Blog 9 – Little Red Cottage: Part 2
I have finished my Finnish Cottage which, fortunately, was great timing as my 2021 CC Kit has arrived…..ahhhhh…the possibilities! ;)
Just on a personal note, my husband and I have been busy with a purchase of semi-rural land to build our retirement home on. It has incredible views of our city and harbour islands – Auckland: City of Sails. We can imagine ourselves in our finished home drinking coffee and watching the world go by – or at least all the boats! So a very exciting but busy time! Instead of designing in mini I’ll have my skills tested by designing in full scale!!!
In this post I’ll discuss how I created all the lighting for the cottage and how I created the exterior.
From my very first 1:12 scale house – the GL Pierce, I have tried to create my own lights. As with most miniatures, we’re quite restricted here in New Zealand with what’s available. While we have some amazing online shops, they too have to order from overseas and will usually only order what they know will sell. Most of my home-made lights have been….well…..home-made. I think I stepped up with my birdcage light in the lantern – but before then you could pretty easily see that I made the lighting. For the cottage I wanted to try and make the lighting more, well, professional-looking!
Fortunately I had just bought a 3D resin printer – an exceptionally useful tool if you know how to use it! I merely selected a few already designed and free stl files which I then re-sized for my purpose. I chose bowls and vases etc and printed quite a few before selecting what I wanted to use. I then found that a gold spray paint I have is excellent at covering the dried resin beautifully. It’s a brand called ‘British Paints’ which probably cannot be found outside of Australasia (a term for Australia and NZ combined). And thus my lights came to life.
Lighting and electrical is one of those chores that many miniaturists loathe. I usually put it off till I absolutely need to do it, even though I was first taught how to solder in my early 20’s by my husband to help him out! I have my own adjustable temp soldering iron etc and I know the basics of what to do and what not to do. So saying, I don’t think it’ll ever be my favourite task.
I normally use round wire and cut channels if necessary on the inside or outside walls depending upon what treatment those walls will have. For the cottage I knew I’d be boarding and battening the outside so easy to hide wires underneath. So I cut channels, almost killing my shoulder in the process, joined lights together, and ran the wires down the walls, through the floor to the bottom. Underneath I use tape wire to join everything together. I solder the wires onto the tape wire – I cut a small piece of the covering off in order to expose the metal underneath. My husband bought me some battery boxes – they take 2 AA batteries. I solder that to the tape wire also and then hide the battery box.
For the Apothecary I used all bought lights because they all needed to look like candles. My husband bought me quite a large rechargeable battery to run them all. However it’s clunky at best and after trying to recharge this over the weekend, it’s pretty much now just a paperweight, albeit a great paperweight for gluing stuff. I much prefer the small battery boxes.
For the Finnish cottage I decided to fill in the base of the front bay window. I made two panels removable and placed the battery box in there for easy switching on and off of lights. It’s worked really well.
For the exterior I used a very thin 2mm wood and pre-cut strips. These easily covered any small bumps that the electrical wires may have caused. I had numerous inspiration pictures of the outsides of the traditional red cottages so just chose the exterior cladding I preferred.
Given that this cottage has been updated for Tynne to live in, I decided to also roof in brand new metal rather than the older green stuff. This roof I have to say is by far the easiest I’ve ever done. I used corrugated cardboard and then painted with a metallic pewter colour paint.
Around the bottom of the cottage I decided to create a stone wall. I’ve created lots of stone walls and tend to do it differently every time. This time I used paper clay glued onto cardboard already cut to shape. Before the paper clay dried I simply used a clay tool to create the outlines of a rock wall.
Once the pieces were completely dry I started to paint. I always get to a point in my rock painting where I think I’ve completely mucked up. Thankfully I’ve done enough now to know that layering is what gives the rock a natural look. I start with a thin very dark grey spread over the entirety of the rock walls. I usually have a plate filled with different greys and browns and I’ll use both sponges and brushes to put the colours onto the rocks. You do need to let each layer dry as the paint does change colour from wet to dry. I also at some point go into the grooves between rocks with a dark paint.
When you’re relatively happy with the look, using a dry brush technique, lightly brush a light to medium grey over the rocks.
Dip a dry paint brush (I use one with relatively short bristles) ever so slightly into the paint, then wipe most off on a paper towel. Only then do you gently brush over the rocks. The light paint tends to stick only to the raised ‘rock’ ridges which helps to give the impression of depth.
The most important thing to remember about painting rocks is that it doesn’t matter if you muck it up. It’s really easy to just keep going and you’ll be surprised at the outcome. Also remember that you need to consider where the rocks are. For example in my Dragon Cottage the rocks were basement/cellar level in a dilapidated old cottage. Hence I added in green to the painting, especially in the grooves between rocks. You could also do a trail down the wall like it’s an area that water is often running down. For Dragon cottage I also added in moss to add to the effect.
Instead of adding a large chimney I decided to go with a more modern fire with a modern stainless vent out through the wall. I raided one of my many plastic hoards and played with bits till I got the look I was after. I then ‘painted’ the whole thing with a Chrome pen paint which I absolutely love!
For the deck, instead of laying separate pieces of timber I just cut grooves and then painted. It wasn’t overly well done – but I figure it is an old cottage and will have areas where the age shows. So while a new coat of paint was slapped on over the existing porch, being imperfect adds to the charm. That’s what I tell myself anyway!!
So thank you for reading my latest installment! I’ve started work on my 2021 Creatin Contest kit which is exciting and daunting all rolled into one! Given the cost of postage, it may well be the second and final time I enter. I really enjoyed the process last year and hoping it’ll be the same this year, so we’ll see.
Hoping you are all well and happy!!
Please remember to leave me any questions or comments and I’ll be happy to answer when I can.