Since I live in the ‘burbs I don’t have a large garden, my garden is a collection of pots and planters on my deck. That suits me just fine; it’s easy to take care of, fragrant and pretty. I decided that I wanted to dress it up a bit, add something but I didn’t know what. After looking through the garden “decor” at the local stores and finding nothing, I thought I could do better. Also people kept asking me “what kind of herb/plant/flower is that?” Lo and behold, the metal marker idea was born!
Here is what it looks like in my garden. I have used different types of metal that I had around my workshop, but copper is the easiest and cheapest to find. Hobby Lobby usually has sheets of it for a fairly reasonable price.
Now for the tutorial:
This is an easy project and adds a cute quaint touch to your garden or patio grouping. While it is easy to do you are working with metal so you need to be careful! Wear safety glasses and handle the metal carefully. It will cut you if you aren’t careful.
Here is what I used:
24 gauge sheet metal, copper is good to start with, metal shears, a template of your design, chasing hammer, metal stamps, bench block and sharpie. This being my first tutorial I forgot the sandpaper but you will need that-any coarse grade will do.
Using your sharpie and the template draw your design on the metal and cut out. BE CAREFUL IT HURTS WHEN YOU GET CUT BY METAL-I KNOW!
You will want to beat the plain metal to give it texure. Texture always creates a more interesting look and as the copper oxidizes it will look even better. This pic shows the “ball” side of the hammer.
Here is the chasing side and I am using the edge for lines. I usually combine both types of texture for maximum interest.
You will notice as you pound the metal it will tend to curve-simply turn it over and pound the other side! This is great for unresolved anger…just pound the dickens out of it! The old, distressed look is in now!
Here are the metal stamps you will use. I got mine at Harbor Freight for a very cheap price. After you are done texturing the marker then you want to stamp the name on. Make sure you hit the stamp hard and ‘dead-on’ so you get a good, deep impression
After you have textured and stamped with your plant names take a small file (yes forgot to mention that too!) file off the rough edges and points and then go over it with the coarse sandpaper. Gently (at first) test the edges for any rough spots and hit it again with the sandpaper. You don’t want any sharp points to snag you as you are cutting flowers or herbs. My kitty, Peeps, likes to nose among the flowers too so I am extra careful on her account.
In the photo above I show the three different metals that I have used: Top is copper, middle is nickel silver, and the bottom is bronze. I find the copper much easier to work with, the nickel is also fairly easy, but the bronze I find too hard for my old hands. One of those was all I could manage. The copper will take on a nice green patina as it ages anyway so that is an added plus.
On the top marker I have traced over the letters with a Sharpie indelible pen, after it dries use the sandpaper to remove it from the top leaving it behind in the letters.
I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH-SHARP EDGES! Just remember to take it slow, be deliberate and if you drop it don’t try to catch it. All things I learned through trial and error.
Clean-up is also very important! I am very bad about that, however with this project you have to be careful to get all the curlicues and bits you have cut off. I have my work area in the basement but managed to bring one of these bits upstairs with me. I found it whilst going barefoot-now I am more careful.
More photos of my project. If you have all your material on hand you should be able to finish three or four of these in one afternoon. As you make more you will get quicker, but don’t forget your safety. Pretty soon your friends will want them as well. They would make a great gift for a hostess. A small pot of herbs with its own little marker.
I hope this has been helpful and if you have any questions I would be glad to answer them. Thanks for checking it out!