01 of 10
Make Wire Garden Fencing or Edging for Fairy or Dollhouse Gardens
This easy project with wire will introduce you to making traditional wired garden edging or fencing in miniature. The edging shown here is only 1 inch (2.5 cm) tall, designed as a path accent or simple plant support for a fairy, dollhouse or miniature garden.
The technique used to make it can be used to make all kinds of traditional garden fencing that uses the technique of twisted wire to hold wire hoops in a range of patterns. Twisted wire garden fencing was very popular from at least 1880 through to the early 1950's when it was knocked out of favor by chain link fencing.
You can find more instructions for accessories for fairy gardens on the miniatures site. A good reference book for making miniature gardens is Janit Calvo's "Gardening in Miniature" The Seattle miniature show galleries have lots of photos of her gardens.Continue to 2 of 10 below.
02 of 10
Choosing and Cutting Wires to Make Miniature Twisted Wire Fences
We chose to make our simple fence in a standard 1" or 1:12 dollhouse scale, keeping our garden edging to 1 inch in height, the equivalent of 1 foot in height for a real fence. You can make your fence to a different design of your choice or make it different sizes by choosing different wire gauges.
For our fence, we cut and painted # 22 gauge florist's paddle wire to 3 inch (7.7cm) lengths. The paddle wire had to be straightened due to being bent over the paddle, you could use lengths of painted wire instead. If you need to straighten wire, the easiest way to do it is with a draw plate. You can also use easy to shape aluminum armature wire, copper wire, or other beading wires to suit your scale or design.
In addition to a fairly stiff wire for the hoops of your fence, you will need long lengths of a finer, easier to bend the wire to make the twisted lines that hold the fence hoops together. We used a #24 gauge painted wire. For an 8 inch (20cm) length, we needed 20 - 22 inches (50-60cm) of this finer gauge wire.
For tools, you will need end cutters or another wire cutter, and a pair of needle nose or flat nose beading pliers or something similar.
You will also need a round shape to form your wire hoops over. We used a tube of lipstick for the hoop size we wanted, but pens, pencils, markers, ends of sewing spools etc. all make useful guides.
It is also useful to have a sheet of graph paper, or a guide you draw out on paper to line up the wires (see later steps).Continue to 3 of 10 below.
03 of 10
Shaping Wire Hoops for a Miniature Garden Edging or Fairy Garden Fence
To make our 8-inch section of miniature garden edging we first cut and shaped 16 hoops from the stiffest wire (22 gauge for me). You may want a few extras to have on hand in case you run into problems on your first fencing attempt.
To shape the hoops, roll the wire around a round object to get the size of the curve you want. For a first attempt, this simple fence is easy to make in the size shown. As you become more proficient, you may want to make fences with more lines of twisted wire, narrower, or differently overlapped hoops. Look at examples of old twisted wire garden fencing for inspiration and traditional patterns.
The following steps will show different patterns that can be made with this simple style of hoop.Continue to 4 of 10 below.
04 of 10
Simple Hoop Layout Designs for Miniature Garden Fencing
Here are two examples of fencing patterns that can be made using the hoops we shaped around a lipstick tube. You can set some of the hoops higher to change the pattern, or set them all at the same height. You can make a pattern using wider hoops with narrower hoops, or you can vary the base design (see the next slide).
Play with your hoops against a backdrop of graph paper to work out the design you want to try. The easiest to start with is the simple single height design on your left in the photo above.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10
Modifying the Fence Base for a Different Design
Changing the design of the base of the hoops, or the numbers of lines of twisted wire will also make different designs. The wire needs to be twisted on the same hoops in a progression across the fence, so each line of twisted wire needs to be worked on one set of hoops before moving on to the top line on the next set.
The twisting lines that hold the hoops will make a change to how the design looks. If you lay your hoop pattern out on graph paper you can set it up so the lines of the graph paper represent the points where the twisted wire will cross.
With designs like this one, where the hoops are crossed at the base, you may want to run a second line of twisted wire across the cross point of the hoops to stabilize the edging or fencing. As our fencing will be set into the ground, or into dry floral arrangement foam, we could leave the crossing points unsupported and create them after we finish the twisted wire join line if we wish.
Another way to change out the design is to experiment with making loops in the top curve of your wire.Continue to 6 of 10 below.
06 of 10
Joining the Wire Hoops for a Miniature Twisted Wire Fence or Edging
The sturdy miniature wire fence is made by twisting wire (which stiffens it) joining the wire hoop legs into the twists as they are formed.
- To begin, fold your length of twisting wire in half and crimp it with a pair of pliers to make the smallest curve possible in the folded end. Into this fold, set the end of the first hoop as shown on the left of the photo above.
- Use a flat centered pair of pliers to hold both strands of your folded twisting wire as close to the hoop wire end as possible, and twist the wire against the hoop so the twist holds the wire fairly tightly.
- We find it is easiest to set our pliers in between the two wires from here on, twisting both wires always in the same direction as we add in more hoops.
- To get to the point where you will add your second hoop, twist the wires until you line up with the center of your first hoop. Count the number of times you twist your wire to make it easier to repeat the motion for each section.
- Once you have twisted your way to the center of your first hoop, set a second hooped wire into position against the twisted wire, and use your pliers to twist the wires on the open side, pressing the hoop wire firmly into place caught in a small loop of the twist.
- Twist across the fence to the second side of the first hoop. Now add the third hoop so it's side wire lines up against the second side of the first hoop. Twist the wire so both hoop 'legs' are held in the same tight twist. Work across to the halfway point, add another hoop with its leg beside the first and keep twisting. See the photo above.
- From now until you place the last hoop, you will wire two 'leg' wires from two different hoops into the twisted wire at the center of each hoop.
Try to keep the wire as tight as possible, with an even number of twists between each set of hoop wires.
We find it easiest to have one unused end of a hoop in front of our twisting wire, and the other free hoop leg (of the two in working progress) behind the twisting wire, it makes it easier to keep track of which wire goes in next.
Try to work across the hoops in a straight line, you can adjust the height of the hoops as shown in later steps, but it is easiest to work in the correct line as you begin and keep everything as even as possible.
If you notice the legs in the previous section are loose, unpick your twisted wire to the loose section and set your pliers tightly against the legs to set them into a tighter loop of wire. You want the wire hoops to be able to move slightly for adjustment, but not to be so loose that they slip position.Continue to 7 of 10 below.
07 of 10
Finish the Miniature Twisted Wire Fencing
When you reach the end of your twisting wire, set it around the final 'leg' of the final hoop and twist it tightly. Cut off any excess wire trimming it so only two twists hold the final hoop 'leg'. Turn the end of the wire back on itself to hold it against the inside of your fairy garden/ miniature garden/dolls' house fence.Continue to 8 of 10 below.
08 of 10
Adjust the Hoop and Wire Positions on the Mini Twisted Wire Fence
To even out your fencing, lay your final length down where you have a line for the top of the fence hoops, and a second line for the position of the twisted wire. You can lay it out on graph or squared paper as shown, or use a ruler clamped to a work surface as a guide.
Use a pair of pliers, or a sturdy pair of bent nose tweezers to adjust the hoop and wire positions until everything lines up as straight as possible.
Use pliers to line up the loose leg sections of the hoops so they lay side by side and flat with the rest of the fence or edging.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10
Finished Miniature Twisted Wire Fencing or Edging
When your miniature twisted wire fencing or edging is completed the top should be straight and the base wires should line up neatly side by side.
At this point, clip the base of the wire hoops so the wires are even. You can use these sets of leg wires to insert your fence into soil in a miniature garden, or dried floral foam used as a landscape base for a dollhouse exterior scene.
If you need to set the fence into a material other than soil, sand or foam, you may need to drill holes in your base to insert the fence wires.Continue to 10 of 10 below.
10 of 10
Experiment With Additional Base Designs - the Crossed Base Fence
After you have finished wiring in your basic hoop design, you can still adapt your pattern (although you can't easily hold any wires in place with another row of twisted wires, the twists need to be worked as the hoops are first laid in).
Here you can see a fence sample where the wires are lined up with the center of the hoop (using the next wire which hasn't been bent working from left to right) then crossing the wires at this point at an even distance from the twisted wire run. This fence design will be set into the landscape at the height of the crossed base wires to give the fence a slightly different look.
You can also experiment with bending the tops of the hoops to make points or hearts instead of simple hoops.
Once you have a finished design, touch up the painted coating if necessary (you should be able to complete the fencing sections without breaking through the paint, but there are always potential problems.) Set your fence in place in your miniature landscape.