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PAT'S MADONNA IN THE TIN LANTERN
Mid-90s

My friend Pat and I have known each other for almost thirty years, and for several years taught English together at the same high school. Both of us are retired now, and although she has moved to southern New Mexico, we remain close friends.

I made this scene of a small garden of an old adobe church as Pat's Christmas gift one year. The bronze-toned Mexican tin lantern made me think of her because she grew up in a rambling adobe house and her present home has a Southwestern decor.

The lantern now occupies a spot on her fireplace mantle; although for picture-taking it showed up better here in this niche in the wall that separates the kitchen from the living room. (She added the small rosary.)

The lantern measures 11 1/2 inches at its tallest point and is 7 1/2 inches wide. The actual interior is only 7 inches high and the interior base is 4 inches at its widest point, 3 at the window and at the door opening.

I began by painting the inside top and sides pale blue to suggest sky, although it doesn't really show in the finished scene. On the other hand, if I hadn't done it and some of the tin showed, the illusion would have been spoiled.

The ocotillo is made of wire, glue, and painted poppy seeds. (See How-To in Tutorials.)

The stained glass window is made from one side of a small votive candleholder. I experimented with different backings for the window, and used a piece of gold-colored cardboard from a christmas card because it suggested light coming from the inside of the church.

The vine is AMSI landscaping material.

The base is cardboard painted with brown acrylic paint/glue mixture and sprinkled with sand. The figure stands where the holder for the candle is; I just cut a rough opening in the base to encircle it and glued a piece of cardboard on top.

After I decided to use the stained glass panel as a window, I used graph paper fitted into the lantern to make patterns of the back and sides, then cut out the window shape. The adobe walls and planter are styrofoam coated with spackle and painted with a clay-colored acrylic craft paint.

The Mary figure is an inexpensive piece from a religious gift shop. The tiny garden is a mixture of painted dried blooms and contrived desert plants.

I particularly liked the design at the top as the pineapple is a universal symbol of welcome.

I have seen other tin lanterns, but most have been round or square; never another one shaped like this.

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