I’ve been a collector of dolls houses and miniatures for 20 years. I am also seriously chemically sensitive, have allergies and a genetic connective tissue disorder, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which has also affected my nervous system, so I can’t use my hands very well. So I collected mostly old and antique bits, with no new woods or paints etc. In January 2011, I was seriously ill after a series of mild strokes and a much larger one. I have got a bit better but can’t take bright lights, so no television or computer, and my joints and hands are very bad. My hubby does all for me. I was very bored! When I was well I was an avid gardener and did some drawing and watercolouring, so I decided I would try to do a miniature garden. But how, with no glues, no new woods or anything with chemicals, and hands that couldn’t hold anything much? I also have to work in dim light, as I avoid sunlight and electric light – and, at the age of 69, I had never made a miniature of any sort before, so it was a challenge!
We had a few old baskets in my kitchen and I thought one would make an ideal fence. Although the one I picked seemed a bit high, I was sure it would work. I got quite excited and thought hard how to do this. I decided it had to be a wildlife garden. I had a resin pond that had solid water and imitation fish in, I bought another small one to use as a top pond. My hubby cut the front of the basket out and I put sheets of polystyrene on the bottom of the basket and built some up at the back. I then covered it with sticky back brown soil paper from Hobbies, and my hubby cut them and made an opening to fit the pond in.
I had also bought some imitation mosses and grass from hobbies, but how to stick them was a problem. I tried double sided tape which didn’t work, then saw the roll of railtrack tape in Hobbies catalogue, it worked a treat. I also stuck the bench and statue and the small pond on the hump that I had made. I then put some shingle and moss and the grass rugs around all stuck on with the tape.
I wanted to make some plants and trees and had to really think hard about this. As I couldn’t have real flowers in my house I had lots of silk arrangements, and I sorted a lot of the tiny leaves and flowers from them. I tried to tie bits together with cotton but my fingers wouldn’t work. I was getting bit impatient when I had the idea to use the micropore I had to use on myself instead of plasters. I put pieces together until I had the desired effect, then put a cocktail stick in, and wrapped around it all with micropore tape. I then stuck the cocktail stick into the polystyrene.
I had to age the fence, bench and statue with watercolour paints, and did this with difficulty as I couldn’t hold a brush properly, but it didn’t have to be that good so I managed. Tying the plants to the fence was a problem which I solved with garden ties.
The magnolia tree was made with a real twig with small sprays of flowers from arrangements wrapped around it, and the micropore painted to match the colour. A few trees were bought on ebay, and some china flowers also.
The front proved a problem as it wasn’t quite straight, so I bought 2 trellis gardens and papers and some climbing china roses and made it as if coming from a nice garden into the wild one.
I used non toxic and odour free wallpaper paste from Healthy House to put on the paper paving.
My hubby made a board and built the front up so could cover the front. I have added some small animals and insects to make it more realistic.
My hubby now has another roombox underway, and I will take pictures to show how we make it, for another issue.