Halloween House!

I finished up my Halloween House for this year! This quarter-inch project started as a bare-bones kit from Jill Castoral. She adds suggestions for finishing, some of which I did and some of which I went my own way on. Learned a lot about aging and creating siding and shingles from card stock. (See previous post for more about that, and scroll down for more about the landscaping.)

I added LEDs to the inside for some spooky lighting. Two in the fireplace and one in the fat candle by the books. Wires go out the back to a battery.

For the landscape: I used a round wooden base from Michaels, and then built up the hill from layers of styrofoam, which I painted black. I added soil and green clumpy stuff from Woodland Scenics. I also got the tree form from them (it’s a flat plastic thing but I painted and bent it into the shape I wanted.)

I got the tiny dead leaves from a model railroad site via Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Realistic-Miniature-Simulation-Architecture-Landscape/dp/B09JBXW8WW/, though there are less expensive versions.)

After I glued on all the landscaping materials, I gave it wash after wash of gray and black paints until I liked it.

I used leftover bits from kits (e.g., the headboard discarded in the yard) and my stash to grunge up the place.

I did a lot of experimentation on this project, which was fun!

Happy Halloween!!

New Projects: More for Halloween! (Quarter inch scale)

I really enjoy Halloween scenes. They’re so much fun.

I bought this 1/4″ scale kit from Jill Castoral at the Chicago show. She has a line of kits where you buy the shell (three walls, roof, floor, windows and door, fireplace and chimney), and then you kit bash it into whatever you want. She has instructions for turning the kit into anything (Halloween, Christmas, Spring, Elf, antique store), and you can go crazy on your own.

I like these because while I have the main pieces cut out for me, then I can do anything, using scraps I have lying around.

I am in my summer house, and my scrap stash is in my winter house, so I had to seriously improvise, but it made me more creative.

This is the basic structure put together, the chimney painted dark gray and aged with light gray, black, and dark green paint.

Siding is cut from card stock. Looks terrible here.

Painted the siding gray.

Also painted the interior dark gray.

The siding aged with washes of light grays.

One thing I did on the siding–I wasn’t satisfied with the way the paint blended the boards together, so I took a pencil (a thin-lead mechanical pencil, which I keep on my work table to make notes and mark stuff), and shaded the edges of each board, smearing with my finger as I went along. I like how it turned out.

The interior aged. The fireplace is included–I sanded it and dented it a little.

Fireplace finished and painted. The branch growing out of it is from a package of “deadfall” by Woodland Scenics (the model RR company). Floor is a printie.

I plan to put LED lights in the fireplace to make it glow. Working on that now.

Windows in, ready for the roof.

Inside, I messed up the floor a little and did wrecked curtains.

For this project, I learned to make my own shingle strips. Black card stock, cut into 3/8″ trips, then you make 1/4″ cuts every 1/4″ in the strip. (make any sense?) Anyway, you end up with strips of shingles ready to glue.

After gluing to fit, I lifted the bottoms of shingles, then painted with a wash of black, then gray, and dry-brushed with white. A few touches of brown and dark green help with aging.

I’m ready now for the landscaping. I bought this base at Michaels, painting and aging with black and a couple shades of purple (used the same shade of purple on the curtains–Folk Art French Lilac).

I’ll post more once I do the landscaping (which will be spooky), with doors, shutters, and more lights inside. I’m going to try a few things.

Happy mini-ing!

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.

Beacon Hill, Left Side–Interior pretty much done!

After taking a break from the Beacon Hill, I was inspired to go in and finish the left side’s interior furnishings. Except for the garage, I pretty much have it how I want it. Click photos for larger versions.

The first floor music room.

Second floor living room / study, with gorgeous desk by Ferd Sobol. I knew I’d kick myself for not getting this desk that I absolutely love, and I am so glad I went ahead and bought it. It’s amazing, and I’ll do a separate post on it.

The bedroom. The showpiece in this room is the bed by June Clinkscales. Isn’t that beautiful?

June also made the bed stairs, which I turned into a nightstand.

I filled this house with the beautiful things I’ve been collecting either at shows or through auctions. It’s my fancy house.

More shots below! Click for larger pictures.

Below is a cellarette by J. Guthiel and a Lord of the Rings kind of collection of books and maps in Spanish. I’ll put that in a separate post too. (Way Cool Miniatures)

One final thing I did is to use posts to support the side of the house that I cut away. These are Houseworks porch posts, painted and cut to fit.

As you can see, I have much more to do on the garage. I’m going for woodshop-y clutter. I’m looking for and collecting more tools and benches / shelving. The car is a little too small (I think it’s 1:18 scale), but I like Mustangs so I’ll try to make it work.

There we have it! I’ll do a future post on the right side of the house, which too is almost done.

Beacon Hill: Done!

This past week, I hustled my butt and finished up the left side of the Beacon Hill. I haven’t “moved in,” but I have accomplished enough to declare this build …


Brackets and final steps:

The many pieces for the under-eave brackets.

Panels for the bay windows.

The brackets for the eaves are sandwiched together–two thins around a thick.

The roof brackets are built up of two pickets sandwiching a third  and then a single curly bracket butted against the sandwich.

All brackets glued together and painted.

I go into much more detail about the brackets in THIS POST.

The eave brackets go on the left side and the front of the left side, six each, evenly spaced (that is, more evenly than I have them).

One final bracket goes around the corner on the short wall. For people who don’t cut their Beacon Hill in half, this wall leads to the tower.

Roof brackets, of course, on the roof. You need to make right facing and left facing ones (I think one right and two left, but double-check). The flat part of the posts face the front of the house. The left side roof gets three brackets–two in front and one on the back left edge (see previous photo). For the back one, the flat part of the post faces the back of the house.

Adding the panels to the bay windows. I painted the larger panels with the same trim color as the brackets and all the trim on the house. Note that the wood grain of the panels goes horizontally. All the panel pieces are the same size except for the middle of the front bay window, which is longer than the others.

The smaller panel pieces (painted with the main house color) glued over the larger. It’s tricky to center them.

These photos also show the brackets (single brackets, no sandwiches) that go around the bay windows. The left bay gets nine (3 on each side), while the front gets ten (3, 4, 3).

There we have it. I now have the top floor windows installed as well.

The left side all trimmed.

In the interior, I decided not to put in the curving staircase. I just couldn’t make it go in right and look good. I will save the stairs for another project, maybe design a room box especially to show them off.

For now, I closed up the hole in the roof and repapered the ceiling.

Second floor with closed up floor.

Another thing I’ve decided to add is posts where the open walls are to give more support for the structure. I haven’t painted or glued these in yet–they will be the last things I install so I won’t knock them around while I decorate.

I’ve started going through my furniture and deciding exactly what to put in the rooms. This side of the house will be the elegant one, while the other side will be quaint, country, shabby-chic.





I’m starting to add more furniture and decor to both sides, and when I’m finished, I will post.

I’m dusting off my hands from this project. It has been two years since I first opened the box and started to put together the pieces!

I hope my photos and demos have been helpful. For the full process, click the “Beacon Hill Dollhouse” tag on this post, or search “Beacon Hill” in the search bar. I tried to photograph as much of the process as possible.

I’m sticking a fork in this one. It’s done!!

Beacon Hill: Left Side–Chandelier

I have chandelier!

I made this myself with findings from JAR / JAF and Cirkit candle holders and bulbs. It was a challenge!

Can’t remember if I showed the garage light, but here it is. (I purchased this one.)

I had to dial way back on minis to finish writing a book and turn it in, but I’ve returned to finishing the Beacon Hill.

Not much left! I need to make a chandelier for the middle floor room on this side, then put in floors, trim it up, and I’m done!

I’m gathering my thoughts on making this big house and I’ll do a tips / lessons learned post on it later.

Beacon Hill–Fireplaces

The fireplaces for the Beacon Hill are pretty straightforward, but as the instructions are sparse and have few photos, here’s the fireplace construction:

Fireplace pieces laid out. From top row to bottom: Trim, front, firebox back and sides; base/hearth, sides; top pieces (mantel), which get glued together, flush in back–one is smaller than the other.

Test building: Front goes in slots on hearth / base.

The mantel: Glue smaller on top of larger, centered, and flush at back. Have the “good” side of both pieces on the outside.

Firebox from the back. Sides angle from back to front.

The whole thing roughed together. Larger piece of the mantel goes on top.

Trim goes on front. Note that the trim is flush at the top of the front (not bottom).

I finished my firebox and hearth with brick paper before gluing together. Shot of the angles of the back.


I glued my trim on before I glued the piece to the hearth. This is how I discovered that the trim should be flush on top not bottom. (Bottom part of trim does not fit in slots.)

View from top with sides added. Edges of sides go against back of front piece.

Sides glued in place.

Mantel added.

Side view.

Front view of finished fireplace. I finished painting after I glued it together, because I didn’t want it to warp.

Finished and painted fireplace in position in house. The second floor fireplace is identical to this one. I’ll show the third floor one when I get there.

I finished the floor and all the trims (baseboards, cornices, trim around the bay openings, trim, trim, trim. Lots of raw edges!)

Note: I did not use the scrolled “bay window trim” that comes with the kit. For what the kitchen bay one looks like see Beacon Hill: Trimming the Interior. The bay trims go into the front and left bay on this side of the house in the same way as the kitchen bay’s.

Staircase set in place. I still need to finish the staircase opening, add an extra step, and a few other details before I glue it in. Plus I want to make a chandelier so I’m not dodging the staircase when I put it in.

Gathering all the pieces and tools for new chandelier!

Beacon Hill–Catching up

I’ve been working on the Beacon Hill since I returned from Chicago, in between working hard on about four books at once. I have made some progress.

The left bay window is finished and installed. You can see I have much cleaning up to do.

I also finished the inside of the garage (painted) and added a light.

This gadget is a junction splice between the tape wiring and the power supply. It can be used with LED lights (the black and red posts where wires can be placed), or simply screwed into the tape (which is what I did). I bought this from Carl Sahlberg at http://www.cr2s.com.

A bad photo, but this shows how the inline switch plugs in. The black cord leads to the transformer / power supply.

It works!

Roughing in floor and staircase.

Floor stained and installed. I need to finish it.

I’m trying to decide whether to go with the piano …

Or the harpsichord. I like how they both look.

Staircase is almost finished. I had to take it apart to stain the treads and railings while having everything else white. I broke four of the spindles and had to replace with Houseworks ones. I’ll show more of the staircase when I’m done with it.

Moving to the other side … I have much of the outside trimmed and finished.


Playing with furniture placement.

I decided to switch the bathroom to the top floor. The fixtures fit well in here, better than they did in the second floor room. Oh well. They match the wallpaper too.

The other side of the top floor will continue the bathroom. The washing and sitting area.

First floor / ground floor. Entrance hall will double as a sitting room.

This is my reasoning behind building the tall bay window extension–so I’d have more room for furniture! Not sure that the sofa in the window will stay, but it might.

Upstairs will have another sitting area / writing room. I plan to add a desk, either in the bay window or behind the staircase.

This is now the bedroom. Not much space, but it could be cozy. Everyone has a mannikin with a tutu in their bedroom, right?

Kitchen is still empty. I keep putting in the stuff I have for it, taking it out, debating arrangements. I’ll get there.

That’s it for now. Sandy has to make sure all is well beneath, though.

It’s definitely getting there!

Beacon Hill–Left Side–Garage

On with the Beacon Hill!

As I’ve talked about, I set the left side of the Beacon Hill on top of the Houseworks garage.


I decided to proceed finishing this house from the bottom up, which means finishing the garage first.

Touched up outside paint, finished inside paint, and painted the floor.

Houseworks has a garage door to fit this kit, so I painted and installed it. Tip: Do not paint the rollers or the roller tracks if you want the door to work (it rolls up and down). I used this same door kit in the Mechanics Garage I did a few years ago.

Outside finished and trimmed.

I didn’t construct the garage exactly to the specifications of the kit, because I needed a flat roof, and the kit has peaked sides. I could have simply cut the peaks off the sides, but in the absence of a good power saw I decided to use other pieces of the kit to create the side walls.

This leaves me with a hole in the upper left side, because that piece of wood was supposed to be a floor with a hole for a ladder or staircase. Now it’s a window!

I went back to my own “Windows Tutorial” (link below) and did a custom-made window. First lined opening with 3/8 strip wood.

Making the two window frames from 1/4″ strip wood.

Frames ready for plastic or micro-glass in between. I imagine most people’s windows will be neater than mine.

The finished window with outside trim and sill (I haven’t trimmed the inside yet).

The Windows Tutorial post shows in detail how I put together custom windows. This method will let you make any window for any size of opening. Very convenient when you have an odd-sized opening or want to make different styles of windows without relying on what’s commercially available.

Now we have the garage! I need to do more trimming on the bottom.

While looking at this house head on, I made the decision not to do the entrance stairs up the side. I like how it looks, I can pretend there’s a way up from the garage, and it will be easier for me to display in a tight space, which was why I cut the Beacon Hill apart in the first place.

I will most likely put the left bay window in where it’s supposed to go.

My decision is not set in stone–I might change my mind again. But I like the simple appearance of the house as is.

If I do put in the bay window, I’ll prep all the parts.

Next thing for me, though, is the Chicago International Show! I am going this year for the first time! Signed up for workshops and everything. Let’s hope I don’t spend too much money. 🙂 I have $ set aside and a budget. Really.

Hopefully I’ll be able to take some photos of exhibits of cool minis. Which I of course will share!

Beacon Hill: Add-ons

Because I cut my Beacon Hill in half, I need to fill in what I took away. In the left portion, I’m leaving the side open for easier viewing, but because I put it on top of a garage, I need a new front door, and a staircase to reach it.

I’m turning the side bay window into the front door. I’ll build up the opening and then put a door in it, possibly with sidelights–I’ll think about it.  A staircase runs up from the ground to reach it.

The opening below will be an archway through which our imaginary people can walk to get to a door into the garage. More realistic if they can park and walk out to the stairs without having to use the rolling garage door.

This is a rough-in of the outside stairs that will run up to the front door. You can sort of see what will become the porch roof as well.

Another view relative to the garage.

I will build the walls, put in the stairs, and then trim it with plenty of moldings, spindles, posts, and lots of Victorian gingerbread.

On the right portion of the house …

I’ve added the outside wall with bays on ground and second floors. The bays give me more room on each of the floors to add furniture–it’s a small space without it. I painted to match the rest of the house.

When I get it all trimmed up with moldings and roof brackets I’ll post more pictures.

The inside of the second floor bay window. I need to wipe the dust off the floor, but this bay extension will let me put in a desk or sofa or something as I decorate. Again, more pics when I get it all trimmed and cleaned up!

Using the large windows lets me have a different perspective of the inside, one I wouldn’t see well if I’d built the house as one unit. This is looking into the upstairs and the French door to the balcony.

Ground floor with front door and staircase. The staircase is intricate and hard to build, so it’s nice to see it!

I have more trimming and painting to do, not to mention the outside staircase on the left house, but I’m getting there!