Nellie"s Needles

Friday, February 28, 2014

Glass Flowers in My Gardens

At the beginning of the year I had promised to write about the glass project that kept me busy at the end of last summer. About 50 flowers were constructed from dishes and copper tubing. These are the ones I created to bring home to Tennessee ...
And here they are in our sculpture garden under the magnolia tree.

The idea and know-how came from my friend Helen who had given me a flower that she'd created at the end of the summer in 2012. I knew immediately that I had to learn how to make them ... specifically for the metal sculpture garden at our cottage in Michigan.
I've been enamored of glass mixed with metal sculptures since going to the Dale Chihuly glass installations at the Frederick Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 2010. (To read about that exhibition and see photos go here.)

Here's a close-up of one "flower" head made of finds at thrift stores...
It's composed of a devils egg platter, a pressed crystal bowl and a tea lite candle holder ... with a drawer pull as the center.

I shopped a lot of thrift stores in Tennessee, North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan, and Wisconsin buying glass ware. There's no way to purchase specific pieces to make a flower. It took buying whatever might possibly work. The fun part was playing with combinations ...

It was work to drill holes in the center of each piece. I spent quite a few afternoons in Helen's garage using her drill press.

This is my set-up for assembling a flower ...

The pillows are for cushioning my hands and the dishes. That also raised them off the table so I could build the stack of dishes onto a long bolt ... the head of which came through the underside of the hole drilled in the stem.

But first, the stems and leaves had to be made from copper tubing. The 10' long pipes were cut in half for the tall flowers and in thirds for the smaller ones. One end was pounded flat and drilled for the flower heads. The leaves were formed by bending smaller copper tubing into shape. Here's my set up for welding the leaves to the stem with a blow torch.

Here are some favorite small flowers ...
 The frosted blue piece is a shade for a hanging lamp.

Most of the drawer pulls in the centers are new. Although, I used quite a few that were saved from the doors and drawers I had replaced over the years.

I think there will be a separate garden for the flowers made with mostly clear glass.

I'm thinking the area of mostly beach grass that's tucked behind trees along the shore and sweeps up into the woods below the new deck that was built last summer will showcase them beautifully.

To view just about all the glass flowers I've created go to my Flickr page. There a few that were gifted before I had a chance to take their pictures.



7 comments:

June Calender said...

Fascinating and beautiful. What an interesting new direction in which to work.

Heather said...

What a great idea to recycle old glass dishes like this, and what lovely results. You can have flowers all year round and in places where they wouldn't want to grow. They must look stunning with sunlight shining through them.

Tonya Ricucci said...

gorgeous. well worth all that time and effort.

Chuleenan said...

Your flowers are beautiful! What a lovely idea.

Karen H said...

So whimsical and beautiful! I bet they'll just sparkle when the light hits them!

MulticoloredPieces said...

Hey, Nellie, I just loved this post. Your glass flowers are just so cool and it was wonderful to see your Tennessee garden again. Great additions. Hope all goes well!
best, nadia

R & E said...

Dear Nellie - (not about your glassworks) I remember your artistic and original quilt show ribbons you've made and shown on your blog, I've seen them on Google, and maybe at Smoky Mtn Show??? -- thank you for your inspiration. This year I am helping to make the ribbons for our Guild QS, and I'll use your great ideas for original awards. I definitely wanted them to say "QUILTs." 8-)) I'll post my partial examples on my blog in a day or so.

8-)))