Saturday, October 6, 2012

snail trails and hens & chicks (making a succulent planter from a repurposed cast iron lamp base)

Sometimes the kiddo and I stop by Bring at a certain time of day to do a little train watching. There's a train bridge that runs right by the parking lot, and my kiddo loves to watch all the train cars go by and hear the train song. We mostly spot freight trains while parked there, which are extra long and usually loaded with timber rolling out of our state and into another. A couple of times, we've waved to the engineer, and he's waved back. Very fun for a two-year-old and his nutty mama.

I accrued a credit at Bring by filling up a frequent buyer card, mostly by buying Metro Paint during our house re-painting project. Because of this, lately, if we're there to watch trains, the kiddo and I will duck in for a few minutes to poke around and see if anything interesting turns up, even if we don't have anything on our list to shop for. Which is how we found this little rusty cast iron snail lamp base (missing its shell shade) for $5.

A.k.a. free, since my credit is kinda large.

And because I like to run against the grain, this lamp base did not, in fact get used as a lamp or a lighting fixture or anything of that nature. I had another use in mind for her anyway, but typically I won't allow electrical current to be introduced to anything that shows significant evidence of having been left in the rain (rust). To my mind, that makes all the lamp-y bits suspect. My suspicions were confirmed while I was taking it apart; corrosion, rust, etc. on all of the electrical parts. Not safe to plug in.

But that's okay. I was going to take all those bits out anyway, to make this snail into a planter for some succulents.

I used a screwdriver to get out any screws that weren't completely rusted in place, then used a pair of needle-nose pliers to loosen the nut holding the wires to the bulb socket. All this in an effort to make the cord small enough to slide out of the holes it was running through.

Success! Here's the snail, sans wires and lamp kit, about ten minutes after starting this project.

Now, the lamp is pretty small, but the base is concave to allow for a little extra soil. I had succulents in mind because they have great shapes to them (some are very architectural) and because they don't root very deeply. 

But late, late summer and early fall are terrible times to shop garden centers for succulents in the Pacific Northwest, mostly because the rains are coming. They'd all been gotten rid of. I spotted some potted ones at Trader Joe's, but didn't want to pay for a pot I'd then be tasked to find another use for. I knew I'd be setting myself up for a "mouse & cookie" type situation there, so I nixed the idea in favor of using a couple of over-the-edge-of-the-pot chicks from a hens & chicks plant my friend Denise gave me six years ago when she left town. You can see their spindly, hair-like roots, ready to get into some ground, finally!

 I ended up placing the planter right over the space between two blocks in my low garden wall. That way, if the little chick becomes a hen and sends out her own offspring into the world, there'll be plenty of soil and mulch underneath and nearby to sustain her little family.

My snail is just wet from watering here, but it does give me the idea to perhaps give her a little coat of spray lacquer to help preserve her a bit better. The color is just about right.

Happy in her new home, with friends nearby.

Thanks for reading!

p.s. you can make these photos larger by clicking on them, but you probably already knew that.

1 comment:

Crystal in Texas said...

Your snail is adorable! I love succulents too!