Monday, October 7, 2019

Lilac Shrubs... An Odyssey




Summer Lilac Shrub Completed....

I have to admit, Dear Readers, that the Summer is gone and there just is not enough Natural light to illuminate the Completed Summer Lilac Shrub in the way I would like to see it... glowing in summer sunshine!  And there is even a sense of anticlimax to the Grand Opening of the Grand Finale of this very long project! The gloomy view from the porch of The Folly is perhaps just the right mood. Can you believe it? The final Lilac Shrub is finished? Well, I will admit that there is a caveat to this... the Ground underneath all the shrubs has yet to be completed.. with moss and other details... but the Shrubs are done!

My Heavens what a project this has been!
Started just over 18 months ago....
Actually, make that 19 months 19 days and maybe even 19 hours ago......

On February 18, 2018 as I was contemplating The Folly Garden
 and the "pods" I had designed to make the garden seasonal...
And the starting point of the Lilac shrub(s)....

Playing with the possibilities of the paper covered wires.

It was a start!

By the time March had begun, the shrub 
(at least the first one) was slowly taking shape.

The branches are appearing....

But more importantly, by April I have begun to make the blossoms
 in a way that seemed realistic enough to me.
The one on the right is the new method, 
the one on the left was from attempts in previous years. 

And so the Weekly Blossom making routine was begun....

And slowly, oh so slowly added to the total... 
while I worked on many other things....

Like painting all those stems to resemble bark 
and adding buds to the tips.....
Not to mention making Four identical versions... 
one for each Season of the year!

I know, this is only three of them....
It very quickly got to be a problem 
keeping up with all four at the same time.

Here we are painting the branches and bud tips.... 
but have not yet figured out the main stems.
But I was starting to understand the magnitude of the task I had undertaken!
 
It wasn't until October that I decided I had better figure out the leaves....
while there were still real ones on the shrubs outdoors! 

Making some mini leaves and doing a color study....

Top sides, and bottom.... 
and acknowledging that there had to be
 yellow in the mix for the undersides!

And then deciding that it was time to get the 
color of the main stems before the Winter set in....


The real shrub with the mini next to it... the color is still just begun.

But the texture still is not right.... so I added a texture mix to the paint......
Well.... it's a start! But not good enough!

Then I tested an acrylic texture medium for paint..... 
it gave me a much better feeling of bark texture.

And many more layers of paint.... 
and testing it against the real shrub....

And more painting....

And Finally, a breakthrough with the elusive bark texture!
Sandpaper!

Applied in thin torn strips.... flaking bark at last!
 
Of course, All four of the shrubs needed the flaking bark.... 
and more painting..... matching the RL sample on the left,
 because it is now Winter and not pleasant outside. 

In January of 2019 I began to make the lichens.....
 
Because every Lilac I have ever known has lichen on its bark!

And added them to the stems in likely spots.... 
yes this is the mini Lilac!

I think it is starting to look the way I hoped it would!

And all this time the weekly blossoms are adding to the box....!
 
But it is Winter and I am wanting to figure out 
how to make Snow on my Winter Lilac Shrub....


I tested various materials and ended up using Snow-tex by DecoArt.
It was not easy to apply... but gave me a look I could accept....

A snow day at The Folly!

Not perfect...... but I loved it anyway!
Of course, by now Spring is not far away....

When the sun comes out
 the snow melts quickly from the stems of the Lilac....
 leaving the bare branched Winter shrub!
And my thoughts are suddenly turning to the need for making leaves!

And trying to figure out how they are attached to the shrub......
And how many leafy branches would be needed....

There would need to be many, many leafy stems!
I start to make ten leafy stems batches along with the weekly blossoms...

And I remember that there need to be 
dried old seed pods from last year's blossoms.....

At least a few of them still clinging to the stems of the shrub!

And because Spring is now on our doorstep... it is April at last...

I have to make a few snowdrops blooming beneath the lilac....

And the Spring (flowering) Lilac must be begun in earnest!
Starting with the birds nest with the Robin's eggs.... 
it needs to be securely attached
 before all the leaves and blossoms are added.
You can see that the stems for this shrub are bare.... 
I had realized in time that the leaves needed to be attached to their stems
 before the stems were added to the shrub......

Figuring out how the stems needed to be attached 
and the leaves shaped correctly on the stems.
It is countdown to blossom time!

The blossom box is full to bursting....
(Somewhere around fifty-two blossoms...)

And then May is upon us and the shrub must bloom!

Adding the blossoms... the paired ones first....
And Finally... FINALLY!
 
 
The Euphoria of the Blooming shrub! 

There is not room enough in this Post for enough pictures.....

And then we realized there must be bouquets......
So the weekly blossoms continued.....
And after the Euphoria had settled... 
 remembering the Summer Lilac Shrub.....
Waiting for it's leaves....

And discovering the awkward problem
 that I had gotten ahead of things when I made the branches.... 
and now I would need to attach leaves to twigs already on the branches....
 and then paint them while on the branches.....
A slow and tedious process.
But hey, I had all summer to complete the Summer Shrub!

I remembered to add tiny feathers (real ones!) 
to the nest where the nestlings had fledged....
It would be hidden in the leafy shrub... 
but I would know it was there!

I took the opportunity to compare my mini blossoms to the RL ones....
 there are some differences, but I will overlook them!

And the seemingly endless leaf-making for the Summer Shrub continued....

Week after week.... I know it was tedious......

And realizing that 120 leafy stems would not be enough......

This is close to 170 leafy stems..... I think it is 168 actually... 
each one with 12 leaves, 
means there is a total of 2016 leaves... 
give or take a few!
And there are now 14 blossom seed pods as well.
Can you Believe it is done?
And no, there is not a Fall Lilac shrub,
 for the simple reason that the Lilac leaves pretty much stay green
 until the night they fall from the branch... 
and then one morning in November 
they are suddenly all on the ground!

And if you want to see what the shrub looks like then.... 
you can go to the Winter bare branched shrub.....

I have tried to get them all in one picture here,
 Dear Readers, but it is not easy to do!
I hope you have enjoyed this Odyssey....
Because after Nineteen Months,
 nineteen days, and nineteen (give or take a few) hours... 
I think I can say it is Finally Done!
(But don't worry... there is always the moss still to do....)



13 comments:

  1. Bravo Betsy - what a journey it has been! What an achievement.Seeing the four, side by side, equally beautiful. Well done.
    Anna x

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  2. Congrats on getting them done (well, except for the moss). You should be commended for finishing such an endeavor. They look wonderful!
    Marilyn

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  3. Amazing. Beautiful. Truly a magnum opus - such patience is difficult for me to contemplate. Aren't you glad lilac leaves don't turn yellow in the fall?
    Your shrubs are truly a work of art.
    Much love,
    Mom

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  4. Wow! That's just awesome Betsy! I especially love all four of them lined up so you can see the differences.

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  5. Betsy each of the shrubs for it's season is a marvel, and it has been such a pleasure and education to come along on this journey with you! I am so excited to see how you create the rest of the Folly garden! With these life like and lovely lilacs as the centerpiece, it's going to be pure wonderment! Congratulations on such an outstanding accomplishment!

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  6. Awesome work of art, Betsy, your Lilac Shrubs are really excellent work, bravo! You can be so proud of this gorgeous work. Thank you for sharing this difficult process of inventing and how to make these shrubs. Your perseverence and patience has been paid off :D!
    Hugs, Ilona

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  7. 10/10 for perseverance. What an amazing project. It's been fun to follow (even if I've missed a few posts - sorry!). Love the little progress pic too. A big pat on the back for you.

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  8. The lilac shrubs are a superb piece of art. It could be wonderful if the house with its lilac shrubs be on display every season together with framed photos of the three other seasons. it was a fantastic project of yours to follow.
    Hugs, Drora

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  9. I am in danger of sounding like an echo of the many (most deserved) comments above, but it has to be said. To read about every step of this great undertaking only enhances the awe and respect for your perseverence. You must feel proud of your achievement and that would be more than justified.

    Most if not all miniature houses/roomboxes are stuck in one moment, one season. My house, for insrance, will be stuck in late summer. Your cottage can witness the change of the subsequent seasons just as we all do.

    And not only that. The four Lilac shrubs are all so very beautiful. No detail was forgotten by you. :-)

    Huibrecht

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  10. You can't imagine the pleasure I had while reading this post… seeing the summer lilac in all its splendor in place at the Folly, remembering all the steps of this longtime project while you remembered them, not to forget finding my most favorite Betsy-saying of all in this post and of course the amazing group photo of the most stunning, awesome, realistic and beautiful trees in miniature. Thanks for taking us along with you on this trip down on Memory Lane - it was as much fun as the whole journey which I loved to follow from post to post. But I need to point out that I really have to disagree about your post's title - this has never been an odyssey! It was a journey, an adventure and without any doubt plenty of work… but unlike Odysseus who could not find his way home you always kept your track and took one step after another.

    And although I don't want to scare you mentioning the C-word (and don't worry, of course I would never ever point out that H is even closer than C) I am already looking forward to see this year's Christmas card. Surprise me, but I am convinced you'll have no other choice than having your seasonal lilacs in the staring role there… ;O)

    Hugs
    Birgit

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  11. Hi, Betsy - I love this re-cap of those long months of your creative labors. It's such a pleasure to see the lilac shrubs representing the four seasons together in one photo. I've learned so many new things during this project, and I think I'll look at trees and plants in a different, more observant way after following your detailed work. Creating the four lilac shrubs is a remarkable achievement, and I'm so happy to have followed along to watch it happen!
    Marjorie

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  12. Can there be anything so beautiful as seeing each one of your mini Lilac Shrubs in their minutely detailed stages of seasonal glory?
    Honestly Betsy when you first began to make all 4 simultaneously I thought you were nuts! But it didn't take me long to see that your commitment to your goal was focused and undeterred and always productive. I AM IN AWE regarding what you've done, and now The Folly which has always been my personal Favourite of your houses, is even more so!!!
    Mountainous Bouquets of Fragrant Lilacs thrown across the continent to you; from me!
    Simply Marvellous!!! ❤️

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