I have seen quite a few of these popping up on Pinterest and other DIY sites and thought I might give one a try. I wasn’t quite sure if I would like doing them or not as they just seemed kind of boring to me. But I liked the idea of using glass in a project.
My biggest thing was if it would hold up out there in the yard during our ridiculously long, freezing, cold Canadian winters.
Over the years I have had the dismal experience of things falling apart as soon as winter sets in. I hate bringing things inside for the winters. I am kinda lazy that way. Plus I just do not have the storage area to bring all my projects inside.
To start with I made my way over to a thrift store to pick up some glass pieces. I wanted some with color, but they got a little on the pricey side so at $2.00 a piece I settled for clear transparent glass. No fancy crystal, just cut glass. This would give me an idea if I liked them enough to invest later on down the road for some colored glass.
I have found GE Silicone adhesive an extremely good choice for a project such as this. Plus a bit of research on google confirmed it is the glue of choice for other crafters building these type of totems also.
I bought four different glass pieces. I picked up a platter, a bowl, a candle holder and a small decanter that was probably used for oil and vinegar dressings. I then simply glued them together using the GE silicone glue.
The very top piece was the stopper for the decanter so I got a two for one on that piece. The decanter on the bottom looks yellowed but it is not, it is just the way the light is reflecting the shadow as it passes through the glass pieces above it.
I really gobbed on the silicone between each piece. I wanted it to get into all the nooks and crannies of the cut glass for better adhesion. In the photos below you can see that I used a ton of this stuff.
Seriously, that was so easy to do, I felt like I was cheating on one of my projects. But the next stage might be a bit trickier. How was I going to get it attached to a pole of some sort. I did not want to get into drilling holes in the glass. I chose that decanter just for the purpose of sticking a pole into it.
After wandering around the hardware store I decided on rebar. Why I did this was a no-brainer. It was cheap! What is rebar you ask?
Rebar (short for reinforcing bar), also known as reinforcing steel, reinforcement steel is a steel bar used as a tension device in reinforced concrete and reinforced masonry structures to strengthen and hold the concrete in tension.
I took a photo so there would be no confusion. They even had some that was painted with a green protective coating. Perfect for me as that would mimic the stem of a flower. I bought the four foot length. Actually I bought three just in case I messed up. I always buy a backup because believe it or not I mess things up all the time!
The diameter of the rebar is quite a bit smaller than the opening of the decanter so I needed to make it thicker. I did not want to permanently glue the glass to the rebar as I might want to move it and you can not pound rebar into the ground with glass objects affixed to the top of it. I also wanted a way to block any moisture from getting inside the decanter.
When I bought the rebar the cashier wrapped the three bars with some strips of plastic wrap to hold them together for easier carrying. That gave me the idea to just wrap a big wad of plastic wrap around the rebar. It worked like a charm! The glass does not wobble around at all so there is no chance it will break when the wind gets to it. I did glue a small piece of felt to the very top of the rebar so it would not scratch away on the inside of the glass.
I decided I wanted leaves. Copper tubing was the way to go with those. Once the copper has been outside for awhile it will get that great patina on it we all love. The copper tubing I used was 1/4″ as shown in the photo above with the rebar. I also picked up some copper strapping for the veins in the leaves. Just little extra details like that can add so much character to your projects.
Shaping the leaves was pretty basic going also. Copper tubing is very soft so you want to take your time so you do not crimp it in an area that you don’t want crimped. I squished the ends flat with a pair of pliers so it would sit flush on the rebar.
I also added some super glue to the narrow end of the bottom of the leaf where the strapping sits, then wrapped some thin wire to hold it in place while the glue set up. Then wrapped it again with thicker gauge wire for a cleaner look and added some silicone into that so the strapping can not pop out. Super glue does not hold up well to the elements. I just used it as a temporary hold till I got the wire wrapped around it.
Next to attach the leaves to the rebar. I applied some more of the silicone to the areas of the leaf that would be in contact with the rebar and temporarily held it in place with a bunch of wire. After the glue set up I then took that same thicker wire and just wrapped and wrapped all the way up so the leaves would be completely secured to the rebar. I also wrapped wire around that plastic wrap under the bottom area where the decanter sits so it hides the ugly element of it.
Here is a couple of photos of what I thought was the final project.
But I just didn’t like where you could still see the plastic wrap inside that bottom decanter. You can not really see it that much, but it bugged me to no end. So off I went down to the
dungeon basement “craft room” to see what I could come up with. On one of the shelves, in a tin can, I found a mother load of those shiny half marbles. I have no idea what they are really called but I knew that these would do the trick!
I like it so much better now.
Any sane person would stop right there. But I am not sane. The other day I found a jar full of crystals, the kind that hang off old lamps. I painstakingly collected a bunch of these and put them in a jar and promptly forgot I had them. They have been in that jar for 3 years now. Yup, I added them to this creation promising myself to stop as soon as they were added. To add the crystals I cut a piece of wire the length of what would be wrapped around the area between the plate and the bowl. I then added strands of strong fishing line to the wire before twisting and securing it to the totem. Then I added the crystals to the fishing line and tied them all off at the correct length and height so they would be hanging off the plate area.
It is now complete and I quite enjoy this out in my yard and I definitely would make another one, but this time I will search around for some colored glass.
I hope I have given you some inspiration to try one of these garden totems. I truly enjoyed making this one. It was easy to do and not that expensive. The copper tubing was a little pricey but you could omit the leaves or just find something else to use.