Good morning, Internet!
Today Denver is recovering from its cold snap and it is a beautiful 50 degrees F outside, and a great day to be Doing Things.
Today I decided to make some garden markers to show us what plants we put where. I was inspired by the photos from similar projects on In My Own Style, and this one from Notes From the Heartland, but I added some stuff of my own based on my own skills and what materials I had on hand.
Tutorial: How to Make Can-Lid Garden Markers
Step 1: Gather Materials
For this project, you will need:
- Frozen juice can lids. These are smooth around the edges and will not cut you, unlike the cans from your cupboard. Make sure they are completely washed.
- Wire hangers that you don’t mind destroying
- Heavy wire clippers that can cut the hangers
- Needle-nosed pliers and maybe some heavier pliers
- Some heavy paper, maybe a cardstock
- Pens and markers, or art supplies of your choice
- Some jewelry resin. I use Magic-Glos, because it’s what I have on hand, but it’s expensive and there may be better alternatives that you’re familiar with.
- Maybe some painter’s tape
- A drill
Step 2: Cut out your paper
There are two sides to your can lid. One side has a slightly deeper lip around the edge, as though it might hold a small amount of water if laid flat. That is going to be our “front”. Don’t worry if there is an expiration date printed on the can lid; in our version of the tutorial, we’ll be covering it up.
Cut circles from your paper that will neatly lay flat inside the can lid. I did this by tracing circles on the paper using the lids to give me an idea of the general size, then cut inside my drawn circles, because I knew it had to be smaller than that. Probably the most precise method would be measuring the can lid and using a compass to get the exact right size, but that didn’t occur to me until just now. Whatever works for you.
Step 3: Make your design
On your circle cut-outs, make your design for your garden markers. For me, I like to draw, so I drew a border, hand-lettered the name of the vegetable, and drew a small iconic picture of it. I only have three jar lids today, so the rest of the garden will come later. You might prefer to collage, stencil, or use the computer to print out your circles. Whatever works for you. This is the main differentiating point between my tutorial and the ones that inspired me– I don’t have a metal punch and I wanted something fancy and unique. Use your imagination and do whatever you want. Remember, these will be outside (although protected with resin), so your colors may fade or run over time.
Step 4: Fill the can lid with resin and let it cure.
Remember how I said to use the “deeper” side of the can lid? It’s because we are going to fill it with resin.
If you haven’t worked with resin, there are some great first-time tutorials out there, like this one from Epbot. The product I chose today, called Magic-Glos, doesn’t market itself as resin, but does the same thing. The main difference is that I don’t have to mix separate ingredients to activate it, and it hardens in direct UV lighting, such as outdoor sunshine. (It will NOT harden in indoor sunshine behind UV-coated windows. That makes for a messy and impatient experience.) Outside, it will take only about fifteen minutes to harden to a smooth finish.
Unfortunately, Magic-Glos is really expensive, and I completely underestimated how much of the product it would take to fill this jar can lid. I had originally bought it for the labels on our Zelda Fairy Jars for our wedding favors, and the leftover product was only enough for one can lid. So I am debating whether I should buy a different product for the rest of the garden, or more of this one, seeing how easy and fun it is to use. Take my advice with a grain of salt, as they say, and do what you want. You could instead laminate the circles, or finish them with a clear stain, or some other kind of protection against the elements. The possibilities are endless.
Step 5: Drill a hole in the top
Once your resin has hardened enough to work with, drill a small hole at the very top of your design. I put a piece of painter’s tape over the front of my project, with the idea that it would prevent cracks or shattering. I don’t know if this helped or not, but overall it seemed to turn out. If you use tape, mark a dot where you would like to drill. Your can lid is big enough that you can hang just a bit off of a concrete step or other hard surface, allowing the drill to go all the way through the can lid.
I used a 5/32″ drill bit, and this seems to be a good size to let a standard wire hanger pass through.
My drill bit is a bit gummy, and it’s possible that I did not let the resin cure long enough before drilling, although the garden marker seems to be fine. Learn from my mistake.
Step 6: Create a hanging spike from the wire hanger
Cut the wire hanger just below the neck using the large wire cutters. Using the needle-nosed pliers, grab the very tip of the wire and curl it in on itself. When you have a little bit of a curl, hang the can lid garden marker from the wire. Make sure that the picture is facing outward, away from the wire. Continue curving the wire using the pliers. If the wire needs additional straightening, a larger set of pliers can help work out kinks.
I wanted my wire to curl several times, to add a sort of fairy-garden element. Other ideas, such as a shepherd’s crook design, or a square end, might be more your style. Have fun with it.
Step 7: Place in garden, and enjoy!
- I don’t know how resin crafts will hold up outdoors. Take my idea and do your own research.
- If you first scan your designs into the computer, you can re-use them again and again, for different sets or different seasons.
- If you have friends that garden and you have an idea of what they plant, these can be a great gift.
- You can either make these one at a time, based on how many materials you have on hand, or in big batches for the entire garden to save time.
- Or, you can pre-make some parts, such as the drawn designs, and finish the rest as you gather materials, such as your frozen juice lids, over time.
- Making your own, instead of buying pre-printed ones, lets you be as specific or as weird as you want. For example, you can include the specific cultivar on the tag if it is important to you, or mark your hops plants, which are not necessarily a garden basic for everybody.
- You could also use this method to create Christmas tree ornaments, maybe by including a photograph inside the jar lid instead of the name of a plant.
- You could drill additional holes to add beading or other embellishments.