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Monday, March 29, 2010

Aluminum Plant Markers, for Next to Nothing

This first picture is of my not-so-wonderful copper tags, in which I am really disappointed.  This looks like mud, but it is not; it's the copper tarnishing.  Perhaps when the whole thing is tarnished, and maybe verdigrised, it will be more legible, but right now, it could not be more illegible.

Then I had a flash of insight, which I tried with a prototype. Homemade aluminum plant markers made from inexpensive wire and aluminum beer cans! And they work very well- better than the copper.  I wish I'd thought of this before plonking down thirty-six dollars for the copper ne'er-do-wells.

You'll need: a measuring tape, several thicknesses of newsprint or an old newspaper, galvanized wire (here's what I used), a pair of needle-nosed pliers with a wire cutter, a pair of scissors, a small piece of cardboard, a dark-colored permanent marker, and an aluminum beverage can.

So here's how:

Measure a line 22 3/4" long on several thickness of newsprint or newspaper.  Mark the line at 8"; 1"; 1"; 2 3/4"; 1"; 1"; and 8".  This is your marking template.

Cut a piece of galvanized wire 22 3/4" long, which should be easy to do against your line.  With the permanent marker, mark the wire at the 8, 1, 1, 2 3/4, 1, and 1 inch marks using your marking template.

Using your needle-nosed pliers, make a ninety-degree bend out at the 8" mark, and ninety-degree bend up at the 1" mark, a ninety-degree bend back toward center at the 1" mark, a ninety-degree bend down at the 2 3/4" mark, a ninety-degree bend back toward center at the 1" mark, and the final ninety-degree bend at the 1" mark so that it looks like this:

I find that it makes a much sharper bend if I push hard against my thumb.  Set this aside.

On a small piece of thin cardboard, mark a rectangle 3 1/4" long by 7/8" wide. Make sure your corners are square.  Cut this out. This will be your label template.

Using your scissors, cut the top and bottom off the beverage can, and down one side.  Open it flat.

Using your cardboard template, mark the label on the outside of the can, so that when you cut it, any marks will be on the back side of the label, and not on the front of the label. 

Using your scissors, cut out the label.

It's easiest to go ahead and mark the label with a fine point ballpoint pen while it's flat, so go ahead and do that.

Wrap the ends of the label around the either side of the wire frame. I find that the labels stay on best if the edge just meets the back of the label and there is no excess.  Once I've done the first side, I'll trim a little of the label off the other side if it will make it just fit around the wire.

And voila!  I'm a lot happier with the aluminum plant markers.  Only time will tell how well they hold up in the long run, but in the first couple of days, they are doing much better with all the rain we are getting.  There are no changes on them- they're just wet!  And very inexpensive, which we like.


Miriam said...

What a great idea! And a great excuse to go buy some beer...

Paula said...

Fortunately, I don't need an excuse to buy some beer. More like, the extra beer cans are an excuse to buy more plants! Do I have a monkey on my back, or what?! ...ordered a lilac today....

Kate said...

I like! I'm not sure I'd have the patience for this project, and I just recycled all our aluminum cans. But I sure admire the spirit of thrift and not wasting anything!

Rachelle said...

Ooh! I like this! It looks nice, I can't tell what it is reusing, and one could pick up roadside trash and come up with the raw materials (takes away your idea of running out for more beer, though!).