What?! Echeverias, Yes, again


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.


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


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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…



Been making California poppy and echeveria planters for a little while now.



I first learned how to make echeveria from this wonderful tutorial by Annie Christensen of We Love Miniatures. She uses brushed pastels at the end to tint the leaves. All the succulents in the Argo Wool Works foundation plantings were made using her method.

Lately, I’ve taken to using markers to tint and edge the various shapes punched from cardstock painted with acrylic wash, as seen above.

Also, do you see those footed flat clay planters? They’re from Falcon Miniatures, made in Thailand, and seem no longer available. If any of you know a source, I’d be very stoked :)


This afternoon I was fooling around, searching for some new shapes from the limited punches I have. I covered a bottle brush seed pod with overlapping petal shapes, and set that in a base of cupped leaves. Then I stuffed an emerging flower shape in the apex hole — I really need to look up the correct botanical terms — and… a new, fairly convincing succulent/cactus hybrid variety was born! I’m quite pleased with its appearance and will post a step-by, after I get a manicure :)


This picture of Scarlett nuzzling into Albie expresses my joy. I expect one day to stop posting so very many cat pictures, but she is so stinking cute and delightful…


Back Brick Arch


After tipping the build backside up, and using the same pattern as on the inside wall, I glued on the bricks and sealed them with Mod Podge. I favor these bricks by Andi Mini Brick & Stone because they’re a solid color throughout, well-priced, and easy to cut.


Mortared with a palette knife and gloved fingers, using DAP Crack Shot. This and the following shot were photographed at night by ambient light of my Luxo lamp, hence the color variations.


Gruzz brushed on with gray and deep green powdered pastel.


Finishing out the rest of the farmer style board-and-batten siding. Yay for using up offcuts. Fooling around with preserved reindeer moss, mostly roots and mid-structure  (rather than the rounded top mounds) to give a slightly more lichen-y feel.


The finished-for-now back wall. I added some floor board remnants and foundation elements to the existing structure. After carving out a lot of mortar and rounding all the exposed brick corners, I sea-sponged on a thin white wash of white acrylic, then re-scrubbed individual bricks clean. The siding nailheads are made with a soft-leaded pencil tip rotated in place, then wiped downwards with a fingertip to create stain trails. Convincing!

Now I have to do a bit of research on street names and sign styles of 1906 San Francisco. I’m tempted to use my old address, but have to see if the area was even developed then. (It was in the outer Richmond, near the backside of Sutro Park.) Alternately I could cut a very fine stencil of the Argo Wool Works logo


to paint on the bricked-in arch, which might look something like this:


My final offering is this delightful piece filled with the pure light of truth, by one of my very favorite contemporary writers, Mallory Ortberg of the-toast.net


It’s satisfying to read aloud.




Fairy Incursion, Part 4


I sent the fairies a tea set, table and chairs and a candelabra from HBS/miniatures.com. It’s cheerful, but not really their style.


So I set to making some furniture from beach driftwood. I sanded a thin piece relatively even in thickness and silky smooth on the top. Look at the color of the sawdust! The legs are drift hardwood twigs, about a quarter-inch (7mm) in diameter, with holes drilled for the dowels. I used exterior wood glue and sanded the top smooth again, then applied a few coats of sealer.


It blends into the site much better, and looks like it might be able to walk on its own :) Pull up a champagne cork stool! Clouds are blowing in, and it’s nearly sparkling hour.