Critter Clay Pots

I have one just like that!

Isn’t it a riot when someone says, “I have one just like that — but it’s different.”?
I crack up every time I hear it.
But today, while browsing at Sams’ Club, I saw something that made me say (in my head), “I have something just like that.”

In all honesty, it’s not even close.

What I saw was a wire, basket-type container that had three little clay pots sitting in it and three herbs growing in the pots. Very, very cute.
What I actually have is a project that my father and I made together when he was in nursing home care because of Alzheimer’s disease. As I’ve mentioned, the best way to keep him happy was to keep him busy and feeling needed. I would take projects with me when I’d go to the nursing home – which was every day – and say, “Daddy, I need your help with something I’m working on. Do you have time?”
And he’d always say, “Let me check with the boss.”
Then he’d walk over to the nurse’s station and ask them if they needed him for anything. They’d reply, “Not now. ”
And he’d answer back, “Well then, it’s quitting time.”
Then we’d go to his room and set up our temporary painting studio.
I can’t even remember all the things we made together: many painted clay pot projects, holiday ornaments and pins made from tongue depressors, pink flamingo ornaments made from bells and pipe cleaners, letter holders made from paper plates, and so much more.
I made the best of the time we had together. It was the only way to cope.

So when I saw the three clay pots at Sam’s Club, it reminded me of the three pots Dad and I painted, even though they are not even remotely alike. And I thought I’d show you how to make them.
When I returned home, I rummaged through the shelves in my garage until I found the remaining painted pots. We had made several sets, some using the smaller 4-inch pots and some using the larger 5-inch pots. I’ve had them for a long time (Daddy passed away in 2001), and when I thought of them while at Sam’s Club, I decided to buy some small plants and re-pot them.

They’re cute, aren’t they? Obviously one is a bumble bee, one a frog and the other is a ladybug.
They’d be fun to make your children and grandchildren.

To make them, you need the following supplies: red, black, yellow, white, light green, dark green, and pink acrylic paints (craft paint), three clay pots (you decide the size) and the partner trays, three 4-inch wooden hearts, two 1-inch wooden disks, three wooden dowels or picks, masking or painter’s tape, hot glue gun, thin black marker and paint brushes.

For the Ladybug:

Begin by painting one clay pot, one clay tray and the front and back of one wooden heart with red paint. Paint both sides of one wooden disk with black paint. Set all pieces aside to dry. You may want to paint a second coat.

Once dry, mark where you’d like your black dots to go on the pot and then paint the ladybug’s black dots, approximately one-inch in diameter, on to the pot. If you’d like, you can paint the word “ladybug” across the top of the pot. You see I did that on the smaller pot, but my father did not do that to his.

Set aside to dry and begin painting the ladybug made from the wooden heart that’s been painted red on both sides.

Using this image as an example, decide where you’d like your ladybug’s spots to go on the red painted wooden heart and paint them on using the black paint and a 1/4-inch paint brush. Using the thin black marker, outline the shape of the wooden heart in a squiggly line about an eighth of an inch in from the edge, and then do the same down the middle of the red heart.
On the black wooden disk, paint two little white ovals, then paint two black dots for the eyes.
When dry, hot glue the ladybug’s head to the bottom (pointed end) of the wooden heart.
Attach the wooden pick or thin wooden dowel to the back of the ladybug using hot glue. Remember to make the pick long enough to insert into the dirt when pot is planted.

Okay your Ladybug pot is finished.

Now on to the Bumble Bee:

Begin by painting one clay pot, one clay tray and both sides of one wooden disk with yellow paint. Paint both sides of a wooden heart with white paint. Set all pieces aside to dry. You may want to paint a second coat.

Once dry, you will paint three stripes around the yellow pot using black paint. You can mark your stripes using the painter’s tape, or you can paint them freehand. I painted mine (and so did my dad) freehand.

Set aside to dry and begin painting the bumble bee made from the wooden heart that’s been painted white on both sides.

Using this image as an example:
Begin with the wooden disk that’s been painted yellow and using the thin black marker, draw two circles for the cheeks, a smile that is connected at both cheeks and a dimple in the chin. Paint the cheeks pink and paint a tiny pink dot in the middle for a nose. Paint two black dots for the eyes and set aside to dry. When dry, paint a tiny white dot inside each black eye and a tiny white dot inside each pink cheek.
When all is dry, hot glue the bumble bee’s head to the top of the wooden heart.
Now you’ll begin to paint the bumble bee’s body. Using the thin black marker and the example above, draw on the white wooden heart the shape of the bee’s body, and then paint it yellow.
When completely dry, paint black stripes on the bumble bee’s body.
When completely dry and using the thin black marker, draw tiny lines coming out of the black stripes. Then also using the thin black marker, outline the edge of the wooden heart with a thin squiggly line.
Attach the wooden pick or thin wooden dowel to the back of the bumble bee using hot glue. Remember to make the pick long enough to insert into the dirt when pot is planted.

You have finished making your Bumble Bee pot.

Now the frog:

Begin by painting one clay pot, one clay tray and the front and back of one wooden heart with the lighter green paint. Set all pieces aside to dry. You may want to paint a second coat.

The frog’s feet are painted at the bottom of the lighter green pot. Using the darker green paint, paint on two one-inch circles and let dry completely.

When completely dry, paint three tiny little white dots onto the darker green spots. That’s the frog’s “toes.” If you’d like, you can paint the word “ribbet” across the top of the pot.

Using this image as an example:
Begin with the wooden heart that’s been painted the lighter green. Decide where you’d like the division between the frog’s eyes and chin to be and paint that curved line using a 1/4-inch brush and the darker green paint. Using the same brush and darker green paint, paint three-quarters of the way around the rounded parts of the heart. This will form the spacing for the eyes. Decide where you’d like the frog’s freckles to go and still using the darker green paint, paint on three dots to be his freckles. Using pink, paint on two dots that are a little larger than the freckle dots for the frog’s cheeks. Using white and using the example shown above, paint on the frog’s eyes. When completely dry, paint a black dot inside each of the two white eyes. And when completely dry, put a white dot inside each black eye, three tiny white dots in each of the pink cheeks and three tiny little white dots inside each of the three freckles.
Attach the wooden pick or thin wooden dowel to the back of the frog using hot glue. Remember to make the pick long enough to insert into the dirt when pot is planted.

Now you have three of the absolute cutest critter pots known to mankind.

I’m still amazed with how such a simple sighting can bring back such wonderful memories. Those potted plants I saw in Sam’s Club weren’t anything at all like the ones my father and I made together, yet it is that sighting that sparked the fire that drove me to dig those projects out of the darkness of my garage and into the light of my kitchen – and write tonight’s blog post.
Although my father was in the midst of this horrible disease known as Alzheimer’s, and we were all in the middle of our painful and long goodbye, we made the best of those times.

I miss you, Daddy and love you with all my heart.

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