Humble Contributions to the Peoples' History

Posts tagged ‘garden accessories’

Transformation of Clay

How a Heap of Mud Becomes Something

I’ve been away from sculpting for a while, but now with a few new ideas, its time to get back to carving clay. I enrolled in a class at the Community Arts Center with Bob Deane, potter extraordinaire.

Down the Rabbit Hole

White Rabbit, Wikipedia

White Rabbit, Wikipedia

A tree in my front yard became the inspiration for a whimsical addition: the door to the rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, the novel written by Lewis Carroll in 1865. In Chapter One of the book, the story introduces us to the rabbit wearing the iconic waistcoat and carrying a pocket watch. The rabbit’s classic line, “Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be too late!” reminds us of the ever-present passing of time and the immediate responsibilities we carry.

The project began with buying a 25-pound bag of sculpting clay. The clay is soft and malleable, perfect for making objects; but for creating walls for the rabbit hole and door, I needed to create slabs that would harden so that they could stand and then be attached together. That process included rolling the clay into flat pieces and allowing them to dry either by putting them under a heat lamp or letting them dry out over time. Once the slabs were solid but not completely dry, I could attach the pieces by using a paste of clay and water after roughing up the surfaces. Before attaching the pieces, I carved out the door so that it would lay flat allowing me to add the details including the hinges and door handle.

The rabbit began as a two wads of clay, one for the body and the other the head. Once I figured the right sizes, I roughly hollowed out the two, and adding feet and arms. I attached the two pieces, and added extra clay to form the waistcoat. Creating a chain for the watch is almost impossible in clay, so I’m going to use a metal chain, which I will attach when the rabbit is finished. I made openings for the chain, making sure that with a 23% shrinkage, the chain would still fit through the opening. With the clay at the right consistency, I carved out the details. I used three or four pictures as guides.

Slides reveal the transformation from slabs of clay to whimsical art for the yard . . .  with help a little help from my friends, with Jean, assisting with the painting, and Bob, who advised on the glazing technique.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Terrarium Centerpiece

Fairy House in GardenFor the next project, I carved a “wee house,” inspiration coming from Pinterest, pages which display every kind of fairy house imaginable. Years ago, I had  carved a few houses for my garden and enjoyed the project.

This house required a great deal of measuring for all the pieces to come together. Not all parts, especially the windows, are perfectly square. With clay, it is easy to add a bit here and there to make the pieces line up. I gained a new-found respect for carpenters, knowing that they could not do as much fudging with wood as I did with clay. The most difficult part was getting the roof to align with each side, especially the tall center window. Eventually, I would like to create a terrarium around the house.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Imagine, Make It So: Following my Own Advice

My last project was more abstract and larger than the other two. At one point attempting to close it up at the top, I thought I might have inadvertently caused the entire piece of fall to pieces. I quickly added extra clay on the inside to support the structure. I applied Bobby’s white glaze and sent it to the gas kiln. A little Jon Luke Pickard and a little John Lennon were the inspiring forces to this project, which will find its way into the garden.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Seven Whimsical Garden Accessories for just a Few Dollars

Over the years I’ve added accessories to the garden, which cost just a few dollars . . . either because of having some luck, making it myself or fixing up a cast-off.   Sometimes I had some mini disasters along the way, but in the end these whimsical additions enhanced the garden.

Gazing Ball Pedestal: When enrolled in a pottery course, I hand-built this stand for a gazing globe.  The globe cost about $20 but unfortunately, I dropped the first one which fell into dozens of pieces. I guess it really cost me $40 as I had to buy a second one. The globe is supposed to give off a solar light, but because our lot is too shady for absorbing sunlight, it doesn’t really work. For all of its faults, I still like it.  Sometimes I put colored lights inside the cylinder.

Trellis: I found this trellis while hiking along a back road and saw a small part of it sticking out from under a pile of leaves.  It took me a few minutes to pull it out from under the debris. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize that an ant colony had taken up residence inside the hollow metal, and the trunk of my car was swarming with the little guys by the time I arrived home. After shaking them out, I let it sit for a while before deciding where it should go. Purchased a clematis and attached the trellis to the side of the porch.

Donkey and Cart: This piece traveled through four states and found a new home when my parents moved to Pennsylvania. When they sold their house, we debated whether this kitschy and very heavy lawn ornament should just stay behind. The cement on the legs had totally deteriorated, and the paint was pealing off. I decided to keep it, and began the restoration including cementing the pieces back together even though I had no experience with cement. At first, the cement just oozed into pile instead of sticking to the iron core posts but eventually it dried out and began staying in place.

Bench: This was another rescue from a family move. Rust covered the metal, and the top covered with mildew. After scrapping the rust off, painting the stand and cleaning up the marble, the bench found a place in the side garden. I added a couple small ornaments and planted hostas on either side.

Cider Press: Found this piece at a yard sale. After giving it a quick coat of stain and inserting a plant, it was ready for display. The press was not in the best condition to start with and the water flowing on the wood contributed to some decay, so I added a piece of clear plastic at the bottom, which has kept it intact now for ten years.

Bird bath: My pottery instructor was ready to throw this dish away because of a serious crack that ran along the bottom rim. The patterns in the glaze were beautiful, so I took it home to see what I might do with it. I used clear caulking to patch the crack and placed the plate on top of a pot. The caulk has held up well for several years now.

Watering Can with Floating Spigot:  Ok, this one cost me a few dollars, but I splurged for no other reason except the floating spigot looked cool.  I once put it in one of the window display for Bindlestiff Books, and children would stare into the window wondering how the magic happened.  Kitty knows the magic of getting a drink of water from anything but her water bowl.

Philadelphia Flower Show: I Can Do That in my Garden, Really?

The Philadelphia Flower Show offers inspirational ideas to gardeners. The beautiful displays and the wares sold in the marketplace offer many possibilities to the gardener who would like to enhance the landscape. My sister and I kidded each other saying, “I can do that!” as we passed by the 25-foot waterfall or the deck with an elaborate display of cascading flowers lining the steps. Is there hope to achieve any degree of innovation from the ideas presented at the show? Below are four inspirations I found useful.

1. Colored blue lights against white orchids

This display could be achieved on a smaller scale. For example, a centerpiece with one orchid and a colored light would work. Several vendors were selling submersible LCD lights at $5 each, which we purchased, with the idea of adding light to a vase.

2. Stream of water

While for most of us adding a stream to our backyard would be an impossible undertaking, what is important is the idea of using a water feature. A small fountain adds the ambiance of running water creating a calming effect, transforming any space.

3. Colored tires

This exhibit deserves a prize for the most creative recycling: painting automobile tires and placing them vertically in the garden.  Shouldn’t be difficult to find a few used tires someplace.

4. Accessories: whimsical and otherwise

With statue and decorative planter in hand we’re all set to accessorize our garden.

Vendors displayed a wonderland of accessories, everything from planters and watering cans to expensive brass sculptures.

Attend the flower show and you’re sure to come away with ideas that will make gardening fun this spring. Don’t be intimidated by the elaborate and over the top displays, and you’ll be able to take away inspirational ideas for your garden, if only to add a dragon.

Tag Cloud

%d bloggers like this: