Monday, April 16, 2018

Painted Garden Mini Marker Plant Labels with Cricut Lettering

My pretty painted garden large labels created for the fruit trees, shrubs, and berries were so nice that I couldn't resist trying a mini marker version.  My hodge podge of chicken scratched plain popsicle sticks (weathered and faded to unreadable) and nursery labels looked so terrible sad by comparison in the veggie garden. 

To make your own similar tags, you will need a cutter, vinyl (outdoor is best suited), tools, and transfer tape, Popsicle sticks, and suitable paint or clear coat protector.  Scrap materials to protect your surfaces whilst painting are always handy, too! I used a box as my "paint booth". :)  Instead of using the sticks plain or with a protective clear coat, as with my large plant labels, I opted for white on grey. The grey is similar to our house trim but also blends beautifully into the garden.  

If you don't have a computer-controlled cutter or feel like doing something different you can also make markers using stickers, adapt our painted plant label DIY with smaller stencils, or freehand (in which case, you are awesome - my painting wouldn't make the cut!). It used to drive me crazy when DIY posts only suited people with cutting machines, so even though I am now a very happy Cricut owner, I will still try to ensure that the DIY posts we share here on our blog have variations that work for people crafting without cutters.

  • Prepare Popsicle-style wooden sticks or alternative marker base of a suitable size by painting or clear coating to protect from water/weather damage (optional, but recommended for longevity). Follow the instructions and safety precautions for your chosen product and allow to dry thoroughly before adding lettering. 
  • Create your lettering. I used Adobe InDesign to make mine and imported it as a single image (easy to size perfectly), but you can easily import from another program as a .jpg or .png (example here), or just create the typography directly in Cricut Design Space (example here). 
  • If using custom vinyl to create your template, ensuring the text size if suited to the sticks, cut on the machine then separate to weed the excess material away from the text template. Patience...  Tips: The smaller the stick, the trickier the cutting and weeding of the lettering will be..  I used small popsicle sticks (roughly 1cm wide) as these were what I had in my garden supplies and a cursive font to assist weeding, but it was still VERY fiddly work!  If doing again (and I probably will), I would use larger sticks to allow larger lettering. 
  • Transfer the text onto your prepared sticks. 
    • If the wording weeds cleanly, use your preferred transfer tape (I use clear peel and stick laminate instead) to transfer the templates onto the prepared sticks. 
    • If the wording lifts from the backing during weeding, it can be carefully positioned manually onto the prepared sticks (as shown in the collage above). 
  • Rub to burnish firmly into place to avoid lifting or bleeding. If you have positioned manually instead of with transfer tape, cover with a thin protective layer (e.g. baking paper, plastic bag, or similar) to help protect the vinyl before rubbing and be sure to burnish well. 
  • Optional: If you have used non-outdoor vinyl or want to add extra protection, you can add a layer of compatible clear protective topcoat, if you wish. Allow to dry thoroughly before use.  Lesson learned: A few of my pieces weren't firmly burnished into place and the edges lifted slightly when the top coat was applied/dried. I recoated these markers for extra weather seal and protection but would be more diligent in my application next time around. 

I LOVE the look of the finished markers and the way they help the whole garden tie together and in with the house, but it was trickier than expected hence the addition of my tips and lessons learned above.   I definitely think I will use this technique again in the new garden, at least for marking smaller perennial plantings if not the whole garden, but with wider sticks to make things a little easier and extra care in burnishing.

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