New project: yuccas. The trunk is cut from an organic Medjool date pit :)

yucca_proto_partsI’ve been thinking about yuccas for a while. They’re such an iconic houseplant, and here in California, many varieties grow in the landscape. Above is the design process: free form shapes cut in paper, then drawn in Illustrator and cut from cardstock with a Cricut Explore Air 2. I’ve got pretty good working models, which will be refined as I build and rebuild. Still a long way to go with colors and details.


This is an armature from a succulent I had at the ready, and I learned a lot from messing with it as a yucca plant. There are characteristics of the tree-form varieties that will translate well in torn paper-wrapped wire. And Braxton Payne’s exquisite pottery makes for perfect containers.


(Speaking of Braxton Payne, I just saw he’s making a Southwestern-style beehive fireplace… which I think must replace the Scandinavian-style one currently in use on the MMS+S set.)


Yucca Proto_01 on a Peter Tucker bench. Much as I love terracotta, I think I’ll glaze this pot matte black to match the black sand. And then switch to lighter color sand for future specimens. Imagine this plant much taller and more gracefully limbed. Getting back to work now.


18 thoughts on “Yucca

  1. elizabeth s says:

    You have certainly captured the fullness and the form of the Yucca! I have a bank of them growing along the side of my property and love them for their hardiness and for their structure. Mine put out a tall stem in June and July which blossoms with cream colored flowers that have such a sweet cloying smell that I must chop them off as soon as they bloom. Other than that, misdemeanor I love having them in my RL garden and love what I see you doing with them in Miniature.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth! I’ve only seen flowering yucca in pictures — that I know of. I know what you mean about overbearing flower fragrance, though. I am not an insect! I’m enjoying researching and synthesizing their varied colors and forms, with the hopes of producing an ultimate houseplant — in miniature — tall, sculptural, living green.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      BW, so glad you think so! The yuccas in the landscapes around here are hardy and sculptural. Indoors is a whole other form, and that’s where I take my inspiration.
      That said, my own personal experience is to confirm your supposition about the magical and colorful nature of CA, but also that I’m improbably biased. I expect that everyone feels the same way about their own garden and environs?

  2. Pepper says:

    Another fabulous addition to your flora collection Nancy. I love structural plants like these. Thanks for the link to the Braxton Paynes too, I’ve never seen them before :0)

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Ya, Pepper, thanks! Who does not long for a robust, low-maintenance, upright sculptural houseplant that tucks in neatly behind a sofa? And that thrives in an absurdly small decorative pot?
      As for Braxton Payne… *sigh* I did extensive research when first launching MMS+S for good, scale-correct, affordable pottery, and came up with *nothing*. Then I happened upon an estate sale, and bought some gorgeous, simple perfect pots… then I began corresponding with miniaturist Nancy Bristow, and she gave a name to the artisan — still working!  — behind the pots. It’s the best possible story, and the best possible product for anyone wishing for perfectly scaled pots. And other stuff!

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Ingi, thank you! I’m still figuring it all out, but I’m thinking there will be kits, as well as finished specimens for those who prefer instant gratification.

  3. Bennie says:

    Very cute and as usual life-like! You must have the patience of a saint to work with such small pieces and designing them from scratch too.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      Bennie, hi! I am most certainly cute and life-like. As for patience… the very nature of my work is inquiry and problem-solving. The iterations and refinements of a mini-thing is an absorbing rabbit-hole of possibility and delight. I know I am not alone.

    • Nancy Enge says:

      I’ve had the date pit idea for some time; initially I was thinking cycads. Yuccas make such good houseplants, tall or short. My ultimate goal is to make a miniature Joshua tree :)

  4. Nancy Bristow says:

    Hey Nancy… I loved connecting to you and re-connecting with Braxton Payne. The quality of his work has never changed in the 30+ years that I’ve known him. He does more than pots, but since my focus for all these many years has mainly been plants and flowers and baskets and garden stuff and… and… I’ve almost always used Braxton’s pots and am like a hoarder when I even think my supply is getting low — ha ha. He’s also just a really nice person. I sent him a photo of Hens and Chicks from your kit in one of his bowl containers and he totally loved it. It’s seriously awesome.

    I’m really looking forward to your Yucca kit. The last prototype you showed is fabulous. Of course being on the East Coast, I don’t know Yuccas, but I love them just the same. I’m going to be very busy working on miniatures this coming winter. Right now, my real gardens demand most of my time and energy and being old, that’s limited. As long as I can still move, it’s all good :)

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