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Before & After: Contained Angles

May 1, 2013


If you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ve probably already guessed that these planters didn’t begin life as containers for succulents … And, you’d be right again if you assumed that I, using simple materials and tools, transformed them into what they are now. Basically, each is a pre-welded wire shape with select areas enclosed by flexible metal to create a plantable pocket, finished with metallic paint for instant patina. From top left, clockwise — Triangle meet cube: In which the aforementioned nests inside the latter and is joined by a pink-n-green euphorbia; Angular torch afire: Comes complete with licks of haworthia flame; Corner pocket:  Prickly cactus orbs nestle cozily; a stone adds stabilizing counterweight; Cube for rent: A great place for colorful foliage of oscularia deltoides to hang out. Here’s how I created them …


First look

The planters began as items on One Kings Lane, the online membership home design site. Called something like “wire jewels”, they were on sale as tabletop decorations; I was attracted to their open-faceted shapes and low cost. I had no idea what I would use them for but thought they had potential, so I bought them. Once they arrived I was even more intrigued, they were a good size and interesting as-is, but maybe they could be more. I kept rotating them in my hands, pondering what they might become and it didn’t take long for me to see them as vessels, then planters. I could see areas I’d like to enclose within the shapes and knew I wanted to use metal to do so. But what kind of metal? It had to be thin, easily cut and flexible. As often happens, I found my solution at the hardware store …



… in the form of aluminum tape (top left). The super-clingy cousin of the heavy-duty aluminum foil you use in the kitchen, it’s just as easy to use: It’s strong, molds to whatever shape you need and is easily cut with scissors … And, did I mention that it’s crazy-sticky? After several messy false starts complicated by the adhesive backing, I learned to expose only a small amount of tape (top right) before wrapping it tightly around the selected portion of the wire shape (lower left), peeling away backing only as needed. After fully wrapping a side, I repeated the process, overlapping and sticking onto completed areas. With all sides taped, a pocket was formed. To aid drainage, I made sure to leave open space at the bottom (lower right). Then a coat of metallic paint in a hammered finish was sprayed on, followed by another in a matte rust. (Note: Pocket insides were extremely sticky; a coat of paint there counteracted the adhesive.)



Here are the inside-and-outside painted vessels. Note how the top and bottom pieces’ taped pockets have the look of flexible metal (or even tanned leather). This is due to the tape not being secured tightly around a wire at the top of the wrapped area. Contrast their edges with the center piece where the tape is wrapped fully on all sides and the top; it’s overall smoother and more taut-looking … I like the top-wrapped version for its tidiness but the others have a wild edge, literally, I like, too. I guess I love both!


Fully occupied

I wanted to fill these new planters with special succulents, s0 a trip to Riverside’s Mexican Hat Nursery was necessary; proprietor Harvey Welton hooked me up with perfect specimens! Back home I couldn’t wait to see which plants would go where. Filled, one planter needed a counterweight to hold it down; a rock that echoed the shape and color of the chosen cactus easily filled the bill. One horizontal/triangular piece nestled securely inside an open cube, but another, more vertical one, wouldn’t stand easily with a cube as base. Happily, a rusted, perforated tube I rustled up easily supported the long triangular piece. That left three open cubes with nowhere to go, so I joined them using the same technique and made them into a hanging planter.

^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I love the results … Somehow these planters look ancient, modern, architectural and futuristic, all at the same time!

16 Comments leave one →
  1. May 2, 2013 3:23 am

    I adore these! Thanks for telling us how you did it. Heavy duty aluminum tape – who knew? Your work is a constant inspiration!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      May 2, 2013 3:28 am

      Thanks, Peter, glad you like them (and the how-to)!

  2. Vickie Perez permalink
    May 2, 2013 4:26 am

    At it again, sending new ideas around. We’ve used the tape on things we’re doing in the garage for folks but never did I think of using it in such a manner. Such ideas you spread around!! Thanks!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      May 2, 2013 4:29 am

      It was either the tape or take up welding, Vickie, thanks!

  3. May 2, 2013 5:13 am

    These are pretty darn fabulous.

    • reubix1 permalink*
      May 2, 2013 6:23 am

      Thanks zillions, Loree!

  4. May 2, 2013 6:36 am

    I really like this idea! I actually have several of these metal jewels, but all I did was paint them different colors and hung them on one of my block walls. This is way cooler! Thanks for sharing this idea!

    • reubix1 permalink*
      May 2, 2013 2:54 pm

      Hey, MM, my original thought was to paint my ‘jewels’, too … then I thought maybe as stands for tillandsias. I’ll have to get more and come up with something else …

      • May 2, 2013 6:58 pm

        I was thinking about using that stuff that kind of forms a colored plastic bubble on wire sculpture? I thought that would be a cool way to fill in the facets. I would go out and buy some but I can’t remember what it’s called. Do you know what I’m talking about? I thought I saw it in a Dick Blick catalog years ago.

      • reubix1 permalink*
        May 2, 2013 7:18 pm

        I do know what you’re talking about, MM, but cannot remember what it’s called either … However, you could do a similar thing with thinned Elmer’s glue and colored tissue paper … which was also one of the things I was thinking of, turning the ‘jewels’ into lanterns of some sort … so many possibilities I’ll just have to buy more and work it out!

  5. Tanya permalink
    July 23, 2014 10:28 am

    I searched the One Kings Lane site in hopes of finding the wire sculptures; however I have had no luck. I searched in the tabletop/entertainment, objects, and other sections of the website. Could you please tell me where you found them or if you know of an alternative site to obtain such sculptures? I would greatly appreciate it!

    • July 23, 2014 5:45 pm

      Hi, Tanya … Regarding One Kings Lane: stock rotates all the time; all I can suggest is to keep looking for the geometric wire shapes there and hope they show up again. You might also check Etsy for geometric wire forms. Good luck in your search!


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