Unwritten Creativity: Glass Garden Flowers For Mom

Picture of a shot glass glued on the back of a plate

How to make the mounts for these recycled glass flowers is a detail that most of the Pinterest pins don't seem to answer. I used a tall shot glass, affixed with marine adhesive. I didn't want a short shot glass because it seemed to me those would be tippier.

One of Mom’s presents this year was a set of garden flowers made from odd plates and dishes. These were a lot of fun to assemble, and I want to, over the course of the next few months, make a set that goes across the problematically shady front section of her house. Combined with the tulips and irises, that should fill things out and add both color and a touch of individuality.

I’d gotten the idea from seeing them on Pinterest. I did do some picking through thrift stores to find odd bits of china, but also used some pieces I’d gathered over the years. It seemed like a nice way to carry out the decluttering mission, but preserve some of those memories. I augmented some pieces with glass or metallic spray paint and glued on glass pebbles, marbles, and other odd bits. The fixative for all of this is Marine Goop, which you can find on Amazon.

If I had more workspace, I might employ the Dremel in some of this, by drilling holes in things and then using a screw and bolt to hold the constructions together. However, the glue is marine fixative that is super strong and waterproof. I’m going over to Mom’s tomorrow to get some of the flowers set up and that will be the first test.

Tips for creating glass/china garden flowers:

  • Glue in stages and let them dry completely. Gluing the shot glass (or bottle) on the back will probably be the last thing you do. I used plastic containers to hold the flowers upside while the shotglass set.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. That glass paint is supposed to dry for four days before you set it by baking it. I may have shortened that a bit in my rush and it remains to be seen what the result is.
  • Don’t be afraid to adorn. I glued on glass charms and pebbles, gold candy paper, pearl beads, and a cat toy.
  • Keep it on the cheap by a) seeing what you have already in cupboards and crafting supply boxes that can be sued, b) checking when thrift stores have their china and glassware on sale, and c) looking for chipped items that are discounted further.
  • Don’t just look at china and glassware. I used chipped Christmas ornaments, a ceramic garden pot spray-painted copper, and a metal serving plate. Next time I’m thrifting I’ll look for round mirrors as well. One great example I saw used old knives arranged like spikes around the outer edge.

The Pinterest versions suggested gluing bottles to the back, but that seemed very large to me given the size of the flowers. Instead I used tall shot glasses, which run fifty cents each at our local Goodwill. The mounts are lengths of rebar capped with a padded top made of terrycloth from a cut-up towel and duct tape.

As a writer, I think it’s important to be creative in other ways. I cook, I garden, and sometimes I make things. Usually I give those things away because otherwise I would drown in objects. The flowers were a fun way to exercise that urge to make, and somewhere down the line I’ll be doing flash stories to go with each one. In the meantime, I’ve written the titles for those already.

I’ll go through the individual ones in posts. Here’s the first.

Photo of an ornate garden flower made from recycled glass and china.

This is "Snow Queen." Layers, back to front, are: a cut glass plate, willow ware plate, floral saucer with glass marbles and beads, vintage ice ice cream glass, a Christmas ornament, large pearl beads.

I think this ornament is a reasonable example of preserving memories. The ice cream glass is part of a set acquired several decades ago. I have a poem about willow ware, so I like using it. The glass charms are part of a hanging ornament that I received several years ago, and I’ve had the marbles since high school.

Close-up of a garden ornament made of recycled glass, china, and a Christmas ornament.

The pearl beads evident in the "in the wild" shot are lacking here. One important step in making these is, once you've finished, eyeball them and see how happy you are with the result. I wanted another echo of the elegance implicit in the ornament's shape, so I found the beads in digging through my craft box and incorporated them. There are also opalescent beads trapped in the glass beneath the ornament.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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