A Garden Teacup Craft Party

Making a garden teacup is a perfect excuse for having a group of friends over and a nice way to spend one of the last summer-like afternoons on the deck.  You can have a tea party after, and best part is they can brag about what they made.   Think of it as having the guests make their own party favors!    

tea cup craft

Teacups were once the sign of a civilized age and household.    I remember my American aunt coming up for visits in the summer and one of the first places she would want to go would be a china shop to add to her collection, because tea cups were used back then, not just for show.    I cringe now to think that I once gave my sister a bridal shower where everyone was asked to bring a tea cup as a gift – I thought it was a good idea, as she already had everything else.   My mother had a set of good china, white with gold rims, which she used for holiday dinners, but she didn’t have enough matching teacups, so out would come the fancy teacups for coffee, tea and dessert.  Each one would have a different pattern, color and style.   Even the guys would drink their coffee in them, and what grandchild wasn’t pleased to be served a milky brew in a real china cup just like the grown-ups.    I have a few of these special ones left, which I would not part with as they hold memories as well as tea.

Teacups

Although I still occasionally use tea cups, and have a very pretty set with a matching teapot, I know I am in the minority.    We are a mug society now.

We all have teacups collecting dust – they may be a collection we have inherited from our mother or grandmother, but even if you live like Downton Abbey, there are only so many tea cups you can use and the thrift shops are full of donated cups.   So this simple and inexpensive craft is a nice idea to put them to good use.  

Tea cups (3)

 Garden tea cups can hold a tea light, birdseed or water for a mini bird bath.   I have seen the birds enjoying mine on occasion after a rainstorm.  I have also given them as small homemade gifts.  I made two for a friend who was retiring and loves to garden, a stop and smell the roses pink one, and one with the bluebird of happiness on it.    Now that they have been popular for awhile you can find them at art and craft fairs everywhere, but I bought my first one in the gift shop of an art gallery several years ago.   It was expensive at $25, but I fell in love with it as it was so pretty and blue, my favorite color. The woman selling it very kindly told me how to make my own – for a lot less money. 

tea cup craft

These are the craft supplies, and price-wise it works out to be less than $5. 

craft supplies for teacups

You can have your guests bring their own special teacup, or supply them with ones from a thrift shop, or donate some of your own.   I buy long half-inch diameter copper rods at the hardware store, and because I am a frequent customer there, one of the employees cuts them for me in the length I desire.  I use a 12 inch length for planters, and longer ones for placing in the ground among the plants. tea craft project

I also buy matching short half-inch ends the same width as the rod which will be glued onto the bottom of the saucer to hold the rod.  

craft supplies for teacups

Using a piece of rough abrasive paper (grit cloth as below) or sandpaper, rough up the bottom of the saucer in the middle, and also the same area underneath the saucer.   This makes the glue adhere better.

sandpaper cloth

This Goop glue was recommended to me, but you can use any kind which bonds china or ceramic. 

Super goop

Using a Q-Tip apply some glue to the bottom of the teacup and place it in the centre of the saucer, wiping up any excess glue around the bottom rim.   If you wish you can also glue a tiny teaspoon on, as an added decoration, but I found they tarnished quickly as most are silver.   These can be found at thrift shops for pennies.   Let it set for a few minutes – perhaps go and put the kettle on for your tea.    

Turn the bonded teacup and saucer upside down, and apply the end piece to the bottom of the saucer with a bit of glue, and set the whole thing aside for the rest of the afternoon.   Leave it upside down, preferably for 24 hours.  The next day you can insert the copper rod and turn it right side up and place in your planter for the birds to enjoy.    

teacup craft

While it is setting, you can continue on with the food and beverage portion of your tea party.    This craft takes very little time, perhaps thirty minutes at most, depending on how long you spend roughing up the china and waiting for it to set. 

patio party

After the tea party…

See how the late afternoon shadows are slanting as the sun loses it’s warmth. Summer’s over, but at least everyone has a lovely souvenir to take home as a memory of a fun party and something useful for next year’s garden. 

PS.  Continuing with our September theme, this is the craft portion of Arts and Crafts (because wasn’t that always one of our favorite parts of back to school).   See Plein Air Painting next week for the arts portion.

A Chestnut Wreath

fall tree

Autumn is very late this year – the trees are just starting their annual decorating.   I remember gazing out at this tree when I was in grade eight, as my desk was close to the window.   While the teacher would be droning on about some uninteresting subject, I would be rejoicing in the glorious fall colors.   We used to play soccer in the field after school, kicking the ball around under a canopy of orange and gold.   It is still standing, although the other trees are gone, made way for a parking lot.    I still get the pleasure of looking at it when I walk, I think of it as my tree, even though we are both a bit the worse for wear after forty plus years.   

Chestnut trees are also a fall favorite of mine.   My grandmother’s farm had chestnut trees in one of the fields and every Thanksgiving (Canadian, so mid-October), my little brother and I, brave but ready to run at the first sign of a big dumb cow, would gather them up and then use them to build fields for his barn set  – what fun we had lining them up as fences for his toy animals.  As a young girl who was horse-crazy, their glossy finish always reminded me of a chestnut mare or the sleek racehorses we would see at the fall fair.    We have two giant chestnut trees in front of our library so when you go inside to pick up your books, you’d better beware lest you be boinked on the head by a falling chestnut.    Last year one of the librarians displayed a chestnut wreath she had made on the checkout desk.  She emailed me the instructions, but I was too late, so this year I was prepared and gathered up several baskets after the first windstorm. 

chestnuts

 First I shellacked them with a coat of  acrylic varnish to maintain the shine, as they will dry out quickly.    I raided my mothers art cupboard and used a spray can, which was quick and easy but you might get a more even application by painting it on.   I did this a few days ahead of time to let it dry.  

acrylic finish

straw wreath

Next I took a ten inch straw wreath, (but any size would do, I started small to experiment, but hers was quite large and impressive), and wrapped it tightly with some nice decorating tape.   Make sure any loose ends are secured with straight pins, as you don’t want it unraveling after the glue is on. 

wreath supplies

Then using the trusty old glue gun, attach the chestnuts in any pattern you wish.  I must admit my first attempt was not perfect, as I have too much spacing between some of them.   When collecting it is better to find chestnuts of different sizes and some with flat bottoms for odd spaces.   The librarian had filled in the holes in between with Spanish moss, but after googling I found others have used small acorns to fill up the spaces.    I prefer mine having the pretty decorating tape showing through.   

chestnut wreath

It could be hung up with wire, but is fairly heavy so a table wreath with a candle in the middle is a nice option.   I decided to place mine on a wicker tray and added some bows in the corner and some fairy lights.  

chestnut wreath

You could use this for a centerpiece for American Thanksgiving, and then swap out the bows for something Christmasy.    These are not the kinds of chestnuts you roast on an open fire however, as these are horse chestnuts, which are toxic to humans and animals.   (The difference is in the shells, smoother vs spikier and the point). 

horse chestnuts

horse chestnuts

Total cost – around $10 – $4 for the straw wreath, $4 for the ribbon (with Michael’s coupon), glue sticks, chestnuts free for the taking.   All told it took me less than two hours to make, so this would be a nice idea for hosting a tea/craft afternoon.  

Since the weather is cooler now and more conductive to baking, I made Date Nut Loaf, using the recipe from my farm cooking bible. 

date nut loaf

This is a quick and nutritious tea bread – buy the bite sized dates to save time.

If you are interested in more fall decorating on the cheap, check out last years (unpublished) blog, Autumn Decor, for some dollar store finds. 

Book of the Day:

For more decorating ideas and recipes, see the Susan Branch book – Autumn from the Heart of the Home (published in 2004), for typical New England (Martha’s Vineyard) fare, or check out her website and sign up for her free monthly newsletters….they are always a cheerful read.  

Autumn from the Heart of the HomeAutumn from the Heart of the Home by Susan Branch

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a big fan of anything Susan Branch, this book one of my favorites. I re-read it every year to get in the mood for the season, for the inspiration, the decorating tips and the yummy recipes.   Let the leaves fall….it’s time to get cozy.

 

Back in Class

      Remember all the fun stuff about back to school when you were a kid, before the reality of homework set in?    Please join me for some arts and crafts and some back to school shopping in pursuit of classic plaid.    Sorry this is so tardy, I know it’s mid-September already, but the dog ate the first draft…   

         When I was a kid in the sixties, art class was a rare treat, saved for special occasions when the teacher was too frazzled to do anything else.   I recall making mothers and fathers day cards but that was about it.   I was never a Brownie or Girl Guide.   In older grades, I got a C in art which nixed my dreams of becoming a fashion designer.   I can’t draw a straight line or paint.  But today I am a regular patron of Michaels the craft store.   Their 50% off coupons lure me in every time. 

       I ran into someone a few weeks ago and she was looking for plants for her parents grave-sites.   We started talking about those hideous purple and yellow gravestone wreaths, and I asked why are you buying those when you can make your own much nicer and cheaper, with a green wire hanger from Michaels and some flowers from the dollar store.   She thought that was an excellent idea, so I hope someone else might find some of these ideas inspiring.   Here’s a link to last years (unpublished) post Arts and Crafts 101:     (As I recently explained in my one year anniversary post, my blog was private last fall for the first three months).

After picture

       I had a quick look through the mall recently and the stores are full of plaid flannel tops, despite the fact that the forecast this weekend is for the same hot and humid weather we have had all summer.   You would think we were a country of lumberjacks, but then plaid is a perennial fall favorite.   Here’s a link to my blog from last fall, Mad for Plaid.    Enjoy! 

Plaid pencil case

(I bought a new pencil case at the dollar store for old-times sake – it might be good for stashing makeup in or all those small things which fall to the bottom of your purse).