Hello dear Friends and Watchers
Well, as you are all probably too well aware, my recent big project was a Gazebo Garden, set during Springtime in England. For my own sake as much as anything else, and because my YouTube video failed in the sound department about half way through (their fault, not mine - the original film is fine), I thought I'd assemble some photos and include some chat about methods and equipment used - if anyone cares a jot
The gazebo began as a 'flat pack' kit in plain wood. I actually bought it from our one 'minis' shop, which is of course far, far away from home
But I bought it with the $50 voucher that I won at the 2014 show in the novice category. I'd only been doing minis for around 9 months and won the prize for this garden in a frozen yogurt tub...
The flowers were made with chopped up kitchen sponges of various colours and the water is glue from a glue gun.THE BUILDING AND BASE
So onwards to 2015 and finally, in mid-June I began by painting the gazebo pieces. It took 3 coats of white to get good coverage and there are one heck of a lot of nooks and crannies in the trellis work, both top and bottom. I was so keen to get going on the real garden, and the preliminary stages seemed to go on forever! I also dabbled in creating the pond during these early stages, just to allow me to feel I was actually *gardening*
Finally, the painting was complete and I could assemble the gazebo and design the base board.
I had a great deal of help with this from David
who operates the power tools in our house. In some places there are multiple layers of matt board over the base hardboard to create contours in the grass. They really don't show, and the entire board slowly curled upwards at the edges as I was completing the garden. We don't know what caused it and, as long as it's stopped now, it really doesn't matter. Cutting the hole to perfectly accommodate the pond was the hardest part.
Early pictures are far and few between so this is the first one I have to show...
The roof is silver so please excuse the crazy lighting in my dining room. I did not attach the roof for a very very long time so that I could reach inside the gazebo easily. So things that were complete at this stage were
Grass. I made this by carefully collecting sawdust while David was working with the power tools. I picked out any large chunks of wood, put the sawdust in a plastic disposable cup, then poured in a good quantity of green acrylic paint. I stirred it well, and stirred occasionally to prevent lumps until the mixture was completely dry. Then plenty of white glue on the board, sprinkle well with 'grass' and let dry before tapping the excess away.
Paving Bricks. These were made from the lid of an egg carton. I cut one piece until I was happy with the size and then used it to cut a whole pile. The natural dimply texture of the carton gave realism to the bricks. I wrapped my cutting mat with 'sticky side out' masking tape so that I could place the bricks along the tape and have it all hold still while I painted. The painting involved several layers of colours, browns, reds, yellows and a tiny bit of black. All but the first layer were dry brushed, and left to dry. I was thrilled with them! David 'helped' to lay them in place, which in all honesty meant that I could barely get my hands in there because he loved doing it so much
Horror of horrors I was about 8 bricks short after the edge cutting was done and I had to try to re-create the colours to paint more. Oh my goodness!!!
Topiary Trees. These didn't remain, but they are made with polystyrene balls covered in 'grass' (with a different colour paint), bamboo skewers and 2 tube lids for pots.THE FLOWERS AND TREES
Bonsai Trees. At my fortnightly miniatures group we had a tutorial and I made the one shown here second from the right. It's trunk is a small piece of stick with additional branches added with wire. This was then covered with brown florist's tape and the leaves were 'green fluff' that you can buy from model railway shops. I have no idea what the 'soil' is made of, nor where the tiny tiny feature stones were purchased from - they were both supplied. The dish is a self-cover button and it was first filled with dry oasis (florist's foam) before gluing the soil over it. I loved making it so much that I came home and made 5 more. Trunks vary from grape stems (the tiny bits of wood each grape is attached to) to the tree on the left, which I made with wire and then covered with paper clay and painted it. The 2 outer tree leaves are made with purchased dry moss, the other 3 with railway foam. David made the wooden stands for each one, and the 'sand pit' which is matt board edged with bamboo cooking skewers. The stepping stones are painted card adorned with real gold leaf, and the sand is actually sand
we got from a local beach.
Gazebo paving. I dry brushed a piece of ordinary copy paper with off-white and cream, very roughly done. Then mixed together some white glue and brown acrylic paint, about 50/50 and dabbed this onto the paper in random stone patterns as I pleased. Once it was all dry it was shiny, which I didn't like, so I painted each 'stone' with a matte nail polish top coat.
Willow tree. The trunk is a piece of stick that I found with several bits sticking out, perfect to attach branches to. The leaves, obviously are seed beads, threaded onto wire. A few people, in real life, have commented that they don't like this much because the rest of the garden looks real, and this doesn't. But I love the way the leaves catch the light, and differing opinions are what makes the world go round
Roses. I didn't make the roses. I wish I knew how because they are absolutely perfect in every way. David won them in our minis club raffle so we have no idea who made them. I made the vine for them out of moss and added some punched leaves to add realism to the vine as a whole and make it look more 'rosey'.And then time passed and I got my head stuck into making flowers by the truck load. Almost every petal and leaf is hand-painted and this is something I never dreamed, in a million years that I could be bothered doing. But I every moment of it. Rather than go in date order I'll start at the front and travel around the gazebo in an anti-clockwise direction, saying a little about the creation of each species of flower. Before we start that, the garden beds are made with coffee grounds to look like soil.
Lavender. Flowers were made by dipping wire in glue, then chia seeds. Once very dry I gently painted them lilac. I made the bushes with unravelled sisal (rough string), glue and yet more painted sawdust - perhaps I need to do a tutorial? Once I made the third (centre) lavender I got game and made this one with the 2 little 'wings' on the top. These were a 5-petal punch of lilac tissue paper and I cut them into pairs of petals, glued them in place and bent them to the right shape.
Tulips. These were my first flower and I don't like them much any more, but it shows the process of my skills improving so I guess I should leave them. Other than the lavender and grape hyacinths, all flowers were made with paper punches for the shape. The leaves for the tulips were painted bag ties, and turned out to be an absolute nightmare to keep glued in place. The dark centres of the flowers are tiny snippets of black knitting wool.
Daffodils. Other than the rockery plant, these were my last flowers and I'm thrilled with them. Punched outer petals and a tiny strip of orange quilling paper rolled for the trumpet part. Trumpet glued into place and allowed to thoroughly dry, then gripped firmly with one pair of fine-tipped tweezers whilst roughly pulling outwards to form the fluted shape with another pair of fine-tipped tweezers. I became very adept at working with a pair of tweezers in each hand. I was an old hand at it by the time I did the daffodils.
Daisy. Can't see this terribly well behind the sign, but the stems are a bundle of unravelled sisal held together with a big blob of glue at the base. Flowers are a double layer of daisy-punch silvery-shimmery paper, with poppy seeds glued in the centre and then painted yellow.
Are they poppies or are they anemonies? Intended to be poppies, despite those not being a spring flower. But I wanted my happy and beautiful memories of English flowers so poppies had to be included I tried this with tissue paper so the petals were 'floaty' but punches and tissue paper are not friends and I found it impossible to work with, so I stuck to real paper. Double layer of my 5-petal punch. Tiny few fibres of black knitting wool, and the centres were wire dipped, 2 or 3 times with drying time between, into yellow paint. Leaves were bent into shape using tweezers.
Clematis. Oh how thrilled I was, and still am, with the clematis. Hand painted lilac paper, punched, then dark purple painted down the centre of each petal with a 10/0 (barely visible!) brush. Centres are those bundles of imitation stamens you can buy from craft shops, and the greenery is dried, purchased moss.
Mother-in-laws-tongue. There are 4? of these around the garden. A bit bright in this shot, but it's made with lengths of floral wire sandwiched between 2 layers of masking tape. Cut to shape and then painted. Easy huh?
Hollyhock. Another 'not Spring' flower, but the garden definitely needed something tall at the back so that it could be seen from the front view. And we had hollyhocks in my childhood (up to age 11) garden so they were a must. Really enjoyed making these because they felt so big compared to the other flowers. I used a 5-flower corner punch that had 3 different sizes of flower, plus another matching punch that was a tiny bit larger. All the paper hand-painted. Once punched I placed each flower on the back of an old mouse mat (foam) and pushed the centre hard with a dotting/ball tool to shape them. All of the flowers were shaped this way, but the hollyhock really got a good hard poke Then painted the different colour in the centre of each, again with the 10/0 brush. The hard poke into the mouse mat meant that each flower (mostly) stayed still while I painted the centres, which was a brilliant bonus and saved picking each one up with tweezers to paint Floral wire stems are covered in floral tape.
Nothing new here to comment on - aren't you lucky? Just here to continue the journey around the outside of the gazebo.
More daffodils and another clematis, and rear view of the willow.
Hydrangea. These were made with the same 5-flower punch as the hollyhocks. It's amazing how different things can look according to the way they are painted and displayed. The wooden parts of this bush were grape stalks. The flowers were from hand-painted paper. I brushed blue and lilac paint over normal copy paper, ensuring I kept it rather streaky, and then punched the flowers randomly so that some had both colours and/or a little white on them. Mouse mat poke, paint centres, and then glue each flower onto a wonderful circular 'nut thing' from a native Australian tree. If you want hard, 'nut things' for craft, Australia is the country to be in! Leave them to dry thoroughly and then assemble the bush. Then make a heap more flower clusters because I hadn't done enough to start with
Front view of the hydrangea. I made some daffodil buds that you can just make out in either of the last 2 photos. Punched from a pale-brown bag I'd bought some stamps in and I felt they were realistic, but somehow didn't add anything much to the garden.
THE ANIMALS OF THE GARDEN
As you can see above, there's a hedgehog. There are 3 of those actually. All of the animals/birds/fish are made with polymer clay. I love poly clay - the world is at your hands to create almost anything you wish. At the back of the pond is a little duck, who is my favourite of the animals. And there is a squirrel who makes me laugh because I don't think I did terribly well with him, and 2 robins and a tiny, tiny nest with a real feather and 3 blue seed-bead eggs that nobody will ever notice I expect.
At one stage I dropped a piece of something, and in the split second that it was falling I thought "Oh nooooo, it's fallen in the water!" Fooled by my own creation.
Container. One of the children's toys at Christmas came in a shaped, hard plastic wrapper that I had kept and this proved to be the perfect size for my garden pond.
Rocks. Purchased from our big hardware store in a 5kg bag that will last me several lifetimes I suspect
Moss. A substance named 'Flower Soft' that is just gorgeous for such purposes. It's expensive for what it is but does a great job.
Bullrushes. Slender sticks dipped repeatedly in brown acrylic paint until it built up to the thickness I wanted. I should have made more
Fish. Polymer clay, as stated above. The fish on the right was silvery white and gold and I much prefer him to the one on the left (partially hidden by light and shadow) who is matte white and gold.
Water lilies. Hand painted paper, with yellow flower soft in the middle. Leaves are polymer clay.
'Snow in summer'. This white flower (horribly blown out in this shot) was the absolute last thing I made for the garden, just to fill a hole in the rocks.
'Pea plant'. These are about twice (or thrice) the size they should be and are still in danger of being snipped away Made with polymer clay threaded onto sewing cotton. The threading mis-shaped the balls horribly and they were surprisingly awkward to make. If they were to-scale I'd be happier.
Water. 2-part epoxy resin in several layers. First layer to hold down the gravel and give something for the fish to sit on so they're not on the bottom. You can't tell that so it was a waste of time. They could have been higher in the water but I was afraid they would be too high
And then I very carefully and completely covered the pond with a tissue held down with some spare 'rocks' and took the garden outside and sprayed it all with fixative, partially to protect it for the journeys it will make to shows.
I *think* that's everything. Please tell me if you can see anything I forgot to mention and please ask any questions you may have, I'm very happy to help anyone who wants advice - or to receive advice if anyone has comments and help to share.
Oh, and the 2 things I said most during the whole creative process? To my tweezers, carefully lowering flowers etc into place... "LET. GOOOooooo!" and to my glue?... or
Thank you so much for getting this far with me, I really appreciate it. And now I'm going to sit at the craft table and plan out my next project, thanks to the poll on my homepage.