Metal Plant Tags

It's spring. It's my favorite time of the year. The weather has been simply gorgeous and so I'm spending a LOT of time outside in the garden. After years of what has been a relatively obsessive hobby of mine, I've gotten pretty good at identifying the plants, but I still like to label them anyway. It helps to identify the "specific" variety. It also helps to identify the color of a plant, so that I know what I'm separating out in the spring before everything is in bloom. And, since I've hosted a number of garden tours before, the plant tags are nice for intercepting all the inquiries as to the kind of plant.

I like to have them labeled, but I've also found that the little plastic tags that come with the plants are really rather useless for anything long-term. I've spent a little time experimenting with other options. I've tried a number of tags over the years, but this is by far my favorite for functionality and outdoor durability. It's inexpensive and easy to make. It's design also adds movement to the garden as the wind catches it. I'll be following up the next couple days with some other designs that I think you'll like too.

If you're into recycling/up-cycling, you'll need an aluminum can and a wire clothes hanger. Otherwise, you can purchase metal sheeting in copper, tin, or aluminum either online or at your local craft supply store, and any sturdy wire. You'll also need a pliers/wire cutter, scissors, a hole punch, a template tool, and tin snips if you're using an aluminum can. I also highly recommend using safety gloves for the metal cutting.

Begin by cutting the ends off of the can. You want to salvage the "flat" metal.

When finished cutting, you should be able to flatten the piece of aluminum without any real resistance. I found that mine wanted to roll back up, but that shouldn't be a problem.

Next, place the metal on a flat surface, printed side up. You'll want to do this part on a firm but flexible surface, such as a pad of paper. Using the template tool, trace a shape onto the metal. Press firmly, leaving a definite indentation. Leave at least 1/4" between tags.

After tracing the shapes, the metal should have lost some of it's need to "roll."

Use a pair of scissors to cut out the shapes. You'll want to cut just outside of the traced shape. This ridge will help to support the form of the tag, as well as add a little decoration. Using scissors makes the edge not quite so "razor sharp," but you'll still want to be careful.

Next, use the hole punch to put a hole near one edge.

Now the tag is ready for labeling. Place the tag on a firm but flexible surface again, and add the name of the plant. This is done by hand using a sharp-pointed pen. The ink may or may not write on the tag (it looks good either way.) The real intention is to impress the name into the metal. That way, the name won't wear off in the weather.

Unfortunately, this phase is a bit unforgiving. If you mess up the name, you can't do much to correct it. So either be neat, or at least creative. My dad always told me that you didn't mess up as long as you could still fix it.

Now for the tag holder. Use the wire cutter to cut the hanger apart. I can usually get 3 holders out of one hanger, or just 2 if I need really tall hangers. Then use the pliers to straighten the cut pieces.

At one end, use the pliers to bend over about a 1-1/2 inch section.

Use the pliers to twist a small loop at the very end. Some hangers are definitely tougher than others, so you might want to experiment with various kinds.

Next, feed the straight end of the hanger through the backside of the tag, and slide the tag up and over the hook. Loading the tag from the backside will result in the tag flipping over and facing outward.

Then stick the end of the hanger in the ground or flower pot.

Now you'll never lose track of the name.

And it's a wonderful way to dress up a Mother's Day gift.

It's a little breezy today, so my little tag is flipping around, reflecting the sun and clinking like a tiny little wind chime.

(For those of you that are plant savvy, you might have noticed that the tag doesn't match the plant. That's just because my veronica isn't blooming yet and that simply doesn't make as pretty a picture.)

In the next few days, I'll show you a few other options.

And be sure to check out the endless list of inspirational ideas or even add some of your own at my home page

I'll be linking up on the following McLinky parties:

The DIY Showoff
The Sunday Showcase at Under the Table and Dreaming

Metamorphosis Monday
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Making the World Cuter
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Today's Creative Blog

Penny Pinching Party at The Thrifty Home
Show and Tell at Blue Cricket Designs
Power of Paint Party at Domestically Speaking
Creative Share Blog Hop at The Trendy Treehouse
Show Us What You're Workin' With Wednesday at Me and My Bucket
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Transformation Thursday
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