The inspiration for glass flowers came when I was shopping with my family one weekend and saw some in a store window. It was some time ago and I really don’t recall where I saw them but remember thinking that it was a clever use of old glass. I inherited some beautiful vintage glassware from my grandmother, but unfortunately it is boxed away where no one can see it because I have no where to put it on display. These glass flowers seem like a nice solution that enables me to display these heirlooms and add to the visual interest of my garden, which happens to be one of my favorite places to spend time.
The process began by searching for examples online and digging into exactly how other people have made these in the past and any lessons learned. Some people chose to use silicone adhesive to glue the plates together while others drilled through the center of the glass then anchored them together on a bolt or rod. I liked the idea of the dishes being able to move and spin independently of each other so chose to try drilling a hole in each then anchoring them to something for a stem. I wanted to make the first flowers with glass dishes that don’t have any real sentimental value just in case they cracked and broke or some other mishap occurred, so I stopped by the Goodwill on Broadway in Denver to find some to use for this project. I hit the jackpot and found several glass dishes that would likely work well. Unfortunately, most were clear glass but I remembered that I had some glass vase beads at home that I could attach for some added color and visual interest. I was also fortunate enough to stumble across a tall, sturdy candle holder with a slightly curving stand. It seemed perfect for the stem to the flowers and that it would likely provide enough stability for the heavy dishes.
After purchasing a few supplies at Home Depot – diamond drill bit for ceramics and glass, eye bolt to attach the glass to the rod stem, and washers to place between the plates – the real fun began. To drill holes in the glass I filled my kitchen sink with enough water to submerge a single dish, then I placed large pieces of torn up cardboard in the bottom to cushion the plate and act as a backstop for the drill. Using the diamond drill bit I slowly and gently drilled a hole through the center of each of the dishes. Patience was important in this step. Luckily, my concerns about shattering the glass did not come to fruition!
Drilling hole in glass
The next step was to remove the top of the candle holder using a grinder with a cut off wheel. Using gloves and safety glasses was particularly important during this process as sparks went everywhere.
I then used a hot glue gun to attach colored beads to one of the dishes. Admittedly, the hot glue will not be as durable as silicone adhesive but that takes a long time to dry and I was afraid the beads would not stay in place. Before putting the flower outside in the elements I will likely add the silicone around the beads to help them last a bit longer.
Gluing glass beads
The eye bolt I purchased at Home Depot was too loose to reliably support the glass dishes on the metal rod I was using for the stem. I rigged it to work temporarily by wedging some small screws between the gap and the stem. This provided enough tension to support the weight of the plates reliably so that I could test out the rest of the assembly. After placing the largest of the plates onto the bolt it was apparent that the friction of the glass on the threads of the bolt could cause some damage to the glass. I dug around in drawers around the house for something that may solve the problem and was fortunate to find a blue plastic straw. Not only did it fit over the bolt perfectly and created a smooth surface for the plate to spin on, but the color matched the theme as well. Once that was in place I added the biggest plate again, a galvanized washer, the next smaller dish, another washer, the next smaller dish, another washer and then the smallest dish.
The flower turned out pretty much as I had in mind. I tried a few different combinations and orders of dishes before deciding on a look that I really liked. The dishes that are chosen, and the order that they are put in, make a significant impact of the final look of the flower. I wanted them to spin independently and was able to figure out a way to make that happen. It may not have been the most efficient or elegant solution, but it works. Design is problem solving, and taking something from an idea or concept to reality often involves a great deal of creativity. My design process was fairly straightforward, aside from some rigging and an additional shopping run to Home Depot. I tried things and they didn’t look quite right or work the way intended so I had to find a solution and try again. After a few iterations things worked out as I wanted them to.
Now that I know how to make these and have some confidence that I won’t shatter the glass in the process, I plan to make more of these for my garden. I will need to figure out how to make a stem out of rebar or something similar as stumbling across the perfect candle holder won’t likely happen again. I still feel that these flowers are a fun way to display vintage glass and may even create a flower or two for my family members.
- How to drill glass or ceramic dishes for garden art flowers, Melissa J. Will
- How to drill glass, Ultimate Handyman
- Garden Art Step #1 – Upcycle/Recycle Colored Glass Flower, Lighten Up
- Dish it up garden art, WLUK-TV FOX 11 newscast
- How to Make Inexpensive Flower Plate Garden Art, Joan Stewart, Travel & Leisure July 11, 2012
- Robert Allen, The worlds most fabulous husband with an awesome set of tools!