 cuts. Cutting up the side, along a furrow, may be difficult. We found it helpful to bend it back as we cut and take your time.

My husband clued me in on a very helpful tip for bending the steel. Once cut, lay it flat, topside down (we were working on concrete). Pencil mark in the middle where you want it to bend. Lay a steel rod on the mark and hold it down firmly.. I stood on one end while my husband held the other. Hammer on the rod to collaspe the furrows down. When done, keep the rod in place and slowly raise up one side of the steel, bending it evenly towards the rod. Easy Peasy!

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Disappointingly, my bird feeder sit in pieces for the last two couple of months while I debated on what I wanted to add to the top. I remembered that the one in the magazine had something protruding from the top.. a little metal weathervane, I think. Regardless, I needed something and nothing I had was really clicking. My problem was solved a few weeks ago when my sister declared she was not leaving a 75% off junk booth until she found something. After digging around a bit she popped up with a mini lightning rod on an upside down v-shaped brass holder. TA-DAA! Six Dollars!!  It was perfect!  I’m so glad she didn’t want it, that could have been a problem.

So, finally, we were ready to set my feeder in place. We enjoy bird watching, so it was positioned close to the house, amid a patch of red garden phlox, and turned at an angle so there was a view through the sides.

Coming up from the bottom, so screws wouldn’t show, the feeder was attached to the plywood. Screw on roof and lightning rod. Set your post. Attach the plank to the wooden post with lag screws. Sit barn with plywood on the plank, and attach with long screws through the bottom of the plank, again so screws are hidden. Note – Screw tips may protrude through the plywood so place screws towards the side ends of the feeder so you maintain a clean view through the side entries.

And for “the glassic touch“?  What’s a barn without a barn quilt?!

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Before adding the roof, I drilled two holes, in one side, in preparation to hang a miniature mosaic glass barn quilt. The wooden frame was thick so reaming out the holes on the inside was necessary to accommodate the screws and nuts being used.

With bitter cold, icy Iowa winters, I make a habit of bringing my mosaics, glass chunks, and stepping stones inside for the winter. For this reason, I wanted my quilt removable. With a diamond head bit, I drilled 2 holes in a 3″ x 3″ square piece of glass. Then I used a coned shaped bit so the head of my screw would be inset. Always use water to cool the glass while drilling or it will break. I balanced my glass on an upturned plastic baby food container, that fit between the holes, and glued my screws in place with E6000, weighed them down with a rock, and let dry for 24 hours. With a glass marker, I drew lines from corner to corner and such so I would be able to center any design. Or, you can draw an actual design if you have one chosen.

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After deciding on a simple Pinwheel pattern, I cut some scrap glass and glued it on, again with E6000, and let dry 24 hours. I grouted with Interior/Exterior Sanded Gray Grout. Wanting a darker gray grout line I added a few drops of Exterior Black Primer to my water before mixing. I’ve never added paint before, so it will be a good test I guess. Let the grout dry 24 hours then seal. Follow the directions on your sealer for drying time before subjecting it to wet weather. With no light source from behind, I recommend using opalescent glass for this project to make it highly noticeable. If you do choose to use transparent glass, remember to remove any pattern lines that may show through the glass.

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When hanging the quilt, I added two thin rubber washers, cut from an old jar gripper, to prevent movement and add cushioning between the glass and wood. And – DONE! It’s time to toss in some bread crumbs and watch the birds while I ponder what my next project will be……

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I hope you enjoyed my post and were able to pick up a few helpful tips while visiting here. I welcome and look forward to your thoughts, questions, or suggestions. Thanks for stopping by!