Sunday, March 3, 2013

Building a Patchwork Greenhouse

This is a step by step process for how I created this patchwork greenhouse
to help inspire you to create your own from whatever treasures you are surrounded with
This spring I took on a rather large mission of building an old window greenhouse like I had been seeing on Pinterest.  We live on a hill with huge exposure so when it is windy it is crazy windy and unhardy plants have alot of problems growing.  Also we had nowhere to grow our seedings that was serious enough to keep them alive till they needed transplanting.

I had a garden off the side of my art room, seems so weird to look at this photo now, it feels like the greenhouse has been there forever

I built my greenhouse on the side so that it was one whole wall I didnt have to worry about making, also when it was a westerly the rain would drive up under this roof edge or leak at the top of the window, so that was going to have to be fixed anyway!
It took alot of weeding and transplanting to shift the treasures from this patch
I had found a lot of windows at the dump, the putty was so dry it chipped off without too much help, so I leant the art of puttying and I loved it, so peaceful and allowed me to be a perfectionist, love those opourtunities.
these windows we brought years ago at a garage sale but in a storm they blew over and SMASHED!!
what I found on trademe was a pack of 22 louvre windows which fit across one window in 3s, perfect! so these windows were fixed with 3 panel in each hole, because its a greenhouse this isnt a problem, the gaps that is
you can see the louvres here

I also collect bombay saphire bottles. the man at the dump keeps them for me, I have hundreds but have yet to even try it as a drink!
we spent the weekend measuring a putting in corner posts......snore....... cant stand this part but ohh so important!, at the bottom of the sides I used two planks to make some boxing, found some old bricks to put inside so there was 2cm gap on each side between boxing and brick
make sure your bombay bottle fits in perfectly so it will be flush with the internal boxing size
pour in concrete so it fills in the gap beside the bricks and then fills up the tough enough to start, start at one end and push the bombay bottles in so they sink till the whole next is under cement. Just the square sides should be showing so they are like bricks themselves and keep pushing them together side to side to close the gaps.
you may need to keep pulling the concrete to the completed side and adding more in the trough ready for more bottles, eventually it will look like this
you can then put in your framing to hold the window bottom and put in those window frames, I have one aluminium set down this end that will be able to open
little helpers on hand
on this side I put in the salvaged windows, the frame was a bit off as you can see, it needed help and seeing I was home alone and couldnt jam in a window and tilt a frame I got my MacGyver on
and backed the truck up to it, inch by inch
and it worked perfect!
arent brains amazing!
the windows are held in place bya piece of wood used as a frame hammered on both side top and bottom. SO the window is just sitting there but held in place by wood butted up against it, very strong
taking the wooden moulding off is so fun, voila! if you have issues with the cement not covering the bricks, thats ok, the garden will come up over that, otherwise plant something there
next is the sculpture corner, I never wanted a rectangular greenhouse, because of the wind I need the opening to be overlapped, so I made a sculpture on the end, chook mesh and wire into shape
mix up 'Dhaji' with cement, Dhajit is a sculpture mix on newspaper, clay, sand and its awesome!
the buckets of Dhajit were 8 years old and perfect, just a little green on top
so this is after the first coat, too much sculpture on and it will be too heavy and fall off, and that is a shocking sight, watching your work peel itself to death
while that dries for a day, put in your other windows
and voila, we are getting there
starting to look like something, very grubby though!
second and final coat on the sculpture pot, I could do this forever, such a lovely process
next I attack the floor, a whole day of weeding and transplanting takes place, the edges will all be gardens so I get to leave the edge plants
the sides have been made with 12mm tanilised plywood cut to 10cm high strips, they are held in place with kebabsticks for now
make sure the dirt is leaning away from the new wooden sides for now, kebab sticks are kinda weak, stamp down the dirt with a plank of wood so its really flat
time to lay down some weed mat.  I use a fabric mat which is felted rather than woven
cover in weed mat and then bring in buckets of sand, 12 for me to be exact
helps if you live on a sandhill like me!
so wwedmat was down and then you threw on the buckets of sand
next I salvaged some concrete paving from my family.  The thing with this paving is that it was poured on site so the base is no where near flat, I am just going to do the best I can
start at the door going in and smooth sand and lay pavers adding sand to wobbly bits, taking sand away from bulgy bits
and the you are done, give it a sweep off so all the sand is in the cracks
I had a lot of smashed up tiles from an earlier job, and heaps of glass fairy poos
use a stick to flatten down any really puffy bits of sand
I have left some pretty huge gaps in my floor with the intention of filling them in with colour, it makes the moziac crazy flooring job much easier if you have this in mind, can you see those kebab sticks?
now I cut a pillow case in half to use as a drop sheets of sorts, news paper would become soggy and heavy in secons so fabric is your best bet, line the side of gaps with fabric and pour in cement/sand mix with a really runny texture
and then lay in your tile by placing on top of cement and wiggling till it sinks to the same level
and this is the finished floor
I love it, colour colour colour
the centre has been left grout free about 30cm wide so any hose water has a chance to escape, also I plan to line the centre with pot plants and I dont want their run off pooling
so its off to the forest for moss
and we squish moss into the gaps, if it grows yay, if it dosent thats ok too
note the windows!! I refuse to wash them till the roof is on, kinda like a roof shout, it keeps me working, Im soooo desperate to clean them!
take the kebab sticks out that were holding the side up, the cement and pavers will do that now and I also used a kebab stick to work holes in the soft grout in the really lower pooling spots
some things I cant be arsed with so we had a builder friend come and do the roof with us, I just wanted to do more fun stuff, he has an amazing mind and you kinda need that when you try to work in with my stuff
so I spend the day inside moving the dirt in the garden edge beds into place and adding sheep poo
and sweeping up around that moss
we are working to a time limit, its gonna piss down at 2pm, work men work!
me and Miss Indi take to the louvre cupboard doors
painting them PURPLE!!!
the laser light goes in, we only brought 3 sheets, its really expensive and you dont want the whole roof clear, there needs to be some spaces for the colder plants or for seedlings to hide in the heat of summer
micky mouse framing, look at the poor angled corner I created! sheesh haha
old iron roofing, its feeling gooood in here
and then the roof is done
see the looming clouds, 1.45 and we are done and it suddenly rips down! timing, not like the weather people to be so right!
so I have me a roof, whats next
I get some plywood offcuts from kellys work and use them to clad the outside, looks good
now dont know if you saw but the triangle shapes above the side windows are empty and this is so I can try my hand at Leadlighting. 2 days of you tube tutorials, I buy some gera and glass and just dive in. Glass is an arsehole is the lesson I learnt day one, you must learn the way of the glass, it dosent care much for your ideas, work with it and not like your the boss! and all will be ok
patchwork glass work
I really enjoyed the copper foiling, another relaxing job
and we are ready to solder
so I sit outside all afternoon in the wind so the fumes fly away
I got some beautiful textured glasses
and used broken windows from yet more windy storms
and drum roll please
there is my first attempt
willy wonky?? its perfect because its the start of a journey which I loved
and looks beautiful inside
especially at sunrise
where there were huge gaps, I invented my own technique called laddering, lets the spiders enter easily haha
I use the same process for holding the window in place, ply wood strips screwed on either side of top and bottom to keep it jammed in place
love leadlighted fairy poo
and now for this end
I make a huge white window from old broken windows into a sunray pattern and use a leadlight disc I have had for years as the centre
next I make the benches, I use fence battens as framing, digging them into the ground and attaching them to the garden edging and the window frame
more 12mm plywood attached as the bench top
 planting time, peas

and so many summer seedlings
the benches are made so that there is room for plants underneath
there are those louvers to hold seeds and just to look good, this is my seed bench
the last window in the art room was broken (how original) by kicking cows and had always been boarded up
a job I had just finished working on had done up their bathroom in this white board wall stuff so I got to scab some offcuts, and voila the window is now replaced and is whiteboard for recording planting info
 info for all these seeds

I love this place
so there are fairy lights so I can water at night if I have had a busy day and didnt get home in time

or just wanna hang in the plant prettyness
the lavender is putting on a great show, it got to stay
seeds bench
I found a piece of driftwood on a special mission I took and I use it to tie strings to grow peas
did I mention its magic at night time
I love to collect old ceramics for my greenhouse, keeps it cute
ready for growth

glass drip feeders

I give the greenhouse its final stain, its a very dark green which kinda comes out black, afer a panic and ohh shit what have I done, I love it, and I painted the sculptured pot in purple and green too
here is my original day dream sketch
gotta have some sea horses
did I mention it was super nice at night?? ohh yeah sorry
so I have plenty of helpers, this one is Twinkle
growing basil
more seeds
close up of that end window
plenty of light
we now have eggplants
I made some shelves down the end from a pallet
tomato giant
more tomato and basil
so many eggplant
I also use the room to dry seeds and bird wings.  I use these in my art, every week someone is giving me a dead bird, this one is a kingfisher

and boom its all action now
another helper Louie

well looking at this it seemed like a lot of work, feels like more work to upload all this!! but each stage was so fun and complete that it was an amazing experience and to create it all from junk, wow that was cool.
costs were for clearlight roofing, wood framing and posts and cement, otherwise the rest was salvaged.
There are so many ways to do one of these you can make anything work for you.
Hope you enjoyed my instructions, and please ask any questions you have

enjoy your own dreams coming true



  1. Wow.. this is amazing. Thank you for sharing the journey of your greenhouse. What an inspiration you are. I think it is beautiful, really beautiful. And I love the bird wing, so precious.x

  2. Sheree, you are an inspiration, it's utterly gorgeous, and all the more so because you designed and built it yourself, and recycled and reused and made beautiful things out of stuff other people throw away. You're my hero (and hubby was hanging over my shoulder while I read this and he's seriously impressed too!) We will get there, it has to be this year, for our little patch of country green far from traffic and low flying planes. I can't wait!

  3. Wow Sheree... that is wonderful! It is so beautiful and I love how you were creative in the process putting in all your salvaged bits, making it not only gorgeous, special and artsy but affordable and environmentally friendly. I hope you are super proud of your self! And just think of the goodies you will be eating! Lovely! Super well done!!!

  4. Thanks for sharing your process for your OOAK greenhouse. Love all the heart you put into it. I'd love to do something like this but here in the suburbs they have all kinds of restrictions and it would never meet code.

  5. thanks for the journey, wow! so beautiful x

  6. Seeing that little daydream sketch to full blown reality is just so awesome!
    All the beautiful creative touches (love the floor and the leaded glass!) and all the glorious veggies and beautiful flowers that now grow happily's just so cool!!

  7. Happy Birthday, Sheree! I hope you have a wonderful day. :) May you are even celebrating in that lovely greenhouse. I so enjoyed seeing how it came into being -- truly magical!


  8. We are inspired! And as a potter, I'm sure I'll be donating lots of pretty shards to the effort.

  9. This is utterly beautiful! All of it :) just gorgeous. Well done!

  10. gosh, i don't remember how i got here, if you visited one of my two blogs or i clicked on a link. BUT how wonderful to see how you created this. I love the photos of you working on the corner pot, you look like you are dressed for a party ;-)

    love those blue bottles, i wonder what you will think of the drink if you ever try it.

    i love what the wind inspired you to create! you are quite creative too.

    your photo of seeds in the dirt is fab

    love the name: Twinkle
    purple paint, fun
    colors mixed in the wonder-full floor

    such a joy to see your creation.
    and thank you for sharing.

  11. oh my, I had to comment and tell you just how inspiring I found this post. Your work is delightful. I absolutely ADORE your glass work xxxx

  12. Wow...this has been an amazing project for you all. It looks so fabulous!
    Just passing through blog land, thinking of you. I wasn't able to participate in Vanessa Valencia's 'A Fanciful Twist's Mad Tea Party on her blog in July. (She is taking a short sabatical of sorts for a month or so). And Lisa of 'A Whimsical Bohemian' hasn't yet mentioned any kind of a date for the 'Our World Our Art' event which she hosts. It is going to be different than her 'One World One Art' event which she held for five years running, more for the kindred spirit artists around the world, not just an 'eye-candy' giveaway event, although she does want artists to make something they normally create to giveaway.
    Anyway, I guess you are just about going into your spring weather, while here in the states, we are going into our fall season.
    Have a blessed rest of the week.
    Teresa in California

  13. What a beautiful, soulful space you've created!!


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