Green: Green(ish) plant markers

I’m into gardening in a big way – and by a big way I mean I like totally love looking at gardens on Pinterest, reading all about how to vegetable garden and planning my own garden. Where I struggle a tiny bit is the actual activity of gardening itself. Don’t get me wrong – I am really enthusiastic. I’m just a bit useless. I have already managed to kill 5 sweet pea plants – I only had them a week (I bet you are thinking – who on earth let this woman buy a dog….) Life would be a lot easier if all plants required the same amount of water (very little), the amount of sunshine you have in your back garden (very little), and were all slug proof. Since this is not the case – it is best if I talk about things I know a teeny bit about – I therefore present you with my hand stamped plant labels (for those of us who forget the names of plants). It’s also helpful for recording particular varieties, or as is illustrated below – for making little labels so that you can give plants as presents.

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Materials:

Polymer clay* (like FIMO, or Sculpey. I think it would be possible to use air dry clay – but you would have to make sure that it was very well sealed)

Stamps (not essential) – I got mine quite a while ago off Amazon and they were relatively inexpensive – about £6. If you don’t want to buy any friends who make jewelery may own a set you could borrow. So ask around.

Paint

Sealant like Varathane* (see para 5 about whether this is completely necessary for your purposes)

Cookie cutter or similar mould

Twigs – if you want to hang the marker – as seen on my “thyme” marker

Instructions:

1. Warm up your clay by kneading well. Roll it out with a rolling pin or bottle to get a nice even surface.

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2. Using your stamps, or simply carving into the clay, write whatever it is you want.

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3. Cut out the outline of your plant marker. If you are going to hang it from something (as with the disc I used – remember to make a hole for the string to go through). Bake as per packet instructions – this will only apply if using polymer clay. Leave to cool.

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4. If you want to paint your marker do this now. I used some of David’s leftover paint for his Airfix. If you are going to seal the marker with a sealant, it probably doesn’t matter too much what type of paint you use. Again I would read the label on the paint before proceeding.

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5. Seal your marker. If the marker is being used for an indoor plant – this is probably not as important. If the marker is going to be outside, it needs to be waterproof. I googled what sealant to use and generally Varathane was the one most people recommended, but I would have a chat to hardware store or a craft store if you can’t find Varathane. Polymer clay is plastic, so should generally be waterproof after baking. So if you haven’t painted your marker, it may not be absolutely necessary to seal it. Sometimes the clay may develop a white bloom or discolour if you, but if you aren’t worried about this, then I would imagine you could probably skip the sealant altogether. If however, you are going to paint your clay, then you will need to seal it.

6. Mark your plant!

*Green notes

Polymer clay is basically plastic – so it’s not as nice and green to use it as say a found/ recycled object. Also if you bake the clay at too high a temp (basically not following the instructions on the packet) it can give off a very nasty gas. So I would recommend avoiding this. Also….  sealants and resins are yucky things – and I appreciate not always the most environmentally friendly option. However, if you are going to make something then you might as well do it properly so that it lasts for a long time and you can use it season after season.

Finally, I used Sculpey that I already had at home for this project. The Sculpey website notes the following;

“Unfortunately, right now there is no good recycling stream source for Polyform to use recycled material into the manufacturing of polymer clay. PVC is the resin that is used in the manufacture of polymer clay. As the world is moving away from using PVC in toys and packaging, the recycling stream in the future for this plastic will be even harder to find.

A common question we receive is “can polymer clay be made out of recycled plastic bottles or other plastics?” Unfortunately, the answer is no. Plastic bottles are made from other types plastics such as HDPE (high density polyethylene) or PETE (polyethylene terephthalate or PP (polypropylene) or PC (polycarbonate), not PVC (polyvinyl chloride). It would be extremely difficult to make polymer clays out of the other plastics.

But as an artist, you can incorporate your own recycled materials into the polymer clays. This is known as mixed media art. Many artists incorporate glass, wood, metal, parts etc. to not only enhance their creations but to be eco-friendly and sustainable. As a company, Polyform encourages this practice through some of our mixed media projects available on the website”.

(source – http://www.sculpey.com/support/faqs/)

So some food for thought – you may not want to go out and buy polymer clay, but if you have some at home already – you may as well use it up.

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