September 6, 2011

The secret garden that I built

Our story begins, Blog and dear readers, three weeks ago when Davie, my uberpal Martha, and I traveled to Cedarburg, Wis. to dine and shop. While exploring the clearance tables inside the Settlement Shops, I came upon a plaque with a crazy, fancy doorknob affixed thereto.

Something about this doorknob, aside from the greatly discounted price of $15, attracted me.

I went back to look at it twice, and the situation brought to my mind the old adage, "No matter how fancy, a doorknob is only good if you have some use for it." Well, there is no such adage, but it's still true. I knew I should only get the doorknob if I had a purpose for it. It was fastened to the plaque with a bolt, washer and nut, easy enough to remove. But then what?
On my third stop at the clearance table, all at once, I had a vision... I told my companions, "I'm going to get this doorknob. I know what to do with it, and it's going to be awesome."

And, as you can see, it is. I call this shadow box "The Secret Garden."

In fact, this summer I read the book The Secret Garden and thought it was fascinating. There's something enchanting about the concept of a hidden place where beautiful things grow. Perhaps the book was bobbing around in my subconcious as I stared at the bargain table. For in my mind's eye I saw that doorknob floating in space, as such a magical looking doorknob would, and beyond it a mystical, lovely place...yes, why not a garden? And that idea turned into a shadow box, with the doorknob mounted right on the glass, and little plants and treasures within. I could do it....

As it turned out, Blog, I did do it, largely with items I had on hand at home.  All I needed was the frame (bought on sale at Michaels for $11) and some silk and plastic plants (another $15 at Michaels on sale, with tons of leftovers). There was only one hitch:

I was really worried about drilling a hole in a piece of glass.  Especially unremovable glass, which if cracked would cost me the entire frame.

I researched like crazy how to drill though glass. I even watched videos. The trick was to build a little ring of clay (of which, as you know, Blog, I have tons) around the drilling spot and fill it with water. And to use a diamond bit in your Dremel tool (check and check). And to go very slowly. It all went off like a charm...I had a perfect hole in my glass!

So, it's fairly obvious where I went from there:  Screwing on the doorknob, filling my shadow box with plants, moss, faux grass and polymer clay rocks for a path, and driftwood, all held in place with styrofoam, wire, electrical tape, and fabric glue. (The box is a couple inches deep; you can't see the little incline at the bottom, but the stone path really goes uphill.) I hung the secret key to the secret garden with a tiny ribbon from the foliage. Ta-da.....?

But wait--there's more!

Look inside the keyhole...look close...closer....what do you see?

Inside there is a tiny garden, with a path continuing on, and trees and plants!

What's the secret to the secret garden in my secret garden? I found a perfect photo of a garden path, reduced it to the proper size, printed it, and mounted in the shadow box behind the keyhole.

Meanwhile, I took apart one of those LED votive candles to expose the little light bulb, and strategically mounted it to light the photo without showing (no easy feat). The candle creates just enough light, with a mysterious flicker. By daylight, you can see the picture okay even without the lamp on.

I do believe, at least according to my Web searches, that this Secret Garden Shadow Box is the first of its kind.

And that, my friends, is what I saw in my head that told me to go ahead and buy the doorknob.


  1. Amazing! The tiny garden seen through the keyhole is a particularly imaginative touch!

  2. Thanks, Jennie! I love to just look in there...and wish it were real!