An Exaltation of Yuccas

I’m excited to share photos of some incredible yuccas, made by two different miniature artists, both starting from the same kit.*

*Uhh, to clarify: each had her own kit. Two artists, two kits, two locations. Nancy finished first. Not that it was a contest.

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This is Nancy Bristow’s work. (Nancy has been making miniatures since the 1970s, and it was she who finally identified the Braxton Payne pots I had bought at auction, and pointed me to his obscure website.) She hand-colored the leaves using markers, and I love that she styled them curling out and upward. So pert and jaunty! They’re planted in BP pots she “aged”, and used bird grit as gravel.

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Here’s a shot of Nancy’s work-in-progress, adding knot holes to the stems. I noticed she chose to curl the leaves first, before attaching to the stem. Brilliant! It is so gratifying — and informative — to see how other makers work with my kits. One can learn so much.

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This is Keli Minick’s interpretation of the yucca tree kit. Look at those colors! I love the graceful trunk, and the stubby branch. Two completely different plants! She suggested using round nose pliers to separate and shape the leaves after attaching — which makes the process much less tedious. And she kindly pointed out a typo in the armature instruction sheet. Argh!

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Here’s what the Broad Leaf Yucca Tree kit looks like to start. This is the green leaf variation; cream and white are also available. (I believe Nancy B started with white leaves; Keli with cream?)

What would you make of it?

Sincere thank-yous and expressions of humbled awe to Nancy and Keli for allowing me to share their work. 

Sea House Pavilion Remodel: Front Entry

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Work has begun on framing in the front entry, using 3/8-inch stock to match the existing structure. I chose a set of Houseworks French doors, installed backwards so they open outward. There will be a 5-inch wide transom window above. The door woodwork is finished in an eggshell white stain, and the two side panels will be reclaimed weathered gray horizontal planking.

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I got curious about the line weights in intricate pattern that I might successfully cut (and remove from the mat) on the Cricut, and got down to 6 points (.083-inch / 2.1 mm). This seems a good scale for the narrow panels of the doors and transom (the greenhouse window leading is 9 points (.125- inch / 3.2 mm).

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The difference in scale between the front doors and the greenhouse windows makes sense (especially now that I know I can cut finer line weights). The interior front wall will be planked in the eggshell white stain, with a matte varnish.

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Now I’m thinking on how the ceiling between the main floor and the sleeping loft will work, and how to finish out the fireplace through to the roof — some tricksy geometries. I ordered a bunch of vegetable kits from Georgie Steeds at The Miniature Garden — my favorite miniature plant kit purveyor — to populate the long shelf in the greenhouse. The interior greenhouse windows are open to the room so the potted trees can reach out.

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Also, how is it almost November?!

 

 

 

Sea House Pavilion Remodel: Greenhouse Wing Leaded Glass Windows Complete

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The leaded glass windows for the Sea House Pavilion greenhouse wing are completed and installed.

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Here’s a mildly different view. (It’s late, and my studio lighting is rubbish.) But if you were the caretaker of an historic heritage seaside resort that was abandoned because of sea level rise, wouldn’t you want a place to grow fresh greens and fruit to supplement your subsistence gatherer lifestyle?

I know I would.

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And I would want it to be beautiful.

 

Sea House Pavilion Sea Rise Remodel

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Turns out — after a lot of experimentation and test builds and weathering practice and pondering and faffing about — as much as I am captivated by abandoned miniatures, I do not wish to actually build one. I felt a bit sad when I realized this, but also relieved. The pavilion remodel still has sea level rise as a core premise, but now it’s more of a retrofitted, off-the-grid, self-sufficient adaptation that’s been going on for some years. With scavenging and memorabilia. The old skiff, with its faded Sea House emblem, stays. Stormy is just passing through :)

Treasure Map, Yucca Kit

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Maddie drew a treasure map. The iconography is bold and challenging on many levels, not the least of which is her rendering of the letter “R”. Type designers, bow down, maybe even despair a little bit, that you might ever envision an “R” this way. I’ve not yet heard her telling of the map story, only that the thing that looks like a Crusader shield is an “X marks the spot”.

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I’ve listed the first yucca tree kit over at MMS+S. It includes both an armature kit and a leafy clusters kit, with a choice of three base colors: white, manila or green. I plan on making kits of just the leafy clusters available, for those who want to make their own armatures, and eventually just supply packs of leafy clusters sans instructions, for those who get it and want to build more yucca plants. Every build needs at least one good yucca :)

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So many possibilities! There’s one more versatile yucca houseplant kit in the queue, and after that, it’s on to making specimens. I’ve drawn a different leaf cluster, longer and finer, and am working with a smaller gauge armature, just for the finished trees and plants.

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Here is Maddie, studying the most recent Eric Carle book, and Ruby, being what contented two-month old humans are. Kind of my world right now :)

Armatures, S-Town, Cricut

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I’m working on a yucca-and-others armature kit. It involves hand-tearing a lot of brown paper into narrow strips. One of my best-practice recommendations will be to watch a movie (that does not require eyes glued to the screen) or better yet, listen to podcasts. As of this writing, I’m listening to S-Town, again.

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My husband’s employer was hosting a TSA Pre certification opportunity, so after we enrolled, he cut work early. After a pleasant luncheon in the Presidio, we took a stroll through the Legion of Honor Museum, where this very antique clock caught my eye — hence the S-Town reference. If you’ve not listened to this brilliant piece of true life storytelling yet, I encourage you to do so. I promise it will simultaneously break and uplift whatever is left of your tender, jaded heart.

Here’s one of my latest exchanges with the wonderful customer support worker bees at Cricut:

Nancy Enge: Any progress with the SVG import capability?
Nancy Enge: My experience says no.
*** Deepak joined the chat ***
Deepak: Hello Nancy

Deepak: We are still working on it.
Nancy Enge: Hello Deepak
Deepak: Let me try from my laptop.
Nancy Enge: Try what?
Deepak: Uploading that image
Nancy Enge: Deepak, don’t waste your time
Deepak: Yay!!!
Deepak: It is uploading on my laptop
Nancy Enge: Yay what?
Nancy Enge: That is just normal technology

Nancy Enge: As you can see: a mess
Nancy Enge: All of the score line lines are thrown hither and thither
Deepak: We are continuously working to provide better user experience.
Nancy Enge: Of course you are
Nancy Enge: I did not mean to imply that any of you are slacking
Nancy Enge: Especially you customer support staff
Deepak: :)
Nancy Enge: I was just checking in on this most troublesome problem we have encountered
Nancy Enge: for the last few weeks
Deepak: You know today I got an user who is not able to upload an SVG image, I tried it on my laptop.
(04:12:36 AM) Deepak: It didn’t work.
Deepak: However I tried your image, it worked.
Nancy Enge: Welcome to my world
Deepak: So I was so happy.
Nancy Enge: Hehehehe
Deepak: :)
Nancy Enge: Simple SVGs work
Nancy Enge: It’s those with lines meant to be score lines that are problematic
Deepak: Yeah, you are right.
Nancy Enge: Why this is the case, I have no idea
Nancy Enge: I am a designer, not a software engineer
Nancy Enge: Dammit :)
Deepak: I am not sure with whom you you talked. I have your image and photo, I will show it to our product specialist
Deepak: Next 2 days is my week off.
Deepak: I will update you by Monday.
Nancy Enge: Thank you, Deepak. I have talked with three of your brethren to date
Deepak: I have already saved details.
Deepak: I will drop an email on Monday after checking with him,.
Nancy Enge: I know those of us who upload our own designs are Cricut’s minority users, outliers…
Deepak: For us everyone is important.
Nancy Enge: We would all like to believe that :)

Deepak: There are some technical bugs; we are actively working on it. We are not in the business of selling machines. However, we are in the business of winning hearts.

Deepak: I will surely get back to you on Monday.

Nancy Enge: *cough*
Nancy Enge: Sorry, I’m laughing so hard I almost spilled my drink
Deepak: :)
Nancy Enge: I appreciate your efforts on our behalf, Deepak.
Deepak: Thank you so much! :)
Nancy Enge: So, I’ll keep trying
Deepak: For your inconvenience I am adding $10 Store credit to your account.
Deepak: Using that you can purchase digital cartridges.
Nancy Enge: Ugh
Deepak: It will reflect on your account within 48 hours..
Nancy Enge: Thank you, though
Deepak: You are welcome
Deepak: Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Nancy Enge: No.
Deepak: Have a great night
Nancy Enge: You, as well.
*** Deepak left the chat ***

 

Boo Cricut and Provo Craft & Novelty

Nancy Enge: Please refer to cases 213040 and 222318
*** Akash joined the chat ***
Akash: Hi Nancy!
Nancy Enge: Hello Akash!
Akash: May I know if you’re trying to upload svg images ?
Nancy Enge: Yes. I can upload them, but new ones are appearing scrambled in Design Space
Nancy Enge: May I know what your escalation protocol is, please?
Akash: Yes I understand it. As of now we have some issue in Design Space with the svg images and we are aware of it and the development is working on it to fix the issue.
Nancy Enge: I am not happy with how this issue is being dealt with.
Akash: Till then please use any .jpg images.
As of now there is no troubleshooting for svg images, as this is a technical issue in Design Space software.
Nancy Enge: JPEG images do not support score lines, that I am aware of
Nancy Enge: I’m sure this must be difficult for you as well :)
Akash: I am sorry but as of now svg image has some issues.
Nancy Enge: I am sorry, too.
Nancy Enge: When may we expect a fix?
Akash: It will be in couple of days as they are working on High priority on this but we do not have the exact date.
Nancy Enge: How will you let your customers know of the fix?
Akash: I am sorry, they are not releasing any information in website, I suggest you to please try after somedays and if that doesn’t work then please contact us again so that we will give you the update.
Nancy Enge: I see. I appreciate your help, here, Akash.
Akash: You’re Welcome. Is there anything else I can assist you with today?
Nancy Enge: It’s bad manners for Cricut to release new software with such a crippling bug.
Nancy Enge: No, thank you.
Akash: I really understand your frustration and I will share this feedback to the concerned team.
Nancy Enge: Thank you, Akash.
Akash: You can visit our YouTube Channel to view over a hundred helpful and inspiring videos.
https://www.youtube.com/user/OfficialCricut

Please click on “Options > End this chat” to close this chat,
and feel free to chat with us again if you need further assistance.
Have a great day!
Nancy Enge: Likewise.
Akash: Thank you!

Albie, Yucca, Frustration

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This is Albie, absorbing the morning sun through the studio sliding doors. Our large middle cat, he is a handsome warm inky black, and very difficult to photograph. This one has zero interest in destroying miniatures.

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Re-working the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set a bit. I built a corner planter for specimens, and glued in one yucca tree with the new, narrower leaves. For the rest, I want to keep the plantings fluid and easy to change out, so I devised a kind of armature on the stalks of rolled brown paper for elevation. They are planted to the floor with tacky wax.

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Here’s how it looks planted out, and with other plants massed around, like a typical nursery.

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Still experimenting with colorways on the different stocks. This is the original shape leaf cluster in medium green, with leaf and pine markers. After the glue is set, the leaves are separated and arrayed.

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Here is a similar leaf cluster, scored down the middle with the back of an Xacto knife. it makes it into a whole other plant.

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Here they are side-by-side. So much potential!

And now for the frustration rant: Cricut has released a new version of their Design Space app that has inexplicably broken my SVG files — the format for my drawings used to cut all these shapes. I have been in close contact with their support staff for the last two weeks, but no answers, fixes or workarounds yet. I even abandoned Firefox for Google Chrome. It is all very tedious, time wasting and — frustrating.

Body Chan

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My long-awaited Body Chan figure from Bandai finally arrived. She’s meant to be an artist’s model, or as the packaging proclaims “Pursuing Character Expression through Humanoid Action.” I had hoped to use her as a modern miniatures set figure, alongside Stormy and Zilly, or maybe to even replace them. She’s incredibly posable with like 30  points of articulation (some incomprehensible), several sets of hands, and essential modern accessories: smartphone, tablet, flip phone?, laptop, gun, katana. I so wanted to love her.

But. For my purposes, she’s too distracting: very naked (although she is sculpted with underpants on), and too slight (and anorexic) — in some areas — with thighs narrower than her lower legs, and five inches tall. Too anime. (Although this is Bandai’s express intention: “By design that commitment pulled, and reproduce the optimal head and body balance in anime characters.”)

Still. Very expressive and well-made. There is a male figure available, as well — I hope assume he has his underpants on, too. Both come in two colors: pale orange (pictured) and gray, which I thought looked like the sad shadow of death.

I know I tried to use this model outside its intended purpose, and really, it’s beautifully made, and I got it on sale at half-price, and she’ll be fun to pose in unexpected locations, so I’m not totally disappointed. Maybe tomorrow, there could be a Bandai meetup with the aforementioned characters… unless it’s just too dissonant to post.

Armature, Proto, Beloveds

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I have arrived at a satisfactory method for building yucca armatures, from wire to planting.

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As usual, it was a process of experimentation. I walked around the neighborhood (hilly!), and I looked at a lot of pictures on Google, trying to synthesize what it is that makes a yucca trunk a *quintessential* yucca trunk.

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This is the current result. Braxton Payne pot, torn paper over wire armature, medium green starting leaf clusters.

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Outlined in Khaki, tipped in Sunflower, center stripe in Leaf Green (left). Medium green stock start, right. Very subtle.

I’m feeling good about my progress. Kits and specimens imminent!

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Meanwhile, I’m going back down to Santa Cruz tomorrow, to spend time with all my baby girls. Ruby is now one month old. Maddie is four, and wakes up first thing every morning to cuddle with her sister. This is the life.