Tools: virtually none
Materials: old washer drum, spray paint, rocks, dirt, plants and light
Step 1: Salvage Operation
One day, just hanging out at TechShop, this old washer drum pretty much found me. Someone had left this back by the metal scrap bin earlier that morning, and I knew it would make a perfect funky planter (and subsequently save me ~$80).
Don't look at objects as they are, but as they could be.
Step 2: Clean Up
Step 3: Paint
Try to work in the shade or on an overcast day and utilize more uniform lighting. Direct sun makes it difficult to see what has been fully painted since the contrast between light and shadow is so stark. I had to go back and touch up sections because my yard was too warm and sunny and nice (ug).
The next day I flipped the drum over and added the second color across the top. The challenge here is to paint as little as possible – it will be very easy do over do this part and ruin the effect. I focused on painting a band four inches high across the top and that's it! Since I was using aerosol spray paint, the method automatically created a gradient between the light and dark colors. This way I didn't have to worry about masking anything, but if you actively try for a gradient, you will probably ruin it. Let the dust settle where it may. If you can't see the transition point then you did it right.
I had considered using our CNC vinyl cutter for an intricate masking, but decided that it would be too busy of a composition with all of the holes currently in the metal. On a solid pot though, this would look sweet. Often times, what you don't do is as important as what you do choose to do.
Step 4: Accessorize
Here comes the extra awesome part. Since the washer drum had a perforated surface... and I had old christmas lights in the garage gathering dust... I did the only normal thing I could think of. That's right, my new planter is also a lamp.
“But what about the lights getting wet?” people asked. Remember that these lights are designed to be outside in the rain and snow and other elements. Besides, if it didn't work out the lights were free anyway so I had nothing to lose. Now a year ago I would never have considered trying this, but hanging out at TechShop has given me new confidence in tinkering with the unknown and taking creative risks.
The holes at the base were too small for a plug, so I needed to cut and re-splice the wire. Ideally, I wanted a clean splice and reconnect the wires to the original contact. You will notice in the pictures that this did not go according to plan. I broke the first plug trying to take it apart because (I learned) these plugs are not meant to be disassembled. Not ideal, but I learned something new in the process so it was totally worth it.
Step 5: Fill the Void
For plants I chose an Austrailian flax and some smaller, yellow-green grasses.
At long last, nightfall! The result is hard to convey in pictures, but the atmosphere is perfect: more subtle than LEDs, and just the right amount of twinkle. I couldn't be more pleased.
For more resources, tools, and training, head over to TechShop!
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