Researching Planters

the planter is successfully repaired with some more paper and wheat paste

We’ve been working on paper planters for a while, but over the last couple of days I started experimenting with magnets as well. Ideally, these could work with having some rare earth magnets embedded in the paper. Still more research and development to be done, but I think it’s getting closer.

making a planter from paper, then adding a magnet, leaking water

The first step was to fill this paper planter, which was from one of our first experiments, with water and get a magnet on it.

making a planter from paper, then adding a magnet, leaking water

The paper got saturated pretty quickly and the water started leaking out of the bottom.

making a planter from paper, then adding a magnet

The paper mostly kept its shape, though the water certainly stretched it out.

making a planter from paper, then adding a magnet

This magnet was pretty strong, but definitely not a rare earth magnet. I think we need something stronger, or closer to the edge. Trying to get it to stick to the fridge through the paper seemed slightly precarious. Trying to remove the magnet tore the paper though.

making a planter from paper, then adding a magnet, then adding wheat paste

So I made some wheat paste and went to repairing the tear and tried to embed the magnet behind some paper.

the next morning, the wheat pasted planter is dry

It dried overnight and the next day it looked in good order.

then adding some soil

I added some soil, and then some water, and it still held—I had worried the weight might be too much.

then adding some seeds and water

Then I added some wildflower seeds. We’ll see how they do, they’re from last year.

not sure how long it will last with water

The paper got pretty saturated again.

already starting to stretch

The planter itself also started stretching. I hope it doesn’t rip, but I think the walls of the planter might need to be thicker. We’ll definitely be doing some more brainstorming tonight at Office Hours.

12 Replies to “Researching Planters”

  1. I’ve been wondering if you could embed a layer of a fairly open mesh fabric between layers of paper pulp and “outside” the magnet when you’re forming the pots. The rare earth magnets are a good plan as they’re strong in proportion to their sixe. I wonder if they’re available in the sheets you can get for backing things with magnetic material in crafting? Thin would be good! Princess Auto is a good source for a variety of very strong magnets, BTW.

    1. Yes we should be trying to figure out some way to strength the walls, embedding a mesh might be the way to go, though that inevitably raises the cost for making these… any ideas of a specific mesh to think about using?

      I think a major problem with this current test pot is the shape. It’s too round, it should be flatter with a wider back to better support the weight.

      I know I can get rare earth magnets from Lee Valley, but I’d be curious if there’s something even more readily available. So, good call with checking at Princess Auto!

      1. Something cheap! A bit of the cheapest drapery sheer Fabricland carries would go a long way. Cheesecloth would work; can’t recall which would be cheaper. Sheer’s wider but polyester; cheesecloth’s biodegradeable but not as wide. You’d have to figure and compare prices by the square inch (oops, centimetre).

  2. I’m still a bit confused about these since I’ve missed a few meetings. Not sure what the end result will be used in or where. if you could just get some cell packs from a nursery you could form pots in those and it would be so much faster and easier. you could mix some peat moss in with the paper too.

    1. We’ll try to get you caught up tonight … these still have a ways to go before perfection.

      Basic idea is to make planters that can be magnetically attached to any metal surface… we do need to figure out a way to make this process a bit faster.

  3. I guess I’m just wondering if it’s a planter, then it won’t be long before the soil falls through the planter from the moisture. Looking forward to asking more questions tonight. I have to do some photo documentation for leesa in her studio before BCL so i will be in there if i’m a bit late. going there at 6.

  4. You could strengthen the paper pulp a lot if you added some abaca fibre in the beating, but this would mean not using all recycled materials (if that matters). I might have some abaca halfstuff sheets up in the attic I could donate if you’re interested in trying it. Adding some sizing to your pulp bath would also make it stronger and would help it to be a bit more impervious to water. PVA glue will work fine for this and you don’t need too much, just a tablespoon or so per pound of fibre.

    1. Jodi,
      Thanks for that idea … if abaca fibre can strengthen the pulp, it will probably be worth adding. Of course, ideally we could use all recycled materials, but ultimately, it’s more important that this works. Good call with the glue too.

      If you do have some abaca in your attic, I’d like to take you up on your offer!

  5. Hey, i was just thinking you could even try something like reusing popsicle sticks to create a very basic frame for the planters and then pulp around the frame.. I haven’t actually tried it yet but I know there are definitely some strong magnets out there that could hold it up even with the weight of the soil and the sticks plus you’d be reusing something that’s normally just thrown away!! Anyway just thought I’d put that out there!

    Also I’m really interested in this community garden that you guys are putting together and I’d love to get involved in that. I’ll be in Windsor for most if not all of the summer so I’m definitely wanting to help out with your group. Plus I love gardening and I usually do it with my mom in the spring but since i’ll be staying here I hope I can join your crew!

    1. Talitha, Good idea with the popsicle sticks … I think we’re going to try reinforcing the pulp with some glue and other fibers, but I’m not sure if we’ll still need a frame.

      Yes! Awesome! Glad you’re on board for helping with the community garden. It’s going to be right in our neck of the woods … plus your gardening experience will be a huge bonus! Great that you’re in town for the summer!

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