Stephie McCarthy
Stephie McCarthy
  • Hometalker
  • Harpers Ferry, WV

Wicker-style Garden Obelisk From a Tomato Cage!

4 Materials
$20
1 Day
Medium

This craft is loaded with charm, sturdy and perfect for a garden that looks like something out of a fairy tale. And it started with an old tomato cage!

Materials: a tomato cage (ours was 42" tall), some 1/8th" wooden rods for the ribs/staves ( we used 36"), and fiber for the weaving … we used fiber rush which we were able to purchase from Amazon. We also used a bit of fabric glue. See the list below the next photo.

Tools you may need: A bucket of water, bolt cutters, fabric glue, clothes pins, twist ties, scissors, and a rubber band. If your cage is rusty, as was ours, you may want to wear gloves to protect your hands. Here we go! Ready to begin …

The tomato cage was 42" tall and was in good shape. For the weaving we used new fibre rush which came in a 210' coil and can be cut with ordinary scissors. We used approximately 150' for this craft.

Soak your rush fibre for about 30 minutes before weaving it and it will be easier to work with and dry nicely.

Here are the 1/8th" x 36" wooden rods that we purchased from Hobby Lobby for 30¢ each. Since our tomato cage was rusty, we used a baby wipe and brown chalk paint on them so that they would match. These also dried quickly.

Here's a little diagram of how to get started. We cut away the top ring of our cage with bolt cutters so that the obelisk would be more cone-shaped. You may not need to do this if your cage is naturally cone-shaped. We used a sturdy rubber band at the top, then tucked the rods under the rubber band, holding them in place on the middle ring with twist ties. The band and the ties are temporary until the weaving is complete.

You'll need an odd number of staves (or rods) so that your basket weaving will alternate front to back as you go around. We had a total of 13 staves. A total of nine or fifteen will also work for this craft.

We cut the fiber into about 10 foot lengths and coiled it so that it would be easy to weave around the staves. A simple slip knot will get you started.

Here we go around the middle ring first for about 18-20 rows. Slip knot the end of the cord to the middle ring and begin to weave around and around. Tuck in the ends of the cord whenever you start a new length. Alternate the cord front to back around the staves so that the finished weave will look like a basket pattern.

When we completed the center weaving, we used a few dabs of Aleene's Super Fabric Adhesive here and there to hold the work firmly in place. This product has "grab" to help hold things in place until dry. Push the weaving together, hold in place with a clothes pin as shown, then dab the glue here and there between the rows. The glue dries very fast. You could also use a bit of GE Silicone. Both glues are waterproof.

Here we were going around the bottom ring. Be extra careful that the staves don't pop out of place … they are free floating. We let ours overhang the ring a bit to keep them steady during the weaving process. We worked about 20 courses around this edge and secured it with a few dabs of Aleene's glue here and there for extra holding power.

You can see the clothes pin on the left above, holding the center weaving up while the dabs of glue dry. We wove the top of the cone, above right, until we couldn't fit the cord between the staves anymore, then wrapped the remainder and finished it with a rustic bow which was made from about 14" of cord. Trim the protruding metal legs of the cage to about 1 inch … so that they match the height of the wood staves.

Here's a view of the finished obelisk showing how we wrapped extra fiber to make decorative rings to fill in the design. We also wrapped extra fiber around the bottom edge for a very rustic, but finished look. See the bottom edge in the next photo on the right.

And here it is! Ready to support small vines in a fairy tale garden. Good choices of small vines would be dwarf roses, dwarf clematis, or spring peas. To care for this obelisk, place it on a paver and bring it inside during harsh weather. Use it in a covered area. It can also be sprayed with a matte varnish for extra protection. V isit our blog for more rustic home and garden ideas, click here! -- Stephie

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Stephie McCarthy

Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Merrily Clifford
    on Jul 1, 2019

    Very cute, but the rope will mildew and turn black after a short time if it gets wet. I found out the hard way☹️! Is there a place that stays dry where you could display it?

    • Theresa Holz
      7 days ago

      So sweet looking! Let's see, there's my son's garden, the daughter's, oh wait, I most certainly need one too! Thanks for the idea.

  • Karen Van Ess
    on Jul 9, 2019

    Can a person paint fireplace brick?

  • Amy Jo Olson
    on Jul 11, 2019

    Beautiful! Do you think this could be done with jute? Then maybe sprayed with a polyurethane of some sort for protection? I think I might try this. It would really add to my garden!

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Jul 11, 2019

      It can definitely be sprayed to help make it waterproof. Jute will work too, but it will be fuzzy and have a much thinner surface that might not the basket effect as well as this rush material does. -- Stephie

Join the conversation

4 of 35 comments
  • Annie Doherty
    on Jul 17, 2019

    Terrific, great job it's really stunning,what does it matter if the rope gets stained, (previous comment) it will look even better weathered.

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Jul 17, 2019

      I've been keeping an eye on it and after about four heavy rains, and it still looks great. I have it sitting on a deck. I agree that weathering won't be a big deal on rush fiber. But I do plan to store it inside over winter so that it does not get wind burn. -- Stephie

  • Margaret M. Goorskey Haight
    on Jul 23, 2019

    this is so cute...but I think I would use round reed to weave the pattern around the cage..... I weave baskets and you can purchase the type you want from any number of supply stores across the country.....the tomato cage would make a great frame base for the project....try NC Basket Weavers or VI Reed and Cane in Omaha , Neb.

    • Stephie McCarthy
      on Jul 23, 2019

      Great tip! Thank you so much. This was my first weaving project, so a novice like me loves learning about materials that might be easier to source here in North America. -- Stephie

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