Category: "Flowers and plants"

Under the maple tree - part 2

by brae  

Continuing work on the maple tree. I added 7 more 22 gauge wires to the skeleton, making a few branches in the middle and on top.  I also bent the trunk to make it more natural.

I mixed and applied Durham's Water Putty to the wire skeleton.  I bought a 4-pound container from Home Depot for roughly $8 back when I did the first tree, and there are still a lot of trees left in the container.  :D  The Durham's Water Putty site shows some of the creative things you can do with it.

You can't put this stuff down the drain, so the cups and brushes you use must be thrown in the trash.  But, I did save the cup to reuse for the duration of the project.  I'll just mix new putty on top of the hardened putty left in the cup.  No sense in wasting multiple cups.  I buy short plastic cups from Dollar Tree.  Very economical.

I mixed two heaping tablespoons of the powder with water to create a mix the consistency (and look) of pancake batter.  The first coat is thin and incomplete.  It's mainly meant to seal the cloth covering on the wires and harden the joints.  I used those super thin 28 gauge wires to avoid having obvious rings around the trunk, and it worked well.

It's amazing how the putty transforms the wire skeleton.  I didn't apply the putty to the roots since those will be buried in the landscaping.

Once this dries, I'll touch up the putty and work on the texture.

Kitty update: little Vi has been adjusting well, running about her new home like a Queen Bee.  :D  So cute!  I miss her, but I am so glad she has a loving home...and I do still get to see her from time to time.

Under the maple tree - part 1

by brae  

I'm back to making leaves, and a tree, for the Creatin' Contest build this year.  I changed my mind about the season for Milo Valley Farm when I made those autumn leaves, but I won't be using them for this build.  Instead, I picked up more of the Marcy Jaffe Easy Leaves kits to make a spring/summer maple tree.

I painted the tops in Americana Plantation Pine mixed with Americana Staining Medium to make the color more varied.  I applied the paint with a stencil brush.

The backs are painted Clover Green by Folk Art.  I colored the stems with a brown Sharpie before cutting them from the frames and shaping them.  If I don't have enough of the prepped Easy Leaves in the end, I do have a small paper punch so making more won't be an issue.  These sheets just save a lot of time.

For shaping and adding veins, I used my Bonnie Lavish leaf veiners, which I think are the bee's knees!  I have used a stylus alone in the past, but these make life so much easier.

As for the tree structure, I am following the same process as the ones I did for the Heritage maple and the dogwoodusing the tutorial from the DVD Master Miniaturists: Landscaping Primer with Diane Myrick.

I bought a bulk of 22 gauge cloth covered wires that included 240 18" pieces.  I wanted a few small roots to help plant the tree, so I extended some pieces of 18 gauge floral wire below the main trunk of 80 wires.  I used 28 gauge wire to tie the main wires together.

I want a relatively full tree, so I might need to add a few more branches.  I'll make up my mind tomorrow before proceeding to the next step.  I also plan to limit the width of the tree; we'll just say it's a young and skinny tree.  :D  The height will be 18" from the bottom of the trunk to the top branch tip.

There's Friedrich at the base for size reference.

Retro snake plant

by brae  

I made a smaller snake plant back in 2011.  I used the technique found in a book on making miniature plants out of florist tape called Miniature House Plants by Ruth Hanke.  In the book example, while the author did include painting the rough stripes of the plant, she didn't include the wide light green outer edges so I added those based on the real deal.  :D  I then sealed the leaves with Delta Ceramcoat Satin Varnish.

Last time, I used tea for the dirt.  This time, I used fine ballast from Woodland Scenics and used Scenic Cement to keep it all together.

The pot and stand came from Mod Pod Miniatures, but I sprayed the bucket a deep metallic orange.

Scenic cement

by brae  

For times when I've landscaped with gravel, I've just used regular white glue with gravel sprinkled over it.  I've left it to dry and then removed the excess.  This works perfectly fine for the most part, but I thought I'd give Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement a try.  It's meant to be applied after you've poured the gravel or ballast materials onto your landscape.  You can find it at hobby shops as well as Hobby Lobby.

I built a large planter for the patio and planted two topiary trees in it.  I sprinkled Woodland Scenics gravel into the planter over a layer of white glue to start.  I had a liquid dropper from Jasper's previous medications to use for the Scenic Cement.

April sent me this link to using the watery glue.  The dropper allowed for perfect control.

It is very watery so you'd have to watch what you're doing when working on anything with an incline or anything not water tight.  I had planned ahead and fully sealed the planter interior.

Once I had a good amount in the planter, I sprinkled some additional gravel on top.  Even if this top layer doesn't stick much, it won't matter.

There will be additional filler plants, but those can be glued on top of the gravel once this sets.

Milo Valley Farm - landscaping, part 2

by brae  

Continuing work on the landscaping.  I touched up the paint over the stucco application and dirtied up the lower portion of the stone foundation with a brown and black paint wash.

After looking at it some more, I decided I needed to build up the land to the barn door.  I glued and pinned a piece of thin foam to the existing ground.  I cut it to fit.

I then built up more stucco to even out the edges.

I painted it to blend with the rest of the land.

Instead of having the grass go all the way to the barn, I will have dirt showing along the foundation.  I started with Fine Ballast Dark Brown by Woodland Scenics.

I spread a layer of glue with a brush.

I applied the ballast liberally and gently pressed it into place.

The rabbit hole has a layer of ballast as well. :]

I let it set overnight before brushing the excess back into the container, then vacuuming the remainder.  I added a dark black brown paint wash to the ballast after I cleared the excess.  This will dry a little lighter than it looks now.

While that dried, I planted two greenery bushes purchased from A Little More in Miniatures at the mini shows earlier this year.  They smell awesome.  I dug out holes for the bases and glued each bush into the foam, spreading some brown ballast over the bases.  Why not plant these later after the barn doors are in?  No reason really.  :]

Operator error led to the bush by the rabbit hole losing a few branches.  I will use these as final touches, so all is not lost!  :D  These are natural elements and as such might not last the test of time.  Nice thing about an old barn is it won't matter if they end up bare and sad looking.

On the ramp, I applied random streaks of glue and then spread the glue with a brush.  The gravel is Woodland Scenics Ballast left over from Baslow Ranch.  I poured it on generously and pressed it gently.  I didn't bother to let it dry overnight before brushing the excess back into the container, then vacuuming the remainder.   I added some paint washes to make the gravel look more natural.

We're getting somewhere.  :]

To be continued....

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