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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Dinner for Two

This scene was inspired by something I saw one day while driving. So first let's travel back to that day and I will tell you about what I saw.

I had been out shopping for the day and was heading home in the early afternoon. It had been a busy day and I thinking about what I needed to do yet when I got home. My normal route to and from shopping takes me past a certain cemetery that is not only on a corner but at the top of a hill. As I was coming up the road toward it I saw that some thing was happening toward the center of the cemetery At first I assumed it must be a funeral but as I got closer I found something very different. 


The first thing I really noticed was a folding card table and one of those metal folding chairs. (you know the kind, we have all sat on/at them many times in our lives) and seated on the chair was an elderly man. This man was wearing a suit and in front of him on the table was a bottle of red wine, a filled wine glass and a plate. When I looked to his side on the ground I found that he had spread a multitude of cut flowers on what I assume was the resting place of someone he loved very much.

I realized that what I was seeing was this man having dinner with someone very special.

I could think of little else on the way home. As soon as I got the items I had purchased put away I told some friends online. We discussed this for the rest of the weekend. It was just so touching. It made us all want to know more.


I found that for the next several days the scene stayed with me. It was in my thoughts often. I felt the need to do something with the scene. I really wished that I had the talent to paint because I think this would have been a wonderful subject of a painting. But, I can not paint so I did the next best thing. I started thinking of ways to make a miniature scene of what I had witnessed.

I immediately knew the kind of box it could go in. I made a very similar box to use to photograph miniatures a few years ago. It is simply constructed from 3 squares of foam-core. Glued together to make a portion of a cube. I knew the base square could be covered by grass and I could add a headstone.

The next task was to find a suitable figure to represent the man I had seen. I looked at several options and settled on one of the resin figures from the one they call Charles. Charles is simply an elderly gentleman that is seated with his hands folded in his lap. He is dressed in a sport coat and slacks where the man at the cemetery was in a suit. So after a lot of debating with myself and asking the advice of some friends I began the process of re-painting him. I covered that process in a recent blog entry (you can see it here)

The table and chair were also found on the same site. I was concerned as to whether Charles could sit comfortably on the chair and look to in correct proportion. I posted on the sites Facebook page with my question and was thrilled to have the fit checked for me by someone there. That was excellent service and made the decision to purchase much easier. I also ordered the bottle and glass of wine that I would need to for the scene.

As soon as my order arrived I was able to make a final decision on the size my project would be. I wanted to make sure I had just the right amount of space around my setting.

Next I needed to get some photos taken to use as the backdrop so that the scene was set in a place.

I was able to convince an very good friend to go with me to take the pictures I used for the backdrop of the scene. It seemed weird to go alone to a cemetery to take random pictures. Also I had no idea where would be the best place to go and my friend was able to suggest the perfect location.

Now to get the pictures printed and then move onto the next step, making the pictures and the background into a cohesive backdrop.

After printing the photographs as 8” x 10” enlargements I then did my best to match the color of the sky that day. I found that by using some spray paint in a gloss white over my bright blue tag board background I was able to get a very close match the cloudy Oregon sky on the day we shot the photographs.

Then I chose which parts of the pictures I wanted to use. I proceeded to cut around the distant trees and cut the pictures so they best blended together to form a background that stretched to cover the back of the display piece.

Now onto the grass. I decided to use my standard method for making grass, a light brown terry towel. I first saw this process many, many years ago in some mini magazine or another. I think the article used a green towel but I prefer to use a brown one. I can never find a green towel that is anywhere near the color of grass. I find the brown being under the green top fools the eye into thinking that it is just dirt. My process is to take various colors of green craft paint and a stiff paint brush to paint the grass. If you do this the biggest trick to not have too much paint on your brush. It is almost a dry brushing technique. Work in many layers until you get the effect you want. Remember you can always add more paint, you really can't take any off once it is in place.

My grass/ towel was glued to a foamcore piece that fit the bottom of my box before painting. I had also cut out two holes to place the headstones that were to go in the foreground under. After all the paint was dry I simply used some box tape to tape some of those little samples of laminate counter-top material. I had gotten the samples years ago for a project that never happened and I decided the fake stone laminate would make very nice headstones. I decided to not personalize the headstones at all for this scene. That seemed like it would have just not been the correct thing to do.

So now I had the background all set, the grass ready to go in, Charles was all painted and his table was set and ready for dinner. The next logical step was to glue a sheet of paper to the outside. I am not exactly sure what the paper is called. I buy it in large sheets (19”x 25”) at the craft store near the watercolor paper. It is the same paper I use to wallpaper my dollhouses when I want the look of a painted wall. I wrapped the paper around the edges of the box so the raw foamcore would be finished off. I used the same YES paste that I use when ever I wallpaper in miniature.

With the outside finished off it was time to glue in the background and the grass and then add Charles and his table and chair.

Now with the scene coming together I needed to disguise the joint between the pictures. I had ordered parts to make a park bench a few months ago and found the bench to be the perfect addition to the scene.

For the flowers I used some tiny flowers from the craft store, some I tinted with markers, I used my hot glue gun to adhere the flowers to replicate what I had seen that day.


  1. beautiful tribute for those who have lost a loved one. Nicely done.

  2. I am at a loss for words. Beautiful memorial!

  3. wow this is just beautiful Joanne, if you ever see that man again would you give this to him?? how touching beautiful work on this!!

  4. So interesting and moving. I was wondering if this happened in May, and if you have a large population of Eastern Europeans in your area. I lived in Russia for a year, and it was very typical to see everyone head to the cemetery once a year in May. They would clean the site (every gravesite is fenced in) and sit and have bread and vodka, leaving a plate of bread and vodka behind for their loved one. Some families may even visit more often, and usually a table and chair is permanently next to the headstone.

  5. Beautiful story and equally beautiful scene. Very moving.

  6. wow joanne...this scene is amazing! it's so peaceful, serene, and hauntingly romantic. to think that someone would go to cemetary to have maybe an anniversary dinner with a spouse that passed. i think that is a beautiful sentiment. thank you for translating that sentiment/feeling into such a beautiful scene. you did a wonderful job!!
    mini huggs,

  7. how sad but also very moving, it shows when we lose someone we love they never really go away, you have done a lovly tribute to the unknown man, bless you

  8. an unusaual...but ever so touching scene! You perfectly managed to catch the moment! I agree to a comment go back and perhaps find a way of letting the man know that that special moment has now touched many hearts! Congratulations!

  9. Thank you for sharing your talents (and inspirations) with us all.

  10. You were meant to see that scene and be able to memorialize it.

  11. Wow that scene and story has brought tears to my eyes. I find it in a way beautiful to know that true love like that really does exist. I hope we can all be so lucky to have someone that devoted in out lives. You did an amazing job on your scene! I only wish you were able to give it to him to show him how he has affected you and so many of us who had the privilege to see into a tiny part of his life. Thank you for sharing this with us! Gayla

  12. Hi Joanne, I think that you did a wonderful job of interpreting the story. I especially like the towel/ grass effect. the grass looks lush and believable. The old gentleman you've re-painted very well and it suits him.

  13. Love is everlasting...true love never dies.