Introduction: Garden Art

About: I'm just a simple mom who tries to juggle working full time, raising a family, being a wife and when I find a moment or two, I love to it a new recipe, a birthday cake, a painting or some crazy cra…

Rainy days on Monday always get me down. But a great craft project makes me happy, happy, happy! My 5 year old son, Henry LOVES to do crafts. Sure, his idea of a good craft is anything with some safety scissors, a bunch of paper and a vat of paste (hmmm of hands, who was the weird kid who ate paste as a kid? It's all good, we are all friends here. I'm not judging you, paste-eater). So, let's get started on this great rainy day craft project! As Henry would say, "Let's make this happen!"

My mom loves to garden and has an amazing backyard that she has landscaped with the eye of an artist and has filled it with yard art and other eye catching baubles. So being the good daughter of a woman with a potential hoarding habit (she does have a lot a garden art), I decided that we (Henry and I) would make some more art to add to her ecclectic collection. Henry was super excited because it involved grout (he didn't know what it was but when it was like wet sand he was all in)!

Step 1: What'ya, What'ya, What'ya Need

Ok, for this project you will need the following:

  • 2 to 3 inch styrofoam balls (i think i have 3" styrofoam balls that came in a pack of 6 at Michaels)
  • Glass baubles (in various colors), seashells, mosaic tiles-whatever you want to put on your garden art. Be creative!
  • Glue (i used E6000-more on this later)
  • Disposable bowl
  • Plastic spoon
  • Water
  • Mosaic tile grout (make sure it is for outside)-grout comes in a plethora of colors (who knew!). I just use white.
  • Cotton swabs

Step 2: Commence With the Glue!

Gather up your items and get set up on a protected table (use a old tray like I did in the picture or put newspaper down to protect your table) in a well ventilated area. I have a billion and one different kinds of glue but the only thing that worked on the styrofoam was E6000. If you haven't used this industrial strength adhesive, a word of warning: it stinks and it continues to flow out of the tube even if you aren't touching it. Maybe it is me, but after I use it, the stuff just keeps gooping out and I end up with glue all over...hence the tray. Because of the sticky, stinky mess, I let Henry be the designer while I did the work.

Start by putting a small dab of E6000 glue on your styrofoam ball. You do not have to overdue this-less is more.

When you place the bauble on the glue spot, HOLD IT DOWN. I cannot express that enough! Why? Well, another little quirky nuance of E6000 is that stuff slides off it unless you hold it down. You have to hold on to the item after placing it on the glue until it takes hold. This was complete trial and error for me. I had 3 baubles glued to my styrofoam without holding them down first and after a few minutes I heard "plop. plop. plop." and each one slide right off.

Please note in the picture, it looks like the glue is bubbling, but it is actually the glue EATING the styrofoam. Another reason to have an adult use the glue and not the wee little ones.

Step 3: Mix It Up! Mix It Up!

Once you have glued on your design you can A. Proceed to make another one so you can grout all of them at once or B. Move on to the grout phase.

If you decide to make more, then go back to the beginning and start over again. If you are going to grout, then read on, my friend.

In a disposable bowl (I used a lunch meat container), follow the directions on the grout bag. Mine said 7 parts water to 1 part grout, but I have to be honest, that means NOTHING to me. Seriously, what does that even mean? I just eyeballed it and made it more like wet sand that you could make a sand castle with because we didn't want it too watery. It had to have enough stability so that it wouldn't fall right off the styrofoam ball as you applied it.

Random side note: There is a museum in Iowa called the Grout Museum. I always wondered if it was a museum solely devoted to grout. I know it's weird, but in Wisconsin there is a museum that is all about mustard, so anything is possible.

Step 4: Lets Get Dirty!

This is the part Henry was waiting for...grouting it up! (I don't even know if "grouting" is a word, but according to the 5 year old it is, so I'm going with it).

We applied the grout using our hands. Scoop it up and slap it on the styrofoam ball. Don't worry about making it pretty-that will come next. Right now you simply want to cover of the spaces between the baubles and if you cover up said baubles that is fine too.

When you are down it looks like a bumpy concrete ball.

Step 5: Smooooooooth It Out

Grout starts to harden quickly. Not so quickly that you have to freak out and rush through the steps, but by the time you get your styrofoam ball covered in grout and go wash your hands, your art project will be ready to start smoothing out.

To smooth out the grout, simply take your fingers and clean off the grout that is on top of the baubles and smooth out the grout between the baubles. If you don't it will harden and you will have sharp edges or points on your balls and no one likes that. Seriously, no one.

Step 6: Polish It Up

Cotton swabs...they aren't just for puncturing your ear drum any more. You can now use them to polish the baubles on your garden art! Sure you can use paper towel, but I had a box of cotton swabs that have been in our bathroom for 5 years and the only thing they were doing was taking up space, so I found that when you dip them in water they shine up the baubles like a champ!

Once your garden art is all polished up, you can let it sit for 12 hours. The color of the grout may darken as it sets. If your garden art is going to be heading straight for display in your prettty garden, make sure that their isn't any high humidity or rain scheduled for the next 48 hours. If there is, just baby your art project and keep it inside until for a couple days. After that time, your garden art will be all set and ready for display.

Bingo-bango, you are done! A easy project you can do with the kids. My mom is going to love it!

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