I sit here downing some canned pineapple as I write this post. This latest DIY project made my mouth water, despite it not being constructed using a real pineapple or even anything fragrant and juicy, but I digress.
I bought a ceramic pineapple because I liked it.
The idea? A pineapply-sweet bookend. The cost? $13, thanks to Michael’s having a 40% off sale (originally $21.99). A fun alternative to the classic store-bought bookends, and a new way to look at your ceramic tsotchkies, this project was a fun one and ended on a good note.
Plan A, as in the plan that popped into my brain the moment I saw this fruit shelved in the store, was to leave the pineapple whole and untouched but perhaps mounted to a L-shaped piece of wood stained dark brown to form a more traditional bookend.
Plan B was to fill the pineapple with cement by funneling it in through the access hole in the base of the fruit; with this plan, it would be heavier and possibly capable of supporting leaning books without the addition of a wooden base.
Plan C was a little bit of both and then some. As I wishy-washied over A and B to Pete (who was cradling the pineapple in the passenger seat on the way home), I was a little envious that my bookends wouldn’t have that same cute-factor that bookends that some bookends have (for example: the front half of a Dachsund and the back half of a Dachsund, the front half of a cow, the back half of a cow, etc). In response, Pete suggested that I try cutting the pineapple in half with the wet saw and then filling both halves with cement to create a heftier piece. Fun idea, awesome in execution, thank you Pete.
At home, I started by popping the pineapple stem off of the base with a x-acto knife. It was clear that the two pieces were only glued together, and it popped off quite easily (something you should know if you’re going to buy this decor and expect it to be solidly constructed).
With a red china marker and a ruler, I sketched out a line that would divide the pineapple along the proverbial equator. Likewise, I etched out a plan for the stem as cleanly as I could, given the orientation of the leaves. Red china marker kicks butt on things like this, especially when you’re going to get a wet saw involved that would instantly dissolve any sign of a Sharpie line.
With the stem removed, the body of the pineapple looked more like a ceramic brain. I cut carefully with the wet saw with the intention of flawlessly sawing the lobes in two.
The blade of our wet saw only cuts tiles that are about 1″ thick, so cutting the pineapple required a little creative twisting. Not only did it mean that I needed to be careful and slow as I sliced through on 4 different surfaces (both long heights, as well as the top and base were cut separately), but the wet saw guard had to be propped up (eventually removed) to stay out of the way, and that meant that this whole operation was very wet and messy. I was a little bit off the red line as shown in this next picture, but fortunately I was off that same amount on the other side of the pineapple and it just ended up being cut on a different axis, don’t be alarmed.
I used a hacksaw to cut through the rest of the wet stem, slowly but surely separating the two pieces like conjoined twins.
With the surgery complete, I had two pieces of stem:
And two brainy pineapple bowls (there’s tape over the bottom end facing the camera, I was prepping for the next step):
- Be, and remain heavy
- Stand upright independently
Making them strong, solid, and hefty pieces of fruit was no challenge; I mixed up some simple portland cement (still leftover from the summertime planter project, more recently used to create a sweet little doorstop). I really dig the portland cement variety; it’s not rocky or sandy, has a smooth consistency more like ice when it’s cured. With this batch, I added a little more water than I had with the doorstop (because the ceramic form was solid, not flimsy), and allowed it to be very self-leveling in the half-brain-pineapple shells. Two simple scrap boards helped to keep the hemispheres upright and level, and I did give each piece a good shake and tap to release inevitable air bubbles.
I left them alone overnight, and in the morning ran over the top of the cement and edges of the ceramic lightly with some sandpaper to even out any pieces of cement that latched onto the edges of the pineapple. It didn’t take much sanding, they looked pretty good, except for that fingerprint on the left one. I had been certain it was dry when I poked it before bed the night before, but nope, broke through the ice.
It took a little trial and error to get the stem reattached securely to the base, trying e-6000, hot glue, and finally WeldBond (something I bought Pete for Christmas and then used for my own means). I laid them flat to dry to ensure that the cut pieces secured on the same flat plane.
While they were also flat, I used some hot glue to correct the base of each pineapple too; because they felt a little off-balance when standing upright, I created a little wedge to help them lean on an angle.
I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself and pat myself on the back yet, but once everything dried, it seemed to have worked.
Cute in the kitchen, a fun accent to any shelf, really, I liked them.
Only issue was that they still wanted to topple a little bit. I couldn’t pull a book out from between them without rocking the pineapple boat, and to avoid unnecessary breakage (as in, breaking my toe if one was to fall off the counter) I took it an extra step, making the L-shaped reinforcement that the common bookends are commonly known to have. After all, what’s a bookend if it’s not going to be strong and secure?
I still wanted the bookends to feel very clean-lined, and I didn’t want to take the focus off the fruit itself, so instead of using heavier scrap boards like the 1×6 and 2×6 that we have laying around, I decided to use some scrap pieces of floor underlayment (leftovers from having just wrapped up that stage of the bathroom remodel). I cut four pieces total – two 6″x11″ pieces for the vertical and two 6″x4″ pieces to sit beneath the pineapple, and then stained them with some leftover Rust-Oleum Ultimate in Kona (the same stain that I’ve used on the shiplap walls).
Because the pineapple itself was really solid, what I found easiest to do was use wood glue to reinforce the pieces of wood into an L-shape, and use a generous amount of construction adhesive to attach the fruit to both surfaces. Screws or nails as added reinforcement would have been great if the plywood wasn’t so thin, but the various adhesives seemed to hold strong after drying overnight.
Finished, quite a wonderful piece. The dark brown of the framing almost vanishes on any of the shelves in the living room, and the construction assures that the weight of the pineapple will hold many leaning books tall without chancing a topple itself.
P.S. We like the snow when it hits, but not as much as Cody. He spent the better part of Saturday and Sunday billowing through the backyard and across the beach at top-doggie-speed (below photos thanks to Dadand). And hey, there were lots of people snapping pictures of us at the Rochester Polar Plunge on Sunday, and while we don’t know any of you, if you happen to see this and caught anything super cute on your own cameras, I’d love to see!