Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Out of the Gutter (Guard)" Garden

Hardware store?  Hardware store??  That was my initial reaction when I read the theme for this week over on The CSI Project.  (Have you checked them out, by the way?  You totally should.)  All ideas involving hardware of any kind escaped me.  All I could think of was finally putting kitchen hardware on our cupboards... but that seemed uncreative (and not to mention, a little too expensive).  I figured I’d just go over to the hardware store and wander around the shelves for a few hours until inspiration hit me.  Then I remembered this super cute mobile I saw over on luvinthemommyhood which was guest posted by Mrs. Priss.  Such a cute idea!  And I thought, hmmmm... maybe I could alter this a little bit.  I’m pretty focused on the play room right now, since we are trying to finish it up, and I thought a mobile would be just the ticket.  
Here is my version: 
The Urban Garden Mobile  (nicknamed “Out of the Gutter [Guard] Garden)

You're going to use:
fiberglass screening material (you know, what you buy to replace your window screens when you get a hole in them... or what you buy to replace them if you’re not me.  I’d just patch it with duct tape.)
some from of chicken wire or similar wire mesh material (I actually used gutter guards because they were much cheaper and smaller.  I figured I didn’t need a gabazillion feet of wire meshy stuff...) (oh, hence the nickname up there... out of the gutter [guard]... ha ha...) (trailing off when noticing no one else is laughing...)
nuts and washers of various sizes and persuasions
two long threaded rods
two shorter threaded rods
1/4 gauge beading wire or similar
spray paint
fishing line
wire cutters
needle nose pliers
hot glue gun (duh)
I made two different types of flowers for the mobile.  One is the fiberglass screen material 

and the other is the chicken wire/gutter guard material.  

The fiberglass screen material is much faster and easier to work with - as it isn’t metal.  It folds up really nicely and fans out into a flower shape no problem.  It doesn’t keep any sort of shape, though - as it isn’t metal (did you get that part yet?) so you do have to hold it together wire it all at the same time, so it helps to be ambidextrous.  Which I am not.  The gutter guard material is frustratingly slow-going.  BUT it holds its shape well and looks REALLY cool.  You could do one or the other, whatever your preference is.
1. First, cut out some rectangles in either/both materials.  Vary the sizes - widths and lengths - so that the flowers will not be exactly the same. 
2. Now, one rectangle at a time, fold them up accordion style.  (You may need to use the needle nose pliers for the metal ones.  But be careful not to pinch the accordion together too tightly or the metal will just break apart at the seams when you fan it out into the flower.  Do I speak from experience here?  Yes.)
3. Now, take an accordion and fold it in half.  

HERE’S WHERE YOU HIT SOME DIFFERENCES, depending on material...


4. Use a piece of beading wire to secure the INSIDE of the ends together.

5. Fan out the other ends, carefully unfolding the accordion with the pliers.  Heed the warning I gave above, or you’ll end up piecing little folded bits back in and that is a PAIN.
6. You’ll notice that the other ends don’t meet.
7. So, make another accordion following the steps above.
8. Use the beading wire to attach the flower segments together, securing all ends.
NOTE:  You may need to use up to FOUR accordions to make the metal flower.  It depends on how big your rectangles are and how many folds are in your accordion.  Just keep connecting sections until they meet in a circle.  At least, that’s what I did.  Of course, if you measure stuff you probably wouldn’t have all the guess work, but as with cooking, I rarely measure stuff when I’m creating it from scratch.

OR Fiberglass:
4. Using a small piece of beading wire, thread both ends of it through the accordion at the fold so they stick out the other side.  Twist it closed and trim off excess.  Tuck it flat.

5. If you would like, you can at this point, fold the accordion back up and trim the ends at an angle.  This gives the flower "petals" a pointy appearance.  I did this with some and left some round.  I like both looks, but I think I like the round ones the best.  It looks softer.  

6. Take the sides of the accordion on both the top and bottom and fan them up so the ends connect.  
7. Secure with wire in the same manner as above.
8. You now have a flower.  How easy was that?  (It’s rhetorical.  I know, really easy.)


9. Repeat as needed for all the rectangles you have.  Or until you get sick of making flowers.  You can always set the rectangles aside for another project someday down the road.  Don’t worry.  I won’t tell anyone.
10. Now that they are all secure and flowery, you can paint them.
11. Lay them all out on a drop-cloth, along with the various nuts and washers you have around, (I especially like the washers with the external teeth, because they kind of look like flowers themselves.) and the threaded rods.
12. Spray away.
13. Let dry - completely.  You can guess what happened to me.
14. Flip.
15. Repeat.
16 When they are dry, you can begin making the middle of the flowers.  Use hot glue to attach the washers and nuts to the middle of the flowers in many different patterns.  Switch up the sizes and colors, as well as the number of each you use.  
17. Repeat on the other side of each flower, so it’s double-sided.
18. Take your long threaded rods and cross them in a “t”.  
Take some beading wire and wind it around the intersection, changing the direction.  (Make sure to use enough wire and wind it enough times so that it feels secure... especially if it’s going in a play room, like mine is.  I wouldn’t want it falling apart smacking the unsuspecting kiddos in the head while they play cars.) (And I wouldn’t want to be responsible for this happening to YOUR kid, either.) 
So keep wrapping... 

and wrapping... 

and wrapping.
19. Now, take a little piece of wire and loop it around the intersection of the rods and let it gape at the top - so you can hang it through a hook.
20. Use this same method of “wire wrapping” for the smaller threaded rods.
21. Attach a length of fishing line to one end of a rod by double knotting it on the top side of the rod, then crossing the ends and knotting it on the bottom - for extra security.    

22. Slide some washers and/or nuts onto the fishing line and then loop the end around once more to hold it in place without knotting.  This way you can just slide them up or down if you need to adjust and they won’t be knotted permanently in one spot.  At least I though of THAT ahead of time, and thank goodness, too.

23. Thread the end of the fishing line through one of the flowers and tie in a triple or quadruple knot - just to be sure.
24. Repeat for all ends.  Do this to the middle intersection of the shorter rods as well. (as shown in the photo above.)  Vary the length of the fishing line.  Vary also the amount of nuts and washers you put on each piece, how far apart they are, the colors, the sizes, etc.  
NOTE: You may have guessed that I don’t really like symmetry for most things.  Especially for this project, I wanted things to be very random and unplanned.  I think it adds to the concept of the piece.  (Yes, I just used the term “concept” in connection with one of my crafts and YES, I called it a “piece” instead of “the mobile” as if it’s a work of art.  I can do that, right?)
25. Use some wire to attach the shorter rods to the larger rods - smaller rods on the bottom.  It's up to you how far apart you want them to be.  You could also use fishing line for this, but I wanted it to be more stable.

26.  You're done!  Hang it up and admire!
I hung mine in the play room (as I said before) and I used a heavy anchor to anchor it to the ceiling.
I also used several of the gutter guard flowers I made as wall art, to tie the mobile into the rest of the space.  I kind of like how that turned out, too.
An epilogue:
You may want to use gloves when working with the gutter guard.  It actually doesn’t get THAT sharp, which is good, but I wanted to throw it out there just in case, you know?  I didn’t use gloves and I only gouged myself once, but I attribute that to clumsiness, not the gutter.  Wait, should I have blamed the gutter?  

What I like:
The dichotomy of industrial elements and garden themes.  Making flowers out of unexpected objects creates interest.  Using the garden motif adds softness.  
Making recycled or found objects playful and fun.  An industrial or “urban” feeling is appropriate for many spaces then, not just uber modern areas.
The bright colors.
The ease of building fiberglass flowers.
That nuts, bolts and washers aren’t just for building engines and shelves and stuff.  The element of surprise, you know? 
Because the rod is threaded, you don’t have to worry about the fishing line slipping around.  It stays in place without needing glue or anything.  Cool.
What I don’t like:
The gutter guards are hard to bend and piece together.
It took more than one rectangle of gutter to make a flower.
The metal flowers were super time consuming.
The weight is different on each flower and length of fishing line.  Had I been more analytical, or had I been mr, I would have weighed each fishing line before attaching it to the mobile so I knew which pieces to put opposite each other to make the mobile straight when it was hanging.  I am not analytical and I tend to just rush into things.  So the mobile is a bit off balance.  You CAN correct this to some extent by wrapping up the wire and forcing the line on the heavier side to the furthest end of the threaded rod.  All in all, I’m not going to lose sleep over it.
Nylons.  Who invented those things?  Honestly.  But that has nothing to do with this project.


*Be sure to check below for the parties I link to!


BLJ Graves Studio said...

This is so cute and so clever. Great job!

Heather said...

Wow, very inspired! I could never pull off something like that but I sure can admire it from afar. Thanks so much for commenting on my blog, hope to see you back tomorrow for Fabulous Friday again!
Heather @

Unknown said...

thanks, guys!

Stacy Olson said...

Great article thanks.

I wanted to share this beading guide with everyone. Enjoy

Jen @ said...

So fun! Those flowers turned out so adorable. I love that you spray painted them too!

Thanks so much for linking up to The CSI Project's hardware Store Challenge! We hope you will come back next week for the Martha Stewart-inspired challenge -- The MS Craft Department are our guest judges!!!


Unknown said...

Wow, Jen!! That's so cool!! (And a teeny bit intimidating...) :) Thanks for checking it out!

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