Courtyard Set


I wanted to build a courtyard set in which to photograph the miniature succulents, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time doing it. I mulled it over conceptually for a few days, then remembered I had this egg carton paved floor from a few years ago. It had been sealed, so I grouted it with DAP spackle.


I spent about half a day going through all my MDF scrap, windows, doors and gates, dry-fitting various combinations to fit the floor. And getting frustrated when they inevitably collapsed, as all dry-fits do. All the while sighing with that sinking feeling of I really don’t want to do all the work of cutting, patching, painting, sanding. Then I remembered I didn’t have to, and settled on a peaked end panel from a garage kit, and a length of half-inch foamboard for the long back wall. I mixed up a stucco slurry from some fine texture medium, thinned acrylic paint and a little tacky glue. It was a very enjoyable application :)


After gluing the pieces together, I put it on the floor in front of my wee-yet-powerful Dyson heater to dry overnight.


Today I added a few pieces of wood trim — a cross beam and some posts — all stained leftovers from Argo Wool Works, and called it done. Actually, tomorrow I’ll drill some holes and add small nails and dowels for increased stability. Also I’m currently incubating designs for building anchor stars to cut on the Cricut and a few implementations of MMS+S signage :)


Here are some vases that will be available real soon over at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries. (These are just my prototype succulents; the actually plants have thinner stems.) Above is a turquoise-glazed porcelain Art Deco vase, about an inch tall.


This is a glazed porcelain vase sculpted with cavorting sea horses.


And one of my freaky favorites, a reproduction of an ancient 15th–13th century vase marked Chypre (Cyprus). Fierce! Nasty!


Update: Original vessel is in The British Museum, whose website is impossibly slow, but I found this image on a Pinterest board. “Glazed composition vessel in form of woman’s head. Ancient Cyprus in the British Museum”.


For you, Pepper.

11 thoughts on “Courtyard Set

  1. elizabeth s says:

    How Fortunate for you to have found a floor all ready to go, which has proved to be the Ideal foundation for your courtyard display.
    Your white stucco walls will act as the perfect backdrop for your colorful succulents so their foliage will shine!

    • Nancy Enge says:

      I do feel fortunate, Elizabeth! I feel quite certain that all of us make stuff that doesn’t quite work out in the moment, but hold on to it, hoping that one day it will. Judging by the amount of “stuff” I have… the ratio of stuff-on-hand to moments-of-perfect-usage is skewed towards hoarding. With, of course, the corollary that the minute one lets something go, the very next day the *perfect* usage will present itself.

  2. Barbara W. says:

    The floor is lovely and I cannot believe how quickly you put the courtyard setting together. I’m really looking forward to seeing what accessories your shop will stock.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Thanks, BW! I think you recognize the vases, as it was you who shared ValueARTifacts with me in the first place :) This is a resource every miniaturist should know about!
      I wanted the courtyard as a versatile photo backdrop, and have to keep reminding myself I have no more room for builds. I think the “Sundries” part of the shop name will have greater substance as I settle into the creative opportunities of the cutting machine :)

  3. Jodi Hippler says:

    I have already started accessorizing your lovely courtyard in my head – every time I see something cooI WANT IT! But it is really cool! And I love Chypre – she has a succulent growing out of her headdress and is not happy about it!

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Jodi, that is so sweet, and I so appreciate your enthusiasm! But really, the courtyard set is meant to be a sort of moveable feast — I’m probably using this term wrong — as a simple, consistent backdrop for the tiny succulents. May I be the first to say I know what I’m doing and I have no idea what I’m doing?

  4. pepper says:

    I can’t help feel that Chypre is related to Zoltar, the fortune telling machine from the film ‘Big’ :0P

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