I have had a few requests for instructions on how we "grow" Love Stems....so I thought I'd write it out. I intended to have how to photos...and I may add them still, but for now, I *think* this is self explanatory.
The first thing we did was start collecting TP rolls, paper towel rolls, wrapping paper rolls, etc. We asked friends, coworkers, the kid's teachers, church, etc. We were amazed by how man accumulated. Once we get the rolls, the worst part is cleaning off the excess tp and paper towel tidbits left on the rolls. After we do that we spray them with a disinfecting spray. Many people I talk to think this step is silly and unnecessary....but we still do it. :-)
After that, we paint the outside of the rolls (don't cut anything yet) and let those dry. We found regular craft paint to work the best. Along with sponge brushed for applying the main color. After that you can decorate it with dots, strips, basically whatever you want with regular cheap brushes. To save money, I save every plastic container we use (butter, sour cream, cream cheese, plastic kids cups from eating out, etc). These all work great to hold water for cleaning brushes, and we use the lids to put our paint on.
After the outside rolls dry, you cut the flower. Basically, you cut strips on one or both sides of the roll, and the fold the "petals" back to show the inside of the roll that isn't painted yet. You can get snazzy with this part, using scrapbooking scissors, hole punches, and unique cuts or you can cut simple strips. Either way, once you add the paint, they are beautiful. :-) After you cut your flower, you paint the petals. After those dry, we use BBQ skewers (painted green) and stick them through to make the stems. I usually use a tack to make the initial holes.
After that, we use paper cups for the pots. We get those all over on sale. You can get huge lots at many stores....but I also found luck at party stores when they clearance out their designs. We pour about an inch or two of plaster of paris in the bottom of each "pot" - I usually do about 12-16 at a time (make sure all of the flowers are ready to put in there). Wait for the plaster to set a bit and then stick them in.
For grass, we decided to recycle instead of using the easter grass (which is another great thing to teach your kids!). We shred all of our junk mails and letters that the school sends home that are no longer needed. Then we use water bottle trays to transport them. Whew.
Sounds like a lot, and it is. It just depends on what scale you want to do it. :-)
The only cost associated with doing it is the cost of paint, brushes, cups, skewers and the plaster. As a bargain shopper....you can find good deals on almost everything. I never really kept track of what we have actually spent....but we do ask for people to donate any of those materials they no longer want or need. Sometimes we get donations of paint, brushes, skewers.
As far as drop offs, we just look around our local area for places that we feel would enjoy them. Hospitals, camps, schools, fire station, churches, etc.