DIY Weddings

Help needed: securing a pole

wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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I have been working on @wabanzi's kusudama flower topiaries for months. I've got one completed and am putting the finishing touches on another. I love the look and am super-excited except for one glaring issue: the damn stick.

I have been using a wooden dowel to keep the topiary up. I originally secured it in a cheap bucket with plaster of paris, planning to later place it in a pretty planter with some fake moss something like that.

As I've been working on it, the plaster of paris has begun to crumble and the poles keep popping out  whenever someone moves them. More importantly, the poles aren't straight. This is driving me crazy.

How would you secure a stick in a long stick in a planter or bucket? I'd use cement or try plaster of paris again but they dry slowly and I could never get them to stay straight and even.

Any ideas?
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Re: Help needed: securing a pole

  • beetherybeethery So sayeth the fuckin' Pope. member
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    Can you put a picture up so I can see what you're talking about. I think I understand what you mean but I want to make sure.

    I can suggest an option once I make sure I'm not making something up in my head lol
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    Sorry- I don't have photos with me (of course!) so I was hoping her tutorial would help.

    I'm struggling to find photos beyond that. In the meantime, to better describe:

    I have a smaller plastic buckets (handles ripped off) that I poured plaster of paris into. Before it tried, I secured a wodden dowel into the middle of each. I used a level to ensure they were straight then put a milk crate over it to ensure that it didn't sway too much while drying. It did, so now the dowels are slightly angled and it looks odd.

    I wanted to use floral foam to hold it in place at the bottom but I didn't think it would be sturdy enough to hold up the weight of the big ball of paper flowers. Perhaps I could use that to keep it straight then add weight from plaster or paris or cement on top of it?

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  • beetherybeethery So sayeth the fuckin' Pope. member
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    HMMMMMMMMM. Cement on top of the foam could definitely stabilize it and weigh it down.

    Alright. This advice is either great or crap depending on how big the buckets are.

    You could get one of these (click) and drop it in the pot. Put some floral foam in the middle, and then shove the dowel in. If you cut a solid chunk of foam that fights super tight in the block, the block might make it more stable. Then you could cover the whole thing with rocks or something.

    OR, you could cut circular holes in the bottoms of the buckets, put some rocks in a pile (with space in the middle), put the bucket upside down over the little rock piles and then shove the dowel through.



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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    That cement block would definitely be easier than trying to find a block of floral foam big enough. I can't tell from the picture though- are they hollow all the way through? Assuming they are but can't tell. It's too big for my planter but hopefully I could find something smaller. Oddly, they aren't available anywhere near me so I'd need to check somewhere else.

    I don't care about the buckets themselves, I just want to fit it in my 7.5" planters (and only because the planters were stupid expensive and I lost the receipt). The thought behind the planters was that it would be easier to move them around and hide any ugly mistakes.
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  • Honestly, I think your best bet is cement. You'd end up with a ton leftover, but I would just buy a bag of quikrete from home depot and follow the instructions on a smaller scale for whatever your containers are.

    If you don't want to hold it for hours, make a cross with two leftover dowels and lay the cross across the top of your container. Secure the topiary stick to a crutch of the cross. Move the cross with the attached topiary stick until you have it where you want it. Then secure the ends of the cross to the sides of your container. Does that make sense?
    *********************************************************************************

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  • I'd use full-fledged styrofoam in your buckets rather than the floral foam that crumbles. Then cover with pebbles to weight it down and look pretty.

    Get this block, cut it into six 6x6x2 bricks. Stack 2 bricks on top of each other so it's 6x6x4 and nice and sturdy. Spear your dowel through, being careful to be level because you've only got one shot at it, shove it in the pot, pour in the pebbles.


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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    These all sound like good ideas! Now I'm even more confused about how to approach this!

    Thank you all!
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  • I used plaster of paris in mine and they are still holding, very sturdy.  If yours is crumbling, you used too much water in your plaster mix.   

    Now to get them level.  Basically, I didn't even try (ha ha).  I suck at leveling.  So, I mixed up the plaster in much smaller containers (ugly old plastic pots) that would fit into the nicer ones that I wanted to use with about 2 inches to spare on the sides and would sit at least 4" from the top. The containers I used were small--about the size of peanut butter jars--that is all the weight you need and with the right mix of plaster, they will not budge or tip out of that.  Cement will work just as well.

     Then I took the small containers with poles in the plaster (after it had set) and placed them inside the bigger ones.  Here is the trick--put some sand in the larger container and then sit the smaller one in on the sand, adjust the sand as needed or just wiggle it around so the pole is level (plumb).  Fill up the rest of the nice container with sand so the smaller one is completely covered.  All you will see is the straight pole.  Decorate with covering/moss.  

    Anyway, hope that helps.  I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of that part of the process in my tutorial --I really should have.
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  • What Wabanzi said. Plaster of Paris should not even be crumbling. I'd try another batch. So much easier to deal with than concrete.
  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    wabanzi said:

    I used plaster of paris in mine and they are still holding, very sturdy.  If yours is crumbling, you used too much water in your plaster mix.   


    Now to get them level.  Basically, I didn't even try (ha ha).  I suck at leveling.  So, I mixed up the plaster in much smaller containers (ugly old plastic pots) that would fit into the nicer ones that I wanted to use with about 2 inches to spare on the sides and would sit at least 4" from the top. The containers I used were small--about the size of peanut butter jars--that is all the weight you need and with the right mix of plaster, they will not budge or tip out of that.  Cement will work just as well.

     Then I took the small containers with poles in the plaster (after it had set) and placed them inside the bigger ones.  Here is the trick--put some sand in the larger container and then sit the smaller one in on the sand, adjust the sand as needed or just wiggle it around so the pole is level (plumb).  Fill up the rest of the nice container with sand so the smaller one is completely covered.  All you will see is the straight pole.  Decorate with covering/moss.  

    Anyway, hope that helps.  I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of that part of the process in my tutorial --I really should have.
    Thanks, @wabanzi‌ - I haven't seen you lately so I assumed you were gone! I think I also assumed that this was embarrassingly simple!

    It sounds like plaster of Paris is the way to go. I followed the instructions on the package exactly so I'm wondering if I bought a crappy brand. Maybe it's time to upgrade from the walmart clearance section!

    Now I know my plan for after work today. Thank you all!
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  • Now that the problem has been resolved.. I just needed to share. The title made me think this was a question about the honeymoon. Hehe. Thank you for making me smile this morning. :)
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  • beetherybeethery So sayeth the fuckin' Pope. member
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    vh2014 said:
    Now that the problem has been resolved.. I just needed to share. The title made me think this was a question about the honeymoon. Hehe. Thank you for making me smile this morning. :)
    LOL somewhat the same! My first thought when I saw the title was, "Oh shit girl you need a stud finder and some measuring tape. WE CAN DO THIS." But it ended up being totally different!
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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    I actually worried about that after posting it but thought I just had a filthy mind!

    BTW- the kits for in-home poles are actually relatively easy to install. The key is to have good surfaces to connect to-- many ceilings aren't strong enough to support without extra support. And I have to admit that I kinda love that I know this!
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  • beetherybeethery So sayeth the fuckin' Pope. member
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    For real, they are seriously amazing. It is extra amazing how quickly you can take those suckers down, pack them up, and put them in the hall closet when you find out that FI's grandma has decided to come by.
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    wandajune6
  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    @beethery, once again, I'm crushing on you very hard.

    Sadly, I don't have one of my own. I just got to help my friend install hers. I wish I had the upper body strength for that!
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  • beetherybeethery So sayeth the fuckin' Pope. member
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    I am lacking in the upper body strength now but it's coming back. Unfortunately you have to work at it. SIGH :/
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    I'm the fuck out.

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  • Glad it wasn't just me... @beethery you literally made me LOL... and it's quiet in the office today. OOOPs.  
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  • I used plaster of paris in mine and they are still holding, very sturdy.  If yours is crumbling, you used too much water in your plaster mix.   

    Now to get them level.  Basically, I didn't even try (ha ha).  I suck at leveling.  So, I mixed up the plaster in much smaller containers (ugly old plastic pots) that would fit into the nicer ones that I wanted to use with about 2 inches to spare on the sides and would sit at least 4" from the top. The containers I used were small--about the size of peanut butter jars--that is all the weight you need and with the right mix of plaster, they will not budge or tip out of that.  Cement will work just as well.

     Then I took the small containers with poles in the plaster (after it had set) and placed them inside the bigger ones.  Here is the trick--put some sand in the larger container and then sit the smaller one in on the sand, adjust the sand as needed or just wiggle it around so the pole is level (plumb).  Fill up the rest of the nice container with sand so the smaller one is completely covered.  All you will see is the straight pole.  Decorate with covering/moss.  

    Anyway, hope that helps.  I'm sorry I didn't take pictures of that part of the process in my tutorial --I really should have.
    Thanks, @wabanzi‌ - I haven't seen you lately so I assumed you were gone! I think I also assumed that this was embarrassingly simple! It sounds like plaster of Paris is the way to go. I followed the instructions on the package exactly so I'm wondering if I bought a crappy brand. Maybe it's time to upgrade from the walmart clearance section! Now I know my plan for after work today. Thank you all!
    Still sort of around.  I have been running some ads for my wedding stuff so I check in every so often just in case.  But yep, project wedding is over, onto other life things :-)  

    I'm sure your topiaries will be fantastic.


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  • wandajune6wandajune6 Chicago-ish member
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    I haven't seen any of your ads for wedding stuff- just something pretty old. Good luck!
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