Beehive Air Plant Container

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Truth be told, I've never really possessed a green thumb. The only plants I can seem to keep alive are the hearty and versatile Tillandsia air plants! Since air plants do not require soil, their potting options vary widely and leave plenty of room for creativity. Here I've used polymer clay to make a fun and functional air plant holder. Enjoy!

Supplies:

Air plant of choice

Beige polymer clay

White polymer clay

White, black, yellow, and light brown acrylic paint

Copper craft wire

Clear varnish

Super glue

Wide and fine tip paint brushes

Cone-shaped rubber tip sculpting tool

Various plastic and metal shaping tools (these can generally be purchased as a kit in your local craft store)

Not pictured:

Oven

Water for brushes

Step 1: Shape the Beehive

Start with a decent sized ball of beige polymer clay. Work the clay in your hands until it is soft and pliable. Then, ripping off small increments, roll a piece of clay into a ball and flatten like a pancake. Do this 5-6 times, depending on how tall you'd like your final product. Make each flattened piece a little smaller than the last. The final piece should be slightly dome-shaped to allow for the creation of a hole for the plant.

Stack flattened discs on top of each other with the small dome on top. Using the ring topped metal tool, carve out a small hole to fit your plant. Make the hole deep enough to ensure it will not come tumbling out when planter is moved.

Using the rubber sculptor and your fingers, gently blend the discs together to get the shape of the beehive.

Step 2: Sculpt Beehive Details

The plastic knife tool is used to cut the hive opening in an arc shape. The eye sockets are created with the rubber tipped shaper by poking into the hive and expanding the socket to whatever size you like. I chose two smaller and two larger eyes.

With VERY clean hands, roll small pieces if white clay into eyeball shapes and place them in the sockets. The pupils are made with the pointed metal tool.

Step 3: Make Bees and Bend Wire

Roll a few small pieces of beige clay into balls then taper off one end to form the body of the bee. Each bee will also need two sets of wings. These are made in a similar way as the body, except they are rolled out thinner and flattened slightly. Place two individual wings together to form one set. Use the pointed metal tool to make eyes.

Then cut a small length of copper craft wire. Use the wire to poke a hole on the underside of one of the bees as well as the beehive. This will allow you to attach the wire once everything is baked.

Wrap wire around one of your paint brushes to achieve the spiral pattern.

Step 4: Bake the Clay

Check the instructions on your clay, but Sculpy brand clay bakes for about 15 minutes per 1/4" of thickness. I find that 15 minutes is generally enough for most small projects.

As you can see in the fourth photo, the poor bees were burnt during baking. This can happen when the clay is still very warm from being worked in your hands then placed in the oven. It's best to allow the piece to cool before putting it in to bake.

The last photo shows a second batch of bees that are a little less crispy.

Step 5: Painting the Hive

Mixing white paint with a small amount of brown and yellow creates just the right combination for the hive. The acrylic paint usually takes at least 2-3 coats to get the desired look. Afterward, I apply small lines of light brown paint in the creases of the hive and blend it with water for a more rustic look.

The metal pointed tool is then dipped in black paint to color the pupils.

Step 6: Painting and Assembling the Bees

Since the bees are a little more delicate, I stick the pointed metal tool in one of the eye holes to hold it steady while painting. I start with a few coats of yellow, then add the stinger and stripes in black.

The wings are painted white and attached with super glue and allowed to dry.

Step 7: Final Assembly

Glue bent wire to the hole you made in the bee. Then attach bee and wire to the hole in the hive with super glue. Allow everything to dry fully before coating in varnish.

*As I am unsure how varnish affects the plants, I generally just coat the outside of the piece.

And you're done!

Once a week I remove the plant from the holder and soak it in water for 10-15 minutes. It should be allowed to dry upside down for a few hours before returning to the planter.

Thanks for reading!

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