Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Project - Recycle a Planter into a Shabby Chic Treasure

Later this month, summertime will arrive officially. I've started to think about creating more decorative items for my patio, including a few planters.

A friend was cleaning out her closets and asked me if I'd like a metal planter she was about to throw away. Someone had painted flowers on the planter's outside. The design wasn't my style, but I thought I could probably recycle it into something more appealing.

Altered Book Pages on a Metal Planter
Altered Book Pages on a Metal Planter

Materials & Tools
  • Metal planter

  • Low-tack painters masking tape

  • Book pages, like those removed while working on an altered book

  • White tacky glue

  • Cheap paint brushes for adhering the glue

  • Walnut-colored pigment ink, like e-z walnut ink by FiberScraps

  • Purple acrylic paint

  • Sponge brush

  • Glitter glue

  • Spray acrylic sealer, like Crystal Clear Acrylic Coating by Krylon

  • Tacky tape

  • Lilac ribbon

  • Flat-bottomed colored marbles

  • The Steps
    (Click to enlarge each image. Click the back button to return to this article.)

    1. This is the metal planter I'm planning to decorate. Let's get started.

    2. Mask off the top and bottom edges of the planter, right on top of the acrylic paint. You can also use a new planter -- one that's unpainted -- if you're concerned about covering up someone else's artwork.
    Fold the tape back onto itself to leave a small tab. This will make it easier to remove the tape afterwards.

    3. Remove several pages from a discarded book. If you enjoying altering books and have alrady removed some pages, no'w your chance to do something useful with them. Tear the pages into threes. You'll use the top and bottom thirds of these pages.

    4. Brush glue on the surface of the planter and on a piece of torn page. Notice that I am aligning the page margin with the masking tape. The tops of the pages go on the top, while the bottoms of the get the idea. This technique creates a plain border around the container. Overlap the torn pieces, to create an altered look and cover page numbers. To seal the edges, apply more glue on top of the pieces, but sparingly, please. Hint: you'll stain the paper later.

    5. When you have covered the middle of the planter, all the way around, let it dry. Now remove the masking tape carefully.

    6. Create an altered look by using brown pigment ink to stain the pages. Hold the ink dauber in place to create darker sploches of color here and there.

    7. Crafting is a creative process, so I often change my idea halfway through a project. After surveying my work so far, I decided I wasn't satisfied with the original design after all (not even a smidgen). I covered the planter with more paint. If you started with an unpainted or new planter, you may not need to do this, but you may want to paint the planter anyway. It's up to you.

    8. After the paint dries, you can decorate more, if you like. Not one to stop at simplicity, I added glitter glue with blue flecks. Maybe it doesn't really go with the shabby chic theme, but I couldn't help myself. I love glitter! You, on the other hand, can forget it, if you choose.

    9. To protect the design, spray the outside of the planter with an acrylic sealer, as noted in the materials list above. I chose a glossy sealer, but you might prefer a matte finish.

    10. Using strong double-stick tape, attach a piece of ribbon around the planter. Adhere flat-bottomed marbles to the ribbon with the same tape.
    Altered Book Pages on a Metal Planter
    Altered Book Pages on a Metal Planter

    The Moral of the Story: Never throw anything away, I always say. One woman's trash is another woman's treasure...or at least has some potential. And because I can never leave well enough alone, in the fall, I might recycle the planter again into a back-to-school design.

    Project Tips
  • After staining the pages, try sanding them to give the design a more weathered look.

  • You can substitute other colors of ribbon and paint.

  • Play around with the position of the ribbon on the planter, before you adhere it with double-stick tape. Once you add the tape behind the ribbon, it will be difficult to reposition it without ruining the altered page "cummerbund."
  • If you prefer a more rustic look, substitute colored raffia for the ribbon.

  • Product Resource Guide
  • Buy your craft supplies at

  • Wholesale Arts & Crafts Supplies

  • Most project photos on this page were taken with a 5.0 MP resolution KODAK EASYSHARE DX4530 Zoom Digital Camera

  • Article Description: One woman's trash is another woman's treasure, in this project that uses altered book pages on a recycled metal planter.

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