Philadelphia Flower Show Recap: The miniature garden demonstration went very well, it was the biggest book-signing at the show up to that day! I was tickled to be able to show veteran miniature setting artists a new way to garden in miniature.
Miniature Gardening at the Philadelphia Flower Show, Part 2
Whew! It’s been a whirlwind book tour. Now I know why celebrities only make the media ’rounds every couple of years and I did a fraction of what they do. Glad to be back at my desk and catching up on all things miniature garden. As promised, here’s part two of the Philadelphia Flower Show – the inside scoop…
The Philadephia Flower Show has been my holy grail since I first heard about the Miniature Settings exhibit many years ago. It is the only show to embrace this level of gardening and, boy, it was so inspiring to see them up-close and personal. To get an inside tour from Dr. K. herself, Louise Krasniewicz, the Vice Chair of the exhibit PLUS to have time to dream and scheme with Ron Hoess, the Chair and veteran miniature setting artist, was just the icing on the cake.
Here are my favorite exhibits with a little insight as to why I think they worked so well. It took me going back later on Saturday night to realize there was an outdoor section on one side and in indoor section on the other. Of course my fave was the outdoor displays. OMG – Every time I look at these photos I want to drop everything and make something! Taxes? Paperwork? What IS that?!?! Lol!
Remember, click to enlarge the photos to see the details. All gardens are 1″ scale (1:12th scale.)
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon
Philadelphia Flower Show Miniature Garden Settings – Mythical Hanging Gardens of Babylon by Pamela Goldman. This was a clear favorite. The intricate colors and textures of the tile work combined with the lush foliage created a very exotic scene.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon was one of the seven wonders of the ancient world but the location was never known. It’s present-day location is in Iraq. Pam Goldman made the trip to the area to gather inspiration for this display – I would like to take a moment to thank her for doing so, and to say, “You forgot to take me with you!” Lol!
The use of “big” leafed plants and palm leaves immediately placed this in context to be from a hot climate. The turquoise, blue and gold colors create a rich backdrop for the plants. The components, the pillars and staircase, gave the artist more opportunities to show-off intricate tile work and bring different colors into the palette – but not too many as to clutter the idea. The combined greens of the plants offer balance from the colorful, detailed work.
The fountain in the back corner worked with a trickling of water. Note how she hung strands of the String of Pearl succulent down from the wall planter beside the fountain to look like ivy. The cheetahs inside the palace cinch the idea that the scene is something not-of-this-world.
Sorry about the glare in these photos, all the displays were behind glass.
Blues, blues and more blues are carried up into the sky. The tile work of the fountain really conveyed the age with its patchwork details and timeworn form. The layers of walls behind and beside the fountain help the archaic feeling of the scene.
Master of Suspense: The Birds by Louise Krasniewicz
The Master of Suspense: The Birds display by Louise Krasniewicz. Louise created the major components from scratch after finding it difficult to purchase the right kind of buildings and fences that were exactly to scale, and had the right age to them. The judges got out their ruler when they saw the “regulation-sized” mailbox in the front that was in perfect scale that appeared a bit big, but wasn’t at all. You can start to see how challenging this is when the rulers come out.
Master of Suspense: The Birds by Louise Krasniewicz – right side. The school on the right was just lovely in detail, some of the windows being opened and others closed, was a nice touch. The judges commented on such a bare sky, but I seem to recall how bare the background and ocean sky felt in the movie. What’s right? Maintaining a balance within the miniature scene for the viewer, or producing a loyal representation of the subject, in this case, the movie The Birds?
Louise created the monkey bars and the birds from a 3D printer and after many attempts, she nailed it. About 4 different sizes/styles of crows were made in multiples, then she bent the wings in different ways to create a dramatic murder of crows. There was no question where this scene was from and it delivered the message instantly.
Louise’s garden beds were so sweet. She plays with rooting cuttings and uses them while they are very young. Begonias and succulent starts are her favorite. The different sizes and colors of leaves create a realistic garden bed. She made the pretty picket fence from scratch in perfect scale, which only added to the realism.
Note that Louise’s miniature garden plants are grown specifically for the show and meant to only last for the two weeks that the show is up, (includes set-up days before it opens.) Katy, Ron Hoess’ other half and the brains behind the plant nomenclature, told me of a time when she kept the garden part of their display together after the show, and placed it on the windowsill at home. It lasted about a month before it was overgrown and leggy. Even though this way of miniature gardening doesn’t last long, I imagine it’s very fun to create.
Come to think of it, it’s how the full-sized garden shows are created in the middle of winter too: they force the plants to leaf and bloom in greenhouses to get the ready for the big display gardens. Quite a feat!
Louise had well over 30 different plants in her mini garden beds. More textures and color were used throughout the rest of the garden. The result was a very realistic garden similar to what was in Annie’s garden in the movie. Note how the path is aged with tiny weeds growing in between the bricks on the left.
After getting to know Louise a bit, I knew that every detail was carefully thought out — even the door is cracked open, stirring anyone’s natural curiosity. The lavender house, the pretty white trim and fence, combined with the pale sky made the perfect backdrop for the black crows. I thought this a great balance between miniatures and garden.
See more of Louise’s work, along with the rest of the artists, on her blog here. She had a more than a little fun with it after the show ended!
The Lady of Shalott, by Deb and Jim Mackie
The Lady of Shalott, by Deb & Jim Mackie. Was a beautiful representation of the painting. I think everything was made from scratch, including the boat and the figure. The water is resin.
See how the boat was made from scratch on Louise’s blog (aka Dr. K.) Miniature Flower Show Settings. Scroll down through the blog, Dr. K. shared several pictures of Deb and Jim’s progress.
Jim and Deb Mackie did a fantastic job in adapting the painting to “3D” – not an easy feat as you can’t really see what is going on beyond the boundaries of the painted canvas. (The painting was an interpretation of a poem.) Light symbolizes life, which is why two out of the three candles on the bow of the boat are blown out – a premonition of what’s about to happen.
For the story behind The Lady of Shallot, we rely on our favorite Internet resource, Wikipedia.
Deb Mackie’s specialty is miniature fine art dolls. You can see the fear of the unknown on Lady Shallot’s face as she frantically searches for her Lancelot – time is of the essence! The draping tapestry dipping into the water is a perfect touch. The brick work on the castle was impeccable. Note again, how all the background colors are monochromatic, the figure and tapestry are from a much brighter palette. This directs the viewer’s eye to the main character.
See Deb Mackie’s Etsy store here.
Hepworth: The Modern Stone Age by Lori Anne Currall
Hepworth: The Modern Stone Age by Lori Anne Currall. Is just lovely. The soft color of the stone walls are a perfect replica of Barbara Hepworth’s St. Ivy Garden Studio in the UK. The scene is so intricate with dust on the floor, dirt in the corners and several cats mewing about that you don’t quite notice the miniature Hepworth sculptures on the tables and in the garden.
This was another scene where it was so well done, it looked like a scene shrunken from full-size. I love the windows that peek out into the garden to show another piece of art by Hepworth. The pots look like they were found at a garage sale and plants are in perfect scale while being slightly unkempt – as it would in an artist’s studio where the focus is the art.
Lori Anne did a wonderful job with the flooring. Not all the tiles would age exactly the same, and they would become uneven over time too. Check out the well-done plumbing underneath the sink.
Bare bulbs, little messes and wonderful in-scale details help the viewer put the story together quickly and easily. A pair of glasses on the table – was the artist JUST here?? It’s the traces of life you can add to your scenes to not only help with the realism, but to help tell the story.
“Daylight” streams through the skylight to illuminate the scene – the perfect light for an artist. Look how Lori Ann included a few auxiliary lights coming down from the ceiling on the left. Just lovely! When can I move in?
The Inside Scoop
Because the Miniature Settings Exhibits are temporary, they tend to be made from tape and cardboard just like a full-sized stage setting where the public wouldn’t see the hidden “duct-tape and chewing gum” that holds it all together while the show goes on. Again, this is where the difference between our miniature gardens and these miniature settings lay: we try to get ours to stay together for as long as we can by using authentic materials and true miniature plants.
Inside the Miniature Settings Exhibit from the Philadelphia Flower Show that ended March 9th. The walls are re-used from year to year and you can see the displays are held up by tiny tables and sometimes paint cans (see on the left!) I imagine it’s pretty chaotic during set-up but nary a miniaturist was in sight when Louise gave me the tour.
I’m not sure but I think this was Louise’s exhibit, the creator of The Birds. Lol! Many different sizes of crows, from full-size and smaller, were randomly displayed here on the backside of the exhibit ant on the front-side too. It was too fun!
Extra plants were kept handy – see the wagon on the right – some of the more fragile plants had to be switched out during the show. The exhibit had to be accessible as well, to water and maintain the plants. You can see how the artists create light streaming through the windows in their displays. Note that some of the smaller lighting, like in the lamps and wall sconces, were made from dollhouse-lighting.
The best flowers from Philadelphia Flower Show? Were from fellow Miniature Gardener, Pauline, who went out of her way to see me – and to bring me flowers! I brought them home with me. Lol! Thank you, Pauline!
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