Here is how he uses natural objects and preserves them for his work:
I guess one good tip is that many of the biological elements in my dioramas ) are actual specimens that I have "cured". To do this, say with plants, or many other organic things that would otherwise deteriorate, I first hang them to dry, usually upside down inside a ventilated paper bag (this removes the moisture quickly and thoroughly). Then, I freeze them for 48 hours. This kills any bacteria of living things in them. Finally I coat them with several layers of Matte finish Polyurethane spray (Krylon 11-Ounce Low Odor Clear Matte Finish Aerosol Spray). It is important to do one layer at a time allowing each layer to dry. This works great for insects too, but the polyurethane many times affects the colors and irradescence of wings, etc. There is no way I have found around this problem, so I usually just go back and retouch them with gouache paint, and then varnish again. Also for insects you have to freeze first and dry second. Different specimens react differently, and some plants just don't work because they wither.
Another cool tip is the furniture. I use balsa wood because it is lightweight and very easy to shape and cut. to give it a more realistic look I paint it with walnut ink. Once this is dry I use powdered chalk to weather it and make it look dusty, as it is done with model railroads.
To make "miniature fabric" I don't use fabric because the woven pattern and folds give away the scale. Instead, I wrinkle and rub paper until the fiber becomes soft. I use watercolors or inks to dye it.
Here is the general Process for curing biological specimens:
- Hang the object upside down in a ventilated paper bag to dry
- Freeze for 48 hours to kill bacteria
- Coat with several layers of Matte Finish Polyurethane Spray (allow it to dry between layers)
- Touch up the colors with Gouache paint and varnish again
- (For insects you should freeze first and dry second)
- Use balsa wood to build it (light and easy to work with
- Paint it with walnut ink for a natural wood look
- Weather it with chalk , gives a great dusty look
- Don't use real fabric because it gives away the scale
- Wrinkle and rub paper until the fiber becomes soft
- Dye with watercolors and ink
Krylon 11-Ounce Low Odor Clear Matte Finish Aerosol Spray
This low odor finishes protect like traditional clear coatings without the odor. Features permanent protective finish, non-yellowing, soap and water clean-up. Suitable for indoor and outdoor use on wood, metal, wicker, plastic, glass, craft foam, plaster, ceramic, paper, paper mache, dried and silk foliage, dries to touch. Available in clear matte finish and comes in 11-ounce.
Wild Republic Insect Collection
Bugs A to Z
The perfect book for all kids who are fascinated with bugs. Simple text from A to Z provides buggy facts and figures. Larger than life full-color photographs of creepy crawlies include locusts, caterpillars, beetles, flies, grasshoppers, ants, praying mantis, and more!
Another wonderful diorama in the form of a shadow box. This one is called "The Alps" And it is a nostalgic scene of an old automobile traveling one of those narrow roads in the Alps and going over a bridge : The Alps shadowbox diorama
How to Make Miniature trees from Household materials
Miniature trees are expensive. But I have a nice alternative. You can make them with three materials: Brown paper, a kitchen sponge and glue. And they come out great. Make Miniature Trees