Monday, March 23, 2015

Tutorial: Book Planters

I saw these magnetic book boxes at Michael's and knew they had to be turned into bookend planters. The English ivy planter above was the first one I made and it got such an overwhelmingly positive response when I posted it in a craft group that I knew I had to make a couple more so I could photograph the process for a tutorial.

This project is very simple and doesn't take much time. I made both the London and the butterfly book planters while sitting outside waiting for the school bus. 

These are the materials you will need:

  • cardboard book-shaped box with a magnetic edge (I found these at Michael's)
  • potting soil
  • gravel
  • small plants
  • two storage bags (I used quart freezer bags for the larger box and sandwich bags for the smaller. If you're using a larger box you may need gallon freezer bags)
  • clear packing tape
  • scissors
  • box knife
  • small shovel

Pick a small plant or two that will be happy growing in a small container. I put English Ivy in the first planter, which I think will look amazing once it grows in. For this tutorial I chose succulents. These are Blue Elf Sedeveria, Hummel's Sunset Jade, and Firestorm Sedum. Book plants, meet world. World, meet book plants. 

This is one of my book boxes. It has a magnetic strip along one edge to keep it closed. Now we get to transform it from a confusing object of unknown purpose into something pretty and useful.

Take your box knife and carefully score around the top edge of the box.

Cut along your score and removed the panel, leaving a small width on both of the narrow ends.

Cut the zipper edge off the storage bags.

Place one of the bags inside the other, lining up the top edges. The double layer will reinforce the planter pocket and hopefully keep water from leaking through if one of the bag seals fails. 

Tape the bags together around the edges, then nestle the bags into the book. Tape around the top edge, overhanging the tape on the outside of the book to make the top edge water resistant. At this point, you'll probably want to close the book and tape along the top edge of the magnetic side but I left mine open for now to illustrate the next step.

Pour a 1-2 inch layer of gravel into the planter for drainage. Fill the planter most of the rest of the way with potting soil.

Add your plant or plants and fill in around it with potting soil within about 1/4" of the top of the planter.

Fill the last 1/4" of the planter with gravel. In addition to being decorative, this will help with moisture retention and keep gnats from moving in.

All done! Brush off any stray dirt and bring your new little friends inside.

Give them a little water (make sure to water slowly so it doesn't overflow the planter) and set them up on a sunny shelf so they can enjoy the view.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Author's Note - The Crystal Lattice

I never thought this book would meet the eyes of readers, but it turned out my eldest baby has a mind of his own and is determined to use it. The first draft of The Crystal Lattice was written when I was a twenty-one year old college student with too much time on her hands during summer break. It was written on scraps of paper while solo camping in the Ozarks, on napkins during midnight Steak n Shake runs, and eventually on my bulky old desktop PC. It was a disaster. My narrator aimlessly wandered about the wilderness for something like 150 pages before figuring out what he should be doing, and then I couldn't figure out the ending so I gave up and filed it away.

A few years after college I was working a temp job in Kansas and was struck by an epiphany about how to finish the book, which I hadn't thought about in years. I pitched my thoughts to a coworker, who was almost as excited as I was. He ended up being my first reader and the person I tossed ideas at to help solidify them in my head. A few weeks later, the second draft was complete. It was horrible, but we both saw potential in it. I filed it away for a while since I was inspired to write Echoes of Oblivion, then Mayfly Requiem, then Shadows of Absolution.

Twelve years after walking away from the abomination of a first draft, here I am completing it again. It has been completely rewritten twice, edited, reedited, filed away and found again, names have been changed, characters have been dropped, and the heart of the story has been discovered and embraced. A lot has happened in those twelve years - college graduation, jobs, several out-of-state moves, a marriage and three children, diagnoses and illnesses and injuries - but I wanted to preserve Tesji's young voice, a challenge as my thirty-something voice often tried to take over and delete some of immaturity essential to the character.

Those who have already read my other books may be interested to find that The Crystal Lattice is where the Aulors and Web lore originated. The first five Malora books were written well-after this one. Someone told me that my little fable about the fall of Ganebra would make a good story on its own, and that one, simple, possibly drunken comment sparked five books. I still blame this all on you, Jason. To everyone else, thank you for joining me on this millennia-long journey. There are still two books after this one (one on each side chronologically), so I hope I can keep you entertained for just a little bit longer before I bounce on to another world.