Albie, Yucca, Frustration

Albie_072317

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.

MMSS_072317

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.

MMSS_nursery_072317

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.

side_by_side

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.

proto4-2

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

proto4

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!

Maddie_Ruby_071617

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.

Pots, Yucca, Color

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My order of kiln-fired terracotta pots arrived from Braxton Payne. Look at this goodness!

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He even included a wee “vintage” hand-finished pot. It is perfect. 

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I’ve potted the first armature yucca proto, and am waiting for the glue to dry thoroughly before arranging the leaves. It stands 5.5 inches (14 cm) in a one-inch cylinder pot.

comparison

Oh, and here’s a color comparison on the four stocks I’m considering (with the tiny pot again, because it’s so dear). Nothing terribly surprising, but a handy reference. I think the yellow stock would be good for Sansevieria, or for yuccas with yellow edges — it’s difficult to outline this shape with markers. I’m excited to carry on experimenting!

Yucca: Armatures, Protos, Colors

deskmess_070917

It’s end of day, for now. Made some progress with the yucca exploration.

tearing_paper

I began with tearing brown paper into thin strips.

wrapping

And wrapping multiple layers over florist wire to build up a convincing yucca stalk-and-stem armature.

color01

Yucca species are varied in color, though not as much as succulents, perhaps. In miniatures, I ascribe less to slavish reproduction and more to evocation of spirit :) Starting with white cardstock for this one, each leaf end gets tipped with Winsor & Newton Promarker Sunflower and Amber, both sides.

color02

Broad strokes of Pear Green color each leaf.

color03

Both sides colored. The inks blend as they build up and mellow as they dry.

color04

Thin cross-leaf striping, in Moss.

color_05

More cross-striping on the ends with Amber, and surprise leaf tipping in Poppy.

gluing_yucca

I snipped through the lower edge, applied a thin line of glue, and began rolling the leaves up into a cluster.

mor_glue

Adding a generous dab of glue to the rolled end to ensure a well-bonded base.

let_dry

Inverted in a cup of fine gravel, I let the leaf clusters dry completely. This makes arranging and styling easier — and more robust — later on.

gluing_on_tops

Clipping the end of each armature branch with pliers creates a flat surface on which to glue a leaf cluster. Holding until set ensures uprightyness :)

glue_to_armature

Watching glue dry. Again.

add_more

I added two more trunks, wrapping everything together at the base.

apply_glue_wraps

To improve the transition from leaves to trunk, I cut sections of 7 or 8 leaves and applied glue.

all_joins_wrapped

I wrapped these just below the base of the leaf/trunk join.

all_joins_wrapped

All trunks wrapped with leaves, and drying. I’m awaiting a larger cylinder pot to plant this particular specimen in, before unfurling and styling the leaves — the really satisfying part.

yucca_protos3

I’m fairly happy with the appearance and versatility of this plant concept thus far. They work well on an armature, date pit stem, or just as foliage — and any combination thereof. I even think this pattern and method could work for Sansevieria, with the right colors and a little bit of shaping.

green_stock

The next step is to explore and evaluate color stock choices, which brings us back to the first photo in this post. Above is medium green cardstock (cut with a dulling blade, resulting in torn, dragged edges and general scuzz. This particular design cut really seems to blunt a blade fast :(

This green leaf set is colored with Holly swashes and edging, and a subtle Leaf Green vertical stripe. Very different than coloring on white. Each stock seems to absorb the inks differently, as well. I’ll show some side-by-side color comparisons next time.

 

 

 

 

 

Yucca

yucca_proto_00

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.

yucca_protos

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.

braxtonpayne_fireplace

(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_02

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.