My Organic Garden In Great Big Pots

I live in an apartment and my landlord isn’t too keen on renters digging up the landscape for gardens. So I got around that by gardening in big 20″ and 18″ tall plastic flower pots that sit just outside my front door on the sidewalk and down the edge of the driveway. That first plant up close is a Jalapeno pepper,  you can just make out some of the peppers which are just about ready to pick.20180819_193132 (2)I have a cast-iron arbor for vine-type  things to climb up on.20180819_193050 (2)Right now this Red stemmed  Malabar spinach, which I planted from seeds on June 5th,  is growing up and up. Malabar spinach likes hot weather but is very slow growing.  I have two pots of zinnias which I’ve made supports for and tethered to the arbor to help keep the flowers from falling over. This variety, in the picture below,  is “Exquisite”, which I got from Burpee.com. The blooms are from 4-5″ big. They start out as bright red and shift to rosy-red and then mellow to a soft pink. They are an annual and they get 36″ tall. This variety is very drought tolerant. I started these from seeds that I planted on June 5th and now they are about 40″ tall and that’s without counting the height of the pot! So they are coming along nicely.IMG_20180819_201313_393 (2)Everyday pretty butterflies like to visit and sip nectar from the zinnias, which makes me very happy cause I picked this color flower to attract them and hummingbirds.20180810_123712 (3)He/she didn’t like me pointing my phone at him/her and kept flying off and looping around to get a better position on the flower that was furthest from where I was standing.20180819_193157 (2)This is a white flowered vinca that came up on its own from compost that I used from my father-in-law’s compost pile. Free flowers!20180819_193208 (2)This is a Habanero pepper plant that is peppering away and at the base of it is a tiny viola that came up from a seed left from one of the violas that I grew this last winter.20180715_203517 (2)This is a Havasu pepper, which is a medium-heat stuffing pepper and it is doing very well.

So, even though I don’t have a “traditional” in the ground garden I have plants in containers that I can shift around to catch the best sun or to move into the shade if they need less sun. I use a moisture meter when I water so I don’t over-water and drown the plants. I feed them once a month with an organic liquid kelp fertilizer. I use a cypress mulch to help keep down weed growth and to help keep the plants from drying out too much during hot weather. So far from my pepper plants I’ve harvested seven gallon size full bags of organic grown peppers which I give away to friends and family. I’ve been very lucky this year, there hasn’t been a major hurricane come through yet and tear up my plants. Other years haven’t been so lucky, though the plants usually survive major wind events pretty well. I pull them all up close to the building so they get some shelter from the winds and heavy rains.  So, this is this summer’s garden so far, other than some minor leaf-miner damage to some of the zinnia leaves, which I picked off and destroyed, things are doing pretty well. A female hummingbird comes every morning and evening and visits the zinnia flowers, I watch her from my living room window, she is very pretty. This winter I will grow more violas and probably some kale and maybe some snow peas. So, I hope you liked my garden pictures, please excuse some of them being a little blurry, I’ve only had a smart phone for a year and I need more practice holding very still while I take pictures while fighting off hungry biting bugs! So, happy organic container gardening!

Papier-mache’ Squirrel in the works

While the Celluclay is drying on the Zomkins, I’ve started working on a papier-mache’ squirrel and trying out a new (to me) way to build my shapes.20180827_174831 (2)While I was on Pinterest the other day looking at papier-mache’ “pins”,  I saw some people were using aluminum foil to build up their forms for the different projects they were making. I thought it was a great idea, foil is washable,  so instead of throwing it away after use, why not wash it and save it for craft projects! A great way to recycle and to keep reusable things out of the landfill!  So, with this guy, his body is two old styrofoam balls and I used foil to make his arms and legs…20180827_174851 (2)and for his tail. His “ears” are bits left over from carving the face on my white Zomkin. I’ve used straight pins to hold the arms, legs and tail in place while I work on the basic shape I’m going for. I’ve been auditioning “noses”…20180827_185039 (2)I think this one, above, is too big!20180827_192357 (2)I think this one, above,  is probably what I’m going to use.  The eyes and the nose are “holly berries”, from an old silk flower arrangement. I scribbled on “eyes” with a pencil so he/she wouldn’t look totally mindless while I work on him/her. So, this is what I’ve got so far. As I do more to this guy/gal, I’ll post pictures of this squirrel in progress! If you’ve never tried using aluminum foil in your papier-mache’ projects you might want to give it a go. It is light-weight, very easy to shape, and once formed and compacted holds its shape very well. I think it would work very well for making small pieces of papier-mache’ jewelry items! Anything that keeps from putting more reusable stuff into the landfill is a good thing to try out! Happy crafting!

Recycling old or frumpy decorative pumpkins into “Zomkins”!

Halloween is coming fast! I had these decorative pumpkins and wanted to update them.20180819_192918I started with this guy. He’s been sitting out in my storage shed for two years because when I cut into him to start working on him, the smell that came out just about knocked me over! He is a Walmart version of a “Funkin” pumpkin. So, it took two years for the smell to go away. 20180819_192936So, I carved out his mouth and eye openings with a craft knife.20180821_032520  As you can see, I’m using ping-pong balls for the eyes. I got the idea for this from a post on Pinterest. The orange guy was on clearance last year after Halloween and his stem had come off, so he was marked way down price-wise.20180822_153538 (2)I’ve used Celluclay around the big guy’s eyes and his top opening and on his lid. The two glitter covered pumpkins were also bought on clearance after last Halloween, very cheap. 20180825_193422 (2)I rubbed off as much of the glitter from the baby one as I could and cut out his mouth and eye openings. His “eyes” are actually holly berries from an old silk-flower arrangement. 20180825_201021 (2)So, I’ve opened the big guy’s mouth a little more and rounded his eye sockets a little more, trying to make him look a little happier. I’ve worked on the smaller orange guy’s lid and I’m layering gesso on a small ball that is just the right size for his smaller eye. So, these guys are about ready for the papier-mache’ treatment. So, as I do more to all these guys, I’ll post more pictures and tell about the various things I’ve done to them. They are all a work-in-progress.

A How-to For Painting Girly Cat Rocks

I saw these rocks originally on Pinterest and tried them out. These would make nice gifts.20180818_011005 (2)I used FolkArt Matte Acrylic paint in: 633E Baby Pink for the base-coat, which I applied with a sponge brush.  FolkArt COLOR SHIFT Acrylic paint Metallic Gloss Finish in: 5132E Purple Flash, was used for the flower centers.  Apple Barrel Matte Acrylic Paint in: 20741E Cloudless, was used for the blue petals. FolkArt Matte Finish Acrylic paint in: 901E Wicker White, was used for the white dots.

20180815_152230 (2)I used simple dotting tools that I made by sticking two different types of pins into pencil erasers, these were used for the bigger dots. I also used a toothpick and a straightened paperclip for the smaller dots. The paint brush in the above picture is a nail-art brush that I use for tiny details and for fixing paint smudges.

20180815_152247 (2)For drawing on the faces and tails, I used an Ultra-Fine Point Black, Sharpie Permanent Marker Pen. Try for nice graceful curves for the eyes, whiskers, mouth-cheeks and the tail. The nose is a tiny triangle. The ears are two upside-down capital letter V’s.

20180818_011121 (2)Use the larger pin dotting tool for the purple flower centers. Use the smaller pin dotting tool for the blue flower petals.

20180818_011005 (2)Use the toothpick or the paperclip to apply the small white dots to embellish the flowers.

20180818_010951 (2)And here is what the cats look like done with a light-blue base-coat. For these I used Apple Barrel Matte Acrylic Paint in: 21483E China Blue, for the base-coat. FolkArt COLOR SHIFT Acrylic Paint Metallic Gloss Finish in: 5131E Blue Flash, was used for the flower centers. Apple Barrel Matte Acrylic Paint in: 21473E Pale Daffodil, was used for the flower petals. And FolkArt Matte Acrylic Paint in: 633E Baby Pink, was used to embellish the flowers. The Black Ultra-Fine Point Sharpie pen was used for drawing on the face and tail on these. Be sure to wipe off the excess paint from the dotting tool-heads(the part that actually makes the dots) regularly with a water dampened paper towel so your dots will always be a consistent size.

So when these all have dried for several days I will varnish them with Delta Creative Ceramcoat Gloss Exterior/Interior Varnish. I use a soft camel hair watercolor mop-brush to apply the varnish, three coats top and bottom, which will protect the rocks from moisture and protect the paint and ink from chipping and scratches. On a hardness scale going from 0-1 for super easy to 10 for super hard, I’d rate these girly cats at a level 5. A steady hand is needed for drawing on the face and tail and for evenly applying the dots. Plus, when doing the dots, you don’t want the paint to be flat on the rock, you want a bit dimension to the dots so you kind of blob the paint on, just touching the point of your dotting tool to the rock. Practice doing the dots on a scrap piece of paper before you try them on the rock.

So, there you go! I hope if you have read this article that it was helpful for you! These girly cats make nice gifts for moms, grandmothers, aunts, teachers, etc. These cats would also look nice in a pastel green base-coat or a  pastel lavender base-coat. If you have read this far or even just some of this article thank you! I tried to make the pictures nice and clear to help illustrate what I was trying to explain. The simple dotting tools are also useful for making eyes on painted animals and putting dots on painted lady bugs. The dotting tools can also be used for dotting mandala stones. If you look on Pinterest or Google you can find lots of examples of dotted rock art and dotted mandala stones. And I got the idea for these girly cats from two pins on Pinterest from redeccascreations.3b0c5019c4fcb0247bdd60bdf4c4b357e1ff68a583ba6d66e55a9a652234ecba

These two, above are the two “pins” I was looking at for the pattern idea for my version of the girly cats. So, there you go, you can get very nice results with dot art and it’s not super hard to do. Happy dotting and happy crafting!

 

The Zombies are ready for varnish… and brains!!!

So here they are, all ready to varnish! If anyone was interested in making rock zombies, you don’t have to make them green. You could make them pale blue, or grayish, or tan or really any color that you think looks like a good zombie color to you. There are no hard rules on doing them.20180808_050901 (2) I make mine green because…well, I like green. That’s just me. These guys are about the size of a large chicken egg.

This guy, below, is about the size of or a little bit bigger than a baseball. He was a bit of a technical challenge. When I got him, his surface was all pitted and cracked and he had major indentations all over him. I worked him over with wood filler until he was level surface-wise all over and let that dry overnight. Then I sanded him down till  he was as smooth as an egg. Then I painted three coats of Gesso on him and when that was dry, I sanded him again to prepare him for paint. I prime-coated him and then base-coated him, and then turned him into a zombie! He’s going to be a bookend on my bookshelf, he’s heavy enough to hold the books up without sliding to the side and letting all the books fall over.20180808_051132 (2)

And remember, there are no written in stone rules about doing rock zombies. You can make them cute or gruesome or anywhere in between. They lend themselves well to creative expression. So, thank you for reading my little piece here about rock zombies! If you make some for yourself, have a good time, they are fun to make! On a level of difficulty chart, say with 1 being simple, to 10 being hard, I’d place them around like 3. They’re not hard to do! Happy rock painting!

 

A Rock Zombie & A How-to For Doing One

So, I’m working on this guy and thought I’d show a shortish process how-to for doing him, which would also work for painting and decorating any rocks that you might make for hiding for other people to find like the Kindness Rocks.

20180806_015952 (2)You start out with a rock that has been washed and left to dry for at least 24 hours, the rock at the far left in the picture below.  Then the rock next to it (moving to the right) has wood-filler on it to fill in major holes and cracks. You’re trying to make the surface of the rock as smooth as you can so it will hold the paint and varnish better. A smooth surface is also easier to write on if you want to use pens to embellish your rock. So I use “ELMER’S Carpenter’s Wood Filler Stainable Interior/Exterior”. It dries in 24 hours and is sandable and stainable(means you can stain or paint over it). The next rock to the right has been sanded and is ready for a prime coat.  I’ll probably make it a zombie because it sits nice.20180806_015339 (2)So, in the picture below, the rock to the far left has been primed with white acrylic paint. Priming seals the surface of the rock and makes like a canvas to embellish however you want. The next one to the right, has one coat of a base coat color, this one will eventually be a pig. The two rocks on the far right are fully base coated, usually at least three coats if this is to be your background color. Let the paint dry overnight between each coat you apply. The light blue one will eventually be a spotted girly cat and the dark blue one will be a starry sky rock. 20180806_015424 (2)Now we finally get to the zombies! I’ve been using various rocks that I had in various stages of doneness to show what I was trying to explain. In the picture below, the rock at the far left is at the very beginning stage of becoming a zombie. He has been base coated green and then dry brushed with a rusty tan(to look like he came up out of the ground, zombies aren’t clean and tidy creatures).  He has his teeth and eye-whites and patches painted on with white acrylic paint. The next one over, moving to the right, I used an ultra-fine point “Sharpie” pen to outline the eyes in black and do the pupils of his eyes and to do what there is of the mouth and for outlining the bottoms of the teeth and his nose opening. I also used the black pen for his stitches. On the next rock, moving to the right, the one I’m working on now, I used various colors of blue and yellow ultra-fine point pens, also “Sharpie”, to do his eye colors. Lastly, I used various colors of the pens to embellish his patches and the black pen again for the stitches that hold his patches on(I’m a nice zombie master, I patch them up after they’ve been hurt). The rock on the far right is one that is finished & varnished.20180806_015548 (2)And here is a close-up of him, below. He hangs out on my book shelf near my science fiction books. He was going to be a bookend but he’s not heavy enough to keep the books upright, so he sits in front of the books. He’s finished with five coats of varnish.20180806_015548 (3)

And here in the picture below is what can happen if you don’t varnish or seal your rocks. The paint can bubble and lift, causing it to start chipping and flaking off. This rock was done in watercolors and then not sealed, so the paint started washing off out in the rain. My husband found this one as he was out and about.

IMG_20180617_112136_973 (2) Be sure and put some kind of an identifier mark on the bottom of your rocks so if you want to track them, say if someone finds them and posts pictures of them on Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, you’ll see it. Put a short message like: If found Post pic on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, Keep or re-hide, #your-name-or-identifier-number. Something like that so the person finding it will know what to do with it.  I post pictures of the rocks I find, on the homepage of my local Kindness-rock group on Twitter and on Instagram.

You put some effort into painting your rock, so you want to give it some protection if you’re going to hide it, or give it as a gift or sell it. I use “Delta Ceramcoat Gloss Exterior/Interior Varnish”, or that in the satin finish. It is a brush-on varnish, it is water based and non-toxic and I use a soft camel-hair watercolor mop brush to apply it. Or you can use a spray on clear-coat varnish such as : “KRYLON Colormaster CLEAR SATIN CRYSTAL CLEAR”. It is an indoor/outdoor spray on varnish/sealer that dries in 10 minutes, apply it outside because it is very strong smelling while wet. It works on wood, metal, plastic, etc. If you’re going to put the rock outside use at least three coats of the brush-on varnish or the spray-on varnish.

So, there you go! A shortish how-to for painting rock zombies. The basic steps can also be used for painting any other theme of rock. And if you’re putting your rocks outside, don’t have any glued on embellishments on them, just stick with paint. Glued on things can come off and small animals might eat them and get sick and or die because of it.

If you’ve read all the way to here or even just parts of this post thank you and I hope you find this article a little helpful in your rock painting endeavors. Rock painting isn’t hard and is a very nice, relaxing hobby to get into. Plus, it is not very expensive to do. You just need paint, permanent marker pens, brushes, wood-filler, sand paper and a varnish. All the products I use for rock painting are water-based and non-toxic. But be aware, rock painting can become addictive, but at least it’s not a bad addiction to have! And I got the idea for these guys from two pins on Pinterest. 359c79de0b2dfb09a5f93defe5a7d19e

This guy, above, is from a “pin” posted by ChestFullOfMemories. This is where I got the idea for my zombie’s teeth.8a749ad6431deeb2bd919b375ec54693

And these guys, above, are from a “pin” posted by Cara.dura.designs. This is where I got the idea for the stitches and the nose openings on my zombies.

 

Here is a Rag-Tie Wreath I’ve been working on

So, I’ve been working on this for a while, when I wasn’t actually adding to it, I had it hanging on the wall in my kitchen.  These are very easy to make but they take a while to do. This one is done with cut up plastic table covers, cut into 1″ x 9″ pieces and then tied to an 18″ wire wreath form. You could also do this with cloth pieces or even fat macrame cord that was teased out and brushed smooth after being tied on the form. You can get the table covers for really cheap at places like: dollar stores, Walmart, Hobby Lobby, Party Express, etc.  I used the plastic table covers because they come in lots of colors and I wanted the option to be able to hang the wreath outside and it would be able to withstand being rained on, plus it makes the wreath very light-weight.20180803_161425 (2)

So my rock just needs varnish

So here it is again, front and back, all neat and tidy. I fixed the lettering and went over the windows again. And I went over the stars again with the Stardust pen. I’m just waiting for the weather to cooperate so I can varnish it outside. #OnslowRocks #SWOnslowPaintedRocks #PaintedRocks #johnsonk120_PaintedRocks #johnsonk12020180803_161452 (2)20180803_161521 (2)

A kindness rock I have been working on

So I used Posca paint pens to do the lettering and on the windows in the buildings and also to add some color to the meteor.  I did the stars with the splatter-paint technique with Folkart 901E Wicker White and then highlighted them with a Sakura Stardust gel pen. The background is done in Folkart 964 Midnight, Folkart 404 Periwinkle,  and AppleBarrel 20849 Night Sky. All the paints are matte finish acrylics. I just need to tidy it up a little and put the identifier words on the bottom of the rock.  Then spray it with Krylon ColorMaster Clear Satin Crystal Clear to lock in the Posca paints and to seal the rock. The can says to use three coats if the item will be outside, so that is what I will do. Though, I may add an extra coat for more protection from all the rain we’ve been getting here in North Carolina. Then, when the rock is dry, dry, dry, I will hide it when I get out and about again.IMG_20180716_194421_343

And here is how the birdhouse looks today

I painted the roof and the back hanger parts with Folkart Outdoor paint in the: 1628 Thicket color. I did the rest of the house in Folkart Outdoor paint in the: 1625 Fresh Foliage color. So now the paint has to “cure” for 48 hours, and then it will be ready to hang on the tree. Hopefully,  the birds will like it. I really wanted to decorate the house more, but all the articles I read on maintaining bluebird houses said that the more simple, more plain,  the house looks the better. I used sponge brushes on the roof because I wanted the base coat to show through some to give a bit of aged look to it. So it is what it is.20180802_151751 (2)