Sunday, May 26, 2013

Number Cones

Bold blocky 3" numbers show up well!
A few years back I took it upon myself to keep our dog club's number cones in good repair (3 sets, as we have a large agility field with 2 full courses set up most times, plus a mini course).  For years we've made our own using upside down 8" flower pots and 3" stick-on mailbox numbers. These work okay, except that the pots become brittle and crack after about 6 months in UV light. The stick on numbers start to peel off after a few months, even if they are sealed over with clear package tape, which also starts looking ragged after awhile. (Even the number cones you purchase include decals, which don't last long outdoors despite their being expensive.)

So last winter I decided to try something different-- 3" numbers stencilled then hand painted on smaller, sturdier 5.5" pots, using an acrylic paint pen, then sprayed with 2 protective coats of Krylon Crystal Clear.  These take awhile to paint but they are proving to last a long time.

The first set I made was yellow pots with black italicized numbers, which took 2 coats to cover and still looks great on the field after several months of use.  It hasn't needed any touchup.

This red set, finished yesterday, is white paint on red pots, which took 4 coats to cover.  I won't use white paint again!

We prefer the block numbers to the italicized.

Project Tips:
  • Lay your stencil over the pot and draw the outlines with a pencil or colored pencil, not a pen which bleeds upward through the paint.
  • Remove the stencil, trace over these lines with your paint pen, then fill in. A steady hand is required!
  • Don't let the paint touch the cardboard stencils, which gets them wet and they lose their sharp edge.
  • Also, even if using vinyl stencils, the paint bleeds under the stencils making a huge mess.
  • Clean up mistakes quickly using mineral spirits!  Have it handy because these paint pens drip and you will inadvertently drag your finger through the paint at some point.
  • Doesn't hurt to have a paint pen the same color as the pots, for tidying up numbers that got too wide or tall and won't come clean.

The bottom cup makes
these pots extra sturdy.
These Misco pots are sturdier than most -- thicker plastic that doesn't seem to disintegrate, more flexible but stronger, and with a snap-on bottom cup that makes them double strong.  A case of 24 pots can be ordered year round from Misco Home and Garden for about $1 apiece. We got ours individually from Walmart at $.97 each but they are seasonal items and they rarely have enough of one color at one store, and since it's a good idea to have a few extra pots for when a few of them get kicked, squashed, chewed up, or disappear, a case of 24 is perfect.

I'll report back how these pots are holding up over time.

Upwards and onward!

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