No More Writer’s Block

August 20th, 2009

Last week, I hinted at the table I transformed into a desk for my office/library in this post

For some time, I’ve been drawn to the idea of a writer’s desk in lieu of my traditional dark wood desk with its big and heavy drawers.  By definition, a writer’s desk is more like a table, with few or no drawers, open and airy, forcing the user to be clever with storage, and always organized.  And I’m the type that has to force myself to be organized. 

In my decision to move from dark to light, I found a table at a local outlet that was closing its doors, and decided that with a little paint, and a glass top, it could become my own version of a writer’s desk. 

Read the rest of this entry »

DIY: Cement Planters

August 18th, 2009

Last time, I showed you how I made cement candleholders out of ordinary plastics purchased from the grocery store.  Today, the focus is planters.  Unless you want just a simple cachepot, if you truly want your planter to drain there is an added trick.  How to add drainage holes to a cement planter?  With the addition of plastic straws to your plastic molds.

Here’s a glimpse at some of the planters I made using regular plastics for the outside mold.  For the inside mold, I used the plastic container that housed my plant from the nursery.

A fern planter for my master bath:

For my outdoor patio table:

A striped version for a guest room windowsill:

How to Make Cement Planters:

Supplies :

  1. Plastics in various sizes for outside mold.  They can be storage containers, deli containers, or juice jugs
  2. Plastic container from your plant for the inside mold
  3. Non-stick cooking spray
  4. Plastic straws
  5. Plastic sheeting
  6. Rapid set cement mix from home improvement store (I recommend the 55 lb. bag over the 10 lb. box if you want to do more than just a few small tea light candleholders.)
  7. Plastic bucket for mixing
  8. Stir stick (pick up a free one in the paint department)
  9. Measuring cup
  10. Sanding pad
  11. Latex gloves
  12. Outdoor ‘Patio Paint’ in colors of choice

Step One: Clean and dry your plastic molds.  Spray the inside of your plastic mold with a thin coat of cooking spray.  The cooking spray isn’t absolutely essential, but it does help ease your plastic away from the cement when you pop it out of the molds.

To allow for drainage, use a knife to make small holes in the bottom of your outside mold and slide your straws up through the outside mold and through the drainage holes in your inside mold.

Like this:

Step Two:  Lay down plastic sheeting on your workspace, and put on your latex gloves – cement is irritating and very drying to your hands.

Step Three: Mix your cement with 4 parts cement powder and 1 part water as directed on the bag.  It should be similar to the consistency of cake mix.

Step Four:  Working quickly, pour your cement into your plastic mold, and set the inside mold on top, over your straws.  Use some pebbles or small rocks to weigh your inside plastic mold down, because it tends to want to rise up out of the cement. The easiest way to get into small crevices between your molds is by stealing a baker’s trick and clipping the corner off of your own ‘pastry bag’ filled with the cement mixture.

Note:  A small amount of your cement will creep up through the other drainage holes.  You could use plastic wrap to cover the holes.  I just scooped it out with my gloved hands and put it back into the outside mold.  If you leave it in the bottom of the inside of your planter, it will solidify and make the removal of your inside mold very difficult.  Be sure to twist your straws every five minutes.

Make sure your plastic mold is on a level surface.  Gently tap your planter mold about a dozen times to bring any bubbles to the surface.  At this point, you can also add pebbles, marbles, shells or other decorative items to the top of your planter mold like I did with this candleholder from my last post.

Step Five:  If your rapid set mix will solidify in 15 minutes, then let your mold sit for approximately 10 minutes, and gently pull your inside mold out.  After the full 15 minutes, when you can feel the outside cement is very warm inside its plastic mold, and when it starts to form some condensation, remove the straws and pop it out of the mold.  Do this just before it is permanently set.  It’s about a 2 minute window, so stay by your project. Note:  Your plastic storage containers are reusable after this project – be sure to rinse any cement residue out of your mold right away.  But don’t rinse it down your indoor plumbing, only outdoors.

Step Six:  Take your sanding pad and gently rub away any rough edges on the surface and sides.

Step Seven:  Let your finished planters cure for 12 to 24 hours.  For a painted surface, add your choice of outdoor Patio Paint available at most craft stores.

And that’s how to make a planter out of a lemonade jug or other plastic container!

 

I hope you’ll look twice at the next plastic container in your kitchen.  It could become something lovely, with your own creative and personal touch!

.