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Saturday, June 4, 2016

MINIATURE VICTORIAN CONSERVATORY - New Collage Sheet & Digital Image Kit & Making Molds From Objects

Creating a conservatory has been something I have wanted to tackle.  I approached Leslie at Alpha Stamps about the idea, and she loved it; the end result is the Victorian conservatory you see here, filled with lovely plants, a beautiful fountain, and a nature-inspired chandelier.
You might be looking at this project and thinking, "there is no way I could do this," but you are wrong.  The entire structure comes as an easy-to-assemble kit, yeah, for kits!  All that is required for assembly is that you glue the die-cut pieces together using the tongue and groves cut into the chipboard.  Paint, decorative paper, and paper images give the piece its architectural details.
Further in the post below, you'll find a tutorial covering how I assembled and decorated the conservatory and the items inside.

I've assembled a new Conservatory/Garden collage sheet and a companion digital image set for this project.

This collage sheet is filled with lots of lovely images to decorate a conservatory or garden.  These images would also work well for standalone nature-themed artwork.  Included are:
3 Fountains
3 Statues
4 Urns
2 Bases or Bird Baths
1 Pedestal
1 Sun Dial
1 Sun Plaque
1 Astrological Dial
2 Styles of Green Man Plaques
Click on the image below to purchase this collage sheet.

This set contains 23 images, including all the images from the Conservatory/Garden collage sheet, plus 5 borders.  The border images are scaled to fit the Conservatory kit carried by Alpha Stamps.  All the images in this set can be easily re-sized for your project as they are high-resolution (300dpi) PNG formatted images.
Click on the image below to purchase this digital image set.

The base is made from a kit containing the top, sides, and a step.  
I started by gluing the pieces together.
Next, I covered the base with cobblestone scrapbook paper.

The conservatory kit contains everything you need (floor, walls, doors, and roof) to build the conservatory.  Below is a picture of the floor, sides, and doors.
I started by painting the walls.  The end result consists of three colors, the original brown of the chipboard and two acrylic paint colors.
First, I applied Apple Barrel acrylic paint (antique white).  I used a stencil brush and a taping motion to apply the paint.  I used a paper towel to remove most of the paint from my brush so I wouldn't apply too much paint.  I also used a paper towel to remove excess paint from the wall surface.  The idea is to add the color without covering up all of the natural browns of the chipboard.
Next, I applied Apple Barrel acrylic paint (Khaki) using the same method as the previous paint.  Again the idea is to not cover up all of the original browns of the chipboard and the antique white acrylic paint.
I did this to both sides of the walls.  Below is a close-up picture of the end result.
Next, I cut faux glass for the windows using clear plastic that comes in 12x12 sheets.  I cut the plastic slightly larger than the windows in the walls, then glued the plastic to the walls using Glossy Accents. 
NOTE: Before applying the plastic to the windows, remove the film covering one side of the plastic.
If the Glossy Accents ends up somewhere you don't want (I do this all the time), use a Q-tip wet with Windex to carefully remove the excess glue.  You can also use Windex to wipe away fingerprints.
Next, I glued three sides to the base.  Starting with just three sides made it easier to work inside.
I used 2 borders from the Conservatory/Garden digital image set to decorate the inside.
I placed the large colorful board in the middle of the bottom section of the walls.
I used the cream border at the bottom and top of the windows.  In addition to looking architectural, the borders covered the edge of the windows where the plastic is glued to the wall.
For the floor, I used Double Dot Vintage Chiffon scrapbook paper.  In the center of the floor, I placed a large medallion from the digital image kit.
  • First, I attached the roof base to the top of the windows.  I used the dark border to cover the tongue and grove where the roof and walls meet.

  • I then added the dark border to the bottoms of the outside windows.
  • Next, I added a wide cream border to the edges of the walls where the walls meet.  This gives you nice clean corners and hides the tongue and grove used to hold the wall pieces together.
  • To the bottom, I added more of the dark border.  I also added the border to the open area on the floor where the doors will be attached.
  • Finally, I backed the fancy cream border with chipboard to make it pop out and glued it to the top of the windows under the roof base.

I made paper clay panels featuring a Green Man plaque.  I needed 10 panels, three for the closed walls and 2 for each open wall, so I decided to use brass stamping to make a mold.  This allowed me to make as many as I wanted and reduce expenses. 
  • You can make a mold from metal or plastic objects and from rubber stamps.  The mold you make can be used with various materials, including UTTE, wax, soap, and clay.  The mold can withstand the heat of materials such as melted wax.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I'm going to focus on using paper clay.
  • You'll want to select objects that you repeatedly use.  The object you choose shouldn't have lots of holes or too much detail, as it is difficult to get a good mold and remove the excess clay from the dried clay piece.
  • The molding in the product is Ice Resin Silicone Molding Putty.
IMPORTANT: Combining the materials from the two containers causes the mold to set, so don't mix the materials until you are ready.
Remove enough material from one of the containers (it doesn't matter which one) to cover one-half of the item you wish to mold.  Roll the material into a ball.
Remove the same amount of material from the other container and roll it into a ball.  Rolling the materials into balls makes it easier to see that you have equal amounts.  The balls should be close in size but don't fret if they aren't perfectly identical; it will still work.
Now you are ready to mix the materials together.  Mix the materials as quickly as possible until they are completely blended and the color is a light grey, and there are no swirls.  The material will start to harden in about 3 to 4 minutes, so it is critical that you work quickly.
Spread the combined material over your object, making sure all of the object is covered.  
I then flip the object over on a flat surface so that the edges around the object are flat.
Allow the mold to set, which takes approximately 10 minutes.  Remove the object from the mold.
Now your mold is ready to use.  Fill the mold with paper clay and allow the clay to dry for a short period to make it easier to remove from the mold.  If you have the time, you can allow the clay to dry in the mold.  If you remove the clay from the mold, keep it flat, as it will warp.  After the outside is slightly dry, I put a lightweight on the piece to keep it from warping as it continues to dry.  Placing the piece on a paper towel will help it to dry faster as the paper will draw the moisture out of the clay

I cut two sizes of chipboard for the panels and used the same painting technique as I did for the walls.  The chipboard pieces measure:
2" x 2" and 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" for the side panels (cut 6 of both sizes)
1 1/2" x 2" and 1 3/8" x 1 1/2" for the front and back panels (cut 4 of both sizes)
I painted the clay pieces with copper-colored acrylic paint and rubbed them with Patina Gilders Paste.
Below are the pieces that make up the roof. You'll also see the roof base that I already discussed in the Wall & Floor section above.
  • First, I cut plastic pieces for each of the sides and the top and put them aside.
  • I then glued the four sides to the top piece and to each other.
  • Next, I spray painted the roof with copper-colored spray paint (this was much faster than hand painting).
  • Then using my finger, I rubbed on Patina Gilders Paste to give the roof a weathered copper look.
  • I then glued the plastic pieces on the inside of the roof.
  • Just as I did with the doors, I glued strips of the dark border to the edges of the plastic to hide where it was glued to the roof windows.
  • I also added the dark border to the outside of the roof as extra detail.  It also hides the seam between each of the windows and the top and side windows.
  • To accommodate the chandelier, I cut a small hole in the center of the top window (in plastic).
To support the pineapple final on the center of the roof and to accommodate the chandelier chain, I painted a stackable die-cut label and inserted an eye pin, cutting the pin short enough to make a loop for the chain.
Next, I glued the roof to the roof base.
After attaching the roof, I added knobs as finals to each corner.
The last architectural detail is the brackets that I added to each corner.

  • I painted both sets of doors copper.
  • I cut plastic pieces (like the windows) for each door.  I glued the plastic to the door and used the dark border to cover where the plastic is glued to the door.
  • I glued the door behind the fountain in place (closed).
  • I glued the front doors in place (open).
Flanking the front door are two pillars supporting an astrolabe and a sundial.  The astrolabe is made from stuff in my stash.  The sundial is a separate piece from the column.  Notice the cute frog sitting on the dial.
As a final touch, I added Flower Soft to some of the edges around the cobblestone.

Another option for external décor is a garden gazing ball with a stand. 

In the back of the conservatory is a beautiful fountain. It's one of those things that when I see it, I think, "I need to build a conservatory to showcase it." Notice the little frogs sitting on the fountain. 

In the fountain base and pedestal contain resin water.  Spraying out of the lion's head is a stream of resin water.  How cool is that!

The inspiration for the chandelier came from a life-sized real chandelier.

If you want to make a chandelier like mine, you'll need a mix of leaves (with holes) and flower beads.  Acrylic and Lucite look best as often these materials are semi-translucent.  
  • I started by inserting the wire in the holes of the leaves and flowers and wrapping the short end of the wire around the long end of the wire (easy peasy).  
  • For the flowers, I used a headpin inserted through the hole in the flower, sniping away the excess leaving enough to bend the pin to form a loop.  
  • Next, I inserted a wire through the loop and wrapped the wire just like I did for the leaves.  
  • I also inserted a wire into a few beads and wrapped the wire just like the leaves.  Below are all the pieces with wire.
Next, you'll need something to hang the leaves, flowers, and beads from.  The hangar I used comes from my stash.  
If you don't have something like this, you could use a bangle bracelet and wire to create something that functions like the piece I used.  
I wrapped the long end of the wires attached to the leaves and flowers around the hanger.  I wrapped the beads around the top of the hanger.  The hook on the top of the hanger hooks into the chain hanging from the roof.  Notice how the beads are wrapped around the top of the hanger.

On the inside of the conservatory, I used two different tables to hold some of the pots.  The first is a lovely ornate 3 tier stand.
I first assembled the stand and then painted it a teal color.
Below you can see how the back side of the stand looks with the flowers.  This is the side you see through the window.
Below is the front of the stand that you see from inside the conservatory.
The second plant table is also made of chipboard which I painted white.
Alpha Stamps is carrying all kinds of miniature pots that would work well for a conservatory or garden.  Most of the flowers in the pots are also carried by Alpha Stamps (you'll find them in the supply list at the bottom of the post).  The rest are from my stash.

For some of the pots, I started by adding decorative elements.  Below are two wooden pots decorated with Dresden and a paper clay shell.  If you want the shell to curve around the pot, you need to bend it on the pot while the clay is wet.  Make sure it stays curved on the pot as it dries.
Next, I painted the pot with acrylic paint.  Once dry, I used my finger to brush on a different color of acrylic paint.  This gives you an aged look.  Below you can see two different sizes of wooden pots using this technique.  Some of the leaves in the pots are made from paper clay using 2 different silicone leaf molds.  Using a mold is great, as you can make as many as you want.
Another option is to make the pots look like an urn.  I turned a smaller pot upside down in the pots below and glued it to a larger pot.  Next, I painted the pots copper and rubbed them with Patina Gilders Paste.  Unlike the wood pots, I added decorative elements on top of the paint this time.  Notice the Dresden and sparrows compass brass piece, which was easy to bend around the pot.
If decorating pots is not your thing, you'll like this set of pots pictured below that already have dimensional decorations.  If you don't like the color, just paint them.
Below you can see the finished pots.  I painted them with one color and then rubbed the raised decorative bits with another color.  The leaves in the pot in the middle are clay made from a silicone leaf mold.
Below are more wooden pots that paint in various colors.
The simplest option is the pre-decorated pots shown below.  Once again, all these pots have clay leaves.
Below are the two leaf molds I used.  Each has several styles of leaves.
You may have noticed that many of the leaves in the pots are curved.  This is accomplished by taking the wet clay out of the mold and bending it so that it dries curved.  Usually, you need to make sure that the clay is flat, as it will warp.  In this case, let it warp and curl.


Tarnished Rose said...

Absolutely gorgeous! And that conservatory is going on my wish list for my next order. I'm a miniaturist as well as being addicted to mixed media and this is right up my alley. That new studio of mine (where I will have room to do both), can't come quick enough.


peggy gatto said...

I can't find the right words to describe this spectacular, lovely, amazing project! A gem!!!!! Thank you for posting it and all the details!!!!

sheilaAR said...

Oh Laura, this is so amazingly beautiful!! "Won't you join me for a glass of wine in the Conservatory?!" Gorgeous!! Always on a wish list for a home. Thanks for making one I could afford, hehe. Thanks also for your generous tutorial. xo sheila

papercraftgoddess said...

Ordering the conservatory as we speak...I've GOT to have one!! This is so beautiful!! Ty for sharing!

elizabeth s said...

A Really Beautiful Conservatory! I love the way you have embellished it and made it come to life with a variety of faux paint applications, it is all Very Creative, and looks Fabulous! :D

Jane said...

What a stunning piece...so many gorgeous details x

johala said...

Hello Laura
I would like the same in real in my garden!
Hugs and kisses

L Mahaffey said...

It's really lovely, Laura!

Diane at Craftin Your HeART Out! said...

Haven't been around in a long time, but I am so thankful I decided to visit your Blog today. What can I possibly say that I have not already said about your artwork. Other than repeating myself, which so deserves repeating, you are an amazing, talented artist and you out do yourself each and every time with every new project you create. Stunning, gorgeous, magical and above all brilliant.

Diane at Craftin Your HeART Out! said...

Haven't been around in a long time, but I am so thankful I decided to visit your Blog today. What can I possibly say that I have not already said about your artwork. Other than repeating myself, which so deserves repeating, you are an amazing, talented artist and you out do yourself each and every time with every new project you create. Stunning, gorgeous, magical and above all brilliant.