I Can Do That...
And So Can You!
That's the message Shirley Vallas brings to all self-taught
miniaturists frustrated by their inability to get it right
the first time. A self-taught miniaturist herself, Shirley
knows first hand what that frustration feels like.
After years of doing crafts, she credits a picture of a miniature
fern as her inspiration for trying her hand at miniaturing.
"I can do that," she thought. But she soon found out she couldn't.
In fact, the harder she tried, the more frustrated she became.
"At first I thought `this is not for me,'" she confesses.
Thankfully, she tried again. This time with a different attitude.
This time, just for fun.
Today she is a nationally recognized specialist in creating
miniature flowers and plants. Her work has been featured in
several miniaturist publications, including Nutshell News.
And now Shirley shares her 15 years of experience with you
in "Flowers and Plants with Shirley Vallas," Volume 4 of The
Master Miniaturists Video Instructional Series. This multi-part
series features expert instruction by some of the country's
top miniature artisans.
While watching Shirley demonstrate her techniques, you'll
realize her methods are honed from years of practice. They're
easy to implement, using materials you may already have around
the house. You'll watch as tape, toothpicks, and glue, bloom
into Marigolds, Gladiolus, Birds Of Paradise, and Sunflowers
that will bloom year round.
You'll especially appreciate the encouragement of her no-nonsense,
`enjoy what you're doing approach' to miniaturing. For example,
when arranging flowers in a miniature pot, she advises, "There's
no specific way to put them in. There's no magic formula.
Just do whatever looks good to you."
And sometimes not knowing how to make something can lead
to new adventures. "I didn't know how to make a Bird of Paradise,"
Shirley says. "Then someone sent me a flower and a leaf with
a note that said `Please make me a plant'." In her video,
she teaches you how to make a Bird Of Paradise that rivals
those found in nature.
You'll also learn that patience is a virtue miniaturists
for which all miniaturists should strive. When cutting circles
to create your flowers, for instance, take the time to cut
the circles with scissors. Using a hole punch may seem easier
but, in the long run, can be more time consuming. The tape
sticks to the whole punch," Shirley says, "and circles cut
with a hole punch also stick to each other. Then you'll spend
all your time separating the circles from one another."
You also get advice for making your flowers look realistic.
"Use two or more colors of tape to bring out the subtleties
and shading. Too much of a single color is just not natural."
And speaking of natural, when it comes to finding inspiration,
let nature be your guide. "One of the very best ways of finding
pic tures of flowers is to look in seed catalogues. These,
along with books on how to plant, and guides to gardening
can be used as samples to create your miniatures."
Shirley's work also comes to life in Volume 5 of The Master
Miniaturists Video Instructional Series where she joins her
husband, Lou, in "Building Miniature Ponds."