Miniature landscape, again…

Seems I can’t get enough. I am now in the process of making my biggest landscape yet, 1,4m wide, 1,5m deep and 1,2m high. It will be attached on the outside of a viewless window, creating an illusion of something else altogether. Maybe a hint of Norway in the autumn? I made the base in two sections, otherwise they would not fit through doorways. I glued primed canvas to the walls, bending the corners slightly so as not to get sharp ”sky corners”. It will all make sense soon.

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Next I started to build up the landscape. I needed a lot of height, so mountains are the way to go. Boxes and chicken wire, covered in papier mache. The angled sticks are there to keep the front half square, as there is no back or front to that piece it is a little unstable until installed. fjord 26

I nailed the chickenwire as much as I could into place. The chickenwire is old and recycled, hence bits of leaf and grass!

fjord 25The basic shape is starting to appear. I am not really controlling it, just kind of letting it happen. I am aiming for a coastline with an island in the foreground, with lots of interesting detail. fjord 1I am painting the sky in oils, it is still waiting for more work but has to dry between layers. I can see now that I should have made the corners even more turned, but at least there is not a sharp edge. Too late! Never mind.

To make the rock, I mixed some old lumpy cement with water and Aquadhere (ordinary wood glue) and slapped it on. You could also use old tile glue, or similar. Things people have in their sheds… Here, I have also started making the bases for a couple of houses and bridges.fjord 54

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Looks like a load of rubbish so far, but wait! In order to give the rock some interest, I painted with the tiniest bit of paint on a dry brush. Just brush down with white for highlights, rub in some green and yellow for moss and lichen. A little brown maybe. Then, I painted on some wood glue and  sprinkled on some powdery modelling substances made to resemble grass, soil, or a combination.

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I am planning where the water will run down the rock, and laying down some mossy green in anticipation.

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The little house on the island is nearly done. The house is a plastic kit which I painted, rendered the chimney with caulking, and sprinkled on a grass roof. It had no windows so I put on cardboard shutters, giving the illusion that it has, hopefully.

fjord 50fjord4fjord11I have since removed the bird on the chimney and added smoke instead.

The grass roof is made with static grass and a Noch applicator. You can buy electric applicators for around $300 or so, but this works really well enough for my needs. Put some ”grass” in the bottle, shake for static, and puff it out on a bed of Aquadhere. It will land in the glue and set upright, more or less. When it’s dry, vacuum and the grass which landed where there is no glue will disappear. I use it on the ground too. Sometimes I sprinkle some earth powder on top to tone it down a bit.

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Here is another grass roof, with added longer bits from an old paintbrush head. I roughed the roof up a bit, was too smooth and even. Needs weeds and things.fjord 13

The trees are made from recycled copper wire. They are really easy to make. You can buy ready trees of all kinds, but I didn’t want anything readymade if I could do it myself. The houses, people, animals and fences are my limit. Trees? Piece of cake. Some cables have copper inside them, others not. This is why it is a good idea for recycling stations to strip all mechanical objects of metals. Why put copper into landfill when it can be reused? And they do. The local tip here in Daylesford has people stripping metal from things, sorting and making rather a neat job of it.

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Birches in autumn, yellow! The gravel is earthpowder and cooking salt. The stonewall is actual stones from the laneway outside my house, caulking and paint. The plastic house I fought with a lot, it was just so horribly plastic. I weathered the roof, rendered the walls, stuck flowerboxes and lupins and climbers all over it. Finished with an overhanging tree.fjord 48

It has a barn and a woodshed. The lupins are tiny pieces of wire, covered with superglue and flocking, painted. I have to admit that I am having a lot of fun, almost sorry that I am close to finishing.

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The pine trees are the easiest. I have seen people make extremely realistic and laborious trees, but these are fine for my scene. Wooden skewer, steel wool, fragment of scourer to act as a stopper.fjord 34

Spraypaint the trees black. fjord 35

Spray with glue, sprinkle with turf. I use a mix of green and soil colour to get lighter and darker trees. Products from Woodland Scenics. So useful for many things.

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To plant the tree, I hand drill with a fat screw. The cement gets much too hard to push a tree through.fjord 39Ready for planting. The back half has over 50 pines, haven’t counted the front.

fjord 46Hooray! My packet of Noch horse riders arrived in the post. I am also going to get a spring of seals, a brace of deer and a gang of moose. And a rowing boat. And And And… No, that should do it.fjord 40Nicely made figures, but why does that girl have to hold her arms up? At first I thought I would put a bear in her path so she would have a real reason. Then I considered cutting her arms off and regluing them in a down position but then I decided to just let it be. They are so far in the background. People are going to see trail riders, and not think more about it.fjord 32

I put some stairs and a cliff hanging path on one of the mountains. The birds are so small they are really a bit of a waste of time. I held one with the tweezers, and PING it flew away into the room, never to be seen again. The rest I held less tightly.

Making heather is easy. Just a dab of paint brushed on some clumpy foliage, I bought a bag. It lasts and lasts, good for many things. Treated lichen is great too.


Made a couple of bridges from planks out of thin cardboard (cereal box is ideal), glued and painted on masonite. Or thick card. Whatever. Just Right!


Though I had squirted some acrylic gloss medium for water dribbles here and there, I also wanted some water which flowed away from the rockface, like this:fjord 55

This was surprisingly easy. I squeezed out some ordinary silicon on grease proof paper, moved it around a bit with a toothpick, added tiny bits of white, also with the toothpick and let it set.fjord 59

Peel it off and glue in place, add a little silicon around it to make some water action happen. Bits of white paint work well for froth and foam.fjord 57fjord 56fjord 60

That is all I am going to do for now, will give it a rest and work on something else for a whil. It will be quite a long time before I can install it, but I don’t mind doing detail first and bigger things later. I once built a house which I started making from the inside of a two bedroom apartment. French doors, ceiling paintings, details galore. It all came to use eventually, and by then it was a pleasant thing to be able to add detail so effortlessly. I have absolutely loved making this view, if you feel in any way inspired, I can wholeheartedly recommend making one!



Aga saga

Guests occasionally ask me what my own house is like. Is it as detailed as The Pip? No, it’s not. My house is quite different both in age and style, but I play here as well. Here is an example. In the kitchen was a slightly dated wall of kitchen units.

agaIt was thrilling to remove. Most of the timber could be reused in other projects. Behind the panelling was an old chimney opening. I sort of knew it would be there, since I could see the chimney poking up on the roof, but a delightful surprise to see it all the same. I knocked all the render off, exposing the brick. A couple of bricks were damaged from the dynabolts someone had put in when they covered it all over. I mortared them back. The steel covering the sides is just a sheet of galvanised iron which I glued with Liquid Nails and jammed a few pieces of wood against until it set. No pic of these stages, forgot! This project is a few years old and I have only some stages photographed.

aga 5I adore the look of Agas, but at a pricetag of around 20,000 I thought I could create the look for a pittance. Construction has already begun. Essentially, this is the same construction technique as I might use for building a kitchen cupboard, or a built in cabinet anywhere. First I made a base, to get it off the floor. I am using 140x19mm pine for the base.  The little tiles on the floor are staying. I started to chip them off at the front but I have never experienced such tough glue. No need to remove, anyway.

aga 3Then I added uprights to a good height. These are 70x19mm. Or they might even be 42×19? Hard to tell, but they don’t need to be overly big. Let’s say they are 70mm.The front panel is hardwood. No reason, you don’t have to. Not even sure why I did. Less marking when you kick it? I happened to have it hanging around? Can’t remember. It is a while since I did this. Looks like a recycled piece to me, with the old holes.

aga 7The top bars I screwed on from the back before I lifted it in place. Now comes a miracle: Almost done. Essentially, line it, put in shelves, face frame. The cupboard doors are actually the old doors from the kitchen I removed. They are sturdy and do not warp. They were a little small however so I screwed on some plywood and bit of MDF which I bevelled with my circular saw. So so sorry about lacking pics for these stages. I really carefully filled and sanded all screwholes. The top is ordinary pine floorboards. I will show all the missing stages in different projects, it all repeats anyway. Same, same.

aga 10Open the doors… A cupboard!

aga 11I undercoated, sanded, painted black several coats… Matte metal is the idea. I also needed some bits, such as the old gage.

aga 14aga 15The concrete hearth needed tiling and I chose a large shiny tile, with the hope that the stove would reflect in it. Yes, it does.

aga 16The rail is a shower rail. The trim on the sides is an angled length of aluminium just to ”hem” the cut metal to the brick. A good finish, I think. Basically if you make something black and matte, and even hint at it being a stove, people believe it. If you put a cooking pot on top, there is no question at all.

A miniature landscape version 2

Fast forward several months from whenever I posted the image of pinetrees stuck in foam. I am done with the miniatures for now. I have a built in set of old metal lockers in the bathroom. There are three, two are landscapes, sort of. The third locker is just for general storage. Bath salts. There is a plexiglass cover at the front of the landscapes.

miniature 7Here is the top landscape, hard to see and needs a better picture really. The rock is sitting in a pool of resin resembling water, reflecting the dalmatian. Clouds are 3D. They are really not very great at all, but I have thrown my hands in the air at this miniature now and am leaving it alone. Here they are.

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They are painted in the background, and fluffy in the air. Well, that was the idea anyway. Basically I just teased out some insulation and glued it into place.

The second miniature I have put a lot of glorious time into. I loved every minute.

miniature 1My initial idea was to place a tiny white dog on a bald rock, turning his back on the audience. Tall dark trees, a light covering of snow. Solitary, but not lonely. As it turned out, I came across some tiny sheep and used them instead so now the point is entirely lost. It is sheep, looking into the frozen waterfall. Means whatever you want it to mean. Cold sheep?

miniature 4miniature 2The frozen waterfall. It is really layers of squeezed on acrylic gloss medium. I want to cover the world in acrylic gloss medium. Well, nothing could be further from the truth but it provided me with hours of amusement.

miniature 5Here we can see how tiny the sheep are. I had to use tweezers to get them there.

There are some astounding artists who spend their time doing this kind of thing. These were my first attempts and I am hooked. Have a look at the art of Thomas Doyle, for instance. Disconcerting, amazing.

A miniature landscape

In the bathroom is a three door metal locker I picked up at a garage sale and cleaned up.  The bottom shelf I intend to keep as shelf, but the top two will be installations of some kind. I am making a landscape with water, rocks and snowladen pine trees in the first one. When I am done, I will cover the front with plexiglass.  Here are some of the trees:


They are made with a skewer, some teased out felt, some scouring pads, a little steel wool, black spraypaint and green and black railway modelling flocking (comes in small bags, great stuff) which gets attached with sprayglue. They look convincing enough for the purpose. There is NOT a railway model nerd inside me at all… I just like making things. I have built up the landscape with papier mache, some gunky filler, some paint. Right now I am experimenting with the water. Will clear gloss acrylic medium look like water trickling over rock when it dries? I will find out today, as I squirted some on a couple of days ago and it was white, plus it dissolved some of the underpaint as it went on, making it look cerulean blue which is weird as the underpainting is mainly grey. Could be a disaster, will see when I look at it.

The art at the Pip


See the fireplace on the left? It isn’t. In fact, it is papier mache and it is a lamp. In the 1700s in Sweden, there was no distinction between theatrical scenery and domestic decoration. I feel the same way. Many things at the Pip are not what they seem. Paintings in the background by Richard Baxter, Sulman Prize finalist 2014.

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 The sculpture in the bathroom wall is called The Digeftive Fyftem. It is a fair representation of your digestive system, from beginning to end, if you pardon the pun. Made from old plumbing, watchparts, hardware and miscellaneous bits. The removable appendix is an empty bullet casing.

cupboard doors

You might wonder why the kitchen cupboards are under the heading of ”art”. I do too, but the wooden teatowels are welcome on this page. I had been looking at the general doorlessness wondering what I could use. There was some already warped plywood in the shed and they made perfect sliding teatowels. The picture frame on the right was in an old wardrobe at the house when I bought it. It was easily the best thing in the house.

raeburn doorSince the kitchen cupboards have slid in here, I might mention more detail. The old filing cupboard is an ordinary one which I sanded and wire brushed using a drill attachment. I removed the old lock which left a hole, there is an old SA railways badge in its place. The gap left on top was covered with more recycled metal and furniture tacks. The old Raeburn doors were bolted together to make a whole. Inside is the only thing I kept from the old knackered electric stove: the metal oven racks. They make great shelves. Other cupboard shelves in the kitchen are made from things like wire fences. Have a look. It is good with see through shelves, you have no dark invisible back corners.

coppar detail

Ok, I know. This is definitely not art. Yet… When the floor starts to creep up on the walls, where is the distinction? The copper I used on the floor is all from an old hot water unit. You know, the ordinary rectangular upright model which is so very common. When you cut away the square outer steel there will be the most glorious copper ready to use. It is soft and malleable. Cut carefully with tinsnips or drill with nibble attachment for instance. File all edges. Wear protective gear. Do not throw out your old copper!


This is a little thing from the wardrobe floor. Guests are expected to open things and explore, but I find people are much more sensitive to obeying notes saying not to touch than I ever could have imagined. Regularly they ask on checking out ”What is in the trapdoor?”. I find it really nice and polite. Lovely. But go ahead, open it.


Baron von Mueller features highly at the Pip. The walls and ceilings are full of him. Here he is bringing conifers to Wombat Hill Botanic Gardens, which actually did happen in the 1800s. I have used him as my example visitor, to show what you can do in the region.


Here he truffle hunting and visiting the Convent. In the kitchen at the Pip you can see one of the baron’s original specimen tags. He was an exploring botanist and a very interesting man. A young girl who stayed at the Pip asked when checking out ”But who WAS Baron von Mueller?”. This is a question I think we need to ask ourselves more often. You can find the answers to that in the old briefcase in the hallway, it has a few books and quite a lot of copies of the Baron’s letters.


What is art and what is craft? Art is something which has no apparent purpose, perhaps. Craft does, for instance you could drink from a mug, or have your privacy protected by leadlight. I have a hard time separating the two and just want to fill all possible space with things which are mainly made by me in  any form or material. I find that when you create a space with uneven handmade things, the massproduced stick out as glaringly wrong. How to solve the mass produced crockery problem? I overglazed ordinary crockery. I can show you how, it is not difficult and can be fired in a domestic oven. It’s great fun and once you start you will not stop until your shelves are full.

crockery 2

Below are a couple of paintings I did in the style of Chaim Soutine just to try to learn something new. They look deranged but are old favourites.

bedroom detail soutine

Below is a chess board, if you open the painting up. It comes from a gallery in the Barossa where I used to exhibit many years ago. My remit was making objects, as pure paintings belonged exclusively to a different artist. Hungry to paint, I chose to make objects and then paint them. The best of both worlds! Most of the art at the Pip can be bought, but not all.


Here we have the Baron again, running away from a wombat on the bathroom wall. This is the first one I did, and he wasn’t friends with the wombat then. In later wall paintings he actually shares his day very closely with the wombat so things must have gone ok after a shaky start.

bathroom baron

Half a Rhino. No more, no less. Just half. I likes rhinos a lot.

half a rhino

Here I am, painting the repetitive trim which ties the cottage together. It is as close as I can make it to Albert Pictor’s most common border, a medieval church painter in Sweden. I am a huge fan of his work. Look him up if you have a minute.

painting border

Below is a self portrait. Busy Being Good. My paintings start at around 300 for small ones, goes up to around 1000 for a bigger one. I mostly do prints at the moment which start at 25 for unframed prints. Visit me at Sister George if you want to see my work.

being good

One of our many local artists is Jackie Gorring. She is a printmaker of great critical acclaim. You can visit her studio a short drive away. You just need to ring first. The one below is almost totally obscured by the telescope and reflections on the glass, but I cropped the image from the larger image of the living room. She usually has quite a lot of images for sale in her studio and it is really worth a visit.


Guests usually think this is another Baron image but it’s not. It is really me, walking a little white dog who is having a ride on a trolley. It is called Felix Doesn’t Like Snow and hopefully shows how small we all are. At least I am, the forest is big and dark yet I walk bent into the wind, pulling my little white dog. The lamp is not painted on, just in the way!

walking in snow

And now for some ceilings.


All the ceilings have their own decoration, this is the red bedroom. The words are from a Swedish song by Evert Taube called Nocturne. ”Sleep on my arm, the night hides, under its wing your blossoming cheek”…

Guests sometimes wonder if my neck is ok from all this painting but the answer is simple. The skies on the ceiling is done in situ as there is no precision involved, but all detail work is done on the ground and stuck up after completion. Anything on the walls is painted straight on. My neck is fine!


Here is another one. The cloud painting is very simple. Here’s how to do it: Paint your ceiling any colour you like the sky to be. Could be dark and moody, sunny, pinkish or grey. Look at the sky for inspiration. Then, using a diluting medium from an artsupplier and a tiny bit of white artist’s oil paint, brush the clouds on thinly and unevenly. I use an artist’s brush, not a wall paint brush. Not too big either, less than one inch. Brush and rub, push the paint to its limit. The colour you painted the ceiling will show through giving you three dimensional depth. Add a little thicker white in places for added shape. You can do the whole job with white alone. I have added a very tiny (and I mean tiny, a little goes a long way) dab of Payne’s Grey and Vandyke Brown but it is not necessary. I suggest painting a board with the ceiling paint and practise on that before climbing the ladder. If you visit Sister George Studio Gallery, you will see a different, darker version. The best thing with clouds is that they actually make your ceilings disappear. Also, there is no right and wrong with clouds. They are all perfect.


Here is another one, in the kitchen. It says ”Bibere Aquam”, drink the water. Sound advice when you are in Daylesford.

There is a little Danish money box on the wall in the kitchen. Open it and you will see the tiniest of origami birds. I didn’t make this, I used to keep an emergency last box of matches in there. It was a surprise from departing guests. I was touched, it was like they were contributing to the evolving surprises. It is still exactly how they left it, as is the little yellow horse left by someone else. Then, a few weeks later, another departing couple left a tiny portrait of themselves in the very same money box. Makes me laugh, still. Have a look if you come to stay, it’s worth visiting just for that. Thank you!

There are also a few works by Richard Baxter, Sulman Prize finalist 2014. The landscapes are by him, as is the enormous tree painting in the main bedroom. They fetch rather a lot more than mine do. All I can say is if art excites you even just a little bit, buy a piece. Any piece. It will lead to another before long. Suddenly you have a collection.