I’m really excited about this project because it involves two things I love: air plants and armature wire. Air plants are fantastic if you travel a lot or don’t have a green thumb. They’re also great if you used to have a green thumb (that was me), but find yourself short on time for plant maintenance these days.
Then there is armature wire. Have you ever used armature wire? If you have, then you already know how great it is. If not, well, prepare yourself for a whole new universe of making possibilities.
More about air plants
First, let’s chat a little bit about air plants. Not surprisingly, air plants thrive in humid climates, like jungles. Also not surprisingly, harvesting enough in the wild to meet the world’s demand for air plants will quickly push them to extinction. It will also damage the jungles. That’s why it’s really important to make sure your air plants are sustainably-grown on a farm.
While they won’t ask much from you, air plants do require a weekly misting. I’ve been able to extend this to bi-weekly (oops!) sometimes, too. They also need air circulating around both the leaves and the roots. I tried sticking one of mine in a vase (just the roots), and it started developing brown spots within days. This is why armature wire makes perfect holders for them.
The many wonders of armature wire
Armature wire really is amazing stuff. It’s made from an aluminium alloy, so it won’t discolor or degrade when exposed to air or water. This is great because your air plants need both. You can bend it into any shape, and cut it with wire cutters. It will also flatten if you hit it with a hammer or squeeze it in a vice.
Most art stores, and some larger craft stores, carry armature wire in a variety of sizes. Here I have some that is small enough to string beads, and some that is nearly 1/4″ diameter:
What you need to make air plant holders
- Armature wire in whatever size(s) you like
- Needle-nose pliers with wire cutter
- Jewelry pliers, if using small gauge wire
- Small piece of scrap fabric
- Metal file
- Accessories like beads or stones (optional)
How to make an artistic air plant holder
The first thing you want to decide is how you want to mount your air plant holder. If it’s going to sit on something, like a bookshelf, then you need to make a wide base. If it’s going to hang on a wall or from the ceiling, then it will need a loop for the hook or string.
Tabletop air plant holders
I have one air plant that is pretty large, so I decided to make a holder for it that would sit on a table. Because it’s also kind of heavy, I decided to use the larger armature wire. The end was a little sharp, so I smoothed it with a metal file first:
Now for the fun part! This is where you get to bend the wire any way you like to make an artistic air plant holder. Don’t know where to start? The base is a good place. You can make any shape you like, but for smooth curves, using a form sometimes helps. I figured that the base for my larger air plant would need to be a few inches in diameter. This glass bottle made a perfect form for the base:
Normally, I like to wait to cut the wire until after I have the basic design and know about how much I will need. The bottle and the coil of wire were a little difficult to work with, though. This time, after I wrapped the wire around the bottle for the base, I cut the wire. You can do this with wire cutters:
Just keep squeezing the wire cutters until they cut all the way through.
Without the coil in the way, it was much easier to wind the other end of the wire around the top of the bottle:
I bent the top of the air plant holder into two different curves: one for the base of the plant, and one to support it:
Here’s how it looks with the plant from the back:
and from the front:
Wall-mounted air plant holders
You can use the same techniques to make a wall-mounted air plant holder, but this time, start by considering how you want to hang it. I made a really small one just by twisting the armature wire with pliers. To avoid making marks in the soft wire, fold a piece of scrap cloth (this one is from the beeswax wraps) a few times, then put it between the pliers and the wire:
Another great thing about armature wire is that you can bend it many times before the metal fatigues and breaks. I kept bending this one until I got a 90 degree angle, and a circle that would fit my plant:
After I hung it up, I decided to add a few embellishments. For this I used armature wire that was thin enough to string beads. I put a few on the wire, then twisted it into a spiral. Then I twisted the thin wire around the thicker armature wire to keep it in place:
How to keep beads in place
To keep the beads from sliding to the bottom of the spiral, thread the beads onto the wire. Then make a small kink where you want the first bead to sit:
Thread the bead over the kink, then do the same for the next bead. You can see the kink through the inside of the clear bead here:
Other fun designs
You can do so many fun things with armature wire. Because it withstands lots of bending, sometimes it’s fun just to play around. For this one, I took the coil of medium-size wire and just made spirals. Of course you still need to secure the plant and attach it to the wall:
Voila! Artistic air plant holder.
For a different look, you can also use copper wire. Depending upon the purity of the copper and what was added to it, like nickle, the color will change a bit over time. The good news is that it won’t disintegrate when you mist the plant.
For this one, I used 14 AWG wire that I got from a catalog:
I like how the red from the plant and the copper play together. I also like how the plant’s leaves spiral. That helped me decide on the spiral design.
Caring for your air plants
One thing you want to consider with your air plant holders is how you will water the plants. I definitely don’t want to spray the wall with water every week. By wrapping the wire securely around the base of the plant, I can move the holders with the plants. That means I can hang the plants in the shower while they are misted, then let them drip-dry.
For more about caring for air plants, check out this article.
I hope you have fun with armature wire and your artistic air plant holder. Now that you know how much fun it is to work with, what will you do with the leftover wire? Send photos and let us know!
As always, feel free to ask questions or leave comments. Don’t forget to subscribe to Creatorvox to get new posts right in your email. You can also follow Creatorvox on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more tips and tricks between posts. Thanks for reading, and happy making!