Sunday, 29 November 2015

Still Learning About Trees, Leaves, Rice Paper and Japanese Crepe Paper.

The first thing I have to admit to is that despite collecting loads of tutorials regarding plant making and making note of all the tips from Mary Kinolch's FB Group I have ignored a basic truth. That is: don't bother researching if you are going to ignore what all those generous miniaturists tell you!! 
If you are undertaking a big project choosing the right materials is fundamentally important and it is a lesson I have learnt to my cost this week.
There are many very talented craftspeople who use filter papers, cartridge paper, floral tape and any paper they have to hand and create marvellous plants but if you only have basic home skills and need to be led by the hand, like me, using tried and tested materials saves both time, money and energy.
So what have I been playing with.....
.....this monster. Which is my take on a weeping willow type tree for one of the back corners. A very heavily wired tree structure that I painted and then because I wasn't happy with the trunk I then covered with tissue and painted again.
 I then punched hundreds of leaves using the basic rice paper I mentioned in my last post that I bought on Ebay. I used a large leaf punch that I have had in my stash for a few years and didn't think I would ever use as the stem is much too big but then realised I could remove all the individual leaves from the stem and glue them on individually. 
This paper is very thin and I made the mistake of punching two or three sheets at a time which meant the leaves bunched together, much time was then spent with tweezers pulling the individual leaves apart. Advice to punch sheets separately ignored, lesson learnt.
As the paper is very delicate it then took me a while to work our how to score and cup the leaves without tearing them in half. I needed to do quite a large batch at a time to get into the swing, very tedious but much less wastage and frustration!
 Using my fine tipped glue applicator I dotted along each branch and began building up the leaf effect.
 Hopefully you can see the improved trunk and fully laden branches. It is also advisable to punch loads of leaves to make sure you do not run out and then find you can't remember what colour paint you used for this particular tree. I now have enough leaves for many trees and plants but as the saying goes: "They don't eat anything"!
 After advice from the lovely Jayne of Tallulah Belle Originals and ignoring the advice of Mary Kinolch I finally ordered rice paper and silk linen/Japanese Crepe from Pearce Miniatures
I have no idea why I didn't do this in the first place apart from the fact that I have been put off from ordering from the US lately because of the horrendous import and postal taxes I have had to pay in recent months. I think I had also become increasingly confused by the huge variety of papers that seemed to be more readily available. Patience has never been a strong point of mine.
Now, however, I knew exactly what to order and from where. The postal costs were very reasonable and for the first time in an age my parcel avoided scrutinage. 
 I started with the Silk Linen paper and read Era's very clear and helpful instruction regarding the colouring. This paper has a strong texture and was nowhere near as delicate as my Ebay rice paper.
I soaked it with plain water as advised and then coated it with an acrylic paint mixed with a dash of gloss medium. The paper gets very wet but as it dries you can see how you end up with a variegated effect which is just perfect for leaves. You do need to protect your floor though, if you want to, as the sheets will drip paint as they dry.
 Then, because I never can stick to instructions, I had a try with a 50/50 mix of acrylic and gloss medium and did not soak the paper. This has given a much deeper colour and the paint did not variegate very much at all.
 I then turned my attention to the rice paper from Pearce Miniatures. Again this was much less delicate than the Ebay paper and felt much nicer. I crumpled up these sheets and then painted each side in contrasting colours. I then dry washed each side with a strong contrasting colour. 
I have learnt that the dry wash colour has to be very clearly different to the base colour, if there is not a contrast when the tiny leaves are punched you lose the variegation completely.
 These sheets were not crumpled and you can see the different type of effect you get.
 I have now spent some time with my punches on these two papers and they punch like a dream. Of course I tried punching two sheets at a time but checked straight away to see if the leaves clumped, they did, so I punched each sheet separately which took longer but it meant I didn't have to spend much more time tweezing apart leaf clumps. You will get a lot of waste when using punches but this can be minimised by cutting off the strips you are left with in each row and then keeping these for cutting and shaping your own leaves......eventually!!
 The other thing I noticed is that the direction of the crepe weave will show up on the leaf. Here you can see the difference depending on which edge of the paper I punched along.
So far though these papers are so much better than all the others I have used so far and I wish I had used these from the very start. Their cost is very reasonable and I would certainly recommend them for anyone's stash or if you intend to embark on a plant project of any kind.
I think I have just about got away with the quilling paper because the leaves I started with were very large and I am sure I will use the leaves I already have on larger plants but I would not recommend using it for smaller plants and flowers. 
As you will have gathered I have quite a collection of leaves now that I began storing in the little Poundland containers I think everyone has in their stash but I then remembered I have these tiny food pots that I use for paint and glue. Much better for storing these tiny bits as it appears I am going to need quite a few containers for this project 
They are really handy and can be bought in all sorts of quantities and types Ebay, these are the same as the ones I use but there are others available too for less. Mine are more or less disposable as you cannot wash then out in very hot water, they will de-grade. 
Great for your letter to Santa though!!
A bit of a marathon post but I hope it will prove useful.
Try and keep dry this week if Winter is testing it's muscles where you are. If Summer is arriving in your part of the world........Lucky, lucky you!!


  1. Has hecho un gran trabajo. Es un poco tedioso, pero luego queda precioso.

  2. Ha, clever you! All that work and experimenting, great tutorial.

  3. Ah, thank you for the tips on the acrylic medium and paint wash! I had never heard them before and have been quite unhappy with my leaf coloring. I'm going to try crumpling too. Appreciate your help... and I'm also quite impressed with your tree!

  4. Gran trabajo ese árbol.

  5. I'm pleased you finally managed to get a system going that worked for you and it all looks very efficient. The tree looks splendid and well worth all the time and effort. Me? I wont be making any trees!

  6. Hi Janice, I have noticed that your method is to make all of the tiny fiddly bits first in order to get them ready to assemble. I am taking notes because in the past, I have made up blossoms only enough for a few flowers at a time. Your method proves to be a BIG time saver and the storage container, a good way to keep them organized too! And also thanks for the heads up regarding how to work with the Japanese papers, Much Appreciated! :D



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