Sunday, 16 March 2014

1:12 scale Conservatory update

Finally, back to the conservatory. 

Almost everything here, was made using card, and some jewellery findings. About a year ago, I would have been considering making these out of metal, clay, etc. I have now decided, you can't beat card! :D Easy, cheap and fast.

This is a Chinese Evergreen plant, with leaf patterns from a real one, I have put the leaves for this onto a free printable sheet here.  Seal the ink before cutting out, either with hairspray or an appropriate sealer. There are enough leaves to make a few of the size shown here.

I only found out this plant's name last week, after spending a long time searching for it online, despite having had this plant for many years..... It turns out it likes damp, dark corners, which is lucky, because that is where it was living in real life.

 I photographed a few of the leaves, holding white paper behind each one.

 I uploaded each photo to MS paint, and used the white paint bucket tool on the white page part, so that the leaf, would hopefully, be isolated from the page, then I could resize them. Though I only did that so they would be clearer to cut around, it probably wasn't necessary. I had about four good photos, and each image was flipped using Ms Paint, to give the illusion of having eight different leaf patterns.

I cut them out with nail scissors, and lightly scored down the middle of each leaf. I overdid the stylus tool cupping.... the leaves should be flatter than these ones....then each leaf was glued onto short lengths of pre-painted silk wrapped wire, and to add sheen, I painted slightly watery PVA glue onto each leaf. I put the wires into bundles of 12 - 14 leaves, wrapped some pre-glued tissue paper around the base of the bundle, and then used tweezers to manipulate the leaves into shape.
My real Chinese Evergreen, doesn't follow natures tradition of newest leaves smallest and oldest largest, and just seems to send them out in all sizes, whatever it feels like.  I hope it's alright. Following its plan, which is so convenient, I just bundled all the sizes together randomly. 

All of these were made using 220gsm card. I used the cone making generator from this great site, Template Maker, to make the various patterns for each object, which I was then able to print onto card.  The wire handles are thread, and the funnel spouts are tubing, the watering can "arm" is a piece of plastic tubing from a cotton bud. I painted all of them with Humbrol silver paint, then before they were fully dry, I painted over them with watercolour paint, to give them a slightly rusty, old finish.

A very verdigris copper watering can, and three pitchers, again, made using 220gsm card. The watering can has a spout made using brass tubing, which also makes it topple, I had to use tacky wax to hold it in this position. It didn't even occur to me that the tubing would be too heavy for it.... I had some copper leaf which I covered it with, and it was ridiculously shiny, and it was a bit messy, so I dabbed white primer paint over most of it, and used a wet paint brush on a verdigris green chalk pastel, and painted over the white.

The three pitchers, are made from a pattern and tutorial from the blog Bricolages and Compagnie. If you click on the first photograph there, that will take you to the PDF file. I made mine rather small.. I didn't realise pitchers were quite big in real life until afterwards :D

The Candelabra was made using lots of bits and pieces. The candle holding parts are from the top down, bead, paper punched card circle, 3mm flower bead cap, crimp bead, then wire, which are all glued (with Araldite) into a fluted bead. The column from the top down, is a model boat column, another bead, earring bullet and the base is a funnel (from miniature marvel).  I dropped it a few times, by accident, which has bashed it out of alignment slightly, not that it was ever aligned perfectly, in the first place. There was rubber inside the earring bullet, which was taking up the space needed for the funnel end to go into, so after trying to drill it out, I lost patience, and burnt it out, which worked perfectly. I just held the bullet with tweezers over a flame and all that annoying rubber oozed out.  I bent the wire for the arms all at the same time. I took four pieces of wire, bent them around the handle of an exacto knife, then held the "ends" in pliers to create the bend that goes into the bead, and trimmed the ends at either end so they would all be exactly the same in length.

I am so pleased with the brackets. They were made using wire and brass strip.  I copied these from some that I saw on Pinterest, here. 

The brackets were painted with white primer paint, and then I used a fine paint brush, to dab spots of reddish brown watercolour paint to create little rust patches.

Making miniature brackets. The finished one here, is a fluke, and neither of these are the finished ones. Originally, I tried using the ends of  paper fasteners to create the bracket, but I couldn't get a good 90 degree angle, so maybe these ones not working out was a good thing.

I ended up using a thin strip of brass, bent into a perfect angle. The wires for the scrolling had to be bent into shape, individually, using needle nosed tweezers and thumbs and fingers. It was boring and more than a few of those curly, whirly bits went into the bin. I had drawn up an actual scale template (not shown here) to work from.
Before cutting and bending the wire, I took the long length of wire to be used and ran wire wool up and down it a few times, which helps the solder "grip" onto it later. After the pieces were formed I washed them in hot soapy water, dried them, and handled with tweezers from then on, and painted them with a light coat of flux.

 I arranged them as shown onto something metal, I think this is aluminium, with a 90 degree angle. I painted a bit of flux onto the surface first to help hold the pieces in place. After carefully using tweezers to place each piece so that they were touching each other, or as close as possible, I used a scalpel to cut tiny pieces of solder which were then placed onto the "join" of each piece.

Then the fun bit.

Switch the gas blow torch on, and torch it. I started off heating it slowly from a distance, before moving the flame in, I saw someone in a fine jewellery making video do it like that. To be honest, I don't really know what I am doing, I think I might have overtorched it, I am sure the wires were close to burning, but since they were being painted, I didn't worry so much. To attach the ornate swirly piece to the bracket, I did something slightly unconventional.... I used masking tape to hold the bracket onto the edge of this metal corner thing in the photo, positioned so that this ornate section would be attached right down the centre of the bracket. I lightly sanded the inside of the bracket, and washed etc. as for the swirly bits. I again used tiny bits of solder anywhere where the wires would be touching the bracket. Then torched it. The cellotape does burn. But it holds out long enough to get the job done, and open a window and keep a glass of water nearby :D Everything must be supported in some way or another when using this method of soldering, otherwise, you will end up with a mangled mess, as the torch melts all the joins made previously.  I had been using pliers to hold the ornate section in place, the first one worked, the second one crumbled....the brackets that worked where the ones that were supported at all times.

 I also used the back of a baking tin as a working surface, this one is stainless steel. It does heat up a bit, wherever you are working the flame, but it is a cheaper and easier alternative to obtaining a fire brick.

Many thanks to Pepper of Mitchy Moo Miniatures for her advice about getting one of these gas powered soldering irons and her video tutorial for using it as a torch. I still  CANNOT SOLDER via soldering tips, I have killed many soldering tips.... However, I can torch things! Believe me, if you can't solder, you can torch. And it is fun and I can think of so many things I can now make with it. An iron bench, is my big project for it.

FINALLY THE CEILING IS FINISHED! :D I added Tie bars, which in reality, would not be affixed as shown. I think I would get a demolition order for this whole build actually, if it were full sized, because those rafters aren't in the right place either. But since this is fantasy land, we can do what we like here :D Because space is limited, I want to be able to hang things from these overhead rods, and my old Falcon miniature parrot needs a perch too, for when he moves in. The "outside" is a picture in a garden book...the perspective is just slightly off :D

Pretty much the same photo again, this time with my real back garden outside, the top of a box plant looking very conveniently like a hedge, just by the window. The candelabra fell over because my crazy cat ran past to fight with my other cat, I hadn't noticed it had been knocked over, during her rampage. Must be all this sunlight making her crazy. Thanks Lisa, for ruining my scene!
The brick wall was made using pieces of card cut into Victorian sized bricks (in 1:12 scale, 1.8cm Length, 0.6cm Height, 0.85cm Depth ) each piece was stuck onto card that was cut to fit the wall. I left a gap of about a mm, for grouting. I used Unibond Quick fix and grout, to grout the bricks, using my finger tip to work it into all the gaps. This made the card warp slightly, so I placed it under a heavy book. I then used a small round wood file, to score grout lines. I put a piece of  heavy duty sandpaper face down onto the bricks and used a hammer on the back of the sandpaper to put some texture onto the bricks, admittedly it is very subtle, but I am happy with it.  I was going to have this as a red brick wall with lime wash, but it looked too fussy and closed in next to this tiled floor, and was much more convincing painted white too. The brick pattern is English Double Cross bond.

I also used the Unibond (similar to Polyfilla) on the terracotta pots, which are also made with card. I first painted the card pots, with thick watercolour, then smeared slightly watery grout onto them, you can use a paint brush to paint it onto the inside. Once the grout sets, you can lightly sand the rough finish off. This method also makes them quite tough too, and very convincing as terracotta.

My against building regulation tie bars and the blue sky, not seen for months, viewed through the roof. MUST PAINT THAT BRASS HINGE! The tie bar boss is a circle cut from wood, using a jewellers saw, with a 3mm bead cap stuck on for detail, the rods are 3mm brass tubing, with beads at either end. All held in place with drilled holes and pins.  Note to self, always paint things first, before sticking them into awkward places. What you can't see, is a very bad paint job! :D


  1. Its a gorgeous build! The details are stunning.

  2. How wonderful it is! Perfect work!

  3. Amazing work, thanks so much for explaining how you made the items. Very Creative!


  4. Me encantan tus trabajos, son muy reales y perfeccionistas. Un saludo.

  5. Great, incredible work! Thanks for sharing the technics.
    Hugs, Drora

  6. I. Love. Everything. EVERYTHING! The items made of card look so realistic I would swear that they were made with metal. Ingenious to photograph real plant leaves. Funny how simple an idea seems after someone points it out (and you feel stupid for not thinking of it before) I knew you would take to soldering. I promise you will eventually stop killing the tips ;0P
    The photograph of the conservatory in 'real' surroundings looks stunning

  7. Sarah, this is amazingly realistic work! It took me much time to read your blogpost, because of my limited knowledge of the English language, but I love to do it and it is all clear to me :D! I agree with you that you can do a lot with card, I often use card too. Even for my ceramic floor tiles in my canal house I l used colored card ;).
    Thank you for explaining how you did all parts of your miniature work, I wish I could do that in correct English *sigh*.....
    Enjoy your beautifully made conservatory and the sunshine :)!!
    Hugs, Ilona

  8. Me gusta mucho como han quedado todos esos objetos.Da la sensación de que sean metálicos. El trabajo de forja muy bonito aunque creo entender que no has usado soldador sino ¿soplete?. Debe se complicado para una pieza tan pequeña.

  9. Well, I guess I had better use up all of my clay and get started with paper if I can do things like these with it!

  10. Stunning! Your photos are fabulous. I had to look twice at some to make sure they're not real things.

  11. superbe travail ! Félicitations pour le tout !
    Amicalement. rosethé

  12. C'est vraiment du très beau travail avec une technique très sûre. Merci pour le lien vers Template maker.. J'ai hâte de l'utiliser.
    Cette serre est ravissante comme le reste de la maison.

  13. Hi Sarah.
    Just caught up on your blog. Your work is wonderful and your tutorials are terrific - Thank you. I will be trying some of your techniques.

  14. Hi Sarah! WOW! This conservatory is STUNNING and I really Mean It! It has so many incredible details and it is made even more Impressive because of so much of it being made by you from card stock which looks exactly like what it is suppose to represent. It is Incredible the realism that you have achieved and YOUR METHODS OF AGING (which I am noting for future reference).

    I hope that you don't mind, but You're truly becoming one of my Miniature Heros! :D


  15. un très beau rendu que cet ensemble de pots , arrosoir .....c'est très réaliste.

  16. Que belleza ! Es tan real , que me quede maravillada .

  17. Hi Sarah, stalkergirl here ;) I enjoy your work so much, really like what you've done and I would never have thought it was 'just' card! And the brackets, wow! Very well done! I don't understand what you mean by when held down (by tape) previous soldering (or torching as it happens to be what you do ;) ) doesn't come loose, but when not it does. I would think (with just a teensy bit of solderingexperience..) that can happen easily. But I don't have to understand, I make a note of that in my head, because I can just take your word for it. The photo's of your conservatory look really great! Bye! Monique

  18. Excellent work dolls house is not my thing I build working models BUT your workmanship is first rate. You I presume used brass tube have you considered aluminium instead its available from model shops in many sizes. Also may I recommend milliput its an epoxy putty and can be filled drilled etc. once its set. This would make plant pots ( it comes in a terracotta colour ) and is useful for all sorts of small modelling jobs

  19. Maybe glue a couple of lead bb's in your watering can to counterbalance the spout and give it "heft"...


Thanks for your comment :)