Monday, March 26, 2018


Branching Out......

I hope it will not Bore you, Dear Readers, to return again to the project of making the Lilac bushes for the Folly Garden, because as I have mentioned, I am determined to make these bushes in all their glory... several times over! As with many things, it gets easier with the second and third versions... but the first one can prove to be very challenging, especially when it is something you have not done before, and you are not sure of the methods to use, or even whether the ones you want to use will be good enough. I am sure you have all experienced this in your own projects.... there is always a "learning curve"! I will confess that I have been unsure of the "proper" method for making and attaching all the smaller branches and twigs for my Lilac bushes.... and aware that each bush would need many many branches. Above you can see the main stems and the secondary smaller "branches" which established the basic skeleton of the bush. Clearly this was just the beginning!

I know it is difficult to see in these pictures....
 but the joins where the smaller branches attach
 to the larger ones needed to be "strengthened" 
by wrapping an extra layer of the paper around them.....
This picture is the "before" picture......

Here I am testing making the smaller branches with "twigs" ......
 by wrapping the thinnest wire around the slightly larger wire.... 
and covering the join with glue.
Here you can see some of the "joins" have been wrapped with extra paper....
 and I have added some twigs... 
(I have to prop the bush against my paint box while the stems are gluing...)
 Then I decided that "twigging" both ends of the branch first
and then wrapping the branch around the stems...
was twice as fast.....!
And I also decided that if I started with the "front row" of stems..... 
the ones that would be the most visible in the end.... 
it would be easier to tell where and how many branches
 were needed in the "back rows" of the bush!

So I started making "batches" of branches.... 
and kept count so I would know how many
 were needed on the next bush(es)...

Here you can see only a few of the small branches
 have been added at the front.... 
but I needed to test how they fit.....
And I needed to let the glue dry on the branches as I added them....
 to avoid knocking them askew as I added more...

And as the stems gradually filled with branches and twigs....
I could shape them more realistically... 
with bends and angles as though the branches are reaching for the light...

And I had to keep testing the bush in place
 to make sure the branches fit under and around the porch eaves,
 and could still be lifted in and out with out damage...!

And then More Branches.......
(thirty-six twigged branches... and counting...)

The smaller branches and twigs are very bendable.... 
the thicker stems are quite strong and stay as positioned.
It is starting to look more like I thought it should!

And I am sure you will not be surprised, 
Dear Readers, that while all that glue was drying, 
I was also working on a small stitching project....

This is another of the kits by Janet Granger 
that I bought a while ago.....
(quite a while ago!)
It is stitched on 40 count silk gauze
 and is meant to be a miniature "stitching project" 
for the mini people.... it comes with 
a lovely miniature needlework frame
 to attach it to when you are nearly done with the stitching...! 

Bit by bit I have been adding the details of the blossoms and stems.....
(yes, I use a magnifier for this!)

And as if that weren't enough of Branches, Dear Readers, 
I have also been making a few small adjustments
 to the Hardwick Hall Attic Spiral Stairs....!

The original plan for the cupola above the Attic
 relied on a framework of "joists" to support the floor of the cupola
 at the height of what would be the "ceiling" eight inches from the floor,
 but several inches below the peak of the roof.
(See the original structure in the above picture)
I had assumed I would just use the right number of steps
 on the spiral stair kit to reach that height. 
 But while I was actually assembling the stairs
 it became clear that I would need to use all the steps...
 because the railings came in "three-step" sections.
I would need to use all 12 steps.... which rose to nine and 1/4 inches 
instead of the eight I had planned on.
And another issue that had troubled me was the method
 of securing the stairs to the floor.... 
it would need to have a hole drilled to receive the "post"....
 and the floors on this kit are waaay too thin for that!
So I decided to add the "stone" base for the stairs...
 being the height of one step.
And maybe because I was thinking so much about branches and stems... 
and because trees are such a theme in this house... 
It occurred to me that maybe I could make a tree that would spiral up the stairs.... 
and the branches would support the floor above...
 and form a part of the cupola frame.....?

And with a tiny amount cut off the ceiling panels.....
 making the opening a tiny bit larger and lower.....

The top of the stairs now reach to the level of the roof!
Which just means the cupola will need to be a little bit wider and taller....

About like this.....
I think it will suit the proportions of the house
 much better than the first design.... 
 and I'm really glad I had not got very far in building it yet!

I have only just begun to build this tree, 
and I have no idea how I will make the branches or the trunk....
But I think I have to try....!
And then I remembered that I wanted to make "buds"
 on the ends of all the twigs for the Lilac bushes... 
using the "glue trick".....
 and maybe I should have added the glue to all those twigs
 before I attached all those branches......?
Ah yes, Dear Readers,
I am a long way from Done with all these branches...
somewhere on the Spiraling Learning Curve.....
Branching out....!


  1. Wow and Wow! I love both the blossoming branches and the new stair and cupola plans! It seems the timing for this magical house was meant to be, so that should give you confidence going forward!

    1. Hi Jodi! I love it when "problems" disappear if you wait long enough! LOL! I am seeing a whole new "support" structure now! It will take a while.... but I will figure it out!

  2. The lilacs are starting to look great! As you work, you will get faster, as you said, and with flowers, leaves, buds, paint,etc, they will look more realistic. You are extremely patient!! And loving the idea of the tree growing up into the cupola! Hope your week is going well.

    1. Hi Shannon! Yes, I am patient.... either that or I am just very slow to get things finished! It will take a long time to make all these bushes... but I have already been "dreaming" about them for a long time... so eventually they will be finished! I still have to figure out how I am "building the Tree in the Cupola...! That might take even longer!!! :) Meanwhile I have plenty to do! Lol!

  3. Your posts are never boring, your blog is unique and magical!

    1. Thank you Margot! :) I meant to reply here a while ago... got caught up in tiny things instead! I am so glad to see your posts again! :)

  4. You are making a lot of progress. Your vision is amazing and your capacity to keep going with your plans is admirable. I am a bit lazy myself and sometimes I discard plans when they seem too much lol. I agree with the previous comment, your blog is unique :)

    1. Thank you Alexandra! I have long ago decided that I love minis so much... I will never stop! LOL! So I might as well work on things I will really love to have when done...! Thank you for your comments! :)

  5. WOW, Besty, you've been so busy making all those branches for your mini lilacs and still making more yet! And I do know for myself how much work it is, because of my selfmade mini apple tree with all of its branches, I thought then there came no end to it ;). But I'm sure that the result of all thoese lilacs trees will be stunning!! And I must say that your idea of the trunk/branches against the stairs is an awesome idea. Boring you say......mmmm, NOOO, your posts can never get boring with all those inventions of you. I always learn a lot from you, and I think more of us do ;). Good luck for making lots of branches.
    Hugs, Ilona

    1. Thank you Ilona! I learn so much from you too! That is what is so amazing about blogland... we can share and learn and inspire each other from so far away! Yes, the lilac project seems to be taking over my life right now! LOL! But I will persevere! Eventually I will have my shrub(s) all done!!! :)

  6. excellent idea that the tree-stairs! wonderful work

    1. Thank you Claude! Sometimes these ideas happen when working on more than one project... they cross-pollinate as it were! LOL! I just have to figure out How to make the tree...! :)

  7. Hello Betsy,
    Wow, your bushes are amazing. The smaller twig branches are such a nice touch and the whole will look so realistic...I cannot wait to see them finished. The staircase looks fantastic and I am glad you were able to get it to fit and to work with the space. It is such a magical building and I wish I could shrink down and visit and explore every nook and cranny.
    Big hug

    1. Thank you Giac! I am having a lot of fun building the attic... and making the space even more Magical is very exciting to me too! I just have to figure out how to build the tree.....! And the lilacs will take along time... but all my projects seem to have that problem! LOL! I am glad you are enjoying them! :)

  8. Wow! Such an amazing amount of detail with all your branches.

    1. Thanks Sheila! I do love detail... I get kind of carried away sometimes! LOL!

  9. Hi, Betsy - You're doing fantastic work on the lilac bushes, which already look so realistic - even unfinished and without blossoms or buds. This is such an exciting project, and it's interesting to see how you solve each problem and face each unknown factor - and just keep on going! Bravo! The same can be said of the cupola and stair project. I love the idea of the tree spiraling up the stairs - that fits so well with the entire house. This is truly a magical undertaking, and it's a pleasure to watch it all happen, step by step. Thank you for a very UNBORING post!

    1. Thank you Marjorie! I sometimes think the "technical" parts will bore people... but most of us mini people are knee deep in mini technical problems all the time and welcome the close-ups of others' solutions! I agree that the tree in the attic of Hardwick Hall will be wonderfully magical... when I figure out how to make it! LOL! So stay tuned! :)

  10. Fantástico trabajo , tus ramas han quedado muy realistas :-)

    1. Thank you Contrastes-Rosa! I am glad you like them! :)

  11. Good grief Betsy, how many projects do you have on the go!
    Just one is all too much for me. Always love to hear what you are up to. My lilac is just coming into leaf so look forward to watching it and yours progress,
    Regards Janine

    1. Hi Janine.... I have a lot! LOL! When I get stuck on one I just "jump ship" to another! It keeps me busy... and somewhere along the way I figure out why I am stuck and learn what to do to fix it! My lilacs will take some time before they "blossom" ! LOL! :)

  12. Ciao Betsy!!!
    Guarderò con molto interesse ai progressi del tuo lillà e del tuo albero. Anche io dovrò fare in futuro un albero, ma di biancospino . E anche io faccio tutto tre volte prima che sia soddisfatta del risultato.

    1. Hi Blanche! I will look forward to seeing your Tree! It will take a while to make...I still have to decide the method for my tree... the lilac shrub is maybe easier to make... so I will learn on it. Thank you for your comments! I always love to see what you are making! :)

  13. Wonderful! I can lern from you, thanks!

    1. Hi Gonda! I am so glad you can learn from this! It is slow... but I think it will be successful! Thank you for your comment!

  14. How could a post from you ever be boring - there's always so much fascinating, awesome, interesting going on... Your tree turned out fantastic, it already looks stunning. Hopefully it will comfort you that now that you found out how to do it the other ones will be so much easier... *teehee* And I won't say a word about the leaves and my own modest experiences with making trees that taught me that even the biggest amount of leaves is just like a glass of water poured into the ocean... Instead of saying things like these I prefer to point out that your lilac bush/tree looks very realistic, all that twigging and branching paid off - you've found your own perfect way. And of course I have to shout "Bravo" to the evolution of your stairs. The supportive tree is such a brilliant idea and the perfect addition not only for the construction itself but also for the witchy atmosphere. Could it be that this is the rare arbore argentum, the magical silver tree with silver bark and silver leaves being as solid as steel? Well, we will see... ;O) Happy Easter to you and yours!


    1. Dear Birgit, Only You would know the name of this Tree that I have just started to design!!! LOL! Yes, I believe that is the correct name, and attributes for this tree... Otherwise known at the very elusive "Night Flowering Silver Star Oak Tree"! And as for the problem of so many bushels of leaves needing to be made for all my lilac bushes... I'm going one step at a time here! LOL! (The leaves are still a Loooong way away!) You will see how many "Seasons" it will take me to complete all these seasons! LOL! Never boring over here! :)

  15. Finally I am here, to read all your technical details. I can't imagine how you are ever going to put FLOWERS on all those (very realistic) branches! My computer is dying and Pat is nearly finished with breakfast, so I may not make it to the earlier blog this morning -
    I love to read your blogs, tho, & I love you,

    1. Hi Mom! I still have to figure that out too.... One step at a time over here!
      Love to you too! :)

  16. Padding out the lilac in that way is an excellent idea. I'm looking forward to seeing it "in bloom".

    1. Hi Irene! It will take a while... but I am determined to make the complete bush for each season! Eventually you will see it in bloom! :)