Now that I have the stucco more or less where I want it, I’m working on the stone foundation.

First, I made a mold so I could paste on a paperclay stone facade fairly easily:

I have some nice clean rocks that I arranged to look like a stone wall. These are pressed into non-hardening clay (sulfur-free clay is key).

I cut the clay into a neat square then cut illustration board to go around the clay. Hot-glued the boards to the cardboard base. Hot glue makes a good seal so the mold material won’t leak out.

This is the silicon mold mix I purchased at an art supply store. You mix parts A and B one-to-one. I’ve poured B into A in the cup on the left and am mixing it.

Carefully pouring silicon material over the rocks.

Takes about 30 minutes for the mold to harden. I left it here while I had lunch.

Came back, took off the cardboard, and very carefully unmolded the silicon part from the rocks and clay. Voila!

Ready to start the foundation:

First, I’m applying a Creative Paperclay base–using yellow wood glue to glue a lump of paperclay to the foundation area. Making it thicker at the bottom so it looks like stones are shoring up the house. I let this dry overnight.

A thin sheet of Paperclay goes into the mold and gets rolled with the plastic roller. (Anything to smooth the paperclay will do).

Pulling the mold gently from the clay gives me this.

The “stones” glued in place on top of the foundation base. Letting it dry.

I liked how the stones look (I will paint them later), so I’m going ahead. Laying the base first.

This paperclay hasn’t been molded–it’s just glued on and smeared around.

The foundation will extend to the shorter area on the back of the house and also around the porch.

I will continue and finish the foundation, then I will paint everything at once. I didn’t want to paint my sample, because I’d get it just right and then forget what I did.

Next time, I’ll have photos of the completed foundation and how I paint it.

BTW: I learned how to do the mold making at a workshop at the Chicago show. I didn’t have this in mind when I took the class, but then I thought–hey, why not try it? It’s going far better than I feared!

Westville: Stucco

I’m skipping the next steps on the instructions: Foundation Trim and Siding.

A note about the foundation trim. I notice on the instructions that the bay window foundation trim is listed as being on sheet 5. It’s not. It’s all on sheet 9.

The trim goes around the top of the foundation to cover the tab / slot construction. I might use these pieces to divide stucco from stone base.

On with stuccoing!

I first had to decide what parts not to stucco.

I painted and masked off the porch roof and the tops of the bays.

Likewise I measured three inches up from the bottom (where the stone foundation will go), and marked it off with masking tape.

Sandy makes sure the house is properly taped. Later, I came back to discover he’d pulled off most of the masking tape and ate it. (He spit it out again, and is fine.)

I decided to experiment with vinyl spackling as stucco, and it worked very well. I used almost all of a small container of spackle. I like it because it doesn’t dry too quickly, allowing me to work it. It also sands well once it dries. Plus, it’s easy to clean off my favorite putty knife.

I used this putty knife plus an artist’s palette knife for the tight places.

For inspiration, I found this house on the Internet, which looks a bit like the Westville, esp with its attic windows and bays. Not going with the same color but I found it helpful. (In fact, I’d love to make a miniature of this one!)


I smeared on the stucco fairly thinly, then textured it with a stencil brush (also experimented with a paper towel. Both worked equally well.)

Textured with one-inch stencil brush.

Close-up of the texture.

The base layer of stucco on all walls. It took me maybe an hour to do the whole house.

I stuccoed the corners and probably won’t use the corner trim from the kit.

After the stucco dried (overnight), I sanded down the rough spots and gave the whole thing a coat of plain white paint. Once that dried, I started putting on dirty water washes–paintbrush cleaning water with a drop of black and a couple each of burnt umber and gray. I did three washes, letting it dry each time.

The finished stucco work. The house is now attached to the base, and I painted the base brown. I will cover the base with flagstone or landscaping–the brown is to ensure that if anything is seen through the landscaping, it will look like dirt.

Okay then! Time for the stone foundation! I already made a mold for the paperclay–I’ll show how I did it in the next post.

More examples of stucco and stonework.

Any of these houses would make a great miniature!

Next post–the stone foundation.

Westville: Porch foundation and Step

Porch foundation pieces

Porch step pieces. Notice the (more or less) rounded corners on the step.

The porch foundation and step construction is pretty easy.

The slots on the bottom of the foundation piece go on the right. Glue the shorter piece on that end, the longer piece on the other. (Don’t be like me–I constantly confuse right and left–no idea why–and glued it backwards the first time.) Note that the ends of the side pieces are glued on top of the main foundation piece, not against the ends.

It makes more sense when you turn it around. The porch step goes into the slots, and the short and long foundations fit under the house exactly.

Adding the step sides pieces. The thin part goes through the slots, with the wide part resting behind the foundation. See below:

The riser is glued on the front of the step sides.

Last, the step (rounded corners in front) goes over the riser and step sides.

It’s a good idea to paint this whole assembly before gluing it to the house. Even though I will probably put stones around this foundation, no telling what will show through.

House is tipped on its back. Porch foundation and step go here. It’s important not to block the holes the porch posts will go into later.

Foundation and step in place.

I painted the porch floor to match the step.

So far, so good.

As you can see, I cut a base out of a piece of MDF I’d had sitting around (forever–knew it would come in handy for something). I didn’t want a huge yard, but something to support the house and its stone foundation plus a little space for landscaping.

Next step, stucco!

Westville: Exterior Window Trim

Forgot to add in my last post that I added the attic floor. Then I did the window trim.

The window trim, fortunately, was much easier to deal with, even though there are lots of pieces. We have, from left to right, bottom to top on each row: Attic trim, window hoods, sills for all windows; double window top trim, window hood trim, window trim for the two small second floor windows; trim for all single and double windows. The smaller single window trim is for the porch window. I’ll show where all these pieces go.

Time now to pick the final colors for the exterior, as this trim should be painted before gluing on. I went with stain, because I’m going to stucco and paint it an off-white. This wood responds well to stain, I’m finding.

Sills get stuck in first. The sill rests on top of the window opening with the wide part outside. Inside should be flush with the opening:

What the sills look like from the inside.

Once the sills are on, the trim pieces fit around the window with the bottoms resting on the sill:

Window hoods:

There are 3 sets of U-shaped pieces, one wider than the other. The narrower ones get glued on the wider ones, flush at the top.

It took me a few minutes to figure out which windows got these. Instructions are unclear. Two go on the windows on the left side of the house.

Third one goes on the porch window.

Now the double window trim. Two narrow pieces, two wide pieces. Glue narrow piece on top of wide piece. Center side-to-side and make flush on top.

These get glued over the double windows (one on the front, one on the right side). The side of the trim butts against the wall with the smaller piece downward:

That’s all there is to it for the window trim.

Note that while the instructions say to do the front door trim at the same time, I am likely going to put in my own door and don’t need it. If I change my mind I’ll show the door trim / door process.

Next post: Porch Foundation.

Westville: Bay Windows

Next on the list is to add the bay windows.

Right Bay Window Pieces (two of the long skinny pieces go with the front bay).

Bay window foundations.

The instructions have us glue on the foundation extension and let it hang in empty space to dry. I stuck one of the foundation pieces beneath (not glued) as a support while the glue dried.

Same case for the top of the right bay–it was to be glued on to the side and hang in empty space to dry. There are slots, but they’re not deep enough to hold an unsupported piece of wood.

My solution: Put the bay together with the bay top and then glue it to the house.

Used my can of tools to brace the bay as I glued it on the house.

Next the narrow sides go on like this. The top butts the bay roof, while the side of the bottom rests against the edge of the bay floor (I hope that made sense).

Second side glued on.

The front bay is a little easier, because the bay roof and floor are part of the interior floors. The window portions of the bays need to be wriggled on and into the slots.

Sides of the front bay glued on.

Bay foundations: Once again, so little support for these pieces. It’s difficult to glue them on and holding them straight to dry. They like to bend every which way.

I was getting so frustrated at this point I was ready to tear apart the house and throw it away. But I went through my scrap wood and found some pieces I could use to brace the foundations.

These are I think 3/8 of an inch square, but any sturdy pieces will do.

I cut these about 3 1/4 inches. I played with the measurement until the pieces fit without sticking out past the foundations (there are small end pieces to glue on). Note the teeth marks. My cat’s imprint will be part of this house forever.

The foundation glued on and the end pieces added.

That’s really it for the bay windows, exterior side.

As I mentioned, I was ready to tear this down, throw it away, and quit. I even searched for a different but similar dollhouse kit (eg. by RGT and others), but nothing I found was what I truly wanted. Which tells me–time to design my own!

But I think no more of this brand of kit for me. I’m tired of my hands full of splinters and very thin, bad wood that warps when you look at it. Any attempt to paint or seal before putting the house together ensures that the pieces will no longer fit. Modifying anything is a pain in the rear.

I asked my husband why on earth I kept going with this house, and he said, “Because you want to conquer it and make it into something nice.”

Which is true. Anyway, I am continuing. Next post–the window trim and porch foundation.



Westville: Moving on, Stairs, Walls, Wiring

Back to the Westville.

Before continuing, I gave the shell a quick coat of latex paint inside and out to seal the wood.

I added some of my own wood strips to the foundation to make it a bit more sturdy. The foundation is 7/8″. I can’t find wood strips that size, so I stacked 1/2″ strips on 3/8″ strips and glued them. The strips are 3/16″ wide, and added stability. I’ve done this on all my Greenleaf houses. If you do this, be careful not to cover any slots.

This is a good time to add tape wiring. I laid it in all four rooms, connecting the run with eyelets where I needed to. You can solder the joins as well–I tried that but apparently need to practice soldering for a while before I can splice with it. For now I’ll stick with eyelets (which are easier for me than brads).


The stairs are pretty straightforward. They are very much like the 2nd to 3rd floor staircase on the Beacon Hill.

Staircase parts (left to right): Steps, stringers and staircase wall, risers.

I chose to paint the risers and walls antique white, and stain the steps. Did the staining first. I distressed the steps a little to make them look worn.

Building the staircase:

A flat square is helpful–this one I bought at the Chicago show (one of the workshop instructors had one like this and I had glueing jig envy). Legos can be stacked as a square jig.

Note that one riser is narrower than the others. This riser is for the bottom step. The bottom of the stringer has the tab (which goes into the floor).

Top, bottom, and one middle riser glued in as per instructions.

Second stringer added and squared up. (This was tricky.)

Rest of the risers glued on.

Next I painted the risers, and when dry, glued on the steps. (No need to paint the stringers, because they will be glued between two walls and won’t show.)

Painted and finished the stair wall (I set this in place to see what parts would be seen–it’s not glued).

Staircase glued to stair wall. But …

When I jiggled and shimmied and stuffed the staircase plus big wall into the openings, and it fell apart anyway, I found it much easier to put in the staircase first, then glue the wall to it.

But #2. The far wall must be finished before the staircase goes in. So don’t glue in until the room wall is done!

Time to decide how to finish the interior. As this will be an antique shop, I’m not going to worry about matching decor for the rooms. I went through my stash of leftover and unused wallpaper and flooring, and figure I’ll make each room a bit different.

Gesso helps cover the tape at the end of the staircase part of the partition wall.

For the ground floor, I picked this paper. I also painted the end staircase part antique white.

Staircase finally inserted. As you can see, I chose a ceiling pattern as well.

Staircase is pretty much in (the basic part). The newel posts and railings are added later.

Left and Back Walls

Now that the staircase was in, I could put in the left wall. I had to trim out the slots as they were a tad too small.

This is the right back wall, which is added next.

Then the left back wall.

I also added the attic floor.

Next post: Bay windows.



Chicago Show–Workshops

I had hoped to finish my workshop projects before I talked about them, but um … I will finish them but I’m waiting for the cool magnifiers I ordered to arrive. That’s a good excuse.

I took four workshops, and learned much!

Workshop 1) Mold making with Michael Yurkovic

This was the basic process of making a silicon mold and then casting. We brought a piece we wanted to replicate.

I took a ceiling medallion, because I’m always looking for them, like this one, and it’s not always in stock (I purchased at Hobby Builders Supply some time ago).

This is how the bottom half of the mold turned out. He taught us how to press the piece into clay, build a moat, and pour the rubber. I did make a top half, but for this piece, since it’s flat on one side, I really only need the one half.

We then poured resin into the mold, let it harden (didn’t take long), and voila!

The original and the cast piece side by side. I lost a tiny bit of detail, but not much.

The biggest worry in this process is air bubbles. You have to go slowly and carefully or bubbles happen.

The materials come from a place called Reynolds Advanced Materials, and I have seen the casting silicon and resins in my local art supply store (Arizona Art Supply, which is an awesome place). Reynolds also has showrooms in larger cities and they do mail / website orders.

I hope to use this method when I do stone work for the Westville–I have some stones I can lay in a wall shape, then make a mold from them, which I’ll use with Creative paperclay to made a stone wall facade. (These are good intentions).

Workshop 2: Artist’s atelier by Eric Goddard

This was a two-day class where we finished and decorated this roombox. (He nailed together the very basic box before the class). We did the window, the faux stone wall, the closet, and started work on the accessories.

Lots of work on the little details–we laid the bricks and cut mullions for the window, which was not as straightforward as it seems. The mullions are at a slant and an odd angle, as you can see, so math had to be done.

An LED strip outside the window gives it a soft glow, which goes well with the incandescent bulb in the closet.

I am not finished (still need to age / wash the brick wall, age and paint spatter the floor, and get my accessories together).

In the middle of this class, I came down with a cold (not because of the class but because of the cold weather, which I am not used to), and had to skip a few hours of the morning session, but I was still able to get this far. I’ll finish it now that I’m home with my own tools, lighting, etc.

Workshop 3: Box with Geoff Wonnacott

A workshop with Geoff has been on my bucket list a while. Finally got to one of his classes, which was the evening of the day I caught the cold. So I was a bit miserable, but I soldiered on.

A lovely little box with veneer. It was a short class, so he had cut the pieces, which we glued together to shape the box and lid. We added all the filigree, and I will hinge mine when I get the magnifiers I mentioned above. Need it for this!

Putting together the box is a bit trickier than you’d think, because the corners have to be just right, or it doesn’t sit square. Much trial and error. The filigree is tiny tiny.

What it will look like in the end. Geoff wrote very detailed instructions, and I’m fairly confident I can finish on my own (knock on wood).

Workshop 4: Aging wood techniques with Eamon O’Rourke.

We did not build anything here, but learned aging tricks and about French polishing (shellac diluted with denatured alcohol and poured onto cotton balls inside T-shirt cotton. This makes a pad which you then brush over the wood).

The top piece was aged via distressing the wood (spoons were involved), and staining and wiping and staining again.

Bottom piece was French polished when it was bare. Then stained a bit, wiped, French polished again. Looks beautiful!

These were ordinary pieces of I think oak, and they turned out amazingly well. Good techniques to learn. Again something that seems like it should be easy, but it was a lot of trail and error and plain work.

Eamon is such a fun guy, I recommend any class he teaches.

Those were the four workshops I went to (determined even though I felt crappy for a couple of them). I will be taking more! (As soon as I can find the time …)

Back to the Westville now. I’ve advanced through the staircase and bay windows and outer walls, and the next posts will catch up on all that.

Cool Stuff from the Chicago Show

And now for the gorgeous things!

From Aristocratic Attic

June Clinkscales. Her work is breathtaking.

Back of the chair from June C.

Laura Crain. Fits well in the shabby chic half of my Beacon Hill.

Ulus Miniatures www.ulusminiaturas.com Just amazing things! So detailed and perfect.

A tea caddy from Geoff Wonnacott. He’s talented, and and a nice guy too.

Scroll Chest from Eamon O’Rourke.

From the O’Rourkes again–a Medieval potty. The moss is the TP.

I had just told my husband I was going to cool it on buying kits, but he waves at this table and says, “Have you seen this?” So I purchased this kit for the wine box vignette and the little house below. It’s all his fault. (Jill Castoral)

Gorgeous half-inch scale vignette by Japanese artist, Fumiko.

I put this cat by Sue Veeder into my Halloween room. Doing what cats do!

Fan girl moment! Me and the incomparable Ferd Sobol. I bought his book and also the caned chair in my hand. The Sobols and their daughter are so nice.

Quarter inch scale sofa and chair by Debbie Young.

There wasn’t much quarter-inch scale there, but what I saw I glommed. These are by Debbie Young (Young at Heart) and True2Scale minis.

Lovely quarter-inch furniture from a British artisan–Seaside Miniatures.

I’ve loved Wendy Smale’s things since I started buying her pillows years ago. She does a lot of minerals, shells, fossils, and scientific collections now.

More kits from a German vendor–these looked fun.

The plaques are from Teapots and More Minis; the suitcase pile, chocolates, tray, and macaroons are by Betinha Murta, and the espresso machine from Mini Fanaberia, a Polish artisan who makes appliances that are so detailed (refrigerator lights come on and everything). www.minifanaberia.com

Cute little girl from Pat Melvin.

By Fern Vasi. I actually bought this one in March at the Small World show, but she was also at the Chicago show. She calls it “Parrot Head.”

I also found a lot of fabric and trim from Miniature Luxuries and accessories from Cottage of Miniatures who had a huge spread of hundreds of tiny things (like garden hoses and tools, boxed and jarred foods, desk accessories, bathroom accessories, and much more).

This is only a sampling of what was there. Every time I went into the ballrooms (3 of them), I’d find something new. The show runs Friday through Sunday (closes Sunday at 4), and still you wouldn’t see everything.

As I said in my last post, totally worth it to buy the Friday preview ticket. Go through the show catalog beforehand to find the artisans that are a must-see for you, and visit them first. Then take a step back and browse. Take breaks in the main hall or lobby to breathe and keep calm.

Next post–Workshops.

Chicago International Miniatures Show

I got back from the Chicago show a week ago now, and I’ve only just now organized my thoughts. I want to give you my impression and some tips for going.

I came back creatively charged, tired, and inspired! I will share some of the beautiful things I purchased and saw, and talk about the workshops in other posts.

  1. The show is totally worth going to at least once. It seems to always be the last week in April at the Chicago Marriott O’Hare. Even if you purchase nothing, just seeing what everyone is doing is inspiring.

2. It’s worth it to take at least one workshop. There are workshops for all levels (most can be done by beginners), and cover a range of things from woodworking, to doll making, to lighting, to flower making, to creating scenes, and other fun stuff.

3. Buy the Friday preview ticket to the sales room. You get in before everything is open to the public on Saturday. Stuff goes fast, so if you have your eye on a piece by a particular artisan, chances are it will be gone if you wait until Saturday.

Case in point: When I went in Friday morning at 10 am (at the end of a long line), I went straight to June Clinkscales’ table, because I always want to get at least one thing from her. Half her things already had already been sold! The show had only been open about 5 minutes! So if you want a specific thing or something by a specific artisan, buy the Friday ticket.

4. The hotel is pricy. The room block price isn’t so bad, and you get a decent, comfortable room, if small. But everything else, from a bottle of water to the breakfast buffet ($22.50 a person), is expensive. However, there are plenty of hotels in the area, very close by, and the Marriott has a shuttle that goes between hotels. (Also it’s a quick and cheap Uber ride). The Hyatt, the Renaissance, and the Wyndam are near, and I heard some of them have free breakfast.

5. There is a grocery store on the corner in walking distance–large and well-stocked. I didn’t think much of their lunch food (soup was watery and bland, sandwich was terrible), but it is quick and cheap, plus a good source of food / drink for your room.

6. Fortunately there are many good restaurants in the area, though you need a car, taxi, or Uber. We found a great Italian restaurant called Nonna Sylvia that we returned to another night–excellent food, friendly staff. But make a reservation! Many Chicagoans like it too!

7. If you fly, bring another bag for your purchases and carry it on the plane, or ship it home via UPS or Fedex. Between my husband and I both attending workshops, and me going nuts in the showroom, we went to a UPS store and shipped three boxes home! I have to say everything arrived intact–we had tracking numbers and insurance, but still it was a little nerve wracking.

8. Many international artisans attend–a great opportunity to see and purchase things that otherwise you’d never know about or afford the shipping from their country.

9. Bring cash! Many of the international artisans (and some of the US-based ones) will not take credit cards (though a few take checks). The ATM machine in the hotel emptied out fast–so stock up on cash before you come, or go out to a bank the day before to make sure you have enough.

10. The hotel does serve a fairly inexpensive lunch with a room to eat it in on the show days.

11. If you want to do tourist things in Chicago (e.g., visit the Art Institute, where the Thorne rooms and other great art live), plan a full day for that. It’s an hour drive (or an hour by train), one way, to downtown Chicago. We wanted to go on Saturday, but a) we had to ship things back and organize ourselves to leave Sunday, and b) it snowed!!

12. The Blue Line train (a block from the hotel), does go straight to downtown Chicago near the Art Institute. You never have to change. Once downtown, it’s about a four-block walk to the museum.

13. Weather in Chicago in late April is unpredictable. We had a couple nice sunny days of about 70 degrees, then the temperature dropped to 32, and it snowed. Because I’m from the Southwest, where it was already in the 90s, it was a shock. I was wise enough to bring long-sleeved shirts and a big sweater, but I wasn’t truly prepared for the cool weather.

14. Attend the IGMA presentation on Saturday night. Not only is it interesting (and might make you join IGMA if you haven’t already), but they have a free bar and snacks. 🙂

I think that’s it! I had a great week (took four workshops), caught a cold (dang it), shopped, and just absorbed the beautiful things people had made. It was very inspiring and energizing. Very glad I went this year and hope to go again.


Inside the showroom

Outside! April 27.