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DANA'S BIRTHDAY DOME
Probably about 2005

A few years ago, I asked my daughter what she wanted for her birthday. "A dome scene," she said, "With something Southwest in it," so I began looking through my collection of Southwest items.

I had made the Southwest Breadbaking Dome many years ago and didn't want to duplicate it, so when I found a handmade unfinished bench that I had bought at a doll show, it became the focus for her birthday present dome.

The pot cried out to be in this scene, too, but fit better in the sparseness of the back wall setting.

I mixed different shades to reach that sage green color, then rubbed it with stain. The back of the fabric used for the Indian blanket was coated with glue, which made the natural draping easier to achieve. The spiky green plant on the right was made from painted twist ties. The tree is a rugged little plant my husband and I found in the New Mexico mountains. It was wedged up against a rock and even after being stored a long time, the tiny greenery still attached retained its color, contrary to most dried stuff in my experience.

The sun face which is almost obscured by the tree came from a pair of extremely gaudy plaster-like earrings. Anyone wearing those heavy baubles would've stretched their ear lobes!

The cactuses in the purchased clay pot are made from the seed of the Australian pine cone tree. My friend Dottie in Tucson says she found jillions of these in Florida. I found mine in potpourri. The cone was first painted Seminole green, then the ends tipped with beige. The blooms are real dried strawflowers.

The cardboard base was first painted with a mixture of brown acylic and Tacky glue, then sprinkled with sand. Brown florist foam provided the slight differences in elevation. The rocks came from gravel found next to a rock wall fence in our back yard.

The walls are styrofoam, covered with spackle and then painted. Adobe structures don't usually have straight lines; their "melted" look is a natural softening caused by weather. The best way to get those smoothly rounded corners is to use a second piece of styrofoam to "sand" with.

The succulents in the pot on the wall are painted seed pods. The shallow pot is made from a child-proof lid for a medicine container. I painted it first with white paint to give it "tooth," then with terra-cotta. The real clay water pot is purchased. The ladder is made with twigs; the "leather" lacings are buttonhole twist. The chile ristra is made with Fimo.

The weeds by the back wall are made from dried moss and a repainted sprig from a Christmas pick.

By the way, ice cream cartons make good storage for these standard size-dome scenes. Most Baskin-Robbins places will give these free if you ask; at least where I live. They already are washed, too. Otherwise, buy a five-gallon bucket of ice cream, eat the ice cream, wash the bucket and then use it to store the setting!

I store a dome scene like this with the lid as the base, and the upside-down bucket taped on as the cover. Be sure to stick on a label so you or someone else won't accidentally turn it right-side up.

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