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- The month of August is a good time to spend out in the garden...the flowers are all in bloom, the veggies are ready to be devoured. To make a garden, the first thing to do is have a nice flat surface. This could be a piece of board, a plaque from the craft store, almost anything. Plan what you want on it (might be helpful if you draw on a piece of graph paper first). Every gardener I have ever known has a plan!
- Obtain expanding foam insulation from your local hardware store/Wal-mart/ etc. Figure out on your board where you want mounds for veggies to grow from (it might be helpful to get out the trusty pencil and ruler!). On a test piece of wood, practice a bit on your pressure so you can get the right amount of foam coming out (this stuff expands, it was designed to get into all sorts of weird cracks, so you won't need as much pressure as you might think!). Make sure the surrounding area near where you are spraying is protected (hardware stores sell plastic drop cloths for just such an occasion) because this stuff is also an adhesive. Make your mounds where you want them and allow to set up. When it is dry, you can carve it as well!
- Using acrylic paints, paint dark brown. Add railway gravel (a mixture of black/brown plus a small pinch of grey will probably emulate any soil condition...go to one of your potted plants for inspiration!:)) to hills. You could also add bits of greenery here and there, to simulate patches of grass that have snuck up on the path, or beside the patch.
- Perhaps animals are living in the garden. You can make various critters from fimo, look for resin models (I found some wonderful sheep at a card store once!), check out earring stores (both DIY and premades). Also check out vending machines...I bought some slithery garden buddies from one called "snake pit". They have snakes that are excellently detailed, right down to striations on the belly!
- Make the little animals a pen. Sometimes you can let a goose walk through a garden...they will mostly just eat the bugs and such, guard it from marauding children and rude cats. Pigs, Sheep and Chickens will eat your garden down to the roots! To build a pen, you can use thin round dowels as posts, and certain types of netting as chicken wire (painted silver!). Or, you can make a wooden fence from popsicle sticks (coffee stirrers...if you go to your local "Starbucks", see if they can sell you a box. These stirrers are apparently wonderfully straight!) and pieces of square stock. The pen floor will vary with the animal. Pigs and sheep usually leave a rather mucky muddy pen. Chickens will have a more gravelly dusty pen. Keep this in mind when you paint. Add food troughs (which can be made from cardboard or wood painted metal colored, or if you have the technology, make an authentic one out of tin!). Fill with appropriate foods. Chickens can be fed with a variety of seeds from your local gardening center (look for the bulk ones, this time of year most of that stuff is on sale!). Sheep are hay eaters...look for thin straw, possibly from a decorative broom, for hay, try dried grass. Pigs get what they are given...slop can be just about anything, but most of the cartoons say veggies (so make various veggie bits out of fimo...don't worry about scale, as you can cut them up and glue them in as an illusion!).
- Butterflys can be added...just find colored versions in a magazine or book, and have a color copy made from them. Or if you have a color printer at home, find a clip art source, reduce the bugs down. You can glue them to cardstock, put them on a bit of stiff fishing wire, and attach them to the garden (in this way, they will bounce occasionally!).
- Veggies are a must for a garden. Make carrots from orange fimo, tomatoes from red/orange/transparent fimo, Potatoes from a little brown/white/champagne, peas from green/white/transparent. Get a bucket or basket to put some samples in...baskets can be crocheted, or get one that is commercially made. Buckets can be metal (purchased from the store and painted), or find a wooden turning at the local craft store. For in the ground vegetables, you can punch out various leaves from green paper, attached to a cloth covered piece of wire. Or you can find dried herbs that look like carrot ends, etc., attach to a strong piece of wire that will be pushed and glued into the foam. Remember some plants need support...tomatoes, peas and such vine, so make trellises out of thin scraps of wood. Push greenery into foam after it has dried. If the plant won't poke through on its own, simply take a strong needle and pre-drill your holes. To hide wires, simply push down far enough into the foam, then add a little gravel over it.
- Flowers are always nice in a garden. Beautiful irises can be yours with a green painted cloth covered wire, one end dipped in yellow paint, six long ovals of the colored paper of your choice (made by folding a piece of paper in half, and then using a round punch on it...experiment until you get skinny pieces!). Attach petals three on the inside, three on the outside, keeping in mind the look of an Iris. Paint accents in with liner brush for a final touch. Daisies can be made by taking a round punch and making circles. Prepare cloth covered wire as for iris. Fold circle of paper in half twice, cut very small opening in middle, open again. Slide donut up the stem to just below the yellow stamen, glue. Take a sharp pair of small scissors, and cut into the paper towards (but not all the way to) the center as many times as you need to create the blossom. Fluff out, and you have a daisy! Make leaves from green paper...it helps to have the models in front of you. Use felts to tint your blooms if you want. Small generic flowers can be made by indenting punched circles, and gluing them to bushes (mosses from the craft store that have been spray painted a little).
- Some gardens also have a little "contemplation" area...a birdbath (from beads, dowels, granite texture paints, wedding cake columns, vending machine bubbles, just about anything!), perhaps a little water in the bowl (E.Z. Water might be an easy way to fill it, or be brave and use a resin!). Add a bird of fimo (a teardrop, with a tail,a head, a beak...and its a bird!), or look for earrings/ etc., as described for the critters above.
Make a big production out of it...add a bench (see Archives "wedding reception" for ideas), a garden path (railway gravel), rocks (granite fimo), trellises, gnomes (metal paint yer self, fimo, or sometimes look at plant pokes!), pottery (look around for clay pots from craft stores, or paint wooden beads with terra cotta, add some appropriate detailing. These beads can also house a nice potted plant!). Chinese ornamentation (pots, or look for small chinese figurines too!). If you prefer a religious retreat, try one of the spiritual stores, they often have little figurines of saints, the virgin, etc.! You can also make small animal statuary from fimo (easy as making ropes, rounds, and tear drops!).
- You could also make a pond (bubble packs make good forms, egg cartons can make good rocks, resin or E.Z water (though make sure that the resin/whatever won't eat the bubble pack!), railway gravel, fish (from orange painted rice kernels), small water plants (fimo, paper, etc.). IF you are not going to move the scene, water can also be simulated with...water! This means you can't have paper in it (or near it), and you may have to clean it once in awhile so make it so you have to be able to remove it without ruining the garden, and you may have to make sure the cat doesn't have his drinks out of it, but it will look more realistic than anything else. Other ideas for simulated water...mirrors and pieces of plexiglass painted with translucent blue paint come to mind.
- Don't forget the garden implements...small trowels, shovels, etc., can be purchased in many places, and if you are lucky you might find a metal unpainted piece for a very inexpensive price! What else goes into a garden? Its up to you!
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