Westville: A Roof and a Floor


Because the attic will be much enclosed by the roof, I wanted to finish the attic floor and walls (including the windows) before I put the roof on. Much easier to do it while the attic is exposed.

I didn’t use the siding that came with the house, so I have this pile of very thin wood strips lying around. I decided to use them to make the attic floor. Why not?

Above, I’ve started laying out the strips and cutting them to fit.

I glued the strips in with hot glue to avoid warpage and then finished them with shellac.

The floor turned out so well I might use the wood strips on other floors in the house.

Time for the roof.

There are only four roof pieces. Here I’ve painted the undersides (which will show inside the house). The big piece is the left side. Slim L shape is the back. The piece propped behind that is the front left roof, and the larger piece behind that the front.

By the way, I sealed all the roof pieces with shellac before I painted to prevent warping.

I’m finding I like shellac as a sealer–I didn’t know it was a wood sealer before I took a class on finishing (I thought it just made things shiny). It can be diluted 50/50 with denatured alcohol. I used it straight from the can and that’s working well.

I fitted the roof on before I glued it. This is the left side piece.

Notice that one slot is very long, longer than the wall tab:

The chimney will go in the lower half of the slot.

Front left roof piece on.

Front piece.

Back piece in place.

Once I figured out how everything fit together, I glued it all in place. I did have to sand some of the tabs and use a round file on the slots before it went together smoothly.

With this step, the basic structure of the house is done. The rest is trimming.

From here on, the choice of finishing outside or inside first is up to you. I’m going to plow on through the instructions to the end.

Next time: The gable trim, and then the shutters.


Westville: Porch and bay balconies

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The balconies that go on top of the porch and each of the bay windows are fairly easy.

Pieces for the porch balcony. Note that while the instructions say there are “wide” posts and “narrow” posts (see eight pieces in back), the posts are all the same size. I checked and double checked. The layout sheet doesn’t differentiate the sizes. I suspect they were made all the same size but the instructions never got changed.

Anyway: Three posts go on the front of the front fence. One each on the front of the two side fences.

One post goes on the back middle, and one each on an end of the back of the left and right sides.

The instructions are a bit unclear as to whether the post ends of the sides go against the front fence while the bare backs are against the house … like this (above).

Or whether the posts were on the ends (below)

I decided I liked the posts at the ends–looks more finished. Here I’ve glued the fences together and upside down on the L shaped railing.

The porch balcony in place on top of the porch.

Bay window trim and balconies were easier.

Left: The balcony pieces. Right: Trim for the top of the bay windows.

I debated whether to use the trim over the top of the bay windows, with the stucco, but I thought, what the heck. Here it is stained and glued on.

The balcony pieces stained and glued upside down onto the V-shaped railing.

Front bay balcony and porch balcony in place.

Side bay balcony finished.

Next step is the roof!

Westville: Stonework Painting


After making sure the paperclay was thoroughly dry and gaps filled in, I started painting the stonework foundation by giving it several dirty gray water washes.

The wash is mostly water with two drops of hippo gray and one drop of black. I went over the stone work three or four times with this, letting it dry between washes. Gradually building up a base of very light gray.

Next I started painting in colors, keeping the paint very watery.

I used Burnt Umber, Hippo Gray, with a touch of Black Green. I later added a color called Latte (which looks like very milky coffee).

I added the colors one at a time: First wetting the brush, dabbing in paint, wetting brush again, dabbing off excess on waxed paper, and then applying that color to individual stones, choosing them at random. I didn’t so much carefully paint each stone as simply dab dab dab with the brush (sometimes more like smoosh smoosh smoosh).

If any one stone color seemed too dark, I’d rinse the brush and use the dirty water to tone it down.

I did a lot of trial and error, wiping off with a paper towel before it dried if I really didn’t like the result.

I went over the stones I’d say four or five times until I liked the look. I still might go back over them and smooth out the colors, making sure none of the white shows through.

It was fun to experiment. The house is taking on a rustic, old-world feel, but that’s fine as I’m doing an antique shop.

Now that the foundation is done and the porch is finished, the rest is going pretty quickly and easily. Next, the bay trim and balconies, then it’s time for the roof.

Westville: Porch


I worked on the porch while I waited for the paperclay stonework to thoroughly dry. I’ll show the porch build here and then how I painted the stonework next time.

The many pieces of the front porch: Railings, trim pieces, and columns.

I roughed out how everything will go. There are lot of similar pieces, so it’s a good idea to figure out what goes where before the glueing starts.

Pieces stained and sorted into their respective places. On the left, pieces of the main front railings and columns; on the right, the right side railing; bottom, the left railings / trim which will go on the top and bottom of the left side of the porch.

Long piece gets glued horizontally to the top of the front railing piece.

Adding the front posts. The layout sheets specify “left front post, middle front post, right front post” but I couldn’t find any difference in shape–they looked interchangeable to me. If there are differences, they are too subtle to matter.

However, the front and back posts are different. Front have shorter top parts, and backs have big slots for the left and right railings, as in the pic below.

Back posts affixed to the back.

Right railing slides into slot made by back post.

Left railing will fit here.

Right side porch pieces.

As on the front, the horizontal trim goes on top, flush with top and right side.

Right side posts added.

Left side posts are simple, front and back.

Top and bottom railings on the right porch side. The front and left sides are similar.

Front goes on first. I had to do some sanding to get the posts into the holes, and to even out the top so it fit under the porch roof.

Right side fits against front porch piece, into the slot created by the back post.


Left side pieces, top and bottom.

Better shot of the top left piece.

Finished porch.

Next time, the stonework gets painted.

Projects: Veneered box and Dora’s Little Loft


I want to share two little projects I did when the Westville grew too frustrating, and then I’ll turn back to the Westville build.

First, I finished up the box I started in the class with Geoff Wonnacott in Chicago.

I added the hinges myself, plus all the filigree and lock. Papered the inside of the box and then finished the outside with shellac.

The hinge pins were long pieces of wire snipped as close to the hinge as possible and then ground down with a Dremel. I was amazed at how well that worked! New techniques to know.

The second fun project is a kit called Dora’s Little Loft–almost 360 degrees different from the box above.

This is a kit by a Chinese company called Robo Time, which specializes in 3D puzzles and miniature scenes. I’ve seen these kits in various catalogs that come through my house (like Acorn and others), and I purchased this one because it was just cute.

It has a retro feel and is very colorful. The kit contains *everything* in the room–you make all kinds of accessories and little decorative objects, all out of paper, wood, wire, clay, and findings and beads.

Everything here I made from the bits of wire, paper, and fabric in the kit. It’s cleverly put together, even if some of the accessories are a little fiddly.

A tip: Superglue (krazy glue with brush applicator) saves a lot of grief when working with the projects made of wire.

I can put together another post with tips and tricks on this build.

Meanwhile, here’s details of the finished piece.

I used my own pink fabric for the chair, but everything else came from the kit (they include the chair’s fabric, but I liked my color better.)

I chose this kit instead of the plant shop, because I didn’t want to make so many plants. Ha! This one has 19 different potted plants, plus the rose vine and a tree! I cut out many leaves …

I love the details of the cat’s food bowl, milk, and enclosed litter box.

The light fixture with led light and battery box is included–battery box is hidden in a niche beneath the scene. It was one of the easiest lighting hookups I’ve done.

Scale? It’s sort of 1/2 inch, sort of 1 inch. It’s not really exact. But it looks fine. The finished scene is about 8 inches x 10 inches, maybe 10 inches high.

I enjoyed this kit so much (when not cursing at it), that I looked to see what else they had.

HBS (miniatures.com) has four–this one (Dora’s Loft), the plant shop, a kitchen, and a mini camper (I like that one and might get it too).

I searched Robo Time’s website for more, and there are many more. A bookstore, a coffee house, a porch, other shops, all kinds of them. I purchased another one–a music studio–because I play guitar and piano, and it looks cool.

You can purchase directly from Robo Time–they have a U.S. warehouse, so the shipping is from the U.S. (and shipping is free if you spend about $50). They’re also sold through other retailers, and Amazon. Prices are cheapest at the Robo Time site or HBS (miniatures.com)

Anyway, a fun little interlude before I got back to the Westville.

Next post–Westville porch, bay windows, and starting the roof.

Miniature World: Victoria, BC, Canada


On my recent vacation to the Pacific Northwest, we stumbled on this gem of a museum around the corner from the Empress Hotel in Victoria.

Of course I had to go inside!

It’s less a museum for individual dollhouses or miniature artisans but dioramas and scenes in miniature. Very well done and so cool.

Click photos for larger versions.

They had quite a few scenes of battles in WWII and WWI. Somewhat depressing but also so very well done!

The scene below is called “Chelsea 1815” when the victory over Napoleon was announced.

There was much more than military miniatures, however! So much.

They have a continuous diorama showing cities all across Canada at the turn of the twentieth century. Toronto, Quebec, the Maritimes, Calgary, and more.

I looked very hard for Murdoch’s house and Police Station number 5. 🙂

Another Napoleonic display.

This was a display of many famous European castles if they were all close to each other. 🙂

Nice display of WWII planes.

A car show on the green in a small town.

Below are dioramas of First Nations houses and totem poles.

Gulliver captured in Lilliput.

A coach heading for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Below: Charing Cross in London in the 17th century (Samuel Pepys diary).

I don’t remember which town this was, but, if you look into the window of the theater, you see a “movie.” What you see is your own face. It’s cute.

London again, and the Thames River.

There were many whimsical displays as well, like the dwarves diamond mine from Snow White.

They do have a few dollhouses, including this lovely house. It is fully enclosed with the layout of a real house, with large windows for viewing the inside.


Swiss Family Robinson’s treehouse.

These are some highlights, but there was much more, including a space station:

So glad we found this place!

Westville–Stonework continued


I did flee home for a few weeks in June, but I discovered a new mini museum in the process. I will post an update on the Westville here–the following posts will cover the mini museum and a couple other shorter projects I did in June.

Before I left on vacation, I put a Creative Paperclay base around the foundation pieces. This gives the stonework some depth.

The paperclay shrinks and cracks as it dries, but as I’ll be covering all this, I’m not bothered.

Yesterday, I bought more paperclay (ran out) and started in making the stonework with the mold (see previous posts). (Darker spot is where the paperclay is still wet).

Once I covered the entire foundation and let it dry overnight, I went back and filled in gaps with paperclay balls rolled to the approximation of a stone and glued onto the dried paperclay.

One drawback of paperclay is the way it shrinks–keep in mind that has to be compensated for.

The darker stones are the ones I glued on to fill the gaps. They’ll lighten as they dry.

Once everything is dry, I’ll fill in any more gaps and then start painting.

Note: It took two and a half 16 oz bricks of Creative Paperclay to do the foundation base and the molded stonework. (Or two 16 oz and one 8 oz).

A tip: Keep any opened paperclay in a sealed plastic bag. Even so, use it up in a few weeks to a month. Longer and it will be too dried out. You can add a little bit of water to drier paperclay to make  it useable.

Next post: My mini adventure!

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