Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mini Garden Tools

In a world divided by so many issues like politics and religion, I think we can all agree on one thing: tiny stuff is freakin' adorable. Babies. Puppies. Kittens. Tiny versions of big things are 100% cuter. It's science.

That said, these tiny garden tools have stolen my heart.



A friend at work recently asked me what I knew about fairy gardens. I knew they existed, but I've really only recently learned to keep plants alive for longer than a week. I have a VERY limited experience base, but as mentioned earlier, anything in miniature means I'm all in. Also, a while ago polymer clay was on sale at the craft store and I thought to myself "I've never used this and have no plans for needing it but it's on sale so I better buy one of every color." Because that's how responsible adults shop. This then became a quest to use the polymer clay for the first time AND make something tiny. Win-win.

You will need:

White polymer clay
Clay tools intended for children (because after buying all the unnecessary clay, why invest in reasonable quality tools?)  
Paint or nail polish or your choice, brown and silver used here
Black Sharpie
Black string or embroidery floss

The first step is to work the clay. Depending on what kind you have, it might take a while. I used a tiny bit at a time and worked in another chunk when the first was pliable. If your clay is super crumbly or stubborn, you can use a tiny bit of Vaseline on your fingers to help. When the clay is easy to mold and smooth, take a piece about the size of your finger tip and shape it into a rectangle.



To make both the trowel and the rake, start by very gently rolling the top half of the rectangle between your fingers to shape the handle. Use the rounded tool to create a dent at the end of the handle. For the trowel, continue to roll the rounded edge until the desired thickness is reached then trim the ends to shape. For the rake, use a cutting tool to remove tiny slivers from the flat end and create the prongs. Use a pointed tool or toothpick to create a small hole in the handle ends.



The watering can is a bit trickier. I started with 3 different sized pieces, 1 about the size of a gum ball, another the size of a lima bean, and the other was somewhere in between the others. The lima bean piece was flattened into a thin circle about an inch across. The biggest piece was rolled into a cylinder shape and then slowly, carefully hollowed in the center using the rounded tool and my thumb. This piece goes on top of the former lima bean piece. Lastly, use the medium size piece to create the spout, handle, and hood: a skinny tube for the spout with ball flattened on one side and dabbled, another short tube for the handle, and a flat semi-circle for the hood. The pictures should hopefully help all this make more sense.


The pieces all stuck to themselves well with nothing but light pressure applied before baking. I used a toothpick with a small clay "pedestal" to prop up the spout and make sure it didn't get droopy before it baked. Put all your tools on a piece of foil and follow package instructions to bake your clay. Fimo required 30 minutes at 230 degrees.


Once they're cooled they're ready to paint! I used an acrylic brown which went on very streaky and gave an accidental wood grain appearance that I love. Finding a silver was a little more challenging. The perfect thing was hiding in the form of metallic silver nail polish which has exactly the galvanized look I was hoping for.


One the paint dries, use a sharpie to add bands around the handles and nail details on the watering can. Lastly, add a short piece of black embroidery thread to create straps on the tools and you're done. Add them to any indoor plant to create a mini garden all your own. And marvel in their tiny, adorableness. 




Would you add this fun touch of whimsy? How would you personalize them? What other tiny things should we make? I'd love to know!

Sheila

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