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My Vision of Mr. Turtle

Growing up, I could always hear my Dad saying “What’s it going to be when it’s done?” whenever I started a new project. Those words have stuck with me over the years, reminding me always to have a clear vision of what I want to achieve and to see things through to completion. It has taught me the importance of perseverance, patience, and determination in reaching my dreams and creating my visions. Even though he isn’t here anymore, I can just see him smiling when I make stuff. So here we go again Dad, playing in the mud and turning it into art.

On occasion we see a big old snapping turtle walking across the backyard. My son Matt named him Mr. Turtle. I love making things if you haven’t noticed and had a vision of what Mr. Turtle would look like as a planter. He would look really cool with some of those low-growing succulents in his shell. Ok, let’s go with it and see how we can make Mr. Turtle into a succulent planter for the backyard.

I went to the dollar store and found this plastic bowl and a small plastic flower pot, perfect! I can see this will work to make the shell. So I put the flower pot upside down in the bowl and filled it with cement. I use Cement-All quick-drying cement for my garden projects. It dries pretty quickly, which means you need to work fast but it is very smooth and easy to paint. It was a nice day out too, so that helped the cement cure pretty quick.

Dollar store items for the shell

The cement shell curing

Next, I took the cement out of the bowl, mixed a little more cement, and used some packing foam I had saved knowing that I would have a use for it someday. I wrapped some painter’s tape to make three tubes and poured the cement in the hole to make the bottom. The three tubes will be the drain holes. Not so bad so far. Waited for that to dry and the next thing was to form Mr. Turtle’s feet, head, and tail.

Wireframes for the feet, tail, and head

Foam tubes for drain holes

I used some copper wire and attached it to the bottom of the planter and added another small layer of cement to anchor them. These would be the anchors and also the forms to build the feet, tail, and head. I did a little trial and error here. I started with a baggie filled with cement for the head, it was a little sloppy. So I ended up making the cement almost like clay and molded them by hand. I mixed small amounts and built layers. It took a little time but once it was done, it was worth it. I used my thumb to form Mr. Turtle’s mouth. Now I would let him thoroughly dry.

 

I let him dry for a couple of days and ran some sandpaper over the rough edges. Now time for the paint. I went with greens, yellows, and browns. After he was dry, he looked a little dark, so I went back over the shell lines with gold metallic to make it pop and added some lighter green and yellow to the shell blocks. I know turtles don’t have blue eyes, but I wanted his eyes to stand out.

 

Time to dry!

The first paint job was a little dark

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I went to Lowes and bought some cactus soil, sand, and some succulents. I placed a small screen over the drain holes so the dirt would come out, filled the shell with dirt, planted my succulents and there was my vision of the Mr. Turtle planter. Now he sits on my back deck making me smile. I really love the way he turned out. All you need is a little imagination and of course some cement!

 

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