Posts Tagged 'garden'

DIY garden windmill from a plastic bottle

nail polish windmill

Things you will need to make a windmill or pinwheel from a standard plastic soft drinks bottle:

Try and choose a sunny, windy day and make your windmill outdoors.

windmill 01

1 x 330ml plastic soft drinks bottle


sharp knife to cut through plastic (e.g. scalpel)

thick wire and a tool to cut it with

metal skewer or similar for making a hole through plastic plus a hammer – or better still a drill

acrylic paints or nail polish

beads and sparkly sequins


Begin by using the sharp bladed knife to make an inicision in the bottom of the bottle, then use the scissors to cut all the way around. If your cutting is a little uneven like mine just trim the edges afterwards.

windmill 02

Now use the scissors to cut 4 evenly spaced sails along the body of the bottle – leave approximately 3 inches uncut – you don’t need to be too precise.

windmill 03

Time for a bit of folding. Each sail needs to be folded outwards at an angle. This will help the wind catch the sails.

windmill 04

This is how it appears when looking down the neck of the bottle

windmill 05

Using the scissors again, make 4 short evenly spaced cuts around the end part of the bottle.windmill 06Now the tricky part unless you have a drill! You need to make a hole in the centre of the bottom part of the bottle and the same in the lid of the bottle. The plastic of the bottles I used was quite thick so I found it necessary to use a metal skewer and a hammer to hit it with several times. The lid was much easier. You will need to make sure that the holes are big enough for your wire to pass through easily. This will make sure your windmill spins well. Try and remove any rough edges around the holes to aid smooth spinning. I used a scalpel for this.

windmill 07

windmill 08 windmill 09

Time to do the first part of assembling. Take the bottom part of the bottle and push it inside the open end of the sail part. This is where the cuts you made will help it stay inside. If it wants to pop out again just secure it with a few dabs of superglue.

windmill 10

Now take your wire and decide how long you would like the stem to be plus enough extra to run through the bottle from one end to the other. Put a bend at one end of the wire – this will secure the centre of the windmill.

windmill 11

Now the bit I enjoyed most – painting πŸ™‚ I used acrylic paints on this one so the pattern doesn’t get washed off in the rain. The windmill at the top of this post was painted using nail polish which works well too but needed a few coats. I also stuck sparkly sequins on another one – they look lovely if it’s a sunny day.

windmill 13

When the paint is dry you can assemble everything together.

Take the wire and add a bead to to the bent end (this will stop the wire catching on the centre of the windmill). Thread the wire through the centre and out through the lid. Before screwing the lid closed you can add a few sequins and small beads – nothing too heavy – inside the windmill. I have done this because I’m using them on my allotment to try and keep birds and moles away!

Before bending the wire to make the stem, now would be a good time to test whether your windmill will spin. If it’s not a windy day, just blow really hard at the front of your pinwheel. If it doesn’t spin check the wire isn’t catching and give the sails an extra push back.

Now screw the lid closed, add another bead and bend the wire at right angles to form a stem that can be pushed into the ground.

windmill 14




Recycled Garden Sculpture – part 1

Do you remember a couple of weeks ago when we had our Summer? Well we decided it might be fun to give ourselves a craft project to do outside and settled on trying to make a garden sculpture. We didn’t really plan it other than knowing we wanted some kind of made up creature and for it to be sitting at about knee height. It’s not finished yet because we’re waiting for another sunny weekend so it may be next year, but here’s our progress so far…

…We started with a couple of large plant pots taped together at the centre and I found an old cone shaped planter basket in the shed that we thought might work OK for the nose. We started to wrap the whole thing with chicken wire and padded it out with shredded charity bags – we’ve got way too many in the house so a good way to get rid of a few…

… top half of the body is mostly padded out – now for chicken wire leg tubes…

… they get stuffed with more charity bags (using my faithful chopstick stuffer!), and a rather large pair of ears get attached. The ears are thick wire bent to shape with pliers and covered with a sleeve of chicken wire…

…next, arms – same method as legsΒ  (and oh look the sun’s shining!)…

…time for a quick sit down…

…and a little nosey around from high up (just to show the blue sky and big ears!)…

and now to the messy bit πŸ™‚ We bought a bag of undercoat plaster (huge 20L bag for under a tenner) and mixed up a tub full. Then we started to bandage the whole thing like an egyptian mummy. I had an old piece of muslin type fabric in my stash that used to be a bathroom curtain once upon a time so this got torn into strips roughly 2 inches wide. Next we dipped strips into the plaster mix, it was really awkward to try and stop them clumping into thin threads but we got there in the end…

…almost completely covered now and what a big mess we’ve made of the patio – oops!

So, this is as far as we’ve got – he’s sitting on a piece of MDF in the last patch of sun drying out.

Now he’s covered in plastic sheets while we wait for another decent sunny weekend and think about what to next. Ideally we need to waterproof him with something before doing any decorating.

All ideas would be really welcome πŸ™‚

Dutch Apple Cake

When I got home from work today it was so cold in the house (we’re still resisting turning the heating on) I thought the best thing to do was put the oven on and bake something! As there are lots of apples lying on the ground in the garden I decided to make a Dutch Apple Cake from ‘Bake’ by Rachel Allen. It was very easy to follow and also had an alternate fruity suggestion of raspberries and pears.

We’ve just had a slice each straight from the oven with a pile of strawberries and whipped fresh cream flavoured with vanilla. Very delicious indeed. I don’t think it’s going to last very long – good job there are plenty more apples outside πŸ™‚

Edible or poisonous?

This little pretty popped up under the apple tree at the bottom of our garden a couple of days ago. I think there are another couple about to follow suit.

Does anyone know what it is and can we eat it?

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