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Friday, March 8, 2013

Garden Totems, Ornaments and Bird Baths

A great way to reuse for wine bottles
and old Avon bottles

Last summer I found a new arts and crafts passion - garden totems. 

There are a lot of reasons I find this craft appealing. I love to recycle. I love to make things out of other things, giving them new life. It is a relatively inexpensive craft. I love the thrill of the hunt and amassing enough materials for a design session.

Finding materials to make these is almost as fun as making them. Good sources are thrift stores -- Goodwill, Salvation Army and the like -- garage sales, auctions, cheaper antique stores, your garage or basement. You get the idea. The goal is to find items less than a dollar and never spend more than three unless of course the piece is so amazing you'd never forgive yourself for not buying it. 

Warning! Sometimes you'll buy something for the craft and decide you'll want to keep it an use it as originally intended. I guess that is just an occupational hazard.

The other issue is that you probably shouldn't be using valuable antiques to make these garden ornaments, hence the price restrictions on materials. However, even in the extreme climate of Wisconsin and Minnesota I have not have any of the pieces break, ruined or destroyed yet. The adhesive can fail and they can come apart but then you just re-glue it back together or make something new. So I guess what I'm saying is that you'll have to decide whether you are OK using Aunt Mabel's prized teacups to make a bird feeder. 

There are several kinds of items you can make. 
  • Totems - these can either be made to sit on the ground or using a bottle or vase sit on a post. 
  • Posies - plates as the base that are hung as you would a picture or attached to a post
  • Bird Baths - has a substantial base, sits on the ground and holds a small amount of water
  • Bird Feeder - can hang, sit on the ground or sit on post
In my next post I'll talk about how to design and make these wonderful items. Here's a few I've made:

Simply a Coke bottle and Hershey's Kisses dish

Short and sweet . . . An ashtray, vase, iron fence ornament.
Sugar bowl with lid (glued so no water can penetrate),
a saucer, and an old Coke bottle, and a silver plate wine glass.

Egg cups always add an exciting finial, always remember to glue it closed to keep water and insects out. Starting at the base is a simple glass plate, small pressed glass bowl, glass coaster, antique glass insulator, star shaped candle holder and finishing with an egg cup.


First attempt using an inadequate adhesive. I like to use the vase/bottle on a post to keep my hose from ruining the plants in the garden. I like the juxtaposition of the handmade ceramic vase and the pressed glass. You will see elements of this totem reused in other totems.

New version, with a gold banded cut glass plate and bird figurine. Can't wait for the snow to melt and put this baby outside. The vase is a ceramic art project I found at a local antique/thrift shop. I love the color and decorative elements.

Today We Make A List

Seriously, we need to finish this up.

Good news is that we finished installing the stairway.

However, there are a lot of small bits and pieces that need to get done before we can move forward and rent the apartment. A little painting here, a little paint touch up there. Finish the trim work here, put shelves in there. A little grouting. A bit of this a bit of that. So, we are going to make a list and tick off the tasks one by one.