Quite a few years ago, my sister showed me an article in a gardening magazine about how to make your own plant markers out of polymer clay. It was a much cheaper alternative than buying pre-made labels, not to mention I liked that you had the option of personalizing them to your specific plants. I bought the clay but, like many of my other projects, it sat around waiting for that rainy day. Flash forward about five years, my growing collection of herbs are still sans labels, so I decided to dust off the clay and get crafting.
What You Need
White and/or black paint
Alphabet stamp set
UV outdoor protective sealant
Rolling pin or similar tool
Rectangle cookie cutter or rectangular object to use as a guide
Shown above: the finished plant markers.
I started by dividing each pack of clay into 4 equal amounts, and rolled them into balls to work the clay. It helps to work on a non-stick surface, like wax paper or Silpat (a silicone baking mat) if you have it.
Roll the clay long enough so your rectangle guide fits on it or close to it, and then use your knife or sharp edge to cut around it, leaving you with a rectangle. Be careful not to roll your rectangle too thin.
Gently lift an end and flip your rectangle over, careful not to distort your shape, and rub your fingertip around the edges and corners to soften the shape. Then take your armature wire, bend it to give you a straight line, and push it into each edge to give you a groove where your wire will eventually sit.
Pull your stamps out and stamp the name of your choosing into the clay. Make sure you sink the stamp deep enough — the depth will make it easier for the paint to adhere to the recessed area.
Make sure the words are centered on the marker.
If it's not centered and you have extra space on the end, use your sharp edge to trim off the excess, then soften the edge and add the groove for your wire.
Once you've finished your labels, carefully place them on aluminum foil or a baking sheet and bake the clay in the oven, following the baking directions on the package.
Let them cool and then paint the recessed area of the stamped letters. Let it sit for a few minutes.
Wipe off the excess with a damp paper towel or rag.
I found my letters looked best with two coats, so I repeated the process on each marker.
Measure your wire, determine how long you want each stake to be, and then use your snips to cut the wire. Start at the top and lay your wire in the groove on the top edge of the clay marker. Leave equal amounts of wire on each side. Continue to wrap the wire around the marker, placing it in the groove you made.
Once you've fitted the wire all the way around the marker, bend the wire 90 degrees on each end to form the stake. The tension should hold it in place, but for extra security, I twisted the wire in the center at the base before making the stake.
I wanted my finished labels to be tall, so I left my wire fairly long. Once finished, each stake measured about 10". Snip the ends so they are the same length.
Spray your markers with an outdoor UV sealant to protect them and you're finished!
Experiment with different colors of polymer clay, paint and even stamp fonts until you find a result you're happy with.
(Images: Kimberly Watson)