Thursday, July 23, 2009

Thrift Store Conventions: Repurpose & Renew

This is in response to a request regarding a plant hanger spied in my daughter’s thrifted room make over.

I love having hanging plants in my home but am not fond of the plastic store bought containers nor macramé constructs that envelope the plant behind 5 inch twisted cording that could possibly anchor the QE2. What I’ve done is quite simple and inexpensive.

Take a plain white enameled bowl from a thrift store. They can usually be purchased with or without lids for $3.99. For some reason, the speckled campy variety of enamel runs a bit higher in price. But, it’s simple that you’re looking for so stick with white. Last week I was in an antique store and they were selling small white enameled bowls for $8-$12. Amazing the difference the word “antique” does to a price.

Personally, I prefer commentary, but will attempt a go at technical writing. I promise it will be more concise than many of the instructions I’ve read on chopstick wrappers that write phrases like using chopsticks helps celebrate China’s “glonous histery.” Chopstick instructions are usually good for a laugh.

The process to make the pot into a simple hanging planter is quite easy:

1. Turn the pot upside down and use a drill bit to make a drainage hole in the center of the pot. I prefer to do this on the lawn so if the drill escapes to the other side it simply goes into the soil, nothing hard to damage the bit. Clear the hole of any stray metal pieces.

2. Keep the bowl upside down and estimate and drill three equidistant holes along the rim with a smaller bit.

3. The local mom and pop hardware store will sell a variety of chain gauges. I recommend a fine gauge. The heavier the gauge the less elegant the design. The length of the chain is based upon how high or low the plant is to hang. Purchase more than you think is required. One can always cut back the chain to the right length. It can be done but it is harder to connect chain loops.

4. Connect three chains equal in length with small S hooks to the three holes on the rim. It is wise to squeeze the hooks tight with a pair of pliers. It is also wise to consider the height of the plant when determining the length of these chains (i.e. a tall plant will require greater length to give the plant more room to spread).

5. Experience has taught me that the best way to marry the three chains is to use a simple key ring, also purchased at the local hardware store. Just slide the ends of the chain onto the ring.

6. Add a chain to hang from the ceiling to this ring and add a another ring at the top to hang from a ceiling hook.

7. If you have a lid, this can be used as a catch plate for water run off. I use a plate hanger and connect the lid to the pot handles to hold it in place. This technique was invented on the fly; I’d just purchased a load of plate hangers. I’ll bet there are many other ways to attach a catch plate. String would even work.

Many items found at thrift stores for pennies on the dollar can morph into plant hangers. Like this teapot. I love it how the fern fronds are growing out the spout.

One can also take teacups or apothecary jars found in thrift stores and turn them into miniature terrariums. Below is a small jar growing my favorite plant, moss. The key to a successful terrarium is lining the bottom of the container with small bits of charcoal to absorb excess water and prevent mold and plant decay.

Visit the mom and pop hardware store. The older the store the better. We just lost our mom and pop neighborhood store. They knew the needs of the neighborhood. For example, when we were tearing up the five layers of linoleum in our kitchen we hit this horrible, goopy stuff on the next to the last layer. We couldn’t get through it. Off to the neighborhood store we go only to hear, “Oh, you’ve hit the layer they laid in the 1920’s. The black stuff is roofing tar, they used to lay that down under linoleum because it is water resistant.” Now compare that wisdom to the look on the kid’s face at the new hardware store when I asked where I could find jute. I think he thought I was looking for an illegal drug deal by the look on his face.


The Elegant Thrifter said...

Love it! Stan

Super Amazing Savings said...

Very good ideas with the planters! Hey, and I see you've used that book bookshelf that I saw in a magazine once. I really love the way her room looks. Wonderful work. I definitely need to take some tips from you.

Lisa said...

Love the room... thanks for the plant hanger directions.

Can you do a post on "The key to a successful terrarium is lining the bottom of the container with small bits of charcoal to absorb excess water and prevent mold and plant decay."?

What I bought at a thrift store was one of those cheese plate lids that had no wooden bottom. Now I dont know where to get my moss, what to plant it in, etc. Can you help with a post or direct me to info on the web? Thanks!