So what do you do with leftover astroturf samples and a sink that runneth over with dishes? Make an astroturf dish drainer, of course! This contemporary mod-drainer brings a little colour into the dreary job of dish-washing, and is presentable enough to remain in full view on my kitchen counter.
Heck, this might even double up as a fun serving tray for parties. And with all that green, you might even trick yourself into believing that the air is ever so slightly more oxygenated. Read on!
Step 1: 'How It All Began', or 'Listen to Your Wife'
May I present exhibit A: the bone of contention with my wife, who thinks that an in-sink drainer is a terrible waste of the precious second sink in our kitchen island. I think working with one sink is perfectly sufficient, but the clutter in the dish drainer is starting to annoy me. We do have an overhead dish-drainer behind the sink, but it's just too troublesome to reach up with wet dishes dripping down your arm sometimes! Plus I might have made that overhead dish-drainer slightly too tall for my wife to use comfortably. My bad!
Anyhow, the inspiration for dish rack came from this post: http://www.ikeahackers.net/2014/11/ribba-goes-dryi... I love the terrifically minimalist design, but the materials (a cheap fibre-board frame and a plywood base) seem like they would get soggy and disintegrate after a while.
So I filed the idea away in the back of my head, and kept a lookout for waterproof materials that I could use for a similar rack. My main criterion: that any water accumulating below the grass should drain out again into the sink, so that everything stays dry and hygenic.
Step 2: Materials: the Scavenger Hunt
I wish I had a full metal-working workshop in my garage... but since I don't have a garage, I had to make do with mostly pre-made materials. Honestly the hardest part was finding the right materials. Assembling the tray was a breeze. Here's what I found around town.
Frame: STROMBY frame from IKEA. 30x40cm inside dimension. This is Aluminium, so it is legit. Won't rust, won't get water damaged. I liked that it was simple and minimalist, without any moulding. Perfect! And inexpensive.
Base: Perspex Sheet. You could buy a large sheet and cut it to size with a razor and straightedge, but I already had leftover perspex lying around from some other photo frames, and in the exact dimensions I needed! Awesome. 30x40cm.
Drainage Mat: I needed a drainage layer to keep the astroturf off the base, to allow water to drain off easily. This prevents the astroturf from sitting soggily in water, growing algae and whatever. I got some plastic drainage mats at the $2 shop, and cut them down to size with a razor blade.
Astroturf: I had lots of synthetic turf samples from different suppliers lying around. They'll give them to you for free if you're thinking of laying down a yard full of the stuff. Or, some garden shops sell these by the yard.
Step 3: Let's Get Started! Prepping the Tray, Aka Smash and Grab
This was a disaster. The aluminium frame came with a sheet of glass hot-glued into the frame, and no amount of coaxing could get it out.
Then I figured I could leave the glass in place permanently, and use it as the base of the tray. "All I have to do", I told myself, "is add a small hole at the corner to let the water drain out". Famous last words! Even with careful scoring using a glass scorer at the corner of the glass, the entire panel cracked right across when I chipped away at the corner.
Plan B kicked into gear: I wrapped up the frame in newspaper, smashed out the glass with a mallet, and removed the remaining hot-glued edge shards with pliers. Fun times.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, I replaced the glass with perspex (acrylic) sheets, with a small cut-out at the corner for drainage. I hot-glued this all round the edge to make it waterproof.
Step 4: Phew! Cookie Time
After that fiasco, I figured it was time for a break. Cookie time! Seriously, it would have been so much easier just buying a frame with perspex instead of glass, or starting with a metal tray and drilling a hole in the bottom.
Step 5: Water Tightness Test
Time to test out the water-tightness of the hot-glue seals. With a little elevation at one end, the water drained beautifully off the tray and into the sink.
The second image shows the layering of this dish drainer: Astroturf on top, drainage layer below, and acrylic at the bottom. Works like a charm.
Step 6: Voila!
It works so well, I made 2!
The astroturf samples weren't large enough to fill the whole tray, so I intentionally contrasted shaggy turf with short-cropped turf as part of the design. This sort of indicates different zones for utensils vs cups, for example. The shaggy grass also helps hold cups and bowls, and prevents them from rolling around.
The astroturf and drainage layer simply sit within the frame, so that they are easily removable for washing.
Okay enough chatter, enjoy the photos!