It’s hard to believe that this year marks the FIVE year anniversary of my little Etsy shop. It’s crazy to think that I have been turning old silverware into garden markers for that long. It all started as an experiment after I saw a spot on the Today show that showed a bunch of cute accessories for your garden. One of the items they featured was a set of garden markers with hand-drawn flowers, herbs, and vegetables. So I tried my hand at making my own. And I thought they were so cute, that I began giving them away as gifts. The response from friends and family was so positive that I decided to open my Etsy shop to see what would happen. Within a few days I had my first order, and the rest, as they say, is history. Over the course of these five years, I have been asked many times how exactly I make my garden markers. And it’s never been a secret. But today, I decided that I would put together a tutorial showing you exactly how to do it in case you want to try making your own. For this first tutorial, we’ll start with the design I do on forks and knives…it doesn’t require any drawing skills. If you have decent handwriting and can color, you can make your very own set of vintage fork garden markers.
Step 1: Acquire your forks.
I get my forks from a variety of sources. I’ve had luck at thrift stores, flea markets, garage sales, Etsy, and Ebay. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter where you find your forks. What does matter is that they are silver plated. And of course, the more ornate the better, in my opinion.
Step 2: Gather your materials.
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There are very few materials needed for this project, but it is important to make sure that you have the right ones. Not all ink or varnish is created equal. Here is the list of supplies:
- Archival ink pens – I use black Pigma Micron pens. They don’t fade, and they are super fine point.
- Weatherproof polyurethane varnish – I use Delta Ceramcoat Matte Interior/Exterior Varnish
- Colored Pencils – I use Prismacolor. The colors are super rich. No other colored pencil will give you the results that Prismacolors will. I have a set of 48, but you don’t really need that many colors.
- White paper – I just use plain old printer paper
Step 3: Size your paper.
Once you have your forks chosen, it’s time to make a list of the veggies or herbs you plan write on your forks. Some forks lend themselves better to long words, others do not. So plan ahead to make sure you’re not trying to fit “cucumber” on a fork that has too small a space. Begin by tearing a piece of paper to fit the size of your first fork. It doesn’t have to be perfect. I try not to cover up the especially ornate parts.
Step 4: Print your word and draw whatever design you want around it.
I love polka-dots, but you could get creative here.
Step 5: Color your paper.
I choose one color for the dots and one color for the background, but you could let your imagination run wild…maybe multi-colored dots or a multi-colored background?
Step 6: Adhere the paper to your fork.
First apply a thin coat of varnish to the fork handle. Then place the colored paper where you want it and apply another coat of varnish over the top of the paper. Allow it to dry for a few minutes and repeat. You should use at LEAST 3 coats of varnish to ensure that the garden markers won’t fade.
And that’s it! Easy or what? I’ve had the same markers in my garden for 5 years and they are still kicking! And they sure make the garden look cute. I especially love them in potted plants too. So what do you think? Do you have a garden that is in need of some whimsical garden markers? It doesn’t get much easier than this. Of course, if crafting is not your thing, I’d love to make a set for you. You can find me over at Homespun Sprout on Etsy.
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