Friday, March 4, 2011

Garden Totem Tutorial

I have received a lot of emails recently asking me about how I make my garden totems. I thought that it is the right time of year to show you and I actually have been making some recently.


I went to thrift stores looking for pieces for the totems and happened to find this cool cement piece for $1.95. Not used for a totem but fun anyway.


I always look for this type of plate to use as a base. These plates actually have small feet on them so you can anchor them into the soil. The decorations on this plate are on the underside and the top surface is flat. It is important to have a flat surface to get a solid seal with the glue. I have used all types of glue but find that aquarium glue works best. I never pay over $2.95 for these plates.

This is a heavy vase from Ikea that I found in a thrift store for 99 cents. These large clear pieces are good to use as stems on the totems especially if you want to add a bird or flowers or something as decorations.


I always look for sturdy heavily decorated glasses with good rims. These will most likely be turned upside down on a totem. The angles in the glass really reflect the light on sunny days. These two glasses were 49 cents each.




I lucked out on these two wonderful plates for 69 cents each.


Fish bowls are great to use in totems. They are cheap, they have wide mouths and are perfect to showcase accessory pieces. You can find these as cheap as 25 cents depending on the size.


Small heavily etched bowls always work well too.


This is probably the lid to a broken container. For 25 cents it will make a great topper for a totem.


This is not a totem yet. I just stacked a few of the above pieces to show you how they work together. From the bottom up you have: one of the decorative plates turned upside down, the Ikea vase turned upside down, the small heavily etched bowl turned upside down, the fish bowl and the 25 cent lid. It is a good idea to try to stack your totem together before you glue it so you can see how it looks. If I was making this into a totem, I would have placed porcelain birds in the Ikea vase and porcelain flowers in the fish bowl. It all depends on the size of the pieces. It is also a very good idea to buy the cheapest pieces you can because if these topple over before you glue them, you are screwed!


Here is a totem I made recently. The base is a plate, then there is an upside down bowl, then a bud vase turned upside down. The next small piece is called a sunflower plate and I find them all the time. They work very well in totems when turned upside down. You might wonder why so many of these are upside down and you might be getting sick of this word. There are two main reasons for doing this: #1 you want water to run off of all of these totems and not to pool. #2 sometimes they just look better used this way. Anyway...back to the totem assembly.


Here is a close up. Sometimes you can find the sunflower plates in rainbow colors which are really great for reflecting light like this one. The crackle ball is a cheap candle votive.


On top of the crackle ball is a small etched dish turned upside down.


Next, I glued a porcelain flower basket to the center of the plate and covered it with a small upside down fish bowl. I topped it off with a glass bell. I don't think anyone that has ever been gifted with a glass bell keeps them. I find them everywhere all the time and are usually about a dollar.




Oops...another thrift store find from yesterday This was 99 cents. I love putting these on my potting table and sitting frogs or birds on them.


This is a smaller simpler totem I made with a plate, 2 fish bowls, 2 porcelain flower baskets and a bell with a porcelain flower.


I tried to get better pics of these inside.


Here is the first one against a black backdrop.


I made this one using a punchbowl base, a plate, an upside down bowl, a small etched bowl topped with a sunflower bowl turned upside down. Then another small fish bowl with a porcelain canary and flower inside and the topper is a glass hurricane lamp piece. At least I think that is what they are called. It is also upside down but you can see where the nub at the top sits in a candlestick and then a votive is placed inside. Once again, these seem to be everywhere and cost about 1 dollar too.

So, if I haven't confused you more than you already were, try to make one. They are so much fun and there are so many variations. You can use colored glass or even pottery pieces. I make so many of these that I give them to everyone I know. I have nowhere else to put any and the ones I left out all winter are still in perfect shape. Go figure!

If you have any questions, just ask and I will try to confuse you even more!


One last find from yesterday. This cost 4.99 and it looks like it was never used. I am thinking maybe it is a rumtopf pot?