Wait! Don't throw those plant catalogs away! Turn them into Garden Art.
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I am a pack rat. I don't have to say it 20 times to know it is so. I keep treasures, and if I forget they are there for a couple dozen years, it's only because I haven't needed them yet. Here is an idea that might inspire you to use all those old seed catalogs that you have stashed in every dark corner of your home.
(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on January 20, 2009. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to respond to your questions.)
Last year, for the first time in a long time, my grown up daughter took a two month break and came home to stay with me for the summer. I was delighted until she started unpacking and putting her clothes away in the furniture that she used as a child.
"Ummmmm, Mom, where should I put your magazines?"
"Just stack them in a corner and I'll put them away later."
I was folding towels and was not paying a lot of attention to her.
"Ummmmm, Mom, all my drawers are full of catalogs and magazines."
I had no idea what she was talking about. It was her room, and only rarely had anyone stayed in it in all the years she had been gone. I could hear her opening and closing drawers, and then her closet doors, till finally she popped her head out of her door.
"Ummmmm, Mom, is there any reason why there are seed catalogs from 1999 till now in all my dresser drawers?"
And that is the truth. Reluctantly I parted with most of the old seed catalogs, knowing full well that I could start right up again when winter reared its cold, windy head. During the fall I ran across those that I had saved and started thinking of ways I could use the colorful plant pictures in a project. I thought it might be a good idea to use them before the new ones started arriving. I have a lot of ideas about decoupage, and my first thought was to choose a theme and cover some shoe boxes I was using to hold seeds. Well, I did that until I got bored, then decided that perhaps I would do the same to a round papier mache' box. That was fun to do, but very soon I found myself looking for something a little different.
One evening I was roaming around Dave's Garden when I spied a project that was being taught on a chat thread. I was captured. The teacher, one of our DG subscribers, seemed to thoroughly enjoy what she was doing, and she was teaching the folks on the thread something that I really wanted to know. Immediately I started watching her thread. We all do that when we see something that grabs our interest, that's one of the fun aspects of Dave's Garden. Her project certainly had grabbed mine. When I read as far as she had written I knew I had to contact her. I wanted to ask her if the project could be done with old seed catalogs, and along with finding a new project to share with you, I have found myself with a brand new friend. I have a feeling that she is going to be your friend, too.
She is known as Booplants on Dave's Garden, but in real life, friends know her as Becky Moder. She very graciously agreed to allow me to borrow her, her projects, her directions and her photographs for this article. Now folks, if you have a bad habit of saving every seed catalog for the last 9 or 10 years, it is likely that you have been saving them for just this very moment. By the time you have read this article, you will be happily on your way to clearing out all those drawers, cabinets, baskets and under the bed storage boxes where you have stashed those accumulated catalogs. If anyone can inspire you to be your creative self, Becky can.
She has done what most of us only hope to do, she has made a living by doing what she likes to do best. She is a painter, and more than that, she is a licensed faux finisher in Phoenix, Arizona. For those of you who don't know, that means she can make your walls or your furniture look like anything except what they are. If you want your walls to look like newly mown grass, or old leather, or ancient wood in a barn, she can make that happen. Not only that, but Becky is an avid gardener. I asked her what influences her work and she told me that about seventy five percent of her work is influenced by her garden or by gardening books and magazines. Says Becky: "Nature is my best inspiration, but the world is a colorful place."
She also turns recycling into a new art. Becky takes old light bulbs and with very little effort and a lot of precision, they become art forms that can be used to decorate your shade garden, your house, your plants, or your Christmas tree. This is what I asked her to share with all of us, and here are her directions:
Recycled Light Bulbs: Decoupage on Glass
I recycle old light bulbs and make them into garden ornaments using both a decoupage technique and a painted technique. The decoupage bulbs need to be hung in the shade or inside your home, since they will fade. Those that are painted can be hung outdoors with little fading, and if they do fade, they can be easily repainted. These instructions are for those that are decoupaged. I use old garden magazines, catalogs, and even old garden books that I find at garage sales. Most of the materials for this craft are recycled.
Supplies: light bulbs (glass or wood item can also be substituted)
Flower and seed catalogs and magazines
Modge Podge or white glue
Floral wire (22 gauge)
Beads from old jewelry or craft projects, buttons
Scissors, wire cutters, small old artist's brushes
Shot glass or similar container to hold bulb as it drys
Krylon Clear sealer
Optional: Acrylic craft paint
1. Gather light bulbs and seed catalogs from everywhere. The size doesn't matter, the bigger the bulb, the bigger the picture you can use.
2. Cut out flowers, leaves, bugs, bees, hummingbirds, and it is best to use manicure scissors for the small images. (NOTE: Because the bulbs are round, you will make tiny slits around larger images so they will lay better on the surface.)
3. Apply a thin coating of Modge Podge (MP) all over the bulb, set the end in a shot glass and allow to dry.
4. With a craft brush apply the MP to the back of the image or directly to the bulb, and press the image firmly down with the brush. Keep a cup of water nearby to keep the brush in when not in use while you arrange your flower garden on the bulb. An old towel kept nearby will be handy to wipe it off when you need it again. The MP dries quickly, and this will keep it from drying on the brush.
5. Continue layering your flowers or any other image you have selected, working from bottom to top of the bulb, leaving some of the glass showing through.
6. If you choose to add paint, then add leaves or branches with acrylic craft paint wherever needed.
7. After the bulb is dry, spray with the Krylon Clear Sealer at least 4 times, waiting 30 minutes between each coat.
8. Cut a piece of wire the length you need to hang your bulb. I use about 3 feet because I am wrapping it around the bulb base and allowing some of it to dangle and hold beads.
9. Finding the middle of the wire, wrap it around the ridges of the bulb base, the wire to overlap and tighten around itself to secure. Once you feel it is tight enough, begin stringing the buttons and beads on and wrap the loose ends around the base wire again, allowing some wire to dangle.
Hang your bulb in a window, on a plant stand or hook, but keep it in the shade. Adorn your indoor house plants with them, or save them as Christmas tree ornaments. They also make great gifts. I have made many as gifts for fish lovers and bird watchers. Your imagination is your only limit!
Becky is the owner of a fast growing business whose slogan is: "Creating the WOW FACTOR with decorative and faux finishes". That is exactly what she does, but if you add to that the fact that she also paints furniture, cabinets, tiles, clothing, murals, teaches crafts, at one time had her own craft show on a local TV network, and is a single mom raising three children, then I think you will agree that a good word for her is WOW!
I really enjoyed talking with Becky, and am so appreciative of the time she gave me. She is like a kettle bubbling with ideas, one right behind the other. I hope you will take a few minutes and give some thought to recycling those plant catalogs that are arriving daily on your doorstep. I have been saving my old light bulbs, and figure that I need a few thousand more if I plan to use up all these wonderful pictures that are in the old seed catalogs.
My thanks to Becky for sharing her time and her talents with me. Check out her website above to see her beautiful art work. And in Becky's words: "My passions are painting and gardening, and to paint what's in my garden is pure bliss." And Becky, I do agree.
The picture frame, top right is a project done in the same method as the lightbulbs.
All photos, with the exception of the last one, were done by Becky Moder. Thanks Booplants!
The Victorian ornaments, pictured bottom left are from Zhinusmom, who participated in the thread in the Southwest forum where Booplants was sharing her craft idea. I think they are gorgeous ornaments, too, and might give you another decorating idea. Trisha, thank you so much!
Welcome to a week of fun with Mail Order Gardening articles that are sure to enlighten and entertain you. Today's article starring Booplants is the first of the series.
Wednesday's article by April Campbell: "Teachable Moments"
Join us Thursday for Jan Recchio's "Speciality Growers" and Angie Carson's "Mail Order Plants"
Friday you will find Larry Rettig's "Banking on Diversity"
Saturday check out Terry Lea's article on the "Garden Watchdog"
Tune in Sunday for Geoff Stein's "Mail Order Experiences with Palms and Cycads"
Monday you must not miss Carrie Lamont's "When Seed Selling was a Seedling..."
Happy Mail Ordering to All of You!
About Sharon Brown
I am a retired high school art and humanities teacher. I grew up in the Appalachian mountains of southeast KY and now I live with my two rescued cats, Jazz and Daisy, in far western KY. I am an artist often doing commissioned work, and in addition to writing articles for Dave's Garden, I also write boating stories for a nautical magazine as well as other venues. My greatest loves are writing, painting, my 5 year old grandson, then learning the history of our numerous wildflowers in Kentucky. And, of course, there's gardening.