The Cloister Gardens

Life is funny. And then you cry.

Okay. I attached everything. It went pretty well. The outside walls had caved a little from the weight of the ceiling, so I revised a bit. Instead of polymer clay columns on the inside, I made new columns outs of painted wood. This makes much more sense structurally. Then the gardens came next.

First, get books on medieval gardens. Study. Then make raised platforms out of bamboo skewers and grapevines. A little trial and error here. Take a board and drill holes in the right places for sticks. Stain sticks and then wrap the sticks with grapevine. Then, pause to learn. First, brown grapevine is too big, but the green stuff turns brown nicely over time. Grapevine shrinks over time as well. So, re-do the ones you did. Trace the sticks with vine. Wait a few days with vine set up in sun. Push down old ones tight to tighten them up, and add more. Repeat until it can’t be pushed down any more. Trim tops and bottoms of all gardens – 4 go in the corners and two grapevines on the sides in the middle. Take Styrofoam and cover with fake moss bought in garden display case.

Then my mom got sick. She got through it, but it was a tough couple of months. Anyhow, I spent a lot of time at the hospital. I made all the garden pieces there since I could fit that in a box. I was traveling with my niece in France the year before and she pointed out all the hedges in the garden we were in were actually fruit trees. The process is called espalier. I loved the idea, which is not only pretty, but actually results in a practical approach to gardening in a limited space. So, I made espalier shaped trees – trained to be hedges, including apple, pear, quince and some sort of vague fruit. I used a roll of doll leaves on vine-like wire, some floral wire, polymer clay for pears and quince and floral doodads for the other 2 fruits.

I had gone to all the local hobby shops and floral places and looked for likely culprits to help me make miniature plants. I used different parts of fake plants for different things. The grapevines were floral wire, some weird little grape looking things, which originally had been the centers of big flowers and fake leaves cut into the right shapes. Some flowers and herbs were polymer clay, some floral stuff, some a combo.

My sister insisted that there be a working fountain. She really is quite devious. Anyhow, I made the fountain to basically look like one in the famous Unicorn tapestry in the Cloisters in New York. First make the workings. Solder brass tubings together, cover with polymer clay – translucent, pearl and ivory combined. Make lion’s heads to spew the water. Attach to miniature pump. Learn something. Pipes that are horizontal push water horizontally. Thus, you have a fountain that could be a sprinkler system for the whole kit and caboodle. Sigh. Re-do entire workings. Test tubing BEFORE adding clay this time. Take a bakelite cup and use it for base Outside of fountain is based on Pietre Dure designs going with the whole Italian theme. Pietre Dure means precious stones and they used to cut the stones up into way more magnificent patterns than the ones I am capable of doing.  Move the whole cloisters to basement. Find out there’s a colony of bats who seem to be accessing the house through the basement. Freak out. Decide to take a pause on basement, pay really brave guys a lot of money and work on something else for a while.