V: Vagary

V is for Vagary. Fluctuation, variation, quirk, peculiarity, oddity, eccentricity, unpredictability, caprice, foible, whim, whimsy, fancy.

I can’t think of a better word, or set of synonyms, to describe the new 1:12 scale echeveria kit available now over at MMS+S. There are no fewer than five leaf sizes and shapes that combine to make three sizes of a charming pointy-leaf echeveria. I’ve redesigned the build method, too, to start on a fine paper-wrapped stem wire (included in the kit), which is perfect for armatures (gnarly-armed structures) and general ease of shaping the plants.

Here is a bushel basket of prototypes, using both of the base colors — white or apple green — colored with alcohol-based markers. (If you want true reds and yellows — or blues and purples — order the white stock. If you’re good with more muted tones and want to spend less time coloring, choose the green :)

Possibilities of color combinations are endless (and fun).

This is a versatile kit, and a form to make a succulent wreath is available soon!

Let Scarlett’s tail and rabbit feet, seen here in complete repose, be your inspiration.

I recently re-found this unfinished Henri Rousseau-inspired collage panel, and glued it to the side back of the Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries set.

The MMS+S set is in disarray, like many aspects of my life, but potentially still functional.

Zoom out now, please, to 1:1. The former owners of our house built this charming, funky wave-topped gate (seen here from the back). But, inexplicably, they painted the front of it the same dispirited brown as the rest of the decks, and completely ignored the back. For four years, it has *nagged* at me.

Yay go me. Here it is finished in four shades, by the light of the silvery security beacon.

Albie and I survey the change. You can just see that sad brown deck color peeking out under cat and mat.

This is the old hardware, atop the treacherous birdbath pedestel, for those of you/us interested in these things.

And finally. Keli and I have been challenging ourselves to … not let the bastards drag you down draw a random thing and post it on Instagram, until, for each of us, momentous events transpire. (For me, that’s undergoing replacement surgery of both hips, on 01 October, 2018.) I have chosen Crayola and ink as my drawing medium. We are #messy_k_enge and #curlymuenich, if you care to follow along (+also under our regular names @iseecerulean and @nancy_k_enge). We are expecting phat coffee table art book publishing contracts to swamp our respective agents.

How could they not?

 

Prototyping Complete

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Feeling confident about the rightness of the basket kit patterns, I move on to test-coloring the white base cardstock. My charming husband gifted me a set of Winsor & Newton water colour markers, and I’ve been eager to use them. This is, um, not exactly — nor even close to — fine art, but watercolor tints differently than either stain or alcohol markers. I used an intentional kind of crosshatch to fill the larger pieces. Gorgeous color/colour, yeah? W&N Mauve 398.

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I built the purple mauve watercolor basket, and moved on to an alcohol marker. These bleed and blend much more readily into the cardstock. W&N Pear Green Y635.

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Here are our happy fellows to date. In this picture you can see the difference between the heavier-weight yellow basket, and the slightly lighter-weight, tinted and white cardstock ones.

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I realized that tinting the outer edges of the lid pieces (even though they are eventually covered) helps mask any gluing misalignment, so had to test-make one more basket. This is W&N alcohol marker Duck Egg.

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And here are the last two basket prototypes, with some hen succulents, held up to the last of our stormy, freaky light. I noticed a similarity between the terracing of our wee hillside backyard, and the woven fabric of the baskets. Huh.

Newsletter, Calendar, Party

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There’s a new issue of my newsletter Cut, Fold + Make going out tonight that includes a modern miniature calendar for you to make.

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It’s a quick and simple project.

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You can sign up to receive it with the newsletter link on the right.

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It’s a good  way to keep track of yourself in sequential time.

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And, there’s a party going on to celebrate the new year and new pergola being built at Modern Miniature Succulents + Sundries. All the furniture from Sea House Warming Hut has been dragged over, and there’s a beach driftwood fire blazing, as well as festive beverages. Come on by! It’s been too long since we’ve all hung out together.

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PS: Godzilla will be there.

 

hens test

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Hen and chicks are one of the first succulents I fell in love with, so this design is dear to my heart. And I felt like a right genius because I figured out how to get the machine to cut a hole in each center. It is not an automatic process and involves what Cricut calls “attaching” layers. (The above holes are three points in diameter; I’ve since upped it to four.)

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This is the fun part. Removing the waste from the sticky mat makes a musical plinking sound that is very satisfying. And as I soon learned and as Nora suggested, it’s far easier to remove the cut shapes after the mat has been “de-sticked” a bit — which seems to happen with use.

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Color test and shaping. The little point on the end of each leaf adds such sweet realism. My inspiration:

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These guys are in a bit more shade now in my early winter backyard, so they’ve lost most of their edge-leaf color.

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Prototype hen. Next up is to draft a smaller-leaved pattern set for the chicks, so we can build happy succulent families. This one is about 5/8-inch (16 mm) across.

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And this is how I’m keeping all the very many parts organized and identified. I’ve long kept a stash of these useful little containers from takeout food, but ran out quickly. Dollar store to the rescue! Ten cups with lids/$1. I should probably cost them out in greater quantities :(

 

New Kit

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Listed another kit in the Etsy shop, a larger, more-specimeny succulent that pairs nicely with SV01. Continued heartfelt gratitude and thanks for your warm wishes and interest. I wish I had like a whole line plan to lay out — and I do! In my head! — instead of this kit-by-kit piecemeal showing. And soon, on offer, completed specimens, in some of the most wonderful containers I’ve ever seen! However. I am learning by doing, and this is bootstrap crafty business making. Rhetorical question: would we have it any other way?

First Listing

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So pleased to announce the first kit is available over at MMS+S. I expect I’ll be making editing tweaks for a while, in between assembling and listing new kits. Potted specimen succulents and sundries coming real soon. Heartfelt thank yous to all who showed interest. Happy making!

Just Kitting

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First article! Well almost. I’m waiting on the brown kraft paper to arrive, and, having just finished re-re-shooting the instruction photos, to get those printed.

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What’s in this kit? There are options for white, cream or sage green stock, as well as for me to color the leaves (US$5 extra; I may live to regret it :) One kit makes seven stems, with extra leaves to practice on. The example is the yellow-edged green variety, but of course you can paint them as you like. There’s a special hashtag to use if you post on socials, so we can all see what people are coming up with.

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Need to finish writing *all* the stuff for the Etsy listings and blahblah. And then let it go live. Gulp.

First Packaging Prototype

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Exciting times here in Nancyland. Been researching and getting in supplies for packaging and shipping, and working on the graphics for labels and such. Need to reshoot two four photos for the first kit instruction sheet, and that’s done. Then do glamour shots and write product descriptions for the Etsy shop, and actually list stuff for sale. Getting good response to the newsletter offering — thank you, thank you — and Volume 01, Issue 01 drops the first of December. Whirlwindy!

What?! Echeverias, Yes, again

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I got a new eight-petaled punch, about 5/8-inch (16 mm). It has spawned a whole new genus of succulents. These are punched from a sage green cardstock painted with an acrylic wash. After lengthy fooling around, I prefer detailing each shape with markers.

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Here’s where my documentation lapses. Profoundly. I call Sunday, North American time change, and very good California champagne.

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I’m really happy with the end result, and will be more mindful to share my steps. It’s basically three punched and shaped forms, and then a lot of individually applied shaped petals. Or leaves, whatever they’re called. This version more closely approximates what I see in parts of my own succulent garden.

This is also where I *really* want to buy a laser cutter, to be able to realistically emulate the considerable varieties of succulents and cacti. What do you think? Anyone else out there enamored of miniature succulents to want to make them in their boundless assortment? Do you know of anyone already making kits?

Felines and Flora

I’ll just get the cat pix out of the way first thing.

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Classic long-suffering Albie and his unwanted sidekick. All he wants to do is sleep on the bed and not be mauled. She shadows and adores and mauls him.

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See the succulent/cactus hybrid hovering slightly above her sisters in the long planter? This is a new feature :) I’m adding believable stems to some of them.

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This may be one of the most enigmatic photos I’ve ever published. Here are tiny stems very close up — they’re just over an inch long. They’re made from floral wire wrapped with torn strips of brown paper bag. Easy to make a gentle curve and plant.

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In other projects, I got all the sizes of leaves from JMG Miniatures to make potted palms for either side of the stairway. They come five to a bag and are cut from a nice green sturdy stock. I’m not even painting them! I glued a fine gauge green wire onto the central stem of each frond to enable sculpting.

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Once the glue was dry, I curled them around a fat watercolor pencil (Derwent Inktense, Teal Green 1300, not mandatory).

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I gathered groups of three or four fronds, and bound them together with strips of torn brown paper bag.

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I bundled three or four frond clusters around another length of floral wire, and covered the lot of them with more torn paper bag strips, and stabbed them to dry in their eventual planters. These are those ever-versatile, well-modeled chocolate brown Houseworks tapered pots to which I had given a “zinc” finish.

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Here they are “palmed” and waiting for the glue to dry in the pots. I’ll cluster more succulents around the bases, tying in with the rest of the casual landscaping. I like how they both frame and add a “parlor” friendliness to the entrance. Since this is meant to be a refurbished working farm building, I didn’t want to put in a stuffy staircase banister.

In the showroom proper you can see an exquisite spinning wheel, gifted by our beloved reader BW. We’ve both agreed it’s a bit too pristine, but I’m reluctant to augment it. I need to channel my inner Sleeping Beauty for counsel.

Until then…