Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Steel Magnolias

Yes, yes.  I know.  It's been an age since I've blogged.  It's simply because I haven't made anything so I've had nothing to say

So, since I am writing a new post that must means I have finally made something!  Yea!  It has nothing to do with quilts and fabric though.

A few weeks ago was my 11th wedding anniversary to the lovely and wonderful Brioni, aka Flossyblossy.  It's been a truly amazing time and the best years of my life. 


 To be honest though, I had been getting a bit slack in the husbandy department and had been blowing off recent anniversaries.  This year I decided to make an effort.  First was a dinner out at an amazing Thai restaurant.  I picked Thai since we spent out honeymoon and 1st and 3rd anniversary in Thailand.  The problem was I had no idea what to buy her.  The traditional gift for the 11th is steel.  Steel?  Seriously?  All I found online were naff stainless steel photo frames and things.  Totally NOT what I was looking for.  I did see some nice flower vases and that gave me an idea... Steel Flowers!

The idea formed quickly in my head.  The first thing I needed was old fashioned tap handles.  I couldn't find any in the UK so had to source them from the States.  After an age this is what I got:

I bought 12 of them.  The top and bottom both looked very cool but I preferred the bottom shown in the left picture.  Next I needed to source the leaves and stems. 

It turns out I had this amazing 2mm copper sheet from years back.  It is mirror polished on one side and had a cool patina on the other.  This was perfect for the leaves since over time they should turn greenish like copper always does.

I took the sheet down to my cellar workspace.  It's quite a tip as you can see.

I bought 8mm steel rods from B&Q and cut them down to size with a hack saw.  I didn't want them completely uniform so they were random lengths between 460mm and 490mm.  

I also started cutting the copper with tin snips.  These were also fairly random with some having three "leaves" and some four.

 Next I had to drill and tap the ends of the stems.  When drilling steel it is best to start with a small pilot hole and then go bigger.  I started with a 1mm bit and moved to a 3.5mm bit for a 4mm threaded hole.  A tap (which I forgot to take a picture of) is like a drill bit but it has cutting threads which carve the grooves to accept a screw inside of a hole.

While this was going on I was painting the tap heads, washers, and screws.

The final coat was done outside in the sun to give the paint a bit of a bake.

By this time the project was about 6 weeks old.  It took nearly three to source everything and three more to get to this point.  I took advantage of Brioni being away at the Fat Quarterly sewing retreat to finally finish off the assembly.

I still hadn't decided which way up I wanted the tap handle so I tried one of each.

Much to my surprise the washer fit perfectly in the center of the tap when it was right way up.  I hadn't intended to do them this way but looking at it I absolutely had to.  Let the assembly begin!

 After they were all assembled they went into this lovely wood vase I bought. 

I'm happy to report the Brioni absolutely loved them!


  1. Awww - what a fab gift! I wish my hubby was creative and thought outside the box like that!!! Well done you! And why weren't you at retreat!!???

    1. Thanks! :)

      I wasn't at the retreat because I was on boy watch. We didn't feel quite ready to leave him with the Grandparents over night yet. I'm sure he would have been fine but we wouldn't have been! I'll definitely be there next year though.

  2. Err WOW!! I spent some time talking to Brioni in the bar on Friday night and she is lovely. For some reason she wouldn't reveal what kind of website you to met on though... ;-)

  3. Those flowers are fabulous! Such a good idea to use taps to make them. Brioni is so lovely and very lucky!

  4. you totally rock. they're awesome! very happy anniversary to you both. x

  5. They are awesome! And just perfect and quirky to suit you both x

  6. These are such an amazing gift - so much thought went into it

  7. Your bouquet is out of this world! I hope your wife loves it!

  8. Oh you ROCK ! A gift that lasts and is unique , and you designed it, you put LOVE into it :)

  9. Love the idea. I try and find something unique for my grandsons to make for their mommy's grave and this will be perfect and lasting. Thanks for sharing

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