String beads and broken china to make a pot necklace

Yesterday I opened a storage box and found this terracotta olla adorned with a bead-and-broken-china necklace I’d made for it about 7 years ago. Stowed away at some point, probably during our move, it was forgotten. I decided it would look good sitting amid the winter-browned inland sea oats (Chasmanthium latifolium), so I positioned a remnant cedar post for a pedestal and set the olla on top. It looks so pretty, with its colorful necklace adding sparkle to the winter garden, that I thought you might like to learn how to dress up your own pot.

First, credit where due. I keep an idea file of tear-outs from magazines, and in March 2005 I added an article from Better Homes & Gardens about water-wise gardening. It featured the San Diego garden of author Debra Lee Baldwin, and one of the photos showed an earthenware pot with a bead-and-china necklace she’d made for it. A helpful sidebar explained her method.

Over the years, I’ve saved a few broken dishes and bowls in case the mosaic-making bug ever bit me. One of these bowls, accidentally broken, made up the pile. I collected the pieces and broke the larger shards into 1-inch bits by wrapping them in newspaper and tapping them with a hammer.

I ignored Debra’s instructions to sand the broken edges; I just wasn’t that concerned about getting cut by a pot that was going to sit out in the garden. The rest of her instructions I followed to the letter. 1. I found a pot with an indented “neck” for the necklace to go around. 2. I wrapped copper wire around each piece of the broken bowl, leaving a couple inches of extra wire hanging in order to attach it to the necklace. 3. I measured the diameter of the pot’s circumference (the “neck” portion) and cut a length of thin copper wire that was 3 inches longer. 4. Using blue and red beads, I strung the copper wire, attaching a piece of the bowl every inch or so. 5. When complete, I wrapped the necklace around the neck of the pot and twisted the ends of the copper wire together to secure it. Then I tucked the twisted wire under the beaded necklace to hide it.

And that’s it. You could use other decorative objects to make a pot necklace, like weatherproof charms or milagros, seashells, or, for a large pot, copper plant tags with your wishes written on them. Showcase a small collection this way, or just see what you have lying around the house that you could use to adorn your own pot.

An interesting sidenote: I had no idea who Debra was in 2005, when I read the article about her garden in BH&G. I’ve since read and reviewed her books Succulent Container Gardens and Designing with Succulents. I also follow her at Gardening Gone Wild, where she’s a regular contributor. In a May 2010 post at Gardening Gone Wild, she wrote about that BH&G photo shoot and mentioned the pot necklace, which of course reminded me of the article I’d saved that inspired my own pot-necklace project all those years ago. Small (gardening) world, eh?

All material © 2006-2013 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

15 Responses

  1. I like the idea of giving my pots some jewelry from time to time.

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh my gosh, what fun this will be. I have a whole birdseed bag full of broken pottery. I have saved this thinking I will do a mosaic top for a table or something else artsy. This looks like something so easy and fun. I am also a collector (hoarder) of beads. I can see a fun project for a long winter’s day. Thanks for sharing.

  3. gail says:

    I am inspired! I’m taking two ideas~the necklace for a container and a better storage system for my tear sheets! Believe it or not (if you know me it’s believable) my tear sheets are just in a manila folder! But, I digress, I love the jewelry adorned container and have plenty of pottery bits and pieces from my mosaic shed. Thanks Pam for sharing your fab creation inspired by Debra Lee Baldwin’s. gail

  4. Shirley says:

    Very pretty, that looks so good in your garden. It’s fun to change things around. That is an inspiring project. I’ll have to look for something similar.

  5. Leslie says:

    I love that Pam! Perfect time for a garden project that can be done indoors.

  6. Rachelle says:

    Wonderful idea to add some color to a clay pot, or just dress a pot with a non-blooming green plant! AND a great winter project!

  7. cheryl says:

    that’s wonderful! I can’t wait to try my hand at pot jewelry!
    (No, not THAT kind of pot!) haha. Its simply lovely Pam. Thank you for sharing!

  8. Alison says:

    I am always up for doing some garden decorating! I love this, the colors are perfect! Thanks for sharing how you made it.

  9. That looks so colorful – I just love it! Thanks for sharing :) Have you decided what you are going to plant in it yet?

    I’m going to leave it unplanted, Heather. It’s not a frost-proof pot, and anyway I like the simplicity of it just sitting in the garden. :-) —Pam

  10. This looks like a good project to try.
    Add interest to the garden with something the deer won’t eat.

  11. jenny says:

    I have a pot that would benefit from a necklace like that. Just another to do project on the list.

  12. Lost Roses says:

    Great idea, Pam, thanks for sharing it! I’ve been saving broken ceramic too but I wasn’t quite sure what for. Now I know!

  13. Claire says:

    I love this idea, I can think of several ways to adapt it, could have a range of co-ordinated accessories dotted about the garden.

  14. Wow. That’s really pretty. I didn’t know you were hiding that homey-crafty gene from us. That’s a very cool idea.

  15. How cool is that? Wish I’d been creative enough to do this when a friend broke one of my large Claudia Reese platters years ago! I gave the shards to someone else for a mosaic.