Soda Bottle Vertical Garden

Here in Canada, even though it’s Spring, it will be quite a while before our winter blahs turn to green pastures again. It’s a great time of year to introduce a cheap and cheerful hanging system to brighten up your indoor space with plants!

Using empty soda bottles for this project ties in perfectly to my philosophy of sustainable crafting – using what you have – to create a vertical garden. And the best part is that they are free! We’re not soda drinkers, but we found an entire box of empties in our neighbour’s blue bin on pick up day (nicely organized in a Pringles box!) and wisked them away to make our hanging garden.

Watch the video and subscribe to my YouTube Channel while you’re at it! Then follow along with the tutorial and get planting!

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Along with the soda bottles, you’ll also need:

  • 1/8″ galvanized aircraft cable wire,
  • cable ferrules to crimp the wire,
  • a wire cutter and cable swage tool,
  • metal washers (#6),
  • S-hooks (3/4″),
  • a cork back metal ruler,
  • piece of metal strapping,
  • marker,
  • loop turner (or other long, thin object)
  • masking tape,
  • wood burner with a pointy tip,
  • aquarium gravel,
  • waterproof clear caulking or epoxy putty,
  • soil, and;
  • plants of course!

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I used a combination of succulents and Himalaya mix potted plants from Ikea. At $3.99 each, they’re a real bargain and I was grateful to be able to find them at this time of year!

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I used 5 bottles for my hanging garden, but you could make as many as you like. When the weather gets better outdoors, they would make a great hanging screen on a massive scale too!

To start, remove the lable from the soda bottle. I used the lable to cut out a rectangular piece measuring 5 1/4″ x 3″. I folded the lable in half lengthwise and marked the centre of each side.

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I applied the lable back onto the bottle through the middle of where it was glued. I found that with the combination of the glue residue and static cling, my particular lable stuck really well.

Mark the four corners with the black marker and measure out no less than 5/16″ from the centre on each side and place two more dots on the bottle.

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Remove the lable. Apply two pieces of masking tape to a metal ruler and place on the bottle lining up two of the dots you marked with the black marker.  The metal ruler should be placed on the outside of the line you’re going to cut – it will give you a cleaner line when using the wood burner.

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I use a wood burner to cut through the plastic (you could also cut the plastic with an X-acto knife instead). Make sure you’re using the tool in a well ventilated area; doing this step outdoors is ideal. Also ensure sure you have a heat-proof surface to leave it on while you work –  and to be safe in case you forget to unplug it!  I leave mine on stand with a metal tray beneath it.

Heat up the wood burner with a pointy tip installed. Insert the tip starting at the spot you marked earlier and use the edge of the ruler to guide the wood burner along until you’ve reached the second dot at the opposite end. Do this as steadily and quickly as possible or you will distort the line if you leave it in a spot for too long and over-melt the plastic. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll be cutting through the plastic with ease.

Remove the ruler then move it to the other side and cut through the bottle in the same manner.

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I used a scrap piece of metal strapping and bent it into a curve around the bottle. I used it in the same manner as the metal ruler to guide the wood burner and cut the plastic on the shorter end of the bottle. Once all 4 sides of the rectangle are cut, you can remove the inner piece of plastic, but don’t toss it (we’ll use it later).

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Take the tip of the wood burner a make a hole through the two dots you marked 5/16” out from the centre of the lable. Only hold the tip for a second or you’ll make the hole too large; it only needs to be big enough to pass the aircraft cable through.

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With the bottle facing right side up, insert the long loop turner through the hole straight down until it reaches the bottom of the bottle (you can even substitute a piece of spaghetti!).  Mark the spot with the marker and do the same for the other side. Turn the bottle upside down and burn a small hole through the two spots you marked.

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Now we’re ready to construct the hanging system. Measure out two 12″ pieces of aircraft cable for each bottle and cut with wire snips.

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Insert the wire through one end of the metal ferrule, bend it into a loop and insert the same end into the other side of the ferrule. My loops were about 1/2″ in length. Place the ferrule into the swage tool and squeeze it tight to seal it on both ends of the metal.

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You’ll end up with wires that look like this:

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This video demonstrates how to hand swage (it’s not necessary to use the thimble in this project):

Thread a washer through the wire so it rests on the loop you just made. Insert the wire through the hole in the bottom of the bottle and through the top hole. Make a loop in the top of the wire using another ferrule as you did before and fasten it with the swage tool.

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Continue with the rest of the bottles until each one has two wires threaded through the holes with washers on the bottom to support the weight.

If using outdoors, be sure to add a few more drainage holes in the bottom. For indoor settings, I would suggest adding a drop of waterproof clear caulking  or epoxy putty to cover the bottom two holes (from the inside) so you don’t get water leaking through and dripping down the wires. The epoxy putty will be easier to work with because you can roll it into a tiny ball and squish it around the holes. If using caulk, to control it from oozing too much onto the wires, you can squeeze some out onto a plastic lid and use something like a coffee stirrer to apply it around the holes on the inside of the bottle. Make sure the wires are sitting tight against the bottom of the bottle (you could tape them as they dry if you have to) and let the caulk or epoxy dry according to the package directions before moving onto planting.

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Planting and Installation

Lay down some plastic on your table surface to catch the mess if doing this indoors! Gather up your plants and planting materials (soil, gravel, scoop).

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Be sure to purchase a soil suitable for your plants; here I’m using cactus soil for one of the succulents.

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Remember the plastic piece you saved from the middle of the bottle? I used it to confine the soil to the middle section of the bottle (so I could conserve on the amount of gravel I had to use), but you can choose not to use it if you prefer and fill the whole container out to the sides.  Cut the plastic in half along the width and insert it into the bottle so the concave part surrounds the wire (facing inward).

Put a layer of aquarium gravel in the bottom. This is optional, but it helps with drainage. (Note that if you’re doing this project for outdoors you can skip the gravel altogether and just add more holes in the bottom of each bottle for drainage).

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Add a layer of soil to give the roots something to grow into.

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Lift the plant out of its container and work loose most of the soil around the roots. Plant in the bottle and surround with more soil to secure. Don’t overfill the soil or it will wash over the edges when you water the plants.

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Continue planting the rest of the bottles until they’re all done. Now you’re ready to hang!

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I put all the finished bottles into a cardboard box and transferred them to the kitchen. I installed my hanging garden on the side of the sliding door that is non-working so we still have access to our backyard. To prepare, I hung two shower curtain rings over the curtain rod above my sliding glass doors. If you don’t have a curtain rod, you can substitute eye hooks and screw them into the wood trim the same width apart as the wire holding the bottle (approx. 5 3/4″). I created two new hanging wires (about 24″ long) and hung them from the curtain rings to start the garden at a suitable height. We used 3/4″ S-hooks as connectors.

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Then my husband hung each bottle, one at a time, connecting them as he went with the S-hooks in between until he reached the bottom.

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It’s hard to get a good picture with the backlight from the window, so I tried closing the binds, but I can attest that the hanging garden looks stunning in the kitchen! You could change the configuration and adapt this idea for any window; just add a few more columns and stagger the plants.

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I hope you enjoyed another sustainable crafting project; if you did, please pin and share!

Here’s a sneak peak of what’s coming up on Craft Rehab. I’ll be showing you how to turn a photo into a pop-art inspired serving tray, so subscribe if you don’t want to miss it!

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And don’t forget that as soon as I have 50 subscribers to my Youtube Channel, I’ll be showing you how I made this duct tape portrait too (click to watch it come together before your very eyes).

A few more of my recent projects are shown below; you can find a complete listing of crafts on my Homepage.

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Stained Glass ‘Pond’ – Add Curb Appeal to a Winding Staircase

I’ve always been attracted to the vibrant colour of glass. Stained glass is a hobby I learned about 15 years ago and I couldn’t wait to put my skills to work when I bought my current house!

In Canada, it’s winter for far too long and I wanted to find a way to enjoy my pond no matter what the season – so I made this one in glass and installed it in the corner of our winding staircase! Today, I’m showing you some of the details on how I did it so you can add some curb appeal to your winding staircase too!

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Before and After Transformation of the Stairs

The mosaic artwork was only a small part of the transformation of our staircase, as you may have seen in the previous post I wrote on Birdz of a Feather Home.. We started with blond wood and worn carpet, which were both stripped. Hubs then applied a darker stain on the wood and sealed it. The finishing touch was a new carpet runner. The pictures below show the before, during and after of the staircase makeover.C_Stair 1.jpg

New carpeting adds the final finishing touch:C_Stair 2.jpg

Step 1: Add Some ‘Curb Appeal’

Now for the curb appeal! That little piece of real estate in the corner of a winding staircase is the perfect spot to add a stained glass mosaic ‘pond’; it will add interest and colour to an otherwise boring spot. As you can see below, the corner is still quite bland.

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Here are the supplies you’ll need for this project:

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  • Brown paper
  • Pencil/marker (not pictured)
  • Plywood backer (if necessary); thickness will depend on the depth of your own staircase corner platform)
  • Carbon paper
  • Large format photocopies of your design (at least 2)
  • Scissors
  • Rubber cement (not pictured)
  • Glass cutter
  • Glass grinder
  • Cutter oil
  • Rubber coated gloves (to prevent glass cuts)
  • Grout
  • Rubber spatula
  • Tile sponge
  • Stained glass pattern shears (not pictured)
  • Bench brush (to keep work surface free of glass shards, not pictured)

Step 2: Make a Paper Template

I started by making a template of the corner platform by using brown paper, weighing it down and tracing the shape (my turtle ‘weight’ is foreshadowing what’s to come in the glass version!). You may have to tape a few pieces together to get the full size if you don’t have paper long enough.

It’s advisable to remove your quarter round first before you trace the pattern! If you can removed it without breaking, you can re-use it once the mosaic is installed. Otherwise, you will need to replace it to give your mosaic piece a finished look.

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IMG_6264_bof.jpgIf you have carpeting on the platform to begin with, when you remove it you may find that you will need to fill it in with plywood, as was the case with my situation. If you don’t need to build it up, then make sure when you add glass on top of the base that it doesn’t extend above the trim: you don’t want to do this technique if it’s going to result in sharp edges that are higher than the trim!

I used the paper template to cut 1/4″ plywood as a backer to fit the corner and act as a base for the mosaic.

Step 3: Draw Your Design

Once you have your paper template, you can draw your design. Be sure to develop a colour code and mark the colours with a letter; also be sure to number each piece.

At this point, you can use carbon paper to trace your design onto the plywood backer (or directly onto the surface of the wood that’s already there if you don’t need to build it up). Tape the template down securely with painters tape so it doesn’t shift and be sure to transfer ALL lines and letters/numbers; you can peak under the paper as you go so you don’t miss anything. Once the paper is removed check that it’s complete and then set it aside again for later so you can add the cut mosaic pieces directly onto the backer. I also pre-drilled some holes into the plywood where I planned some circles in the design so I could screw the plywood onto the base and secure it, then cover those spaces with glass gems.

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Step 4: Photocopy Your Pattern and Start Cutting

Take your artwork to a large format printer and have them print off at least two copies.

Use a special pair of stained glass pattern shears to cut out the pieces from one of copies. The shears will remove a small sliver of paper between each piece leaving you with enough of a gap to add grout if you wish. I used a shear that’s 20% thinner than most others that are typically used because I wanted a smaller gap and the option of not having to grout the piece once it was done.

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The intact copy of the template will be used as the new master template to arrange the glass pieces on. When the paper pieces are cut out from the template, sort them by colour so you can cut like colours all at once. Apply rubber cement to like-pattern pieces then lay them on the sheets of glass selected for the each element. Rubber cement allows you to lift and re-position the paper if you have to so you can plan your cuts and economize on glass.

Step 5: Cut Your Glass Pieces

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Watch this video to learn the basics of cutting stained glass: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTHs2wLQpAs

Use a glass cutter to score the glass and cut each piece. When you score the glass, there’s no need to apply excessive pressure. A steady firm score is all you need and you should hear a gentle ‘hiss’ as the cutter passes over the glass. I used a pistol grip cutter; it gives me more control and is much more comfortable to use than a regular straight cutter. In the second picture, you’ll see an example of both styles of glass cutters. They both have oil reservoirs which automatically dispense lubricant to the glass surface; a real convenience on large pieces like this mosaic.

I also wear rubber coated gloves on occasion to prevent glass cuts. The specialize gloves shown for stained glass work are a tight fit and are still flexible so allow a good range of dexterity (unlike other gloves).

You can use running pliers (shown above) to help you break out each piece of glass you score. The video I linked to from Delphi Glass provides great instruction on the basics of cutting glass and reviews the different styles of glass cutters and the tools.

If you want to learn how to cut glass, there are many courses at community centres and night schools; I suggest you check one out. They are generally reasonably priced and a lot of fun! I took a stained glass course at a studio in Toronto called ‘Glasstronomy’ (http://www.glasstronomystudios.ca) where I learned how to cut glass. I still consider myself a student in the art of stained glass.

Step 6: Grind the Pieces

Once the pieces are cut, use a glass grinder to take off any bits of glass outside of the cutting line on the paper. A glass grinder is a water cooled piece of equipment with a diamond wheel that can shape the edges of the glass more precisely to each piece. It best to run every piece briefly along the wheel just so they are not sharp and can be handled when it comes time to glue them to the backer.

The video at the following link shows the features of a similar glass grinder to the one that I used for this project (I don’t have an affiliation with Glastar, I just think they make a stellar grinder): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03JMwdF0PF8.

The gadget pictured on the grinder helps to hold the smaller pieces of glass without getting your fingers in the way of the grinding wheel.

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Place the finished pieces on the master template to check for sizing. Continue cutting your other pieces of glass and fitting them onto the master template. Adjust any pieces using the grinder if you find that they still need to be finessed.

Step 7: Glue to the Backer Board

Now you should be ready to glue your pieces down onto the wood. I used a pre-made tile mastic right out of the tub and literally just spread it onto the bottom of each piece of glass in an even coat. Then I stuck it down to the wood.

I also glued on some fused glass for the eyes on the frog and turtle.

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Let the whole thing dry at least 24 hours before you transfer the mosaic to the staircase for installation. In Step 9, further below, you can see where there are circular gaps in the design. This is where I will hide the screws; they’ll be covered with glass gems later once the mosaic is installed.

In the meantime, you can pour out a bunch of glass gems  to sort through them and check to see which ones best fit the gaps. Set aside the ones that work best.

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Here, I’m testing the fit of one of the glass gems.

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In addition, I found some nice pieces of abalone shell to add to the middle of the lily pads; I could have left them as-is but I liked the extra sparkle they brought.

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Step 8: Transfer Onto Cardbord to Transport

Transfer the mosaic to the staircase in a piece of folded cardboard.  I found that folding the cardboard and sandwiching the glass in between is the easiest way to carry an awkwardly shaped mosaic like this and prevent it from getting damaged on the way:

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To attach the mosaic to the corner platform of the staircase, I used the pre-drilled holes I made earlier.

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You can screw the plywood to the platform right through these holes:
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Once all the screws are installed, you can add in the finishing touches: the glass gems and abalone. Here’s how the mosaic looks with them in place to cover up the screw holes:
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You can also replace the quarter round trim that was removed previously around the perimeter of the walls.
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Step 9: Before and After Comparison

These pictures show a comparison of the before and after. The vibrance of the glass mosaic makes me smile every time I pass by; the pictures really don’t do it justice!
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Before

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After

It’s a welcome change to the dreary little spot it was before and will definitely tide me over until summer when I can enjoy my real pond again.

Step 10: Grout

If you wish, you can grout the glass mosaic just like any glass tile. I use a non-sanded grout that you have to mix with water. I mix it up in small batches and then apply it with a cheap kitchen spatula from the dollar store to help me maneuver into the corners (a regular grout float would be too awkward and messy)! Once the grout is applied you wipe it off the surface just as you would for any other tiling project. Let the grout dry 24 hours and then remove the haze with a soft cloth and buff the glass to a shine.Stained Glass Pond 086_BOF.jpg

For now, I chose not to grout my mosaic just yet, but when I do, I won’t be grouting around the glass gems. The reason for that is so we’ll be able to remove the mosaic again if we ever move; just in case I don’t want to leave it behind.

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Free Koi Pattern to Try

The attached Koi pattern was designed by glass Artist Laura Heathcote for Spectrum Glass in 1999. It’s available as a free download (for personal use only) but  I’ve included it here for you in case you’d like to give it a try: Koi_Spectrum Pattern_Birdz of a Feather.

If you’re intimidated to try a real stained glass piece, I’ll be experimenting with faux stained glass and hope to bring you an easier project soon!

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share. And don’t forget to follow right here on Birdz of a Feather ~ Craft Rehab (link in the footer) or via Bloglovin’ (link below) for more great crafty projects and hacks. A few of those projects are pictured below; you can find a complete listing of crafts on my Homepage.

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Industrial Remote Control Holder

Now that the mancave is nearing completion, Hubs has been enjoying his new TV in total bliss. What isn’t blissful is the myriad of remotes he needs to operate everything and the places he leaves them. They are an eyesore when they’re laying on the couch or scattered around the room, but can quite literally be a pain in the derriere when I accidentally sit on one!

When I looked on Pinterest for some awe inspiring ideas, I couldn’t find a single one. As a matter of fact, every remote control holder was downright ugly and utilitarian.

Hubs has built a few items for his new digs out of black iron gas pipe so what better way to tie it all together than to make him a remote control holder out of the same material?

We found a great source for 1/8″ pipe and fittings; as a matter of fact we bought out the company’s entire supply just so we could play with a few other ideas too!

I started playing with the configuration, size and scale of the holder. Once I had a configuration I was happy with, I scrounged around my craft studio for something to support the remotes in the centre. For that I found two different widths of horsehair braid (the type that’s used to trim the inside of a hat).

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I applied the narrow braid on top of the wider one, which acted as a backing, and secured them both to one side of the pipe. Then I measured my remotes to determine how big the opening needed to be for each one. I left slack in the top piece to accommodate each remote and fastened it to the backing it with a pin so I ended up with ‘loops’. I fastened the braid to the other side of the pipe, again using a pin.

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I slid the braid off of the pipes, then I used a very specialized piece of equipment to permanently secure it where I placed my pins – a stapler! It not only does the trick, but it works well with the industrial look I was going for.

The tricky part was getting the remotes to rest properly on the bottom of the pipe since it is curved. I had an epiphany that solved my dilemma – magnetic hooks! Magnets stick to iron and I remembered I had some in my stash.

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Luckily I had two packs, because I needed four of them! By positioning the magnets on the back of the pipe along the bottom, and tilting it toward the back, it gave me the perfect angle to rest the remotes on.

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Here’s how it looks from the back:

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Here’s a sneak peak of the mancave and the remote control holder – you’ll see more of the mancave on the video! I’ll have the full Mancave reveal on my sister blog, Birdz of a Feather Home, soon.

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By the way, the remote control caddy is now right beside the couch in my Husband’s mancave so his remotes are close-at-hand – not by the TV as shown in the picture above and video below. I only positioned it by the TV for ease of filming it in use 🙂

Watch the video to see just how easy this industrial remote control holder was to put together!

Speaking of the Mancave, now that it’s done, we’ve remodelled the TV room upstairs too. Here’s a before and after shot of what we did to our corner fireplace.

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You can find the remodel here.

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If you haven’t already subscribed to my Youtube channel, click this link. I’ve got videos of all my cool projects – including a time lapse video of how I did this duct tape pop art portrait  of Elvis. I’ll be posting a full tutorial on the how-to once I get more subscribers to my Youtube channel, so if you want to see it, subscribe today!

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NOTE: For anyone who isn’t crafty but is interested in purchasing a remote ready made, I’m now selling these in my brand new Etsy Shop at this link. I’ll be making these to order, but only black-on-black – not the black/white combo shown here.

If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share. And don’t forget to follow right here on Birdz of a Feather or via Bloglovin’ for more great hacks and crafty projects. You can find a complete listing of projects on my Homepage.

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Duct Tape Pop Art Portrait

Watch the video of me making a duct tape portrait to reveal whose portrait I’m making.

All you need is duct tape in about 9 different colours (the more, the merrier), scissors, a piece of foam core or plastic for the backing and a paper cutter (the paper cutter is optional).

When I can get 50 subscribers to my Youtube channel, I will post the full how-to tutorial right here on Birdz of a Feather so you can make one too.

Sharing the video in your social media groups will help me get to 50 new subscriptions faster, so help make that happen!

See you back here soon for the full tutorial and don’t forget to follow me here on Birdz of a Feather (link in the footer or on the Homepage) or on Bloglovin’ (link below)! If you follow, you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new  project (and maybe it will be full instructions for this one)!

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Dental Floss Sewing Kit Hack

Who hasn’t had a button pop at an inopportune time? Over the weekend when my own button popped I then had to search for the scissors, thread and sewing needle which were scattered around my studio. That night, I finished off a container of dental floss and had an epiphany: what if I made a portable sewing kit using the empty container? It already had a built in ‘thread’ cutter and I could store thread and a needle all in one convenient spot!

Here’s a video of the process, followed by a full tutorial:

First I peeled off the lable from the face of the container.

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I reused the little tube that the dental floss was originally on by gluing a grommet to either end so I could wind some thread on it.

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Only add small dots of glue to hold it on temporarily. If you add too much glue, it will be difficult to pry off later.

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Once the grommet was glued, I wound on some black thread. The grommet keeps the thread from falling off the edges as it’s being wound.

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After the thread is on the spindle, the grommet can be removed; it will interfere with the closing mechanism of the container if it’s left on.

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The next step is to add a sewing needle to store with the thread; after all, it’s not a kit without the needle. I cut a small piece of elastic – although you could also use a piece or ribbon or something similar. I added a dot of hot glue to one side of the container, turned the end of the elastic under and glued it into place.

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I then brought the elastic over to the other side, once again turning under the end, and secured it with another dot of glue.

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Now I had something to attach the needle to so it wouldn’t jiggle around the inside of the kit when it was stored – or fall out when it was opened!

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After removing the grommet from both ends, I put the ‘bobbin’ on the spindle with the thread running counter clock-wise.

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I lined up the thread with the hole in the top of the container and snapped it shut.

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All you have to do is pull and cut the tread the same way you would dental floss whenever you need it.

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When you’re done sewing, just return the needle to the container and snap it shut again.

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I printed out a lable to add to the front so you can’t mistake its use!

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Now the next time a button pops, or a hem falters, I have a readily accessible kit ready to go! You could make a few kits up with different colour threads (at least black and white), or merely save the tubes and wind on different colour threads so they are interchangeable in the one kit.

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Once the kit was complete, I swapped out the lable for some Letraset letters. They were actually too large for the container so I cut and sculpted them around the lid by applying some Mod Podge to seal them on. I love how the red coordinates with the container. Now you really can’t miss it!

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A kit like this would be great to carry in a purse for minor sewing repairs on the fly. It would also make a great travel item. Airports don’t allow scissors on board a plane, but I don’t see why this little kit wouldn’t be acceptable for air travel. However if you get stopped at airport security, you’ll have to let me know!

Happy sewing! If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share.

And don’t forget to follow right here on Birdz of a Feather or via Bloglovin’ for more great hacks and crafty projects such as this fun indoor water feature…..

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…. or this dog bone toy organizer/gift basket:

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You’ll find the Birdz of a Feather Craft link in the footer or on the homepage and the Bloglovin link below. If you follow, you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new  project!

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Indoor Gardening: Filing Cabinet Makeover

You can’t have too many indoor plants during the winter time! They remind us of the new life and growth about to burst forth in the spring and give us something to look forward to! I was inspired to do an indoor garden after seeing some shots on Pinterest of plants spilling out of card catalogue drawers. I have a card catalogue and would have loved to do that, but it’s much too useful right now as an organizer in my craft studio!

To compensate, I thought of another similar idea using another piece that we already had! When my brother-in-law moved from his old house, there was on old retro filing cabinet in the basement left by previous owners that he wanted to get rid of. Hubs decided to bring it home and find a new use for it.

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At the time, the mancave wasn’t built yet so it languished in the garage for months before hubs could turn his attention to it. More about the mancave reno in an upcoming post!

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Hubs got his colour cue from the Ikea Forsa lamp I gave him to christen his new space. I think it’s a gorgeous retro grey-green!

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Hubs colour matched the paint and gave the filing cabinet a few coats after he sanded it down and primed it. He also cleaned up all the hardware and reinstalled it. Then he added some felt on the bottom of the cabinet to protect the floor from the sharp edges of the metal.

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Here it is all set up with some plants! If it wasn’t winter right now, I’d buy plants specifically for this piece, but I think you’ll get the idea of what you can do with a piece like this! You can layer different plants in each of the drawers and use more than the two drawers I used here.

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For more ideas of how to bring the outdoors in, have a look at my most recent innovations. You’ll find videos and full tutorials on how to do them both:

Indoor floating water feature:
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Blue jean plant stand:

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If you enjoyed this post, please pin and share!

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Paint Stick Pallet

Valentines Day is coming up and I wanted to make a little something for my sweety. Since we’ve done so much DIY renos together, I was inspired by a pallet. In keeping with our mission to lead a more sustainable life, and keep things from landfill, I repurposed paint sticks and 1″x2″ lumber to make a miniature version of the pallet that hubs could easily display in his office.

I started by designing an 8 1/2″ x  11″ picture using the charicature we had done for our wedding. I superimposed it into a ‘puzzle piece heart’ I drew with the words ‘you complete me’ – the perfect sentiment for any soul mate!

I determined how many paint sticks I would need. Ten was the perfect number for an 8 1/2″ x 11″ piece of paper. I printed it out on my colour printer using regular paper.

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I could have gone for a more straight-laced picture from our wedding like the one below, but given the choice between serious and humour, I’ll choose humour every time!

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I took packing tape and applied three strips across the back of the paint sticks to keep them all together and flipped it over.

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Then I mixed up a ratio of 50:50 glue to water. I had some leftover glue from the hardwood we recently installed in my craft studio, so I just used that (glue only has a shelf life of about one year).

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I used a foam brush to lay down a thin layer of the glue mixture on the paint sticks. The trick to keeping paper from bubbling when you decoupage is to keep the application of glue thin and let it dry a bit until tacky. Then you can lay down the paper and smooth it out.

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To disguise the white boarder of the paper, I outlined around the edges with a marker in a coordinating colour after the glue was dry.

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I applied a coat of water based varnish, let it dry overnight and then applied a second coat to seal and protect it.

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Once the varnish was dry, I cut around the edges of the picture on my bandsaw. I removed the packing tape on the back of the paint sticks, then I cut each individual piece apart.

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I assembled my paint sticks and added in spacers in between (using another paint stick on it’s side) so I could measure for the length of the 1″x2’s”.

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I cut three pieces of 1″ x 2″ and turned them on their sides. I glued the paint sticks on top leaving a gap in between until they were all glued onto the lumber.

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I added some scrap paint sticks on top and weighed the whole thing down with my vintage irons as the glue dried.

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Once it had time to dry, I measured and cut 4 more paint sticks to apply underneath the ‘skid’  with finishing nails. I was going to add the finishing nails onto the face of the skid too, but I couldn’t bear to detract from the picture. As an option, if you want the look of nails on the surface of the boards, you could take a silver sharpie and add two little dots to each one to mimick the nail heads.

On the back, I added some picture hanging wire between two screw eyes to hang it up. I can’t wait for Valentines day to arrive so I can give it to hubs; I hope he likes it!

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With the paint stick pallet complete, I guess I’ve got a real ‘paint’ theme going on at Birdz of a Feather craft! Most recently, I just completed this paint bucket water feature:

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And remember this paint chip portrait I did of hubs?

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For another fun craft idea that isn’t paint-related, check out my blue jean planter 🙂

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Don’t forget to pin and share if you enjoyed this post.

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Paint Bucket Water Feature

My husband always wanted to create one of those floating water features where the tap is magically suspended above a watering can. He bought some of the supplies, but that’s as far as he got. A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled on his stash and decided to order a pump so I could make it for him.

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Unbeknownst to him though, I wasn’t going to make just any water feature! Painting is a big part of his job so I decided to substitute the watering can he had planned to use for a paint bucket instead and take it from there.

To start, I gathered all my materials:

  • Rigid plastic tubing
  • Recycled 1 gallon plastic paint bucket with lid
  • Brass water spout
  • Pump (we use a small one; 30 GPH)
  • Clear dollar store gems
  • Chalk pencil
  • Paint brush
  • 2″ desk grommet
  • High gloss acrylic paint (be sure to get high gloss because if you want it to still look like it’s wet even once it dries!)
  • Diamond tip engraver
  • Fine hack saw or jig saw
  • 1/8″ drill bit
  • Black marker

About the Tubing

The tubing has to be rigid so it will hold the weight of the brass spout. We bought a few different sizes to test out. The first one we tried was 1/2″ interior with a 3/4″ outside diameter. It worked just fine but we thought the smaller tube we ended up using looked more realistic in terms of water flow. We used 1/4″ interior with a 3/8″ outside diameter. Keep in mind that the interior dimension of your tubing has to fit over the outlet of your pump, so take that into consideration. As an option, if you can’t find tubing with an interior diameter that fits over the pump outlet, you can always look for fittings for the pump itself to adapt it to fit the tubing.

We cut a piece of the tubing about 14 1/4″ long. The length you cut will depend on the height of your container (along with the pump once it’s attached) so cut the length of the tube to the proportion that looks good with your particular container.

We put some masking tape around the top so we could evenly mark our holes with a marker. Using a 1/8″ drill bit, hubs drilled 2 rows of holes around the edge of the plastic tube. He drilled 4 on each row for 8 holes in total – about 3/8″ down from the edge. He staggered the positioning of the holes on the second row.

Below you can see we have one row drilled and have the second row marked with the holes offset. We initially started with a larger tube, but as I mentioned, ended up using a small diameter (3/8″ instead of 3/4″).

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Once the holes were drilled, we tested the tube on the pump to gauge the flow of the water and see how it would work. I told hubs that I was only using the paint bucket for the trial run, so we brought the tube, pump, faucet and paint bucket to our laundry room sink to give it a go. The pictures from this point forward show the 3/8″ tubing we settled on.

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After some adjustment with the flow, we ended up putting the pump flow on a medium setting. We found that worked best for us, but you will need to do your own experimenting to see what works for you. So far so good!

Once we were happy with the mechanics of the water works, I turned my attention to the paint bucket and hubs went on his merry way – oblivious to the fact of what I was really making for him!

I took apart the grommet and used the larger side to trace a circle with the chalk pencil on the back of the can about an inch or so down from the top. Don’t put it too low because it needs to be above the final waterline which will cover the pump mechanism and you don’t want the water leaking out! I used a diamond tip engraver to trace around the circle so I’d have an outline to follow with my cutting tool.

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I used a fine hacksaw to cut the circle out (you could also use a jigsaw with a fine blade) and  installed the larger side of the grommet into the hole to test it out. You could use some clear caulk around the edges before you permanently install the grommet to seal it. Snap the second piece of the grommet on; it provides a good strain relief for the cord and the black blends in with the bucket!

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Moving onto the decorative steps, I first cut a piece of the sheet protector and placed it under the paint can to catch the intentional spills. It’s probably a good idea to glue it onto the bottom at this point because it’s going to be there permanently, as you’ll see later.

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I used a glossy paint for this project because when it dries, it will still look like it’s wet and I love that look for this project. I took the paintbrush and dipped it into the paint, then painted the interior of the paint can lid. Set both the lid and the paint brush aside to dry.

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I wanted ‘controlled’ drips around the rim and edges of the paint can so I used an eyedropper that I saved from some vitamin drops to place several paint runs around the top. You could probably just do this step with the paint brush too.

At the bottom of the can, on top of the sheet protector, I added more paint to mimic the flow of the paint spill. Once I was satisfied with the amount of paint, I set the can aside to dry.

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I used some water proof mastic to seal the end of the tube to the faucet and also at the connection to the pump.

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I cut a small piece of the mastic and kneaded it according to the directions.

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I added a blob to the top of the tube, making sure that I didn’t obstruct the holes that hubs had drilled (I ended up taking some away). As you insert the tube into the faucet, take care that it doesn’t squish into the holes. Hold the two pieces together to let it set up a few minutes before you let go of it.

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You should also connected the bottom of the tube to the pump in the same way by rolling out another piece of mastic and winding it around the connection to seal it together. I did this final step much later in the process so I could twist and position the faucet in the can once the pump was inside. Let the mastic dry for at least half an hour or the time suggested in the directions.

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In the meantime, I slid the can onto a board and cut around the paint spill on the plastic sheet so I could removed the excess.

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I carefully transferred the can onto a lazy suzan for my final display.

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The bottom of the pump I purchased has suction cups on the bottom so I inserted it into the can and pressed it down against the bottom. Now you can pull the cord of the pump through the back and pop on the other half of the grommet as you saw earlier. There’s no need to seal this part; in case you ever need to remove the pump you’ll be able to get the cord out again.

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The top of the tube will be top-heavy due to the weight of the faucet, so I added clear dollar store gems around the pump to steady it and keep it from tipping. I only purchased two bags, but could easily have doubled it! Make sure that the pump is being held securely by whatever you choose to weigh it down; you don’t want it to tip and spew water everywhere when you’re not in the room!

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Pour enough water into the bucket to make sure the pump is fully submerged, but not so high that it will leak out of the hole you cut for the cord!

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When it was time to pull the whole look together, I set it up in my office so I could try it out. I fed the cord down through the counter top and left it dangling until I was ready to plug it in.

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I positioned the paint lid beside the paint bucket, then leaned the paint brush on top of the lid.

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When I plugged it in, I was amazed at how realistic it looked. It looked like real flowing water from a magically floating tap and the paint was so shiny I thought it was still wet (but it wasn’t!).

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I couldn’t wait to surprise hub so I moved the whole shebang upstairs!

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Hubs grinned from ear to ear when he walked into the room and saw it; I love getting surprises, but I love giving them even more! I hope he has room for this at his office; I think his co-workers would get a kick out of it – and I’ll undoubtedly need the space for my next craft project 🙂

UPDATE: Hubs loved it so much he refused to move it to the office; I’ll just have to make him another one!

Maintenance

As you run the pump, some of the water will eventually evaporate. Make sure the pump is fully covered with water; you don’t want to burn out the motor. It’s also a good idea to use distilled water instead of tap water; it will be a lot easier on the pump motor.

If you enjoyed this project, please pin and share.

Other Water Features We’ve Done

Here are two pond projects we did outside:

Back yard pond:

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Front yard pond:

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If you’re interested in home and renovation projects (both indoors and out), be sure to check out our sister site, Birdz of a Feather Home.

Follow us right here on Birdz of a Feather Craft (link in footer or on homepage) or Bloglovin (link below) and you’ll get an e-mail next time I post a new  project. I’ve got some more fun things planned for 2017, like this paint stick pallet wall hanger I made hubs for Valentines Day. Get the full tutorial here, but shhh – don’t tell him!

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