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Fun and easy ways to bring a touch of spring to your gifts and home.
Few are the plants that are likely to be thriving in the still cool temperatures of the soil and that means the relaxing tasks of caring for a garden provide us little enjoyment yet. But that doesn't mean we can't enjoy spending time doing relaxing things indoors to prepare for our gardens!
As my oldest son and I have spent time planning what plants we want to grow and where we want to plant fruit trees this year, I've found myself with a desire to add touches of created beauty to our garden. I want to make it apparent that it's a place that is not only functional and practical by it's very nature of providing nourishment for our bodies but also a place to nourish our need to stop and smell the flowers, so-to-speak!
At first the idea of crafting for the garden may not seem practical as the materials that we often associate with crafting are not typically weatherproof. But reflecting on ways to expand our repertoire of tried-and-true uses for our paper crafting and sewing tools to include materials that are waterproof will leave you with some fun and interesting results.
One of the things my family most enjoys about the spring and summer months is the return of hummingbirds to our area. We've been hanging feeders out for years and as a result of their instinct to return to the place of their hatching, our hummingbird population grows each year. Of course this requires more feeders. Rather than spend money on more feeders, this year I decided to make my own. Not only do I have less money going out of my pocket (virtually none), by upcycling bottles I also have less trash going out of my home.
I like glass hummingbird feeders so I chose to use a SoBe bottle and an old zinc canning jar lid to create my feeder. You can use any recycled bottle and lid. For a kid-friendly version, try using plastic drink bottles and a lid from a mayonnaise or peanut butter jar.
If you're using a zinc lid as I did, you'll need to carefully break the glass liner inside the lid and remove it. Protective eyewear is a good idea as chips of glass might go flying.
Assembling the catch pan for the fluid might take a little trial and error. To begin, you need to drill a hole in the center of the lid. This should be as close to the actual center as possible. To find the center, trace the flat part of the lid on a piece of paper, cut out the circle and fold it into fourths. The center of the lid is the intersecting points of the folds. Place the pattern on top of the lid and use the Fiskars drill and the smallest bit possible to accommodate the size of your bolt to drill a hole through this point. Also drill a hole in the center of the drink lid.
Next, drill drain holes in the bottle lid. I used the largest drill bit. Be sure you don't drill so close to the edge that when you put the cap on the bottle, the rim blocks the holes.
The next step is where trial and error come in. The drink lid needs to be elevated off the bottom of the larger lid. The more it's elevated, the deeper the pool of fluid will be. I raided my husband's tool bench and came up with a series of rubber gaskets to achieve the right height. The rubber gaskets help seal the bolt hole and prevent the fluid from dripping out. The large gasket was big enough that it blocked the drain holes in the lid so the smaller gasket gave a buffer between them to allow drainage. The inset photo shows what the assembled catch pan looks like.
And now for the artistic part! Using the Fiskars Hearts Shape Template, trace and cut 2 large hearts from contact paper and 2 narrow strips.
These will function as masks to protect the areas of your glass you want to remain clear when you apply glass etching cream. Remember your bottle will hand upside down so apply your masks accordingly. In retrospect, I would have covered more of the area above and below the area I etched as the cream, although thick, does run.
The verdict is still out on the durability of my next project as I'm not certain whether the fabric colors will fade in the sunlight. If they do, I have a repair plan in place. I'll paint them with acrylic paints and spray them with an acrylic sealer. Regardless of how long they retain their color, they were fun and inexpensive to make and I can't wait to stick them in the ground!
Using a variety of Fiskars Shape Templates, trace the shapes of vegetables onto the wrong side of some fabric scraps (a double layer of fabric right-sides together), stitch on the traced lines leaving a turning opening, and cut them out leaving a very narrow seam allowance. Turn the vegetables right side out, fill them with fiberfill, and handstitch the openings closed. Leaves can be added as you stitch the openings closed.
A couple of examples of how I created the shapes follow.
To create a carrot, I traced one half of the largest heart from the Hearts template onto the fabric. I then slid the template over, aligning the other half of the heart opening to create a carrot shape.
The strawberries were created using one of the points of the largest star on the Stars Shape Template.
The Oval Shape Template can be used to create potatoes and cucumbers. The Circles Template can yield you a fine crop of tomatoes. And the Super Size Circles Templates, along with the Circles template can be used to create small cantaloupe.
After the vegetables have been cut and assembled, stitch them together in small groups. Finish the markers by snipping a small hole in the back of one of the vegetables in each group and running a length of a small dowel rod into it.
If you start your crafting now, you'll have plenty of time to add your own pretty little touches to the natural beauty of your garden.
hummingbird feeder: 1 bottle, 1 large jar lid, wire, red ribbon, assorted rubber gaskets, nut and bolt, hose clamp (optional), glass etching crËme, contact paper
fabric garden markers: fabric scraps, thread, small dowel rods