Owl Topiary


I was pretty excited to get started on this owl topiary but now that it’s finished I don’t like it. It doesn’t help either that for some reason getting the photos to my computer and then uploaded to here did not go as usual.

When I’m working with pictures, I usually change all of my file names to more descriptive titles before uploading. I may even include their order in the file name. Unfortunately each time I attempt to do any of that, my computer freezes up, so here we are. I’ll attempt to make the best of it but this won’t be a proper tutorial.

Circle of wire and beginning of body

For the base of the owl, I made a circle of wire about 7″ across. From there I attached two somewhat egg-shaped pieces of wire, crossed at the center. You can see I twisted them together and then wrapped it with finer wire to secure them. These are then attached to the base with all wire ends facing into the body of the owl.

Forming owl beak and ear tufts

This next piece of wire forms the beak and ear tufts.

completed frame for owl topiary

Before wrapping the frame in mesh, I added a third wire to support the center of the beak. I’m not sure it was necessary, but I do know it made planting in that area tricky.

attaching mesh to base of owl topiary form

The chicken wire is formed into a tube again, and the bottom edge securely attached to the base of the owl form.

Wire mesh over owl form

I’ve mentioned shaping the chicken wire in other posts. It’s surprisingly easy. If you compress the hexagons of the mesh one way, they get longer the other way. So when I want the ‘belly’ of the owl larger than the base, I shorten the hexagons and it gets wider. At the top of the owl’s head the mesh gets overlapped and wired close.

squeeze extra water from moss and fill frame

From there I started stuffing the owl. Squeeze out the moss as much as possible, and fill the owl topiary. The ear tufts took special attention to make sure they were completely filled. The entire owl took a surprising amount of moss to fill – it needs to be firmly packed in because it seems to shrink as it dries.

Planting the Owl Topiary

Until this point, I was pleased with my owl. It looked like an owl and more important, it looked like the picture in my head. Then I started planting it.

two large rosette shaped succulents for eyes

I’ve had these two rosettes set aside for a while. All along I knew they were going to be my owls eyes.

Tufts added and belly planted

I used florist wire to secure the plants, they can be taken out once everything roots into the moss.

planted owl topiary take one

At this point, I left the owl over night. Sometimes ideas need to simmer.

planted owl topiary take two

Eventually I added more Sempervivum (hens & chicks), thinking that would improve the look of the owl.

It did not.

I’m going to set him in a sunny window for now, we’ll see if time and plants growing improves him a bit but I honestly prefer the look of the mini turtle from last week.

What do you think? Which is your favorite?



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Topiary Mini Turtle – Tutorial

Topiary Mini Turtle

I decided it was time for a topiary mini turtle. Fred, my other turtle, is adorable, but just a little to big for the house. And what better project to launch my new craft space? Let me tell you, having a designated spot to work on my projects is a dream! I was able to take my time with this little guy, knowing I wouldn’t have to tidy up part way through so I could use my kitchen table as a table.

If you’re reading this, I hope you won’t think making topiary is hard. It’s mainly just twisting wire, and anyone can do that! That said, just a couple of cautions. Chicken wire is stabby, in fact all wire is. When you are forming your topiary, twist all of your sharp ends towards the inside where the moss will cover them. Be sure to clean up all the little bits of wire after, nobody enjoys pulling a piece of wire out of their foot. Never place your finished topiary directly on furnishing. His feet are scratchy, sometimes they’re wet too.

Mini Turtle – what you’ll need.

  • Snips, Pliers and wire cutters. I’ve been using my snips to cut the wire, they are easier to use and less flying bits to worry about.
  • A basin or pail of water to soak your moss.
  • Chicken wire.
  • Galvanized wire in a heavy enough gauge to hold its shape but still bend.
  • Florist wire.
  • Sphagnum moss. I’ve been using natural, but green will work too.
  • Plants. I used succulents again, but I would love to make one of these and use mini Hosta. Ivy would work too.

Let’s get started!

Place your moss in a bucket of water to soak.

For the shell:

From the heavier wire, cut a piece long enough to make a circle 7″ across with a bit of overlap. This will be the rim of your turtle’s shell.

Fold back each end to make a hook, join together and twist tightly.

To make the dome of the shell, you will need 3 half circles of the heavier wire. Form a hook in each end.

Use the hook to attach the half circle to your rim.

Repeat with the other two, arranging them around your rim so they intersect.

Where the wires of the shell intersect, tie them with some florist wire.

Lay a double layer of chicken wire over your frame. I used an inverted bowl to avoid flattening my shell.

I’ve done this two ways before, you can either fill the shell with moss and fold over the wire to hold it in, or you can attach the mesh to the rim and use a second piece to hold your moss in. I get a tidier look with the second method, so trim away your excess.

Fill the bowl of the shell with moss, squeezing out the water as you go. Use another piece of chicken wire to shape a lid – the belly of your shell.

Use florist wire to ‘sew’ everything together.

For the head, tail and feet:

To make the head and neck, make a tube from chicken wire and close on end.

Test it against your turtle and adjust until you are happy with how it looks.

Fill the head with moss and set aside.

Shape and fill the tail. Everything is just chicken wire tubes with one end closed.

Shape the 4 feet. Stuff them firmly with the moss so they don’t collapse with the weight of the turtle. When you are positioning the feet, imagine the head is 12 o’clock, the tail pointing at 6. The front feet are at 10:30 and 1:30. The back feet are 5 & 6. Use florist wire to firmly attach the feet.

For the head, I like to have more than the chicken wire to attach it too. Here I chose a spot where the frame of the shell crosses.

Attach the tail and the head with more florist wire. Make sure the head is well secured and not wobbly.

Your topiary frame is complete!

Planting your topiary.

I learned my lesson planting my bunny topiary. These small guys look best with just a few plants.

After removing as much of the soil as possible without damaging the roots, work out a pleasing arrangement.

I used snips to remove a small section of the chicken wire so it would be easier to plant.

Use your fingers to make a hole in the moss.

As you plant, use your fingers or a pencil to push the roots into the moss.

Sticking with my less is more mantra, this is my turtle finished.

Photo shoot!

One of the best parts about my new crafting space is the lighting for pictures is so much better!

The two clamp on lights of the shelf above with the LED floods are perfect for getting well-lit pictures in my house.

The greenery underneath is fake boxwood ’tiles’ from the dollar store! Perfect for a mini turtle’s début!

If you enjoyed this project, please share it on Pinterest. Let me know in the comments if you make or plan to make one of your own!

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Finally, Creative Space for Me!

Finding creative space in a tiny house is hard! I transformed my closet into a functional craft space just for me.

I’ve been desperately needing a creative space for myself, but with 3 adult sized people in less than 1,000 square feet where to find it?

In my closet!

Walk in closets are nice, unless you’re crying for space to fit everyone in a tiny house. So Friday, I pulled everything out of my closet.

Here’s the left side before.

The middle before. FYI that stack of vinyl floor tiles is the worst flooring ever.

Closet right side – before. I painted it white 18 years ago and hadn’t touched it since. Gross.

Believe me or not, but this closet was a bathroom. Tub, toilet and sink, it was the only bathroom in the house. You could rest your head on the sink while sitting on the toilet, which overflowed if you tried to flush while the washing machine was draining. Fun times!

I took everything off the walls, all the shelving and the closet rods. Then I patched holes and painted it all white.

Because there is a bedroom on the other side of the right hand wall, I used that wall for hanging clothing. The person who lives in that bedroom is a very light sleeper.

It’s a double rod but I really don’t have a lot of clothing. I used a thrift store basket for all of my flip-flops and sandals. The sky-scraper heels to the donation bin.

So the right side is all closety business and does its job. Big boring yawn! The fun stuff is on the other side.

Creativity to the left!

Ta-da! Pure creative space! No more hunting all over the place to find my supplies. No more taking over the kitchen table for crafts and having to clean up before finishing.

I am so happy I could sing and dance! But not really, because I don’t know how to do either.

Nearly all my crafting supplies fit on these two shelves. I can’t believe how much the tidier the rest of the house is now that all of this is gathered up in one place!

The top shelf is all about sewing and fabric.

The bottom shelf holds my crafting stuff.

And some topiary supplies!

Tucked into the corner, photo props and my rolls of chicken wire. I almost threw out the little accordion file until I realized it was perfect for patterns.

A thrift store lazy-susan is going to be so handy when I’m making topiaries! And it’s bright, thanks to the two LED floodlights on the shelf above.

Brushes, sculpting tools, and Sharpies all have a home.

Acrylic craft paint and some hand tools for cutting and shaping wire.

The work bench is a 16″ wide pine shelf that I stained at the same time as I was working on my ‘pegboard’. I love that pegboard! I can see everything I use the most often right there. You can see how I made it here – DIY Pegboard for Craft Room Storage. Other than the materials for the pegboard and the lights, I used supplies I already had on hand. I shopped my house for bins. So all told I spent $150-$200. Not too shabby.

So what do you think? Would you sacrifice closet space to gain creative space?




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DIY Pegboard for Craft Room Storage

Make this unique industrial style pegboard!

Pegboards are amazing for small spaces but I’ve just never liked the look of them. It’s all those holes, they make me think of dust and wonder if there spiders hiding in them. So when I was looking for a different storage solution for my craft supplies – like that damn rotary cutter I can never find – I had to get creative.

DIY Pegboard Materials & Equipment:

  • Wood for backing. I used two 12″ x 4′ pine shelves but you could easily use reclaimed wood instead.
  • Hardware cloth with 1/2″ x 1/2″ openings. Do not buy the prepackaged rolls. They are rolled too tightly and impossible to work with. Have it cut to length at the Hardware Store.
  • Washers & bolts for spacers.
  • Screws long enough to go through spacers into wood.
  • Clamp or two.
  • Long straight edge.
  • Drill.

Making the Pegboard:

I stained and sealed both shelf boards before starting. I thought about using a tea stain for a rustic look, but decided I wanted a deeper color. Once dry, I used two mending straps in the back to join the two shelves. I could have used pieces of wood instead, but it was cold and windy outside and I didn’t want to drag my saw out of the shed.

Eye Bolt and Hook to hang Hardware Cloth Pegboard

I started by drilling pilot holes in the top edge of my wood backing and then screwing in the eye bolts. We won’t even discuss those extra holes for the hooks in my recently patched, freshly painted wall.

Clamp the mesh to your work surface at each end with the curl facing up.

I only had one clamp, so I used a case of pop to weight the other end to keep the mesh from curling back up.

Using your long straight edge, start folding the cloth. I did my long edges first, it helps to straighten the mesh. Work your way up and down the fold line, gradually folding it inwards.

When you’ve completed the fold, crimp it tightly with pliers.

Repeat for all four sides then flip it over so the curl faces down, otherwise your mesh will sit right on the backing and leave no space between the mesh and backing for hooks.

Fasten the mesh, top and bottom every 12″ or so. Mark your screw placement, but only drill one pilot hole at a time. The openings in the mesh won’t always be where you expect them.

My first time staining and sealing wood – can you tell?

For each screw, it’s washer, mesh, washer, nut or spacer, washer, and then finally into the wood. Leave some play until all the screws are in.

That’s it!

Mount it on the wall and start hanging up your tools and supplies.

I just bend pieces of wire into hooks but you could buy S-hooks also.

A word about cost:

Unless you are using salvaged wood as your backing, and maybe not even then, just buying a piece of pegboard is cheaper. With the two pine shelves for backing (2@$18.49 ea – $36.98), stain ($8.99), and sealer ($6.99), plus the roll of hardware cloth ($1.99/foot), screws and washers the final cost was $100 – $120.

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Make a Pretty Dish Soap Dispenser

This dish soap dispenser was an easy little craft for a Sunday afternoon. I’ve never had it together enough to put my soap away when I’m done with it. Plus, my guys are ‘wash your hands in the kitchen sink with dish soap’ guys. Seriously, it drives me nuts! They act like it’s the only sink in the house!

Even for myself I’ve sometimes wished for a soap dispenser at the kitchen sink. Maybe something a little prettier than the dish detergent bottle too. I was talking about it the other night, and my youngest pointed out the empty body wash bottled kicking around in the bathroom.

It’s almost exactly the same size as the dish soap bottle.

So I grabbed another piece of fabric from my stash and cut it into squares (one of these days I’m going to get some left-handed pinking shears) and started decoupaging.

I started from the bottom, clipping the fabric to fit around the curves.

I used white glue mixed 1:1 with water, and just kept working my way up to the top of the bottle.

Dish Soap Dispenser

After masking off the threads for the lid, I gave it all three good coats of acrylic sealer. I also painted the pump gold.

No more Sunlight bottle on the counter!

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