Monday, 28 October 2013

What HAVE I been up to?

 OK! it is now officially the end of summer! British Summer Time has ended, and we are back to long, cold, dark evenings. The last time I wrote anything on this blog was way back in August! If you were to ask me what I have been up to during that post and this, I am not sure I would be able to give a reasonable explanation! I've been away on a little holiday at the end of September, and been to visit a few friends and family in that time, but miniatures have been put a little on the back burner.
I think, in part, it's because I wasn't able to go the the Miniatura show in September, and won't be able to go the Kensington Christmas Show at the end of November either; it has sort of blunted my enthusiasm a little.  Not that I have been entirely inactive on the miniature front...

In my last post I mentioned some miniature projects that needed to be done before I moved on to other things. I have done a few of these, some not worth noting on the blog, but I have made some plants to go outside the pub, a project that has been waiting for a long time.  I decided that some lavender would look good either side of the porch entrance to the pub.

I took some simple things I had in my miniature stash, including some modelers grit, which was left over from my Miniature Garden Centre Wisteria kit. 

I cut some florist wire into short lengths, and some green 'tinsel' I bought last Christmas from Kristin Baybar's shop (though have seen it available elsewhere since), which was also cut into short lengths.

I then used the same principle to make lavender flower heads as were used on the wisteria kit, only kept a lot smaller (I think mine are actually a little too big to be accurate 1-12th scale, but don't think it really matters too much). this was done by dipping the wire into a drop of Tacky Glue then coating the glue covered tips of the wire into modelers grit.

I then had to think about the colour! English lavender tends to look a bit grey, both the foliage and the flowers, however, a visit to the garden centre showed that there were several varieties of lavender, some with greener foliage and purple flowers, and that is what I opted for. I painted the flowers with two shades of lilac paint, first a light colour all over, then a darker one which I just dabbed on, and was quite pleased with the results.

I filled a flower tub with some Das air drying clay then arranged the flower stems, trying to make them look like they were growing 'naturally'. Then I pushed in the green foliage, again bending and shaping it to look like it was growing 'naturally'.

The final touch, still needing to be done is to add some 'soil' to the top of the Das clay. I bought some modeling material from the miniature garden centre, which is brown and passes for soil, but it occurred to me afterwards that the contents of a cheap tea bag might do the trick just as well!

Here is a view with both tubs finished (except for the 'soil') sitting outside of The Swan, and which seem to work very well with the wisteria, which gave me the idea of making lavender in the first place!

A closer view of one of the finished tubs.

and here are the two, either side of the porch.

I've also started to make a sign for The Swan, to hand on the metal bracket I purchased a long time ago. This meant painting two sides of a piece of wood with two painting more or less identical. No easy task for me!! I drew what I wanted first of all to give me an outline to follow, I decided it would be easier to paint directly onto a piece of wood.

I then used oil paints, thinned with turpentine spirit, to create a swan swimming on the water. I am no great artist and found working in a small scale even harder, but was fairy happy with the result of the first swan. The second swan is now finished, and is not quite the same as the first one, but looks reasonably OK (sorry I don't have a picture of it). I know the bull rushes are not very good, but will mostly be hidden by the frame that will be used to surround each picture before the sign is finally hung in place outside The Swan Inn.

I will do my best to catch up with all your recent blog posts, but it takes ages for them to download onto my vintage Mac these days, which is partly why I have been so neglectful. I do hope you will forgive me!! 


  1. Dear Andy,
    I love the lavender. It looks simple to make it but I manage to make a mess of it. :-)
    Your sign is perfect.
    Hugs Dorien

  2. Hello Andy,
    Your swan is awesome! A talent for painting? It is everything you picture a swan to be. Wow!
    I also love your lavender with those two colors mixed it looks just real, and the tubs look like they were made for The Swan. Another little thing: should n't that horse shoe hang the other way round, in order to pour good luck over the visitors?
    I hope are ok and well and that the stormy weather of today has not bothered you.
    Great to read from you again,

  3. Andy,
    I love your flowers! Thanks for the methods you used. I think that your swan sign is wonderful. It is good to hear from you--I was wondering what you were up to--glad to see you doing some mini-work

  4. Hi Andy,
    great to see you back. I've used tea leaves in the past and it does look as good as the 'hobby soil'. Love the lavender and sign. =0)

  5. Your wisteria and lovely tubs of lavender really give the exterior of the pub a lift. Your swan painting will look great as a sign. Ilook forward to seeing the finished sign.

  6. Good to hear from you.
    I love your Lavender flowers also. The house is so beautiful.
    Have a nice week.

  7. Very well done! The lavender plants complement the wisteria perfectly.

    I've used cheaper tea to good effect when mimicking soil - but do note that if you have any fussier, whole-leaf tea lying around, give it a few pulses in a dry blender and it's a decent stand-in for mulch or freshly-dug soil.

  8. It's really good to hear from you... your lavender looks fantastic, what a great idea to use that Christmas garland. I like the tubs as planting pots very much - especially for a pub that's perfect. Btw - I use dried coffee for soil, very effective and cheap. And your swan... wonderful! It's not easy painting in that small scale and on top colouring in that small scale - you've done a fantastic job.


  9. Hi Andy, great to see you back! Your new lavender plants look great, well done! You say you can't paint a swan, huh, now I must ask you: why are we all talking about your swan as we can't see it is a swan, so what do you think ;)!? Yes, you have really painted a good swan in miniature, which is rather difficult to do. Great work, Andy!
    Hugs, Ilona

  10. Hi Andy,

    Fantastic work!! I just love the lavender in the wine barrels, perfect for the pub and thank you for your tutorial, it comes just in time as I am gearing myself up to try some flowers, I have a feeling great patience is required.

    You are a man of many talents, the Swan is lovely and you are right about the difficulty painting so small, the idea seems simple at first but it is so hard to do such tiny brush strokes, you have done a beautiful job.

    Well Andy I am happy to report I have been busy with miniatures and thinking of you because I have been sewing....; ) More on that another day!

    All in all the outside of your pub is looking wonderful.

    ML Fi XX

  11. Hi Andy! Sorry I am so late to comment! Your Swan painting is Lovely!!! I remember being so in love with the painted pub signs when I was in England.... they are just so beautiful and evocative! I think your tubs of lavender are the perfect complement to the Wisteria... and can't wait to see it all with the sign attached!
    I'm sorry your enthusiasm is dimmed because of the lack of Fairs.... there seems to be a Rash of mini malaise lately so maybe you caught it too! I hope you recover your mini focus.... I am waiting to see updates on Toad Hall....!!!

  12. Hello Andy,
    Terrific job on the lavender. it looks fantastic and very realistic. As for the sign, your skills are impressive. I cannot wait to see it up.
    I am sorry you will not get to go to the shows, hopefully you can make up for it in 2014.
    Big hug,

  13. OMG Andy!! You are in the Christmas spirit but where are you???? I don't think you ever recovered from last years Christmas count down!!!! I do however like the look of these puddings!!

    Fi XXX