The making of Susan's Halloween present - part one
what Cherry Heaven looks like...

The making of Susan's Halloween present - part two

 Testing placement of all the stuff, making sure the house is going to be set under the highest point of the curved glass, and realizing my spooky chipboard trees aren't going to work now that the house isn't spooky.


 Painting the background and trimming the trees.  I could have painted the trees, but the stickers were faster and easier. 


I built up the ground over several days with thin layers of air dry clay.  I used Crayola Model Magic, since it's lightweight, cheap, and readily available.   I sculpted the cobblestone pathway in the final layer.


 The ground, dried, painted, and ready for turf...

I found some surprise trees in my box of scenery supplies;  I bought them for the tomb a few years ago then didn't use them.  These look much better than the spooky trees; they fit the feel of the piece, plus the trunks and branches are round instead of flat.  I had to whittle the back of the trunk flat on the leftmost tree, which was a pain, but the only way I could put the tree "behind" the stone wall.


Using the plastic trees as templates, I cut two from paper to sit behind the house, adding more depth to the piece.  I glued down green turf stuff, then three colors of autumn turf stuff over the top, for fallen leaves.  Once the ground dried I vacuumed it, then stippled a liberal coat of Elmer's glue over it, working the stiff bristles of the brush into the turf.  I don't want, this time next year, for Susan to have half the turf lying loose in the bottom of the picture frame.   I made all the green leaves and flowers, using my smallest paper punches and thinnest wire.


 Now...for the magic.....

One of Susan's favorite days is the first frost of Autumn.  I  used silver pearlescent paint to create  frost.  I painted it on the top of every limb, dry brushed it on the edges of the shingles, dabbed it all over the ground, etc.   It's difficult to photograph, you've got to turn you  head this way and that, looking at it from different angles, to get the full effect.  It doesn't look like paint, it looks like reflected light.  The piece changes as you walk by it.  It worked wonderfully.



 The antique frame had a damaged spot on one side.  I thought about repairing and painting the frame, but I like the character the imperfection gives.   I gave the frame a light cleaning, then coated the damaged area with wood hardener, thinking that may keep it from deteriorating further.  I'm not sure it did any good, but it certainly didn't do any harm.


 The finished piece...pardon the reflections in the glass.... 


 A side view, showing off the convex glass...



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This is going to be Johnny Rotten's favorite thing about the gift - he is fascinated with your process and every year, makes sure I put out the books you sent one year, detailing how you made my gift.

I just can't wait to show him this year's prize.
I think it's your best yet, and those photos above are very nice, but they can't show the LIFE that this piece has.
It's so perfect, and I'm glad you left the "flaw" on top of the frame, because it gives an even more lived-in feel to it.

I feel like I could knock on the tiny door and if the lady of the house didn't answer, it would be because she's around back, tending her herb garden.

Hansel and Gretel, indeed - she may be picking herbs to go with her dinner!


Oh! And I finally figured out how to do something that has eluded me for years. To paint stonework, don't use different colors of brown, but varying tints of the same color brown. Whew! I foresee a stone cottage in my mini-house that won't get plastered over because it's ugly, like the English Cottage Kitchen did.


What a beautiful and thoughtful gift. You've outdone yourself with this one. Just lovely.


The stones are so realistic!

And the trees just make the whole piece pop.
It makes me think of every Bob Ross episode I have ever watched, where he starts to paint the "big old tree up front" and we yell "NO Bob, what are you DOING?!!?", and then he fills it in and makes it fit perfectly, and you realize he knew exactly what he was doing.

They are perfect trees, and I would never have guessed that the smaller background trees were stickers.
I wish I could bring it to everyone's home so they could see it for real, instead of photos.


wowowowowowow!!!!! That's one awesome piece of artwork there! Bravo, my friend!!! :D


Holy smokes! That's stunning!! I can't stop staring. So much to see! You are an artistic force to be reckoned with.


I agree with Pepper, Brae, and Kat - your work just keeps getting more and more amazing!

I'm so happy to have it, and Rotten was very very impressed, and the first thing he asked was "did she make a book showing how she made it?".
I told him that there is a blog post for him to look at when he gets time!

Just amazing! I love love love it! The frost really did add that extra dimension, and it looks so good in the photos, I can only imagine how good it must look in real life. I like your original trees, and could see them working in that storybook look, but maybe painted brown and with round tufts of leaves like cloud topiaries. But then they wouldn't have suited the Halloween/autumn theme. Amazing job on the flowers too. A beautiful composition, and the frame with it's imperfections and age is the perfect finishing touch.

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