Garden Art – Create you own Garden Totem

Garden Totems are a fast and fun way to add charm and creativity to your garden. And if you use older pieces from the family collection it adds family interest to your yard.

I had a party this summer with a garden totem fountain that included old pieces from my grandmother’s collections that were too battered for a collection but great in a piece of fountain art where I could hide the damaged areas.  This piece brought back memories for the family and the grandchildren heard stories of their grandparents and great grandparents they had never heard before.

By choosing glass pieces you can reflect and catch light. Clear pieces seem to shine and reflect the color while colored glass glows and enhances the other colors in the yard and gardens. I use old vases, pottery, bottles, glass lighting domes, drinking glasses and cups. I like to find one unique piece for the base if I can.  Teapots, teas cups, fruit bowls and other unique glass are added for accent. You can pick up most of your totem supplies from you kitchen cabinets or closets. If you need additional totem pieces check out the garage sales, auction houses, or curbsides. I also check out a few favorite second hand stores and Goodwill always has a nice supply of cheap glass. The hunt for the perfect pieces, colors and totem topper is a fun way to spend a day. Besides looking for colored glass (I like amber colors) I also look for nice etched pieces, cut glass vases and metal pieces.

In my opinion the base is the most important part of the totem. It has to give balance and stability to the piece. A glass dinner plate turned face down is a good base for totems and I make sure I pick up any good plates at sale where they sell for pennies The next step is to decide how tall you want your totem and the colors of glass you need. Once you have your glass assembled you will need a good glass adhesive, I like GE silicone11 adhesive. It comes in a hand held tube so you will not need any tools to apply it with.  And with a little practice you can apply the glue exactly where you want it.

There are no hard fast rules for totem building. I fit the pieces together before gluing and try several different arrangements before deciding on my favorite design. My only advice is to make sure that glass surfaces of each piece have good contact. This will give you a sturdy totem.

To build your totem start from the base up and give the base a wider support base with larger pieces. You will want to stack the glass so it reaches a safe height but so that it won’t become top heavy and unstable.

Apply the adhesive directly to clean glass. Let the glass bond according to directions on the tube.
If you want a tall totems, you can drill a hole in the glass pieces and string them on rebar or copper pipe sunk into the soil. This will add protection of the totem from wind. I always put my totem in a rebar pole. I live in a windy area and it’s just a safety precaution that doesn’t take that much time.

The final step for your totem is the perfect totem topper. This can be a gazing ball, round globe, Christmas ornament, or a fun piece of pottery. I have used pottery figurines, teacups and old teapots before. I saw one with a copper bell that was stunning.

The totem is a reflection of your garden or yard and your personality. Don’t be afraid to add metal pieces or wood to your totem. It should be a fun garden piece so experiment and have fun.  Even group a few totems together  or add light to it for an evening  centerpiece .

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9 responses to “Garden Art – Create you own Garden Totem”

  1. Jeri

    Totems are very popular in out area. One is over 8 foot tall and they added lights. It has a rebar pole in it for support. Garden art adds fun to your yard. Jeri

  2. K-man

    I believe you omitted “dumpster-diving” as a great source of materials for any artistic garden project- just remember to wear gloves and dress appropriately ! Good Luck !

  3. K-man

    moderation? is it too long ?

  4. admin

    I am a big “dumpster-diving fan and collect many of my items this ways. Besides supplying great materials for art it helps the environment by less material piled up. 🙂 I also carry a hoe in the car to drag stuff out of dumpsters…. I never crawl in them, although I have been tempted! Denise

  5. admin

    🙂 No your post was not too long. I do have moderation on the comments to catch toothpaste ads;) I just didn’t get back to the site. Denise

  6. K-man

    Dear Admin- I thought you omitted dumpster-diving as a great source because you did not want any competition in your neighborhood – Oops! sorry. Happy diving out there; just be careful.

  7. admin

    🙂 How did you know? And yes, I do guard my favorite dumpster locations.

  8. sharon

    I’d like to know if glass totems are safe outside in winter? What happens in a freeze? I’ve just made my first ones in NC so most monthes are fine but……

  9. Hi Sharon,

    If any moisture can get in the totem it will break.

    If its airtight and moisture tight you can probably leave it out in your milder climate.

    For extra protection cover it when you know you may get a bad storm. It would only take a few minutes and would be faster and easier than moving it indoors.

    I lived in NC for a while and overall your winters are much milder than where I live now. Denise

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