Helpful Hank- The Umbrella Project

The Umbrella Project

Howdy all Helpful hank here. I want to take a moment to remember a brilliant comedic Actor with who I share the Same birthday. Lucille Désirée Ball would have been 100 years old August 6. Happy Birthday Lucy.

We are in the Dog days of summer down here in the desert. You know it’s hot when you jump into your pool and get sculled. During the dog days of summer, you can dry off from taking a shower and get dressed, but the minute you step out side you’ll need a shower, towel and fresh clothes. I’m telling you it’s a viscous circle. Frosty would be just a jug of water with coal and carrots inside. It get Hot. The day I moved to the desert it was 121. I noticed when I did move down here how hard it was to grow certain vegetables even in the winter. The plants just seem to get burned Tomatoes sun loving plants would split down the sides Squash didn’t come to fruition.

This got me to thinking how I could stop tomatoes from splitting and get my squash to grow. Problem was that when these plants are made available for sale is April/May Spring time Well Spring time can go for 80 to 100 in no time flat. My challenge was to find a way to keep the direct sun off of my veggies with out using a shade clothe to over the entire area. I am not fond of Shade clothe. Don’t get me wrong it serves a purpose. While function is important there are other ways to achieve the same end result but with style and creativity.

In many cultures umbrellas are used to keep the Sun off as well as the rain. Down here in the desert people often use an umbrella to keep the beating heat of the direct sun off of them. Umbrellas are not just for a rainy day. Umbrellas can be a inexpensive colorful way to help your some of your plants make it through the dog days of Summer. Today I would like to show you how to take an Old umbrella and turn it into a wonderful piece of functional garden art.

The Items you will need for this project are an umbrella, hack saw, pole, (bamboo works well.) Spray primer, (optional) mistake paint, sealer, ribbon or fabric ripped in strips, any other decoration you may want.

Take your umbrella and cut off just above the tip cup where it meets the tube. Open your umbrella and give your umbrella it’s first coat of paint using what ever paint you have.(spray, Latex Oil) Oil paints will take longer to dry and spray paint will dry the quickest.


Note:Using a flat white spray paint as your first coat is desired as it hides any imaging or printing on the umbrella and gives multi colored a good solid base coat to block out images and or writing. Option 2 is to incorporate images and or lettering.

Once you have given your umbrella it’s base coat and it has dried, give it it’s color coat. Let the color coat dry and then you are ready to paint a design on your umbrella if you wish. Once you have painted and decorated your umbrella take your ribbon or stripped fabric and tie it under the runner so that it prevents the runner from down back over the upper spring Slip your umbrellas tube down into the Bamboo pole and place in garden.


What I like about this project is that I was able to use material that I either already had or had recently found. It is a fairly easy project and can be dressed up or kept very plain. On a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being the easiest this project is a 3

Chiming In

After I had completed my latest set of umbrellas I had left over material. I had used a curtain pole as one of my poles and had to cut it down. I was left with a longish piece of pole so I cut it into sections and along with other materials I had created a set of wind chimes.

Here is what you will need to complete this project: drill, small drill bit, hack saw, light duty pipe cutter, hollow curtain rod, thin ribbon or cord


The Size of your wind chime will depend on how much material you have. The one I created was a mini Wind Chime.

1. Cut your rod into1 longish piece and 6 to 9 graduated lengths.

2. in your long piece of curtain rod drill a hole through and through for each piece of graduated

pipe you are using then Drill a hole through and through at the top of each graduated piece of curtain rod.

3. Cut your ribbon/cord in equal lengths so that there is one length of ribbon /cord for each chime


4. String your ribbon/cord through each of the holes on the piece of curtain rod double knot at the

top and trim down fabric above knot on the other end run your ribbon/cord through our first

chime piece and tie it off so that it doesn’t rest to low. Do this with each chime piece so that the tops are even

5. Take another length of ribbon/cord that is twice the length of the piece of curtain rod your

chime pieces are hanging from. Run the ribbon through the curtain rod and knot ends together creating a hanger.

Mango Mango

I Have two mango trees. I love Mango. What I didn’t love was trying to peal them. I developed a way to scrap the mango from it’s skin I take my mango cut it up in slices and then cut each slice away from the seed. Once you have separated your Mango slices from the seed, lay them out on a cutting board hold down one end of your mango and use the butter knife to make the first cut to separate the Mango from the skin. Once you have made the first cut draw your butter knife at an angel to remove mango fruit from skin. Through away the skins and you have slices of Mango for cooking and eating.

Note: If you are dealing with a very ripe mango scraping it away from the skin will gain you the maximum amount of Mango  

I like the fact that art is different for each person. I enjoy presenting projects that are easy to do but also have a functionality to them. It is Remember when painting or decorating a project there is no wrong way. There is only the way you envision it and each persons vision is different. wonderful when I find a solution to a problem and can share it with others, Well that’s about all for now Folks, Remember only you can be the change you want to 

You can contact Helpful Hank with Questions, Comments, Tips and, Deals at

Helpful Hank is written by Russell E. Bertlow © 2009 All rights reserved. No portion of this blog may be reprinted in part or whole without the express written permission from Russell E. Bertlow

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