Travel & Leisure

How to Make Inexpensive Flower Plate Garden Art

My Favorite Flower Plate

Gardeners, Crafters and Scavengers:

If you’re looking for a fun, easy project—and perhaps a new revenue stream—consider making beautiful flower plates for your garden, or to sell at craft shows. They make lovely gifts.

I’ve seen these at local art shows and in this stunning collection on Etsy. But I haven’t had the time to figure out how to make them on my own. And I don’t trust myself with a tube of glue.

During my vacation last week in Columbus, Ohio, temperatures between 100 and 110 made it impossible to do anything outside. So my sister, Lois Heinlen, who can duplicate almost any type of craft imaginable, led my other sister and me through a daylong flower-making extravaganza.

Yield: 19 glass flowers in a variety of sizes and colors. Here are some of them:

We prefer plates with clear or colored glass, but you can just as easily use ceramic plates in crazy or subtle patterns.

What You Need:

  • A collection of plates, saucers, votives, and other glassware. Each piece will be the “layer” or the center of a flower.
  • One hockey puck for each flower, used to attach the flower to the metal rod that you stick into the ground. We bought ours at Play It Again Sports, a new and used sporting goods store, for about $2.50 each. Make sure the pucks are new, not used.
  • A threaded rod, one per flower, 3 feet long and 3/8-inch thick. We bought ours at Home Depot for $2.87 each.
  • A tube of E6000 (epoxy adhesive). We bought a one-ounce tube for $2.97 in the craft department at Wal-Mart. One tube is enough for several flowers.
  • Rough sandpaper.
  • Green Rustoleum. We used fast-drying Rustoleum Paint Plus, ultra cover, satin finish, in club green.

If you’re starting from scratch, here are step-by-step directions.

Step 1: Hit the thrift shops.

You can find plates, saucers, votive lights, ashtrays and other glassware, many for less than $1 each. If you’re lucky, you’ll find the glass ends of doorknobs, or glass baubles that you can use as the centers of flowers. We even found several collectible “salts” at a thrift store, for 35 cents each. Beautiful for the center of a flower! When we returned home and emptied our bags, we had two tables filled with glassware. Here’s one of them:

Our thrift shop treasures

Step 2: Clean the glassware.

Wash in warm, soapy water. Use Goo Gone to remove stubborn stickers, though all of ours came off in the dishwater. Dry thoroughly.

Step 3: Assemble the flower.

This is the fun part. Divide all your glassware by sizes. Then mix and match to see which pieces look best stacked atop each other. We used three or four pieces for each flower.

Step 4: Glue the first two pieces.

After you’ve selected your glassware for one flower, take the largest piece (Piece A) , which will be at the bottom, or back, of the flower, and place the next largest piece (Piece B) on top of it. Turn over Piece B and squeeze a thin circular line of epoxy onto the center of the plate. Gently place it onto Piece A, then remove it quickly, so you can see exactly where to apply the second layer of glue on Piece A, as my sister is demonstrating below. Apply glue to Piece A and let both pieces sit, unattached, for about two minutes. Attach both pieces. Once the glue starts to dry, don’t try to move the top plate or you might crack the glass.

Squeeze a circular ring of epoxy onto the front of the biggest plate

Step 5: Glue the remaining layers.

Repeat the process until all pieces are glued together. Let dry for about two hours.

Step 6: Sand the hockey puck, and drill a hole.

Using course sandpaper, rough up one flat side of the hockey puck. Place the puck in a vice, outer edge toward you. Using a drill with a 3/8-inch bit, drill a hole about an inch and a half deep. (Warning: The smell of burning rubber is ghastly, and the drilling makes a mess. Do this in a well-ventilated garage or on your driveway.)

Step 7: Glue the puck.

Apply a circular layer of glue on the sanded side of the hockey puck. Wait two minutes. Attach the puck to the back of the largest plate. Wait 72 hours for the puck to dry.

Step 8: Paint the rod.

Paint the rod green, using Rustoleum.

Step 9: Attach the rod to the puck.

Insert the rod into the hole in the puck. If it doesn’t go in easily, turn the rod to the right and keep turning until you can’t insert it any farther and you have a tight fit. You don’t need to use glue in the hole. If the rod is too big for the hole, drill a slightly bigger hole.

The hardest part of this entire process is figuring out where in the garden you’ll place your work of art. As you can see in the photo on top, I placed mine near my maroon holly hocks, next to the bird bath. (Bird poop splattered on that beautiful etched glass! Do you think I should move it?)

Other Tips:

  • You may be tempted to buy expensive glassware from antique stores. We sure were! But this quickly drives up the cost of the flowers. If you’re selling these, you’ll never recoup your investment and make a decent profit. But if you’re making a few of these for yourself and can afford to splurge, go for it.
  • Visit thrift shops frequently because they restock shelves constantly. Don’t hesitate to ask owners of smaller shops to call you if they get colored glassware or pretty plates they think you’ll like. Show them a sample of what you’re making and bribe them with a free glass flower!
  • Look for candy dishes, too. I found a lovely candy dish with a large clear glass plate. It was attached to a metal handle that I was able to unscrew easily.
  • Clear glass plates are easy to find, but colored glass isn’t, so buy it as soon as you find it.
  • Keep the epoxy out of the reach of kids and pets.

Will You Make These?

This craft is easier than it sounds.

But I’m curious. Would you rather skip the entire process and buy flower plates on Etsy? Or do you think you’ll make these? If you do, take a picture and link to it here. Also check out my Flower Plates Garden Art board on Pinterest.

Do you have ideas on how to make these flowers even more beautiful? Do you like clear glass or colorful ceramic plates? Do you use rebar instead of a metal rod? Other ideas? Share them here.

I’m displaying my plates in my garden and giving them as gifts but have no plans to go into the flower plate business. But boy am I tempted. And I can’t stand the thought of passing up a valuable piece of stunning glassware with a 75-cent sticker.

  Discuss This Article

Comments: 22

  • I love your work and you have inspired me to start a new craze in Australia. Aas I have an Auto immune disease, find a job isn’t that easy, so I’ve started making plate flowers out of ceramic plates, and make wooden square pucks to put on the back. Keep up the inspirational work :)

    • Ilse, it’s now been a year and half since your post, enthusing over this idea of making plate flowers. How is it going for you? How’s your health? (Wishing you the best from Texas!)

  • One word of advice…the E6000 doesnt hold up over the long run. Experienced garden artists will tell you to use 100% silicone adhesive. Look for one that is heat/cold resistant such as GE SiliconeII or DAP Auto Marine adhesive. Otherwise in a few years or less you will have plates crashing to the ground.

  • where in the country are you located? I am in Canada and weather is inclement….I only have put mine outside in the summer but because the pucks are rubber, they expand and contract and one of mine fell with “Gloozit” a sealant/adhesive/uv resistant/stick to almost anything glue…I have not seen DAP here…can u get it at Home Depot, Lowes? I would be very interested

  • THANK YOU! I’ve been trolling the thrift stores for glassware but have had a horrible time finding info re how to fasten the flower to the metal rod. this makes perfect sense! I appreciate your sharing your know-how.

    • Wine bottles or vases can work, but some vases have thinner glass, and bottles can be curved and hard to get a good contact bond with, or have too small a neck.
      My mother went to a restaurant supply store and bought 2 dozen glass salt & pepper shakers. (Ditch the lids, or use them as flower centers…whatever) The glass is nice and thick, and the sides are flat and perfect for mounting to the back of plates. They have a 1 inch opening, and mount neatly onto electrial conduit, cut to length, painted, and pounded into the ground as flower stems. (Simply match your conduit diameter to fit inside “whatever” size shakers you buy, and you are good to go.) NO drilling needed. NO flat spoons. …..SIMPLE!!

    • You have to get to the thrift stores early now, because everyone’s making these. Also…E6000 has now come out with UV6800 and E6800, which has a chemical that protects the glue from breaking down in UV light.

  • Glue small necked vase or wine bottle to bottom of largest dish, when dry just insert rebar inside and stick in ground. Have fun.

    • Careful with the glass and metal. On really hot days, the metal could heat up the glass enough to have the glass explode.

  • love it….i have what i call it a glass factory in my cellar….i collect glass all year round…..for mother’s day i sold 20 dish daisy’s….and still have 7 more orders due to word of mouth….the glue i use is silicon II rain or shine…works great and very cheap….i also use a hockey puck and rebar painted with rustolium paint….i buy it in 10 foot lengths and cut it my self….alot cheaper that way….i figuremy investment in each piece is between 6 to 7 dollars and sell them for $25.00….i’m sure i could get more but this is my hobby and love to create them…..hopefully my hints will help you to cut costs…..enjoy! CAROL

  • A lady here in our town used a bent spoon (bowl flattened and handle bent in a “U”) attached to the back of her “flowers” and then stuck the handle of the spoon in a piece of metal conduit painted green. Spoon costs maybe $.25, plus a piece of 3 ft scrap conduit, or can buy a piece of 1/2″ conduit at hardware store for about $8 – $10, or could use scrap pvc pipe; whatever is hollow and handy. Might save you a little manufacturing money on the front end for more profit on the back end. Just a thought.

    • I tried using the flattened spoons using E6000. The one I tested outside all winter did not fail, however I have had to repair some as the metal spoon doesn’t want to adhere to the glass. I am using little bottles now. Gluing glass to glass is going to be better. Using uv6800 glue.

  • Thank you all for information. As only daughter and a mother and grandmother that loved tea cups bought in canada I so want to try using them for a flower. Sharing these instructions and ideas has help me understand how to. So my plate hunting etc. will start ASAP Thanks again

  • i have got waterbeads i am wonting to design them in a clear lampshade top with a top over it then i can make something like stencils to lye the waterbeads in and the light will shine through it then i will do a display under it how can you help me

  • 100% Silicone FOR SURE!!! The tube is convenient, but my best results have been with the clear silicone caulk & a caulk gun (but I have to be very careful).

  • I love your ideas, I just bought 3 flowers last weekend. The woman who made them put a piece of t shape pvc piping on the back. I picked up some 2 and 3 foot lengths, pounded them into the ground and slide the flower right on to the tube. It works great!! Now I want to make more.

  • E6000 adhesive now has a UV protection adhesive named E6800 and UV6800 (they’re the same, but the company decided the name was confusing. Remember the good ‘ol Dollar Store and estate sales!! They practically give small/non-antique glassware away!! And look for ashtrays…you’ll be surprised at the designs and shapes.

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