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HOW I MADE


OCTOBER 2015

A SETTING IN HALF INCH SCALE

Tarantella's Conservatory is half scale, where one inch equals two feet.

The box room measures 4 1/2 inches wide, three and a half inches tall, and three and a half inches deep. (Here you see it next to Mother Goose's Cottage in the dome, which is also half inch scale.)

This scene in the little glass box came about recently when I decided to challenge myself to do something for October by using the first two things I saw when I opened the drawer with my Halloween stuff in it.

The first was a baggie of small Halloween related fabrics, ...

... and the second was a Hallmark figure from 2005, a mini Medusa that I just never could figure out how or where to use.  

She was called Ivana Hackitoff, and was part of a Hauntington series from that year. She is about two and a half inches tall.

I cut off all her snakes, which was difficult, and her whole personality changed. And then I removed the hair dryer and the shears, which was VERY difficult to do, as she is made of an unforgiving resin.

I decided not to fool with her already exotic makeup, but at this point with her head painted black and a collar added, I wasn't sure about where to go next. My husband said, "I suppose she's going to have spider web hair?" And then I remembered ...

... these bits I had saved and also tossed into the baggie with my Halloween trims.

They came from this strange decorative tassel I found among Christmas decorations one year. It yielded a treasure trove of items, all of which you can see in the Cheap Thrills pages here. Anyway, when he said that about "spiderweb hair" I just took my scissors and cut a bit of the glittery black wooly part and a wee edging of the net, put glue on the top of her head, pressed it into place and ...

... she had HAIR! What a difference that hair made in changing her from that severe earlier version:

You will notice in this picture that her left arm is missing. When I was working to cut and prise away the very tough blow dryer and scissors I broke the arm off.

It was too long anyway, so I left it until she was almost completely finished and before I glued it in place under her cloak I cut away a small section to keep it from looking so distorted. I also had to do considerable shaping and repainting of the hands. They don't look too great because they are resin and hard to alter nicely, but in real life the figure is so small that they don't look all that bad.

Notice how hippy she is, too, in relation to that waist. The process of dressing her was rather challenging as I sorted through those wee bits of fabrics and trims looking for something that would fit that curvy figure snugly.

I found a tiny piece of stretchy black fabric in that baggie that worked well to fit her voluptuous hips. I did not want to cover up the spider on her chest so I decided to just put a coat of black acrylic on the arms and the matte finish worked well enough that I didn't add extra fabric for the sleeves.

I wanted something to frame her face and provide contrast to her black hair, so came up with the idea of the cloak.

I purchased this wonderful silk ribbon at the doll convention held in Las Vegas a couple of years ago. This green color shown here is closer to the true shade, but for some reason on Tarantella, it looks bluer in all the pictures. It worked perfectly, too. I didn't have to do a thing with it except cut it to the right width and glue and drape it into place around her head and body.

So here she is - from Ivana Hackitoff to Tarantella. And in case you don't know, the tarantella is a dance, not another name for spider. However, both tarantella and tarantula derive from an Italian port called Taranto. There was an old folk belief that if you were bitten by a tarantula, the only thing that saved you from death was to dance frenziedly, thus the name.

My original idea was to use that large spider as her pet, similar to Bonerella's Harriett. I used some findings and chain to make a harness and also glued on tiny red gems for its eyes.

She was supposed to be taking her pet spider for a walk in this verdigris metal and glass candle holder container, which was a perfect complement to her green cape.

But that darn shelf thingie with the hole (where the heat from the candle escapes) messed everything up and although she is quite small, she was too tall for this container and didn't show up well. I couldn't remove that piece because it was heavy metal and part of the upper piece anyway. Drat.

 

And when I found this dusty little glass box, my whole focus changed, and the verdigris container went back in my stash for another purpose someday.

It reminded me of a conservatory, which would require some plants.

And that's when I put the spider away for some other setting.

I am pretty sure that this wonderful fly catcher plant was made for me by Abby Benner but I can't find my documentation. I painted the pot black and added the spider webby "legs" from a metal spider web (I got three or four of them in a cellophane packet at some point). This looks large here but is actually quite small and the web is actually very thin.

The bloooms for this pot were in my stash. I pulled out the existing small bottlebrush tree that was in the urn and added the threee flowers and the leaves. (Somehow in fitting the final setting into the glass box the spider web got left out.)


I had these Fimo blooms for a long time, as well. I believe I purchased the resin pedestal with some other half scale pieces at a Chicago show but don't recall for sure. I gave it a brown wash. The small brass and copper pot from Mexico has been in my stash for years. The base was a flat black enamel spider pick; I cut away the pick part.

For the floor I used a piece of plastic stone work that I have had in my stash since probably the late 80s.

 

The first coat was grey, then I sponged on lighter grey and then a burnt umber; wiping and blotting off excess to get the look of stone. I finished with a black wash and light dusting of model railroad grass for moss in the crevices.

I put it on a piece of ceiling tile which was a mistake because it ultimately raised the scene too high for the box. I had to strip it off and just use a piece of black cardstock underneath.

Since I had decided not to use the spider, I needed her to be doing something with her hands instead of just standing there. I had a half scale watering can but it did not fit with her persona.


I spotted the snakes that I had cut off Ivana's head and thought, Aha! A snake plant!

I used another of the small urns, pulling out the original bottlebrush tree with my pliers. A twisty piece of thin grapevine formed the basic plant structure, coated with glue and a shaking of my green grass mixture.

I used Fast Grab Tacky glue to attach small pieces of plastic greenery from my stash for the leaves, first giving them a darker coat of green acrylic paint. I also repainted the snakes and managed to fit three of them realistically within the leaves of the plant.

For some reason, however, I could not make the fourth snake work. I'll bet that darn snake squirted from my tweezers and dropped at least three or four times to disappear somewhere by my chair, necessitating my getting out the bright bike light to roll along the floor to find it. I finally gave up, saying aloud, "I guess this plant only bore three snakes!"

And that's when I knew why that snake would not work; it was not supposed to BE in the plant, it was supposed to be hanging from her arm! And by golly, it worked perfectly there, nestling in place even before I added the glue. I found the shears in my stash, and that completed her for me.

Originally I had this web around the top but decided it was a distraction and removed it.

I wanted something to hang in the corners and for one I used a small strange wreath made from dried brown seaweed on a long ago trip. The green curly leaves I have used for small cabbages at one time or another, and the three pupil eyeball was in a findings drawer labeled "Black and White and Red All Over" for some setting I planned once and never did. lol

It wasn't easy gluing something in place in the corner, so I used this box as support while it dried.

I did the same thing when I glued in the epergne (with super glue because it is metal) but didn't get a picture of that process.

I purchased this small black epergne from Sandra Manring in Chicago and cannot believe I didn't get a picture of it before I glued it into place. It is really beautiful.

So basically then everything was all ready to glue into place, but since it is small, I needed to have my glass box elevated so that people could see into it better. I had a black candlestick that I could use, but it wasn't wide enough at the top for the piece not to look topheavy.

I spotted an empty peanut jar, which I find very useful for storing odds and ends. I took off the lid and ...

... yep, that'll do! I gave it a coat of flat black ...

... and now it looks as if it were part of the original candlestand from the beginning.

I had fun with this little challenge to myself, even though I kind of cringe when I think of those snakes. Thank goodness they are confined to this box! lol

(You can hear Tarantella's music here, if you are interested.)

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Copyright <>Juawanna Newman . All rights reserved.