Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Use It Up!: Glass and China “Whimsies”

a group of glass and ceramic garden "whimsies"
A group of glass and ceramic "garden whimsies"
Those of you who have been reading these posts for some time know that I and other members of the Annake's Garden team really don't like to see anything go to waste (see the posts for March 15, 2013 and June 3, 2013). Lately our glass artisan (see the December 30, 2013 post for her interview), in between periods of canning and freezing food for winter, has been combining pieces of miscellaneous glassware and china dishes into delightful “garden whimsies”. I just cleared a couple of shelves in my kitchen cabinets of glass and china pieces that I never use and passed them along to her so that she can create more of these objects. There are quite a few examples of this kind of item on the Internet, most of them to be used as bird feeders. I feed native and migratory birds all year, and I have to say that many of these items while attractive are not particularly bird-friendly. You want to feed seeds and suet to the birds, not feed the birds to the neighborhood cats!

small garden whimsey with candle
So we determined that most of her creations would have other uses, in addition to (or instead of) bird-feeding. We chose three of her many pieces (see above) to feature for you. These can be used indoors, on a porch or patio, or outdoors, under trees or along paths or in flowerbeds. The smallest, we decided, was perfect for a candle-holder and it is shown that way throughout this article. I can picture a double row of these, each different from the other, along the edges of the sidewalk that leads to our front door, acting as luminarias to welcome guests to our home. Obviously the candle-holder could have many indoor uses as well.

large garden whimsey with floating flowers
The largest piece is an ingenious combination of a bowl, its inverted lid, the glass cover of a ceiling light fixture, a saucer and a small cut-glass dish, all bonded together. Indoors on the buffet, it could hold chips and dip, canapes with nuts or mints, holiday cookies and candies, etc. Outside, it makes a lovely water feature, either by itself or with flowers floating in the bowl. Its color can be changed with the water used to fill it. Just add a drop or two of food coloring to the water and stir it thoroughly before pouring it into the container. And it can even serve as a bird feeder in the right, safe, setting. The water in the base makes it very stable and hard to overturn. All the pieces are securely fastened together with an all-weather adhesive, so it is easy to carry and to transport from place to place.

medium garden whimsey with candle
The medium-sized “whimsey”, a pedestal arrangement topped with a vase shaped like a flower, proved to be the most versatile article of all. It is shown here as a candle-holder. At the bottom of this post you will see it again in a montage showing just a few of its possible uses: holding a floating flower, potpourri, hard candies and, yes, even birdseed. Incidentally, all the photographs were taken in Annake's Garden, so they give you little glimpses into small corners of our late summer gardens.

"whimsey" used as a serving tray
We were so happy with the first arrangement we made with a fourth “whimsey” creation that we photographed it separately. This is a vase cemented to a glass tray. The artisan filled the vase with her dried flowers and I contributed a combination teapot (top handle) and teacup (bottom handle). What a nice object to have at your elbow when you are ready to relax with a cup of tea and a good book! It also shows how three of our team (J.D. took all the photographs) worked together on this project for this post for you.

Recycled and fused glass trivet and spoon holder
Recycled fused glass trivet (left) and spoon holder (right)
Finally, we wanted to show you a couple of items our glass artisan “re-purposed” in the kiln she uses to make her glass plates, jewelry, sun-catchers, wind-chimes and other beautiful creations. The first is a plain glass tray which she has ornamented with fused glass dots and stripes in bright colors. She turned it into an attractive trivet to protect a tabletop from a hot dish or pot. The second article is a simple bottle, melted and shaped into a holder for a cooking spoon. It is also decorated with bits of colored glass. 

I think everyone who has been a homemaker for more than a few years probably has leftover or mismatched pieces of glass or china. While we don't all have access to a kiln, we do have access to a variety of appropriate adhesives. (Be sure to read all the cautions and directions very carefully; look for terms like “food-safe,” “dishwasher-safe,” or “weather-proof,” depending on your plans for the object.) We can all think of useful and decorative ways to keep these items from going to waste. I hope we have provided you with some ideas and inspiration. We would love to hear about and see pictures of your own creations.

Have fun with your “whimsical” project!

glass and ceramic garden whimsey collage
Some of the many uses for a "whimsey"...

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