As I’ve perused the blogosphere over the past few months, I’ve been seriously inspired by all the imaginative, creative people that turn the old into something new and beautiful. (Seriously, just visit my “Reinvented & Repurposed” Pinterest board if you want an afternoon full of creative motivation.)
With Earth Day just around the corner, I thought I’d dig into my recycling bin and pull out something beautiful. And maybe I can help save the planet in some small way, too. =]
So here’s what my upcycled-brain came up with. I remembered reading somewhere that when plastic bottles were thrown into the regular garbage instead of being recycled, they took up to 1,ooo years to decompose in a landfill. And here’s another bit of useless trivia (I’m great at those): Making new plastic takes more energy than recycling it.
In honor of Mother Earth – and because I was feeling guilty for all those bottles I chucked into the garbage bin when Maddy and I ventured to the park – I decided to transform my bottles of water into hummingbird feeders.
And the fun didn’t stop there! I also reused some old plastic spoons from a recent family BBQ to create a big red flower blossom.
I bet you already have most of this stuff if you want to learn how it’s done. Well, maybe you don’t have the hummingbird feeding tubes, but you can get those here for super cheap. They are sold in multiple packs, but I figure that’s just a bonus because you can gift these hummingbird feeders as eco-friendly handmade gifts. AND, you have the knowledge that you’re not only saving money, you’re also saving the world! Yeah, that’s how we roll around here.
I know it says “pliers” when those are clearly cutters. You’ll need both. Bear with me – I’m dopey like that sometimes… Ok, most of the time.
step 1: Light your candle and hold your spoon over the flame. Move the spoon in small circles to heat the curve evenly.
step 2: Once the spoon curls over, it’s pliable enough to mold into a petal shape.
step 3: Use your fingers to pinch the spoon into an organic-looking shape. It doesn’t have to be impeccable. I think that the more curves and imperfections there are, the more lovely and realistic your flowers look.
**NOTE: Be careful when molding your petals, as the plastic can get very hot!
step 4: Set the first spoon aside and continue making petals.
step 5: When you have enough petals (the number will vary depending on the bottle you use), use your cutters to trim the spoons off the handles.
step 6: Create all your petals.
step 7: To make the first layer of petals around the mouth of the bottle, heat the bottom edge that you just cut.
step 8: While the plastic is still hot, press it against the round edge of the mouth of the bottle so it forms to the shape.
step 9: When you have enough petals for the first layer (I usually end up with 8), use your hot glue gun to attach them to the bottle.
step 10: Now we’re going to fill in the first layer with another layer of petals. This time use your needle-nosed pliers to hold the petal and once again, heat the bottom.
step 11: Place your petal behind and in between two of the front petals, and use the pliers to press the heated plastic flat against the surrounding plastic. Doing this securely bonds everything together.
step 12: Continue heating and pressing, heating and pressing to fill in the gaps.
step 13: Using your hot glue gun, draw a bead of glue around the petals, both on the top and underside. This step is totally optional, but I do it just to make sure everything stays in place.
step 14: (Ok, why I put this step before the others I’m not quite sure, lol. Feel free to hold off on step 14 and 15 until after you’re completely done.) Use a funnel to fill your feeder with nectar, filling it all the way to the top to prevent dripping. If you want to save money, feel free to use our homemade recipe, courtesy of my pops (LOVE YOU DADDY!)
step 15: Insert your hummingbird feeding tube, pushing it flush with the opening of the bottle.
step 16: Wrap your chain around the middle of the bottle, leaving a long tail to hang it from.
step 17: Wrap and attach a small length of chain around the opening of the bottle, directly underneath the petals.
step 18: Measure out a length of chain that will fit snugly between the middle and the top chains. Connect this last piece of chain to the two other chain “belts”.
The hubs walked into the room at this point and said, “That’s cool, Babe! Can I help?” How could I resist? He’s so cute… ^_^
step 19: Attach your hanger (which in my case was actually a shower curtain hook) to the end of the long tail of chain. You can also fill your feeder at this point, if you haven’t already. And again, you can use my dad’s famous homemade nectar if you want to save yourself some money.
And that’s it! I’m loving our new eco-friendly feeder. I love taking trash and turning it into treasure!
And I’m happy to report that they hold up exceptionally well in a storm. We had torrential rain, hail, and thunderstorms last week (in Southern California?! I know, right?);
I forgot about the feeder I knew the feeder would hold up during the storm, and thankfully it did!
I know it’s just a water bottle, but after looking at it from angles I don’t normally notice, I’m starting to see that it’s quite pretty…
I hope these recycled feeders have inspired you to upcycle a treasure of your own. Thanks for crafting with me, lovelies!! Until next time!
**EDITED TO ADD: Jacquie pointed out a very important fact in her comment:
Out here in our desert heat the feeding liquid will ferment and turn moldy. The mold will attach to a bottle and is nearly impossible to remove. Your idea can recycle bottles. Use a bottle until it gets mold growing then make a new one. Turn the old bottle into the recycling center. This way the hummers will not receive any tainted liquid.
So true!! I wouldn’t want any hummingbirds to accidentally get poisoned because I neglected to mention a cleaning method. Here’s what I responded:
Yes, I can see how the heat would be a problem. I should have mentioned in my post the way I clean these feeders, which won’t affect the hummingbirds. As Jacquie pointed out, the heat can cause the nectar to ferment, which will create mold and bacteria inside your feeder. To prevent this, clean your feeder with a mixture of distilled white vinegar and warm water (half & half). Swirl the mixture around and rinse out. Use this method to clean as often as necessary. I live in Southern California – perhaps not quite in the intense desert conditions that Jacquie described, but it can get quite hot on a regular basis. However, cleaning my feeders once a week this way has prevented any mold from growing inside my feeders, and it doesn’t leave any chemical residue that could harm the hummers.
Thanks for pointing that out, and for the kind comments, Jacquie!!