Attaching cups to bookcase
July 6, 2020 12:38 PM   Subscribe

I want to attach ceramic or porcelain or china cups to the side of a cheap bookcase to use as tiny planters for a little succulents. You don’t have to agree that it’s a good idea. It may be a terrible idea. But I think it would be fun and I want some ideas about how to make it a reality.

I also understand that it’s going to be a challenge because not all of the cups (and maybe creamers and sugar bowls) will be smooth-sided for gluing or whatever. But I like things that look eclectic so if you can help me figure out how to do this in someway, or in several ways, I will be grateful and excited. Give me all your ideas!
posted by Bella Donna to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I would probably do small acrylic/plexigas L-shaped brackets that could be screwed into the side of the bookshelf and hold up the cup from beneath but be inconspicuous. I worry that just gluing would be unlikely to support the weight of the cup plus soil and plant.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis at 12:41 PM on July 6, 2020 [8 favorites]

It's not a terrible idea, I think it's cute!

I instantly thought of this post from an Irish DIY blogger/Youtuber. She uses teacups as bird feeders, attached to a pallet wood wall. She uses hooks to suspend them, however; and the cups are tipped over so she can tie twine to the handles. Still, for succulent planters, maybe you could make hanging-planter slings out of twine and then tuck the teacups into that.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:44 PM on July 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

Hot glue gun would be my go-to first resort.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:45 PM on July 6, 2020

I'd probably a) sand the spot on the bookcase where you want to attach b) lightly sand the spot on the cup where it should stick c) use E6000 or epoxy glue (Gorilla and JB Weld both make popular ones).

Put an old pillow or a couple of old towels on the floor underneath, so there's a soft place to land if it won't hold.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:48 PM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh! And you'll want to use painter's tape or similar removable tape to hold the cup to the spot for 12-24 hours while the glue/epoxy dries/hardens. Make sure you support the hell out of it or it will pull away.
posted by Lyn Never at 12:49 PM on July 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Cut a slot in the bookcase for the handle, insert handle, then bridge the slot gap from the inside of the bookcase by wrapping a thick wire around the cup handle and leaving a tail sticking out on each side like --O-- .
posted by teremala at 12:54 PM on July 6, 2020 [12 favorites]

I would use hot glue. Bonus is that it can easily be removed by trickling some alcohol on it.

If you don't want the potential mess involved with hot glue or want to make it easily removable, then maybe buy some heavy duty velcro tape.
posted by bondcliff at 12:56 PM on July 6, 2020

If you have a drill, and don't mind damaging the bookcase, how about drilling two small holes on either side of each cup handle, then zip-tying the cup handle to the bookcase?
posted by kevinbelt at 1:04 PM on July 6, 2020 [8 favorites]

If possible you should try to make them easily removable and replaceable, because you don't want to have to repot these plants while they're still attached to the bookcase.

If I were doing this, I would get some small bits of wood and use them to make mini floating shelves on the outside of the bookcase, just big enough for a single teacup each.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:27 PM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Flat sided teacups might be easier to glue. I would not use a hot glue gun for this, gorilla glue is probably a better bet.
posted by little king trashmouth at 1:29 PM on July 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oh showbiz_liz's idea sounds adorable, and you could see about drilling through the bottom of the cups for a bolt through the shelf (nut underneath) so they'd never fall off.
posted by teremala at 1:35 PM on July 6, 2020

The Command brand velcro strips work miracles and can hold a lot of weight depending on size.
posted by Crystalinne at 1:56 PM on July 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

I feel like you might get inspiration just by looking at cupholders. Obviously, many of these are meant to hang on something specifically - like the door of your car - but their shapes and mechanisms might inspire you. In that image search, it turned up this which would then put your succulents front and center on your bookcase which could be really fun! Edited to add: just noticed there's a plant image in the product images! Very cute, I think!
posted by amanda at 2:14 PM on July 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

I don't think glue is going to be your best bet here. The sort of glossy surface on most mugs is a notoriously difficult type of surface to glue, and if the glue fails you've lost at least one (perhaps many more, depending on how many are hit on the tumble to the floor) cup and little plant.

I like the small floating shelves idea, but that's a lot of work if you do it the traditional way.

Some ideas:
  1. Use small French cleats (like these at amazon, but your local hardware store probably has them) and some small scraps of wood to create individual shelves for each plant. Advantages include being easily movable, and no precision woodworking required (as traditional floating shelves tend to want). You can probably get away with the smallest size you can find, I doubt each cup/plant combo weighs more than a pound. For the shelf, I'd use some half-inch thick 3" squares of pine or the species of your choice. If you wanted to get fancy, you could round the two outside corners to follow the curve of the mug, to make them less obtrusive.
  2. Cover the end of the bookshelf with pegboard, and then find one among the 3.2 zillion different types of pegboard hangers out there that will safely support your cup, some like this, perhaps. A disadvantage is going to be the aesthetics of pegboard--plus you'll have to mount it a short distance away from the end of the bookcase with spacers to allow the hooks to go through the board. That said, I imagine there are some nice looking pegboard stock out there, not just the brown fibreboard your local hardware store stocks.
  3. Take a look at image search results for "mug display board" or similar searches. There are lots of things which won't work for your idea, but displaying mugs is a similar concept, and maybe someone has done just the thing (or offers just the product) which will work for you.
If you just want to do something quick and dirty, I think I would stay away from glue and go with a solution which physically interacts with the mug, either underneath or through the handle (and if possible around the mug as well). Maybe I need to get over my fear of glue for anything other than wood to wood or metal to metal joinery...
posted by maxwelton at 2:21 PM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

I like the idea of mounting them by the handles, maybe tie them to a trellis or scrap of fencing that could then be hung on the bookshelf as one piece.

If the teacups are the kind on a footed pedestal, you could also try for little shelves like an upside down stemware rack, so there's a lip to secure the foot of the teacups. Use some cork to make a removable plug for the sides so you can still have easy access for repotting.

I also wouldn't trust glues or tapes for this, and definitely not hot glue, it peels off of non-porous surfaces way too easily.
posted by yeahlikethat at 2:36 PM on July 6, 2020

I’m thinking of something like screw in cup hooks (possibly with anchors if the bookcase is particle board) with little hanging plant holders for the cups. Most teacups have a rim or base that would be good to tie twine/yarn/fishing line around, easy to rearrange/water plants, doesn’t damage the teacups, minimal holes in bookshelf.
posted by momus_window at 2:37 PM on July 6, 2020

Something like a small screw in pot hanger. This one is 3” lawn-and-garden/ planters/plant-hangers/7023062
posted by kittygrandma at 2:54 PM on July 6, 2020

No, you do not want to use Command strips. There are two modes, success and crashing-to-the-floor-at-4:30am, and there’s not really a good way to estimate probability. I’ve had some that hung heavy things for half a decade. I’ve also had some that weren’t able to hold a 4x6 plastic picture frame for more than three days. I’ve had to reframe quite a few things because the slogan “damage free hanging” applies to the walls, not to the things being hung. If your teacups and plants are easily replaceable and/or unbreakable, it might be an option. Otherwise, avoid.
posted by kevinbelt at 3:28 PM on July 6, 2020 [4 favorites]

No, you do not want to use Command strips. There are two modes, success and crashing-to-the-floor-at-4:30am, and there’s not really a good way to estimate probability.
Listen to this person. They know of what they speak..
posted by Nerd of the North at 3:41 PM on July 6, 2020 [3 favorites]

If possible you should try to make them easily removable and replaceable, because you don't want to have to repot these plants while they're still attached to the bookcase.

This was my first thought, but I would try some stiff wire which could be looped around one or several items and then attach the wire to some screw heads to hold it up.
posted by Lanark at 4:25 PM on July 6, 2020

If it were me I'd go for holders intended to cold a cup for toothbrushing purposes in a bathroom.

Something like this Toothbrush Cup Holder. (I know that one if probably too expensive if you are getting multiples, just the first example I found).
posted by trialex at 5:20 PM on July 6, 2020

You could screw some large diameter hose clamps into the case and then gently tighten the clamp around your vessels. Assuming you oriented them so you could still reach the mechanism with a screwdriver. Might be cuter with jars than teacups.
posted by janell at 9:20 PM on July 6, 2020 [1 favorite]

Perhaps you might consider mounting saucers to the bookcase and then just have the teacups sitting unattached on top in their natural position for easy repotting/repositioning.
posted by fairmettle at 3:23 AM on July 7, 2020

I would definitely have them sitting in little brackets (perhaps just made out of thick brass wire?), mostly so that you can put the plants in sink to water them. You will also need to drill holes in the bottom of each cup; a diamond hole saw (Milwaukee makes the best ones) will make this possible.
posted by amaire at 10:17 AM on July 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Off the wall suggestion: macramé?

You can buy macrame cord for little money, someone on the internet will have a design that works for this and then your cups would sit in a glorified net pocket that you could hang from the bookcase with a screw in hook.

It isn't difficult to learn - the very first plant hanger I made from internet instructions looks as it should and works just fine.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 7:05 PM on July 7, 2020

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