Pam's Picture Diorama
Remember those fun dioramas from grade school? Apply the same principles to this project and create a clever piece of art for your home.
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I almost felt like I was back in grade school again when working on today's project; and everyone in the studio said they too remembered making one of these when they were kids. We also all agreed that they were usually made in shoeboxes. Today’s version is made in a frame and may be a bit more sophisticated than those "remember when" versions, but the fun was the same.
No doubt you will want to design your own scene, but if you don’t trust your artistic abilities, ours is a good place to start. Mountains and deserts do not offer too much of an artistic challenge.
Materials and Tools:
5" x 7" or 8" x 10" frame
plaster of Paris
mini wooden cactus
masking tape or Magic tape
acrylic paint: white, dark blue, gold
1. To determine how large to cut the chip board on which you'll paint your scene, remove the glass from the frame and cut a piece of cardstock the same length as the glass and several inches higher.
2. To determine the height, the chipboard should be cut to line up the side edges and then the top and bottom edges of the card stock with the outside edges of the glass. If the cardstock curves out too much, adjust it up and down until you get the amount of curve you want. Mark and cut off the card stock at this point. This will give you the size to cut the chipboard. Note: If there is no glass with the frame, you can use the opening in the front of the frame to experiment with the cardstock.
3. Cut the chipboard to the determined size.
4. Before starting to paint the scene, you must fill in the side areas which will be open due to the curve in the chipboard. To do this, cut another piece of chipboard the same size as the piece of glass or the opening of the frame. Place the first piece of chipboard perpendicular to this second one and match the two corners along one side edge. The first piece of chipboard will curve to do this. With a pencil, draw this curve. It should go from one corner of the piece to the corner below it. Repeat this procedure at the other end of the chipboard. Cut out these two curved pieces.
5. Now is the time to start painting, keeping in mind that the piece will be curved. You might hold the chipboard piece in a curved position if this is helpful, or you can attach the side pieces now. If you paint the scene first, remember to then paint the side pieces before attaching them.
6. To attach the side pieces: Place one of the curved pieces along one end edge of the chipboard and begin to tape it to hold using short pieces of Magic tape or masking tape. It will be tricky at first. Repeat this procedure at the other end.
7. Cut two strips of card stock 1-inch wide and the same length as the curved side of the clipboard. Draw a line down the middle lengthwise. Cut many short slits going from along the outside edge to the drawn line on one side of the strip only. Repeat on the second strip.
8. Glue the uncut edge of the cardstock strip along the curved edge of the chip board, covering the tape you have just put there and securing the attachment of the side piece to the larger piece. Do this along both edges of the piece.
9. When all of the painted areas of your picture have been completed (sky, stars, moon, mountains, etc.), it is time for the dimensional components. In our piece we used wooden cut-out cacti as well as those painted on the background. Gather all of the extras you might be using. In addition to the wooden cactus, we had some moss, small pebbles, dried items from the ground, a cut-out of a photograph of a person, etc. Have these at the ready when you apply the plaster.
10. Mix up a small amount of the Plaster of Paris and fill in the ground below the mountains. Make it a bit uneven. With your finger or a craft stick, put in a road. Add the pebbles and moss, the cut-out figure and any other items you might wish to add for realism. Allow to set and dry.
11. When the plaster is dry (overnight), paint it desired color. Ours was gold to resemble sand.
12. Reassemble the pieces. First the glass and then the scene. The back of the piece will be rather unattractive, so either build a small box to put over it and cover it from view or display your diorama in a bookcase with its back to the wall!