Friday, July 26, 2013

A Clock, A Plant, and Chalk Paint

The very Summery Oregon weather has stirred up my gardening mojo, so let me inspire you with a fun repurposing project for your plants. I brought this Pottery Barn Kids clock home from Goodwill a few months ago. I get sucked in by clocks all the time, specifically the double-bell alarm clocks. I love the classic shape, but sometimes the finish is chintzy and undesirable.

Although the color red is one of my favorites, the clock just looked too new for an antique body style. While staring at it one day, a creative idea popped into my head. And here is the result……

Why not turn it into a planter!

A little fun with chalk paints and a plastic frosting container, and now my junker soul is satisfied! First I disassembled the clock to remove its guts. I would feel guilty doing this to an antique clock, but since this is a new-ish, Made in China item, I felt good about keeping one less thing from the landfill…..but I digress.

After a quick sanding of the body to remove the slick surface, I chalk-painted multiple layers to give it a rusty verdigris finish, using brick red, rusty orange, dark brown, aqua, and mossy green colors. When applying the paint, the messier the better, using a small sea sponge or mushy brush. Thinning the paint with water will help give it a more natural, mottled look, and will avoid distinct brush or sponge marks. I’m sure there are a million options for creating the planter part, but I am always looking for new uses for items I already have on hand. Some containers just look too useful to throw in the recycle bin.

I wanted to use a plastic vessel, because it wouldn’t rust when holding a watered plant. After trying out several options, the perfect fit came from a ready-made frosting container. I sanded the plastic exterior to rough it up for painting later.

I cut it in half, top to bottom, with regular scissors. Then I cut some of the top section off, where the lip is.

I thought it would be fun to re-use the paper clock face, so I used brown tones of alcohol ink to grunge it up. I followed that up with a watered down wash of brown-ish chalk paint, to give it a matte and rusty finish. I cut the face in half, glue-gunning each half to the bottoms of my plastic container.

To hold the plastic in place in the clock, I used insulation putty, but floral clay would also work perfectly. Using putty allows for easy removal, should I use the clock for something else. On the inside of the clock body, there are screw and nut ends sticking up from the legs. When I was fitting the front end of the planter to the clock body, I was able to push the plastic into the screws hard enough to make an impression in the plastic without puncturing. That way, the plastic will fit more flush with the clock body. Once you’ve positioned the clock face end against the body’s front opening, press down where the putty is, to hold it in place. It will leave a thin space underneath, and that is where you slide in the other half of the plastic planter. How far you slide it in is totally dependent on your plant's needs. A Succulent or Ivy, like Kennilworth, can grow just about anywhere, with very little soil.

After deciding on a planter length and positioning the back plastic half, I glue-gunned the 2 plastic planter halves together at the exposed cut end. So far so good, with no water leakage, but if you want to be extra cautious, you can use silicone adhesive sealant from a tube. Just remember that you will have to wait for it to dry before you can start planting.

The back opening in the clock dips down below the back planter half, leaving a wobbly gap, so I added more putty to fill the space and also to secure the position. Of course I painted the putty too, cuz I'm all about the details....)

I obviously didn’t want the look of white plastic up against my rusty paint masterpiece, so the only thing left to do was paint the exterior plastic. (No need to paint the interior, because the dirt will cover it.) I chose to paint after it was secured, so I would only have to paint the exposed area. I used a brown permanent marker to darken the plastic edges. Once the paint is dry, you’ll want to seal it, especially if you're displaying it outside. I used Matte clear coat spray, not glossy, to keep the rusty authenticity.

Finally, time to plant! When I had my planter epiphany, the first plant that I pictured for this project was this wire vine plant.

I’ve seen versions of this called Australian or New Zealand wire vine, but this one is called Maidenhair. They're all basically the same. It's an awesome plant that will grow as crazy as you want it to, and wonderful for topiary forms.

The dark brown vine has the old woody and wild look that suits the rusty finish perfectly. I’ve grown this plant before, but not in such a small container, so this is an experiment to see if it survives or not. If it doesn’t, I may plant another wire vine in a larger container, and nestle the clock body (sans the plastic) into the bigger planter as decoration, then weave some of the vines through the clock.

Once the plant begins to grow fuller, it will cover much more of the back end. Although I’ve only focused on using this concept as a planter, it could just as easily be used as a vase, with floral foam or frog placed inside. (This is where it would really be a good idea to use the sealant.) Wouldn’t these be charming vases for reception tables at a rustic wedding?
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  1. Your work is just amazing. I love this make over. the plant you chose works perfectly!!

  2. Now that is one cool project!

    The Joyful Thrifter

  3. Thanks Ladies! I had this idea brewing months ago, but just barely bought the plant for it a couple weeks ago. It truly was a fun project, and seems like a great way to repurpose all those cheapo clocks I see in Goodwill all the time.

  4. Oh my goodness... I just fell over in complete AWE. Guuurl.... I adore this quirky planter!! So much so it'll be featured on I Love That Junk this week. Thanks for linking up to Party Junk! :)

  5. WOW!!! The creative mind at work. You are simply amazing!!!

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  7. This is awesome!
    I have got to go out and find myself an old looking clock and get started!!!!
    Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  8. This is one of the most imaginative makeovers I've ever seen. Absolutely wonderful! Great tutorial, too. I'm sharing this on my Once Upon a Firefly FB page.

  9. Hi there, this is a fantastic idea! I just had one question, how did you deal with the drainage for the plant? did you add a porous layer of material under the soil?

    1. Hi Lila! I mixed some Perlite and sand into the soil, but in such a small container, you can only only hold so much soil when you need room for the roots too. That it why I recommend a plant that doesn't require much soil to grow (like Sedums), or can thrive being rootbound.

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