How to make a glass totem

How-To-Make-Glass-Garden-Topiary

Are you looking for a way to reupurpose all that old, vintage glassware you have around the house?

thrifted glassware repurposed
True trash to treasure people fall into 2 categories. Those of us who have never made a totem, and those of us who have made tons of totems. They are sort of like potato chips… betcha can’t make just ONE! In the winter of 07, I shopped and shopped for glassware. I couldn’t stop! I tried really hard to never pay more that 50 cents for any one piece. My daughter’s room became my totem workshop!

 

repurposed thrifted glassware
I think making these totems is the closest I’ve ever come to being artistic. It is so much fun to stack the pieces and see what works well together. I really like the colored pieces of glass, however they can be a little more pricey.
thrifted glassware
I really like tucking pieces inside of other pieces. In the top of this one is a cute little cherub.
green totem
I love this green one. My friend Cathy has this one in her yard.
purple totem
In this picture, the purple vase totem is sitting in front of one of my favorite rose bushes. I name my rose bushes in honor of people. This one was a gift from one of my former students, so I call her Skylar. (if you look closely, you can see that the bottom vase has another vase inside of it)
thrifted glass repurposed into a totem
glass totem
This photo shows the panda totem by my Endless Summer hydrangea.
red glass totem tutorial
Yes, that is some sort of depression glass on top. I got it really cheap, and I thought it looked really pretty on this with the red vase. My friend Cathy has this one in her yard also.
bluebird of happiness

This is my “bluebird of happiness” totem. :) The bottom vase of this piece is a beautiful candle holder that one of my former students gave me. Part of it got broken, but I held on to it because it was so pretty. When I started putting pieces together for my totem, I knew it belonged with these other pieces.

Some tips about making totems.
  1. thicker pieces of glassware work best
  2. stemware is the most fragile. (I’ve only had one totem break, it was knocked over onto a driveway on a very windy day by a child’s tent that being blown by the wind)
  3. plates should be place upside down so they don’t hold water
  4. a plate should be the base of your project. (I bury my plate a little to help steady my totems)
  5. if you have a very large vase, try placing a smaller vase inside
  6. a plate may be placed on top for a bird feeder (however be careful because if the squirrels jump or climb on it, they can knock it over)
  7. I recommend that you move your totem to a protected area during the winter or freezing weather.
  8. It’s best to wash and dry all your glassware very well. If it is extremely humid, or if your glassware is not totally dry, moisture will build up inside.
  9. I used silicone II for doors and windows. It comes in a tube that you have to use a caulk gun with. After you apply the caulk to join 2 pieces, release the pressureon your gun, and your caulk will not ooze out.
  10. after gluing 2 pieces together, you can use a rag or a paper towel to wipe off excess caulk.
  11. I glued in sets of 2, I then waited for those to dry and joined 2 sets of 2 together at a time.
  12. use a level to make sure you don’t end up with any leaning towers. :)
  13. if you do end up with a leaning tower, you can carefully use an exacto knife to undo the silicone. Please remember a leaning tower is better than a trip to the emergency room!

Now, get out there and buy some glassware, dig through your cabinets and garages. BUT, don’t say I didn’t warn you. This is highly addictive! Have fun creating!

I have done some more totems-you can see them in my post Repurposed Glassware Totems & More.

Thanks!
gail

 

 

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Gail Wilson is the hammer and drill behind My Repurposed Life. She is in the process of repurposing her life as she juggles all the responsibilities of running a home and a successful DIY blog. You can always count on Gail to give you the 411 on DIY on a budget.
About gail@myrepurposedlife.com

Comments

  1. VERY CREATIVE IDEA, NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE:)

  2. I miss my garden where I put these.
    Love it!

  3. that is a beautiful and clever idea! I love it

  4. when I was a kid (long time ago)we had a teacher that would make these for the kids, but then he covered them with paper mache then painted them and they were used as candle holders.

  5. I wonder how I missed this post?
    I like these little objects- they are so dreamy- fairy like,…mystical! I just saw it on the posts and comments for the week post (wow, that was a mouth full)
    Anyway, I’d like to try one of these– but am afraid Honey might not go for it.

    We’ll see.

  6. Now I’m so bummed that I tossed a bunch of vases I never use to the Goodwill.

  7. Beautiful Gail! I’m happy to see that your blog is so wildly popular! You are amazing!! I hope you’re enjoying the summer!

  8. Great tutorial, and some very helpful suggestions! I’ve been dying to make one of these; the original one I saw was on a pole, but the blogger didn’t give instructions, so I guess I’ll have to figure that part out. Thanks for the great tips!

    • My sister and I made some to put on poles of regard. Use a upside down bud vase for bottom. If the opening is to big insert a piece of garden hose into neck of vase to stabilize. I use a shorter length of debar so my totem sets on the ground.

  9. Hi Gail! I’ve put together a round up of great garden projects on Craft Gossip today and included your post. :) You can see it here
    http://homeandgarden.craftgossip.com/6-fresh-garden-ideas-for-spring/

  10. Came across your blog through an internet search. My mom (and now me) has just gotten into doing this. You have some really cool stuff. And it’s done a little different that what my mom has been doing. She typically has a smaller vase on the bottom so she can display in on an iron rod. But sitting them right on the ground is a great idea. I’m going to have to share your way of doing it with her.

  11. I may be two years behind…but I am SO into the idea of making some garden totems from the pottery that I got while thrifting last weekend! Can’t wait to get some done…and no, I don’t think I’ll be able to stop at just one!
    Michael

  12. Just found your blog and have to tell you I LOVE this idea, have never seen it before but cannot WAIT to try it for myself! I am so excited, I will be devouring the rest of your blog, thank you for sharing your talents and inspiring the rest of us!!

  13. I’ve seen similar items on other sites and one of the things I’ve seen done is to use a small opening on a base piece turned upside down, then you can place the small opening over a dowel or copper pipe pushed into the yard to give the piece more stability, of course I’ve seen them with bud vases on the bottom upside down and then sitting on the copper pipe but the idea would work just as well for a piece you could place inside your larger base glass for more support.

  14. Great tutorial i wish i had read this before i started. You are so correct about collecting more glass and the joy when your piece comes together. Thanks for sharing.

  15. I make these a lot! and you are right, they are addictive. I use e-6000 for mine and they stay out all winter. The only problem I have is putting things insid eof other things. Even though I let them dry the item inside sometimes comes loose. Any thoughts?

  16. Wnat more colored glass? Here is a tip-mix food coloring with Elmer’s glue and paint the inside of some of the clear vases-ones that you will be using upside down so water can’t get into them to wash out the “paint”-I have also heard that you can put clear sealer over one painted with this and keep it from washing off. Anyway -that would be a way to get colored glass cheaper and your color options are infinite! For instance mix blue and green together to make an aqua vase.

  17. I just found this I am so excited can’t wait to go looking for glass I want a totem pole !!!!!! Wish I had run across this a couple yrs ago I closed my floral business and gave away some of the most beautiful vases to friends and family. I am working in my back yard and on my patio redoing everything. I have a punch bowl I wanted to do something with think I will try to include it in my project.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I read and appreciate every word!

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