The Dandelion Vase. This instructable, as usual, was born from researching something completely off topic. I think this happens to most of us when we fire up our google membership cards, one link leads to another; and the next thing you know we find ourselves watching drone reviews or kitten video's at 3 in the morning. But I digress, this idea was born from looking up the ratio for making a natural herbicide from salt, vinegar and dish soap. It had a link talking about edibles harvested from your backyard, (and no, not those kind of edibles...) This bounced me around till I found a site talking about dandelion syrup and all things dandelion.
Turns out, dandelions have numerous benefits, they can be turned into salads, made into wine, heck the heads can be dipped in panko and fried up with some marinara - Yum! There are numerous health benefits as well, ranging from calcium substitutes to liver treatments, but the most important are those that affect the heart. After a long cold winter, dandelions are some of the first flowers to break up the greys left over from winter and the first to melt you frozen heart. (Yes, I have watched Frozen too many times with my little one...)
Some dandelion fun facts? each flower head is actually hundreds of little flowers called florets. And dandelions are one of the most vital early spring nectar sources for a wide host of pollinators, aka the bees; so pretty important. Did you know, dandelions used to be referred to as the first flowers of love. After all, how many parents have received a bouquet of dandelions from a child looking up at them with delight. How many flower crowns have been made, how many have been given in a impromptu give of love, I'd say quite a few.
One thing I found was how many sites say you can't keep dandelions in a vase, they wilt up too fast. Really though, just like any delicate flower they just need the right care at harvest. Dandelions need to be cleanly cut rather then pulled as this action crushes the stem, impeding uptake of water. Additionally they need to be placed in water ASAP! Also, once picked, the stem begins to lose strength. That's why placing them in a test tube works so well, the head rests on the rim of the tube. Now there are many test tube type vases out there, but I wanted something that with a little juxtaposition; test tubes combined with raw wood allow this vase to meld with most decor. From ultra modern to vintage it just works. The Yellow of the dandelion pairs perfectly with the glass and blonde wood, though it works well with other flowers as well. Read on for how it was made.
Step 1: Ingredients
I started with a small ash that had been knocked over by a heavy snow fall. The thicker part of the stick was the trunk of the tree. I had cut up this tree last year with the thought of using the wood as handles for caveman style hammers and adze. Now, its going to be a vase.
- Small section of a tree trunk with a intact branch - stripped of bark. I left a little on, just for fun.
- 3 test tubes
- Some thin metal rod - I used some spokes of a old bike wheel
- A small branch or thicker metal rod to act as a third leg
- Glue and the finish of your choice. I used Danish oil.
Step 2: Choosing the Angle
Choosing the angle of your first cut will be to personal preference, but once you cut one of the legs, you have to match them. I cut the large section first, while the branch was held firmly in a vise. Use whatever saw you are comfortable with. Your two legs should have matching angles to allow it to stand nicely. See the pictures.
Step 3: Bad Leg...
My first thought was to make the third leg out of metal. It just looked wrong...
So, after drilling the holes for the test tubes in the next step, I pulled it out, and filled the whole with a wooden plug. Live and learn.
Step 4: Drilling Holes
Use a spade bit slightly larger then the size of your chosen test tubes.
Start by drilling at a right angle into the wood and as the drill bit is spinning, bend the drill upwards. This allows a stable shield to be carved out of the wood to drill into. This process takes the longest as you have to drill slowly and gently while maintaining a 90 degree angle. Take your time especially when you reach the bottom as if the drill is spinning to quickly, you risk tearing out the bottom. So easy does it...
Step 5: Good Leg...
Time to replace the metal leg...
Walking back into the forest I found a strong but slender branch to make my third leg. I stripped it of its bark and sanded it down to dry wood. I then drilled a whole to fit it, put in a dab of wood glue and pressed it to fit. Much better.
Step 6: Danish Oil Finish
Before applying the finish, sand down the wood smooth. I sanded mine with a disk sander giving it a carved look. Hand sanding is fine too.
I used Danish oil, its one of my favorite finishes as its very forgiving, food safe once dry and allows the woods beauty to shine through.
Simple apply with a brush or rag. Apply quite heavily, in fact you want it wet for at least 30 minutes. So if after 5 minutes the oil gets absorbed, slop on some more until it look wet. After 30 minutes, wipe off the excess and allow to dry for 3 hours. After that reapply the oil and wipe off the excess. Allow to dry another 3 hours before using.
Step 7: Make & Set Spokes
Last step it to fit the bottom of the test tube holes with stoppers so that when the test tube are inserted they don't fall all the way through. The first test tube will just rest on what ever surface its placed on, but the other two need some help.
I clipped some spokes from an old bike wheel (waste not, want not) and chucked them in my wood vise and bent them. Depending on what style your test tube bottoms are will determine if you have to do something different. Mine are flat bottomed, so I just needed to a simple bend. If you use round bottom tube, then bend the bottom section into a small circle for the tube to rest in. See the pictures.
I then drilled a hole below each test tube hole, clipped the stoppers to a good height and inserted them into the holes to test. To set the test tube height, I taped them in place to the height I wanted. I then dipped the stoppers in a little 5 minute epoxy before inserting them into the holes. 24 hours later they were at full cure and ready to hold some flower love...
Step 8: Make Pretty!
Just some cute after pics.