Clear, acrylic file holders, normally seen on office walls, can be turned into some fabulous planters, zen gardens and other wall decor. Not only are they inexpensive, but they’re unique and easy to find – even at yard sales. Find them online at auctions, too, or just purchase them from an office supply store. Wherever you purchase them make sure the acrylic is scratch-free.
The file holders often have holes in the bottom; check for this and try to find ones without the holes. If you can only find the ones with holes, cover the bottom with foil, paper towels, sponge, or even styrene, then proceed with your creation. The file holders also have another design flaw – that is for making planters – they have no back. In an office setting, the file holders are screwed directly to the wall, with the wall serving as the backing. You can do the same with your planter, but it’s best if you attach a backing, such as a piece of board, or even cardboard. This will prevent the wall from becoming scratched as you design the scene.
Decorate the wooden back with an image from a magazine or poster, cover it in fabric, or just paint it before attaching it to the file holder. Make sure when you attach the backing that you place the decorated side to where it can be seen through the acrylic.
Once you have the file holders attached to their respective spots on the wall, fill with sand, pebbles, rocks, plants and other items. Since the front is transparent, there’s lots of unique creations you can make using colored sand. The file holders have a natural tilt that allows you to easily layer colored sand in unique patterns. Use long craft sticks and push them into the sand, keeping them next to the acrylic front while pushing down into the sand. This will create various interesting patterns in the sand. On top, insert an assortment of small silk plants.
Another design could be a zen garden. Be creative with the sand, then use rocks, a small bonzai tree – even a mini rake – to further enhance the garden. The creation can be anything you want it to be. And, there are many unusual items you can place on top of the sand arrangements. Set a mini umbrella, lounge chair and palm tree to make a warm and whimsical planter. Use a single tile to make a patio for the sand scene.
A different idea is to put shiny, tumbled rocks on top and even put real plants in the planter. Simply hide a small, hard-plastic container down the center – or wherever you want. Set the container, filled with water, onto the top layer of sand. Set small plants into the water. Surround with rocks, balancing more rocks on top of the container as well, until you can no longer see it. Large rocks are best for accomplishing this.
The most fabulous thing about these art pieces is that they’re easy to change for different seasons or decor changes. Fill the file holder with cotton balls, spray paint a piece of wood white, and hide it among the cotton, then assemble a Christmas scene on top. Or, fill with fall leaves and mini gourds, miniatures like birds and trees, or even fake grass and Easter eggs.
There’s no limit to the planters or wall scenes that you can make, from simple to elaborate, but they’ll all look fabulous on your wall. They even make great kits. Fill zipper bags with colored sand and include all the items to make a particular theme. The recipient will love it!