Pots Made from Lampshades and Tea Plates

When I was walking around the thrift store a couple of weeks ago, I came up with an idea for inexpensive, decorative pots.

Every thrift store has unique little tea plates that are missing their tea cups, or just charming, ornamental plates.

These stores also have an array of glass lampshades from discarded light fixtures.

So I thought to myself, why not combine these two readily available items to make inexpensive and unique pots?

The glass lamp shades already had an opening for drainage, which meant it would be easy to convert them into pots.

I figured it would be easy to paint the glass. I thought about painting each lampshade a different color. However, I decided to let the individuality of each plate speak for itself, and paint the pots all the same color. This also provides some semblance of unity.

I got a “whitish” spray paint—suitable for many surfaces—and sprayed a few coats on each side of the lampshades.

While I was painting the pots, I was visited by a parade of insects.

I saw this beautiful, blue and black butterfly.

I wish I could’ve snapped a better picture, but it had flown too far away by the time I had the camera ready.

Several long-legged spiders lumbered by. One of them settled in a corner of the box that I was using to spray paint my pots.  I suppose, he thought that a change of color would make him stand out to the ladies.

Don't worry. I didn't actually spray this good-natured spider. He's one of my little helpers in the garden. I set him free to continue eating the malicious bugs.

Of course, the ever-friendly wasps also made their presence known. I refused to be intimidated by them; I stood my ground.

Hurried along by this steady stream of bugs, I promptly finished painting the pots.

When I set the pots on the plates, they were top-heavy. I solved this problem by gluing them down in a few spots. I used a couple small drops of Gorilla glue on opposite sides of the bottom rim of the shades (Gorilla glue expands a lot. So if you ever use it, do so conservatively).

I left some areas unglued, which would allow for proper drainage and prevent root rot.

Once the glue was dry, I filled each pot with potting soil, and added the plants/seeds.

In one of the pots, I added this small house plant, which I brought home from the hardware store the other day.

I couldn’t stop looking at these leaves in the store. Aren’t they striking?

I’ll probably have to separate and re-pot sections of this plant within months, because it’s growing like a mutant, alien.

There are a few other plants that I’m going to experiment with growing both indoors and outdoors.

In one pot, I added a peat moss/potting soil mixture and some basil seeds that I’ve had for a little while.

In another I put a mixture of potting soil and peat moss, with some asparagus fern seeds.

The last pot holds some zinnia seeds. I don’t know where these seeds came from, but I found them in one of our boxes of kitchen stuff. I read that people in this USDA Plant Hardiness Zone (7a) have had success growing them from seed to bloom, even in the middle of summer. So, I thought I’d give it a try.

I’m going to start the last three pots outdoors, and I’ll bring them inside when the weather starts to get colder. We’ll see how they do with the right amount of sun, etc.

I planted the seeds last Friday. The basil and zinnia had already sprouted by Monday.

I’ve had these seeds for some time, and I was unsure whether they would still be viable. So, I put extra seeds into each pot, just in case some of them didn’t sprout. That was a mistake. Now I have too many seedlings, and I’ve had to thin them out.

I researched transplanting zinnia seedlings, and was discouraged to read that they often resent transplant. However—in my limited experience—if you’re gentle and careful when removing and re-potting them, they’ll be fine. Just make sure that their roots are comfortable and that they have moist, well-drained soil. I moved some of the seedlings into my other pots, and they seem to be content.

It has only been about a week, and the seedlings have grown more than an inch. So, here’s a tip: Zinnia is an excellent plant to grow from seed if you like to see immediate results.

The basil is also doing well, and I put in way more seeds than I realized. So, I’ve been moving those seedlings into other pots too.

The asparagus fern won’t sprout for many weeks. So, that should provide a lesson in patience.

  1. GA

    July 30, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    What a cute idea. Heather was excited about this project.

  2. Sarah Lewis

    July 30, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    You continue to amaze me. I just don’t know how you fit all this into your day.. do the project, take the pictures, put them on your computer, write the blog, etc. I would still be in the thrift store trying to figure it out!!!

  3. Angie

    August 1, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    LOVE the idea with the pots! That’s brilliant! You did a great job tying them all in together- i would have been too tempted to paint them all different colors. I was a bit concerned about water getting out, (that may or may not be enough drainage), but if it does become a problem you can drill holes in the plates too (masonry bit- and not that hard, i’ve done it in plants and bowls myself).

    I believe that the butterfly is a spicevine swallowtail. I don’t know about spiders- i prefer to remain ignorant. I know the poisonous ones, and that’s enough for me.

    Did the gorilla glue dry clear, or does it dry yellow/brownish? I have had limited success with clear silicone in the garden, and no success w/ JB weld, but i do not think i’ve ever tried gorilla glue.

  4. Becca

    August 4, 2011 at 9:50 am

    Thank You, everyone!

    Here’s my update on this whole experiment, and my response to all of the comments:

    Angie, the gorilla glue that I used dried white, but it doesn’t hold up to the weather, etc. So, the pots separated from the plates too easily. (In other words, I didn’t have any success with adhesives either. I’m surprised that JB Weld never works. My husband has used that stuff on things in the past, and it seems to work OK. But, I guess it would be hard to find an adhesive that works well for anything that sits outdoors all year long.) It’s not too big of a deal though, because they aren’t as unsteady as I thought they were; they aren’t really in danger of falling over. The water can definitely get out around the bottom OK, especially because there are still glue clumps that raise the bottom rim away from the plate. But, you’re right, if a problem did arise, it would be easily solved by drilling a hole in the bottom of the plates.

    I do have another problem. The zinnias grow like crazy, and the pot that I put them in wouldn’t even be big enough to hold the roots for one of them. So, I need to transfer them into a larger pot. Live and learn, right? The house plant is also growing quite a lot, and I think I’ll need to separate it into three separate plants soon. I think I’m going to put one section of the houseplant in the pot that currently holds the zinnias. Then, I can have a pretty houseplant in my sewing room too.

    Oh, and Angie, thanks for the name of the butterfly. There are so many different butterflies here. Every time I go out to water or deadhead, I see one in a new color, size, and/or shape. It makes me smile to see them fluttering around my flowers. 🙂

    Aunt Sarah, thank you! It has taken me a while to learn time management, but I may be (slowly) getting the hang of it. I definitely don’t feel like there is enough time in the day. Sometimes I wish that I didn’t have to sleep. ;0 But, alas, I am not one of those people that can thrive on three or four hours of sleep.

    Ga, please tell Heather that we can all do this project together when I get there in a few weeks. 🙂

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