Tuesday, March 31, 2015

What tree is that??

Tonight I finally got around to making the markers for all the fruit trees we've planted. I wanted something that would last a long time, wouldn't fade (hopefully), was weatherproof, and creative.  I searched Pinterest for ideas, and found some great ones, but not exactly what I wanted.  I figured it out, though.  Here is what I did.  I worked from the receipt from ordering the trees so I wouldn't forget any of them.  I bought a big box of white Skulpy original clay from Michael's, some thin 3' metal rods that I cut down into 12" pieces, and a cheapie set of Alphabet rubber stamps (also from Michael's).  I gathered my art mat, my marble rolling pin, some tiles, acrylic paint, rags, and a cookie sheet.
I used my off set spatula to cut the blocks out after stamping the names on the clay.
After I ran out of rods, I just poked the holes and baked them.

Using the tiles so I would get a uniform thickness, I rolled the kneaded Sculpy clay out between them to make 1/4" thick sheets.  I squared it off, and stamped the names of each of my trees and bushes into it, cutting it into little tiles as I went.  I poked the metal rod into them, but I ran out of rods at one point, so just started poking the hole in the bottom of the sign, then removing the rod, hoping to cut more rods later and put them in after they are done baking.  Into the oven they go at 275 for about 15 minutes.

I baked the rods right into the clay.  I"ll have to add a touch of super glue to a few of them that didn't set tightly.

After they came out of the oven and had time to cool, I pried them off the cookie sheets and slopped thinned black acrylic paint all over the front of each sign.  I'd paint about 4 of them, then go back and use a damp washcloth to wipe the paint off the top, leaving it in the letters.

Pushing paint into the letters.

Starting to wipe the paint off.  I had to scrub at some of the outlines to soften them up, BUT....

I'm really pleased with the final result.  I really like how the paint that stayed on the surface of the signs make them look old and weathered.  The darker ones in the picture below were the batches I baked for 20 minutes, thinking longer = better, but it just burned them a little, LOL!  I'm fine with it.  Adds some variety!  I have 30 little signs with the rods to stick into the ground next to my trees, and 21 more that still need rods inserted!  
Unbelievably, I stretched that box of Sculpy to make 51 little signs!  (The last one is a little thinner than the others!)
Tomorrow I will take them all outside and give them a few coats of spray acrylic to seal them before distributing them out.  Kern and I walked the property today to be sure we knew where each tree was located and we made a map for future reference.  We will know which plum is a Santa Rosa and which is a Bruce when we eventually eat them!   


  1. These look great! And they would make good garden markers too.

  2. Gina, I agree. They were also pretty fast to make. I made all these in one evening.