Gardeners, Crafters and Scavengers:
If you’re looking for a fun, easy project—and perhaps a new revenue stream—consider making beautiful flower plates for your garden, or to sell at craft shows. They make lovely gifts.
I’ve seen these at local art shows and in this stunning collection on Etsy. But I haven’t had the time to figure out how to make them on my own. And I don’t trust myself with a tube of glue.
During my vacation last week in Columbus, Ohio, temperatures between 100 and 110 made it impossible to do anything outside. So my sister, Lois Heinlen, who can duplicate almost any type of craft imaginable, led my other sister and me through a daylong flower-making extravaganza.
Yield: 19 glass flowers in a variety of sizes and colors. Here are some of them:
We prefer plates with clear or colored glass, but you can just as easily use ceramic plates in crazy or subtle patterns.
What You Need:
- A collection of plates, saucers, votives, and other glassware. Each piece will be the “layer” or the center of a flower.
- One hockey puck for each flower, used to attach the flower to the metal rod that you stick into the ground. We bought ours at Play It Again Sports, a new and used sporting goods store, for about $2.50 each. Make sure the pucks are new, not used.
- A threaded rod, one per flower, 3 feet long and 3/8-inch thick. We bought ours at Home Depot for $2.87 each.
- A tube of E6000 (epoxy adhesive). We bought a one-ounce tube for $2.97 in the craft department at Wal-Mart. One tube is enough for several flowers.
- Rough sandpaper.
- Green Rustoleum. We used fast-drying Rustoleum Paint Plus, ultra cover, satin finish, in club green.
If you’re starting from scratch, here are step-by-step directions.
Step 1: Hit the thrift shops.
You can find plates, saucers, votive lights, ashtrays and other glassware, many for less than $1 each. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the glass ends of doorknobs, or glass baubles that you can use as the centers of flowers. We even found several collectible “salts” at a thrift store, for 35 cents each. Beautiful for the center of a flower! When we returned home and emptied our bags, we had two tables filled with glassware. Here’s one of them:
Step 2: Clean the glassware.
Wash in warm, soapy water. Use Goo Gone to remove stubborn stickers, though all of ours came off in the dishwater. Dry thoroughly.
Step 3: Assemble the flower.
This is the fun part. Divide all your glassware by sizes. Then mix and match to see which pieces look best stacked atop each other. We used three or four pieces for each flower.
Step 4: Glue the first two pieces.
After you’ve selected your glassware for one flower, take the largest piece (Piece A) , which will be at the bottom, or back, of the flower, and place the next largest piece (Piece B) on top of it. Turn over Piece B and squeeze a thin circular line of epoxy onto the center of the plate. Gently place it onto Piece A, then remove it quickly, so you can see exactly where to apply the second layer of glue on Piece A, as my sister is demonstrating below. Apply glue to Piece A and let both pieces sit, unattached, for about two minutes. Attach both pieces. Once the glue starts to dry, don’t try to move the top plate or you might crack the glass.
Step 5: Glue the remaining layers.
Repeat the process until all pieces are glued together. Let dry for about two hours.
Step 6: Sand the hockey puck, and drill a hole.
Using course sandpaper, rough up one flat side of the hockey puck. Place the puck in a vice, outer edge toward you. Using a drill with a 3/8-inch bit, drill a hole about an inch and a half to 2 inches deep. (Warning: The smell of burning rubber is ghastly, and the drilling makes a mess. Do this in a well-ventilated garage or on your driveway.)
Step 7: Glue the puck.
Apply a generous layer of glue onto the entire sanded side of the hockey puck. Wait two minutes. Attach the puck to the back of the largest plate. Wait 72 hours for the puck to dry.
Step 8: Paint the rod.
Paint the rod green, using Rustoleum.
Step 9: Attach the rod to the puck.
Insert the rod into the hole in the puck. If it doesn’t go in easily, turn the rod to the right and keep turning until you can’t insert it any farther and you have a tight fit. You don’t need to use glue in the hole. If the rod is too big for the hole, drill a slightly bigger hole.
The hardest part of this entire process is figuring out where in the garden you’ll place your work of art. As you can see in the photo on top, I placed mine near my maroon holly hocks, next to the bird bath. (Bird poop splattered on that beautiful etched glass! Do you think I should move it?)
- You may be tempted to buy expensive glassware from antique stores. We sure were! But this quickly drives up the cost of the flowers. If you’re selling these, you’ll never recoup your investment and make a decent profit. But if you’re making a few of these for yourself and can afford to splurge, go for it.
- Visit thrift shops frequently because they restock shelves constantly. Don’t hesitate to ask owners of smaller shops to call you if they get colored glassware or pretty plates they think you’ll like. Show them a sample of what you’re making and bribe them with a free glass flower!
- Look for candy dishes, too. I found a lovely candy dish with a large clear glass plate. It was attached to a metal handle that I was able to unscrew easily.
- Clear glass plates are easy to find, but colored glass isn’t, so buy it as soon as you find it.
- Keep the epoxy out of the reach of kids and pets.
- Bring your plates inside during the winter.
Will You Make These?
This craft is easier than it sounds.
But I’m curious. Would you rather skip the entire process and buy flower plates on Etsy? Or do you think you’ll make these? If you do, take a picture and link to it here. Also check out my Flower Plates Garden Art board on Pinterest.
Do you have ideas on how to make these flowers even more beautiful? Do you like clear glass or colorful ceramic plates? Do you use rebar instead of a metal rod? Other ideas? Share them here.
I’m displaying my plates in my garden and giving them as gifts but have no plans to go into the flower plate business. But boy am I tempted. And I can’t stand the thought of passing up a valuable piece of stunning glassware with a 75-cent sticker.
Coming Next: How to publicize your garden art or other crafts.