Thursday, August 13, 2009

Finding a Rare Breed

Today's entry may seem off the subject of glass and jewelry, but if thought about, I'm sure you could find a connection. Let me preface this gardening story by explaining that this garden is one my husband and I are doing to showcase some glass garden art in.

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they come across someone they know is a rare breed. Well yesterday it was my turn. This rare breed was the gracious couple whom my husband and I met after we answered the wife’s ad in a local county recycling website called She had some daylilies to give away, and me being the plant lover that I am, just knew that these would work great in my newly dug beds.

So after arranging our pick-up day and calling before leaving the house, as we were instructed to do, we went to pick-up what we thought would be a few plants for our flower beds. Following her meticulously well written directions we turned the corner onto their street and saw this beautifully manicured lawn with flower beds any landscaper would be envious of. There she was in her driveway tending her gorgeous babies wearing her gardeners wide brim hat with neck flap. You could tell this was something she did a lot of!

After the formal introductions were made it was down to the business of gathering up my daylilies, or so I thought. On her list she had sent me she had included 14 other plants she had that she would give me starts of and/or seeds of. She asks which ones I want, and I tell her I was hoping for a little of each.

So she proceeds to dig, pull and start teaching me everything I needed to know about each and every plant she is giving me. This was so exciting! She had Phlox, Widows Tears, Celome, Yarrow, Chrysanthemums, Coreopsis, Coxcomb, Butterfly Bush, Shasta Daisies, and a lot more! Oh, if I had only brought a tape recorder!

My fear was that with my bad memory I would be lucky to find my way out of the housing edition let alone remember all this great knowledge. But then she said those magic words I was hoping to hear, “you can always email me if you have any questions”. Yeah! Now I knew there was a chance all these beautiful plants might make it till next summer after all.

While in the middle bagging up all these beautiful starts her husband, who had just finished mowing the lawn, brought my husband and I out these delicious tomato sandwiches. The bread was toasted to perfection and just the right amount of mayo was added then topped with this huge thick slice of tomato. The tomatoes were out of his own garden, and were the best tomatoes I have ever tasted.

Once we had finished our sandwiches here he comes with a cup of water to help wash everything down. It was the best working lunch I’ve ever had!

An hour later, when all the digging and pulling was over, our entire car was loaded with bags of plants and seeds, most of which weren‘t even on the list to begin with. My husband and I were both overwhelmed at how gracious and giving these two were. It was an amazing afternoon spent with an amazing Master Gardener (to be) and her husband. When we left I no longer had that “Oh my gosh, can I keep these plants alive?” feeling, because I knew If I ever have any questions I’ll just email Jan!

As a footnote to this story I just want to say THANK YOU to Jan and her husband for their great hospitality and to Jan for all the beautiful plants. We spent the rest of the day into the night planting and still have more to plant today.

But I have faith that with all the great instruction you gave me, not to mention the fact that I have your email address as a backup, theses babies will be o.k.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It's a Stained Glass and Tile Table Kinda Day!

Have you ever wanted to make a quick table top to just spruce up an old piece of furniture you had? Well here's a quick way for you to do it. First, the supplies you will need are: 1) A piece of Cement or Hardibacker board, cut to the shape of the table top. 2) If it's a small table a piece of 1/4" plywood cut in the same shape. If it's a larger table and the base can support the weight, get a thicker piece of plywood. 3) Tile and glass of your choice. 4) Pattern, if you need one, and a piece of carbon transfer paper and pencil. 5) Tile mastic. 6) Sanded grout, color of your choice. 7) *Grout sealer. 8) ** Waterproof Glue. 9) ***1/4" Copper foil. 10) Stainless steel nails. 11) Two plastic knives. 12) Gloves. 13) Sponge. 14) Bucket of water.

Now apply an ample amount of waterproof glue to your plywood then center the Cement/Hardibacker board on top of the plywood and attach it with your galvanized stainless steel nails. Don't be shy with the nails, put one nail every 4 - 5 inches.

Layout the pattern you have chosen on top of the Cement board. If you need to transfer it onto the board with a pencil then this is the time to do it. Starting from the center and working out, use one of your plastic knives to back butter each piece of glass and tile with the mastic and gradually apply them to the board. To back butter, just apply the mastic in a semi-thin layer to the back of the glass or tile with the plastic knife as if you were buttering your toast. When you place the tile on the board apply a small amount of pressure to fix it into place and remove any excess that oozes out from around the piece with the extra knife. Once all of your glass and tile have been placed let your table top dry overnight. (NOTE: Sometimes this can become very messy and your glass and tile can get covered in mastic. Clean off your glass and tile as much as possible while working, it's easier to clean mastic off while it's wet than wait until it's dry. Usually you can get the mastic off with a clean damp clothe and a small bit of pressure if it has dried too much, but be careful not to loosen your tile with too much pressure.)

To grout your table top follow the mixing instructions on the bag of grout, then with your gloves on apply a small amount with your hands pressing and smoothing as you go. Be sure to fill every gap between every piece of glass and tile. Remove any excess and let the grout sit for approximately 20 - 30 minutes depending on how wet it was when you started. For small table tops you can grout the entire top at one time, for larger tops you will need to do them in sections (grout one section, then clean it, then grout the next section and clean that one and so on).

After 20 - 30 minutes when the grout has firmed up inside your grout lines take your damp sponge (not soggy sponge, but damp) and start cleaning the excess off the glass and tile. As your sponge gets dirty dip it into the bucket of water to clean it, but remember to remove as much excess water as possible before cleaning your glass and tile. The less water you add to your grout at this point, the better!

Once your glass and tile are clean stop using the sponge. At this point if you still have a slight glaze on them take a small clothe and put it over a Q-Tip and while holding it in place polish them until clean. Depending on your design this could be time consuming, but well worth it. When they have been completely cleaned let your table top dry overnight and then seal it.

Below I have offered up some different ideas and products for the construction of your table top. I hope these help ease the stress of wondering if you too can make one of these enjoyable conversational pieces for yourself. Well, you'll never know until you try. So here's your chance, and let us know how you do!

*If your looking for a different way of sealing your grout I can offer a couple of tried and true ones that I have used. One is done by mixing paint into your grout at the time you are grouting. This only works with a semi-gloss or high gloss paint, with the high gloss paint giving you the best results. The other is to pour a coat of polyurethane over your table top. There are products on the market that will simulate 50 coats in a one coat application. They can be messy, but the outcome can be very unique and last for years. The last application I have not tried, but have only seen done. In this application you paint on a coat of metallic paint. Work it in well with your brush, then with a clean cotton clothe wipe off the excess. This application may be a good one for table tops with a piece of glass floated over top so as not to loose the metallic coating from repeatedly cleaning the table.

**There are several kinds of waterproof glues on the market, and even some products that can be used in place of waterproof glues in this situation such as a strong construction adhesive. But if you want to use a waterproof glue here are some good alternatives:
1. Gorilla Glue
2. Elmers Ultimate Glue
3. Titebond 3 Wood Glue

***Use the 1/4" copper foil to line the edge of your table top if you are not going to use the top as a workable surface, but instead float a piece of glass over it such as the table top in the picture at the top. For this table the copper foil was edged around the outside of the table approximately 3 - 4 times, burnishing and smoothing as it was applied. Then a 1/4" piece of table top glass was backed with clear rubber adhesive floats and placed on top of the table. (NOTE: Cement/Hardibacker board was not used for this application, just plywood. This table is not used for anything that might cause water to come in contact with it so plywood is acceptable under these conditions. However, if you intend to use your table for anything where water comes in contact with it I highly recommend using the Cement or Hardibacker board, unless you just don't want it to last long!