Landscaping and Plants
Wanna in El Paso
Scenic Water: I just wanted to let everyone know that the Scenic Water that was featured on page 34 of Dollhouse Miniatures will be coming to America soon. I have been chosen as a distributor and will be covering the Northeast US for stores and anywhere in the US or Canada for Internet or personal sales. If anyone is interested, please send an e-mail to this address: firstname.lastname@example.org. I will mail out information and an order form for you. If you belong to a club or know of others who would be interested, let me know and I can either mail extras to you or if I get the addresses, I will mail information to them. I am really excited about this product and I would love to send you information.
Flower Gel: I use the flower gel, too. The brand I buy is called Everlasting Elegance and is sold at most of the usual chain hobby stores......Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc. You could probably find it anywhere they sell dried or fabric flowers. I like it better than other resins because the smell is not as strong. It still smells, and you need ventilation. I have used it for fish ponds and it works very well. I pour mine in 2 or 3 layers, depending on how deep the pond is. And, I have let it partially set up before pouring to simulate a water fall. Works great!
Freesia: A five-petal punch (about 1/4 inch) and 30 gauge wire works for freesia. Slosh a thin wash in your colors on tracing paper; let dry, punch and cup. Tie a knot in a piece of embroidery thread, fray, and dip the ends lightly in glue for your pistil; glue to wire. Use the end of the wire to punch into each flower center, pushing it up to cup around the pistil. I usually use two. To get the tubular shape, twist base of flower around wire. Paint base green or use small cupped green star punch, and use darker shade of flower color to touch edges of bloom slightly.
Go to www.google.com Search, click on Images, type in freesia, and you'll see good pics.
Wanna in El Paso
FIREFLIES: I have simulated fireflies mechanically with fiber optics and electronically with bulbs AND with fiber optics. Frankly, I liked the mechanical system best. Here goes. I built an opaque drum (cylinder) out of aluminum (shiny side in) and powered it to be turned by a 4 RPM appliance motor. ATTENTION EVERYBODY!! Rescue timer motors from all and any abandoned laundry machines! These are the geared can motors that advance your timer switches. Hidden, they run on 110Volt (USA) and can be used for ceiling fans, electric model trains, revolving Christmas trees, and lightening bugs among other mini projects.
The drum is turned by the timer motor at one end and has a 6 watt clear light bulb inserted from other end. Rig a fire proof light block to keep most light inside except for flash slits to be covered shortly.
I softened thin brass tubing by heating to cherry red on the stove then quenching in cold water. Insert fiber optic strands into the brass tubeand guide from where you want your "bugs" to flash (pointing toward viewers) and the other end secured to point directly at the outside of the drum. Now for the magic. Cut a long thin slit in the drum exactly where the ends of fibers are pointing at it. Mark where first then take your drum out and lay it over a work surface to cut the slit. Ideally, The light should suddenly "Flash" directly into the fiber optic tube then the slit should turn away at a very slight angle so that the amount of light kind of "fades" just like the butt on a real fire fly. Several different slits to different fibers or several different fiber tubes at the same slit along differing parts of the revolution give you multiples. Three seems to be about the maximum number of fire flies in a single setting. Four or more tends to over do it (IMHO).
For reasonable brevity, I haven't pointed out all the little details but hope this will get you started. If you have specific questions or need for more explicit explanation, feel free to e-mail direct.
Mel K in LasVegas
Swimming Pool: I am making a pool (swimming), and have created half moon steps 3 deep out of fimo, drains, screen from faucet adaptor, some little plastic white thingamajigs that have holes for the jets, and need to know, as I am filling it with resin, if there is a certain resin proof glue I should use since they are tacked down and don't want it to slither away after pouring.?? I also have aluminum steps,(small pegboard hooks with handcrafted steps), (looks so darn real), .I am especially concerned what I should use to hold them to the side to keep them in place. Diving board, (rectangle wood with sandpaper on top painted white, turned out great too! Can't wait to post a pic! Any answers will be appreciated.
Swimming Pool Glue: We have had very good results with Bond Tacky. As a point of interest, you might want to consider pouring the resin for the pool in layers rather than one solid pour. The layers won't show, and it will generate less heat that might soften any plastic you used.
Live mini plants: If you can find a copy of the August 1997 (issue 59) magazine "Dolls House World", there is an article in there about John Chasty who makes living miniature gardens. The plants recommended are:
For trees -- - Coniferous; chamaecyparis lawsoniana, 'Ellwoods Pillar' (tall thin column), Chamaecyparis lawsoniana, 'Green Globe' (says it can be trimmed into miniature topiary), Juniperus communis 'Compressa' (light thin spire of smoky foliage)
According to the article, John Chasty has written a book entitled "Miniature Gardening" which is available from "Miniature Bookshop". I searched for their website and found the bookshop, but no gardening book :( Maybe you can find it through one of the bookfinders though.
Tori West - Tucson, Arizona
Landscaping: Our preference for landscaping is Woodland Scenic products. The three colors of green, blended for the lawn looks very realistic. For trees, we have tried the vinyl tree kits, but they just don't look real. We now go out in the yard and pick the perfect branch for the tree trunk. There is no size limitation for your choices when you are choosing your tree base. Spray the branch with clear sealer and glue Woodland Scenic lichen to the branches. As thin or dense as you prefer. It also comes in three shades of green and also an autumn mix for fall trees. Very realistic looking trees.
Landscaping: I think model railroad shops/departments are a good place to start. If you want a lawn they have those big grass mats and/or loose grass in different colors. They have little trees and bushes, not in the same scale but the trees can pass for bushes etc.
And, at Michael's or other types of stores depending on where you live, once the
Halloween stuff is in stock thru Christmas, they get these great trees in for the village scenes. They are kind of expensive (for me, for 1 tree) but the fall ones are nice and would work as a smaller tree. I also recently got some vine looking stuff on wire that I'm going to use as creeping vines up one side of my house where there are no windows. You can also find some nice fabric and ceramic flowers in the bridal/favors section.
"MiniKitz" http://www.minikitz.com They sell the cutest loose leaves, summer or fall colors, to scatter about.
Large trees: I made one from electric wires, twisted together with most of the wires making up the trunk and then thinning out as you get higher in the tree. I subsequently saw the same technique used in an artist's scene in either Miniature Collector or Dollhouse Miniatures You can paint the wires so that they appear to be solid and add
foliage and flowers for a flowering tree_ after you have the framework done. The tree in the magazine was a fall tree, with beautifully coloured flowers.
Jackie in Ontario
Large trees: I used string-covered florist wire... then (after twisting the bottom together to make the trunk, and spreading out the top parts for branches) I "paint" it all with a fairly thick mixture of(I think it's called putty-plaster) or something like that. When dry, I gave it a wash of acrylic paint. It becomes a VERY realistic looking tree as the putty provides a bark-like appearance.
Large trees: A trick I learned in a workshop recently: Before painting the wire used to make the trunk and branches, cover the whole thing with a thin layer of glue. The glue sticks to the wire and the paint sticks to the glue.
Pat M, London, ON
Tree Trunks: I recently took a class from Mary Kinloch and the subject was a weeping hibiscus tree (from Gulf South Show) and learned her method of creating tree trunks. It works fantastically and thought since the subject came up I would share her knowledge. She started out with floral wire. (since these trees are small, the wire was small). Do not twist wire but glue to keep in place, pulling out branches as it is being twisted, let dry. Once the tree is together as you like it, you paint it with a mixture of gel medium and color of choice (brown, tan, black blended for color) no real recipe, just add color to your liking to the gel. You paint it on quite thick creating a more rounded trunk. You can paint up the branches as far as you like...but it is not necessary as most will be covered with leaves. Let dry for 24 hours. As it dries the gel medium will shrink and hug the wires...this makes for a more natural, life-like tree trunk. It is really an ingenious method, time consuming (because of drying), but well worth the effort. You can add baby powder for texture if you like and dry brush paint colors such as grays, browns, greens, (to your liking)to the trunk for that richness in color.
Rhonda in Fl
Trees...The only thing I would add to Rhonda's description is that while the gel medium is still wet, I sprinkle on texture material. Texture material is used in wall paint and is available at Home Depot. It would be like using sand. Some of the sand I have gotten dissolves. That is why I don't use it. The other good thing about gel medium is that when it dries you can still bend the branches or trunk and it won't crack. I once used a water putty (in a kit) for a tree trunk and once it dried it would crack very easy.
Realistic looking trees: I've thought that many trees used with 1/12 scale dollhouses are too small to be realistic. In real life, most shade trees and evergreens tower over one and two story houses, but the trees sold for miniatures are usually no more than 10 inches high. That would be a pretty small real life tree. I have found a company, though, that makes beautiful realistic trees, and some are 18 or 24 inches high. If you're looking for large trees, check out this website http://members.aol.com/architrees/
Mary in Virginia
Mini fountains: Hi all, just wanted to share my victory over the mini fountain I wanted but couldn't find any where. I made two circles out of cardboard, cutting one smaller in diameter than the other. Then covered each with fimo kneading medium, fluting the edges to look like fountain bowls. I built up the bottom base by adding tiny balls of medium around the edge. I then took a dolphin finding I purchased at Michaels a while back, (they are jumping dolphins, flat on one side) cut off the loop on the top and sanded with my Dremel, then glued two together to form a complete dolphin. I centered this in the bottom bowl and anchored it in a ball of fimo with e6000. I then attached the top bowl to the head of the dolphin in the same manner. Bake this.
I then took a silver bell cap that has eight tear shaped holes and one in the center. I strung eight loops of stretch magic around a toothpick to make a top loop, put the ends down through the center hole bringing each end back up through the eight tear shaped holes and glued the top hole to hold the loop. I centered the bell cap w/strings into the top bowl, glued this down, cut each string end to fit and glued each end into the bottom bowl. This looks like strings of water falling from the top bowl to the bottom bowl when finished.
I then cut each top loop, curled each end down and anchored to the bell cap with glue. When dry, I drizzled blue tinted scenic water into each bowl and down the strings, then drizzled ultra glow over that when dry. I used cigarette ash to dabble onto the fimo kneading medium before baking so it looks like marble and "voila" a really cute, spouting dolphin fountain! I made two of these in three hours, the other one has a pewter coyote holding up the top bowl. They are going to look great in my gazebo and conservatory with white wire wicker furniture.
Judy in Oregon
Landscaping: Today in the mail I received a Scenic Express catalog. It's full of all sorts of landscaping materials for those whose hobby is model railroads. One thing that caught my eye were the pages of ready made trees which would be perfect for 1/2 inch and 1/4 inch scale projects. The trees range in height from 2 inches to 12 inches or thereabouts. The trees look very realistic, and most of the prices are very reasonable. Their website is: http://www.scenicexpress.com
Mary in MS
Scatter Grip: For scenery I have a product called Scatter Grip. It is applied with a throw-away brush and dries tacky. You then sprinkle the foam for grass and dirt or ballast for trains or gravel, pat it down, shake off the excess and you have landscaping. The pluses are that you don't have to mix anything, it is not gloppy like tacky glue and you don't have to worry about over spray and therefore you don't mask areas. You don't have a lot of steps involved in the application. If it looks thinner than you like you can brush more on and shake on more greenery. For those of you that give classes, it's great. You can get this product from shops or me as well. http://www.scenicwater.com
Deanna from downtown Thiensville
Mini cattails: I have made mini cattails by using leftover stems from dried flowers (the flowers were used for something else as a frugal minnier never wastes useful hoarded stuff - heh! heh! ). Dip in tacky glue and then dip in brown "scenic sand" (found in may craft stores). You can then shape and let dry and recoat later until you get the thickness you want. They looked pretty realistic, although not fuzzy to the touch. You could use smooth round toothpicks if you haven't any spare stems around.
Ginger in sunny New River, Arizona
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