The Conservatory

Front of Conservatory
I fell in love with this beautiful iron and acrylic case at an import store and added the "stained glass" inserts, each featuring a different kind of fruit.  The case is 18" wide and stands 15" high at the peak.

I originally created this scene a while back, but poorly-scaled crude plants (made by me) overwhelmed the scene and hid the treasures, while mis-matched planters and haphazardly-chosen accessories created a junk-store atmosphere.  This time, armed with a dozen new planters and some fabulous tropical flowers from the only miniature store in the state of Hawaii--and better plant-building skills--I think I got it right.

I tossed out most of the plants, keeping only the palm trees and three clumps of grasses.  
The floor, pots and fountains are all shades of gray-greens, and furniture is white or off-white.
Everything else is intensely colored; flowers are vivid shades of yellow, orange, and red, with just a few purple thrown in for accent, while upholstery and porcelain accessories are boldly contrasting cobalt blue and white. 

Top view of conservatory
View from above.
Look at all that floor space!

To come:  close ups of fountains (they really are cool!) and some of those fabulous flowers.  
But the camera batteries are not cooperating today.

Plant-Making Techniques
look at real plants (or photos) to understand shapes and construction

Palm Trees 
Fronds are made of two layers of painted paper with wire glued in between.  Cut a pointed oval shape frond with the wire running down the length, then fringe almost to the wire on both sides, cutting at an angle from the tip to the stem.

Bundle several leaves around a clump of "sprouts" (loops of pale-green florists tape) and bind wire stems with more tape.  

Trunks are lengths of fat round power cable with the wire removed and a stiff wire jammed through the length (substitute whatever you've got on hand) and wrapped with brown florists tape.  

Frond wires are shoved in one end of the power cable and secured with more tape.

Look for wired  garlands of mini leaves.  I've found them in several colors and leaf shapes at dollar stores, Michaels, and online at Kitz.  

As purchased, the garlands are kind of clunky.  Cut a variety of lengths (4"-8" works for me).  Gently untwist the two strands, producing daintier strands that twist and twine.  Twist the end of one wire around another to create branching vines.

I splashed mine with some lighter green acrylic paint to give more color variety.

Paper Flowers
I had only two paper punches when I was working on this; a tiny heart and a small sun.  It's amazing how many different flowers you can make with just those two shapes.

I used three shades of paper for the flowers: bright yellow, soft yellow, and salmon.  I used at least two shades at random in every flower to give a sense of life and variety.

The vine flowers are each made of three suns; two lightly shaped and the center one deeply shaped.

The bush flowers are each made of three hearts and two suns.  Each heart is creased down the center, then three are arrange points together on a green calyx (shaped sun) to make a cup shape.  A deeply shaped sun is glued in the center.

There's a wonderful flower tutorial on the Miniature Elegance website by Carla Benham.  She also carries flower making supplies including pre-punched petals and leaves (so you won't be limited by punch availability!)

Other Foliage
From the discount fake flower aisle:
Pull the stiffening off full-sized silk fern leaves  and arrange each lobe as a separate leaf.  Coil one end of a snippet of green wire to make a fiddleleaf.

Fringe the sides of small silk leaves to make them more delicate.

Some silk flowers have large leaves on the stem, and smaller ones just below the calyx of the flower.  These small leaves can be used as large leaves around the base of tall flowers.

Look for tiny multi-flower heads like Queen Ann's Lace (especially in green) to use for ground cover.

Bunches of grasses can be cut down and potted up.

Short chunks of the garlands mentioned under "vines" above can be stuck upright in pots for small woody plants.

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page created April 12, 2003
copyright Lee Menconi-Steiger 2003