Tuesday, January 7, 2014

My New Little Shop Project, Part 2

At first glance, it probably doesn’t look like I’ve made much progress on my little shop since the last time I posted about. But in reality, I’ve had to redo almost everything. The only thing that was perfectly fine was the front wall of the shop. Fortunately, that front wall was the only piece I'd put a lot of time into. In the last post, I mentioned that the structure was warping. Since the back and sides weren't going to be very visible, I figured I'd just slap a layer of paperclay bricks over the whole thing and call it a day. I didn't think about what a effect the damp clay would have on foamcore...

 Here's a photo of the paperclay bricks that caused the warping. I used a textured sheet of plastic (sold as a fondant mold for cake decorating) to make the brick pattern. This is one of the quickest ways I know to get miniature bricks.Though the grout lines are far too big, the bricks themselves are pretty close to 1/12th scale, and can look pretty good in certain situations.  I use a crumpled piece of tin foil to texture the bricks. 

The warping turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The paperclay was a quick solution so I could get on with the fun part, but it didn't look as realistic as I'd wanted. I like this second version of the stones so much better!

The second time around, I decided to go with a technique I'd never tried before: egg carton stones. 

So much more realistic! In the photo above, you can see the new sidewalk made of cardboard egg cartons on top, and the old paper clay sidewalk below. I used another fondant mold that was supposed to look like cobblestones, which was a definite mistake. Aside from the whole warping issue, the mold just wasn't deep enough to make realistic stones.

 Here's a closeup of the new egg carton stones. I followed Casey's tutorials here, then added a little model railroad dirt between the cracks. I still have to do the sides and back walls (using sandpaper bricks for a change of texture) but I couldn't resist making a tiny weed.

 I've been hording a few Clive Brooker  mossy pots for years, but I may use one on this project. I've already filled it with dirt, (painted styrofoam) but have yet to plant it. I have quite a few irises left over from the music room, which might work, but I'm holding off until the big decisions are all made.

Another big change I made was shifting the shop over on the base. In the first version, (above) the shop was centered, with an awkward little strip of sidewalk on each side. But while playing around with various props, it became clear that there just wasn't enough space for all the things I wanted outside my shop. Moving the shop to the left side of the base gave me a lot more room to play without making the overall size any larger.
I made a few (relatively insignificant) mistakes in putting together version two of the shop. The first was that I mis-measured the depth of the shop, resulting in a narrow gap between the stones of the sidewalk and the shop. I could have easily filled this in with a few more stones, but decided it would be easier and more interesting to fill the space with dirt and weeds.

 The second mistake was painting the interior of the shop the wrong color. I was sure I'd painted the inside using Folk Art's baby blue (on the right above). Instead, it seems I'd used their Dove Grey (left).

The Baby Blue turned eye-searing when it was covering the full wall.  I've never repainted anything so quickly in my life!

 Getting to this point was exciting, since it meant I could take a break from the big, structural stuff to work on some fun details.
I made the lantern out of card stock painted with the special oxidizing copper paint I wrote about here. I made it five-sided, just to make it a bit more interesting. The "old glass" is mica. I bought some on eBay two years ago and have used up almost all of it on lanterns and similar projects. The hook for the lantern is just a cheap metal wedding ring (the same type as I used to make this umbrella stand,) with a back plate of card stock, scrap wood, and jewelry findings.
 I liked the copper lantern so much that I decided to make a copper awning over my door. The top is a piece of strip wood, covered in card stock to hide the wood grain. The scallops hanging down were Mom's idea.
 Here's a picture of the top. You can really see all the various colors of the oxidized copper here.
 One more picture of the entrance.

I added a boot scraper near the door. It's made of card stock and fancy toothpicks, painted with another faux finish paint set to look like iron. For some reason I had a really hard time getting the rusting solution to work, though it's worked perfectly when I've used the paint before.
I added a bit more dirt to the door itself, especially around the handle and the bottom of the door. I'm trying to find a good balance between realistically old and worn,but not neglected. The watercolor pencils I'm using are great, because they can easily be washed off if a section gets too dark.

 Here's a side view showing just how shallow the shop is.  I'm completely out of narrow strip wood, so I haven't been able to cover the white foam yet, and then all the brickwork needs to be done.
 The shop also still needs its roof, and a piece of glass for the front window.
 The sign is just temporary and is held in place with a bit of sticky wax. I'm planning to paint a more elaborate one eventually. In fact, I'm thinking about making several signs for the shop, so that I can rotate a few different collections through the window display. I'm not quite sure whether this idea  counts as restraint restraint  or indulgence.
The front of the shop will remain a removable panel so that I can change the window displays. 

 This sophisticated system of strip wood holds the front in place :-) The slight flexibility is actually an advantage here, because it makes it very easy to get the front in and out.
Hope you've enjoyed seeing how this little project is coming along!


  1. I love your project, what a great idea being able to rotate the window theme and name. It is beautifully aged, I love the detail above the door, the lantern and your cracked paving is so realistic.

  2. It is looking fabulous. I love all the different aging and painting techniques you have used and love the little lantern. It is full of wonderful detail. The ability to change the shop sign and the window display is a great idea.

  3. The storefront is beautiful! I loved every detail. ;)

  4. It is really a great idea! Your finishes look great. Looking forward to more pictures with the shelves full.

  5. Hello Elizabeth,
    I think the new finish looks wonderful! the project is already so beautiful and well done. I look forward to seeing more of it.
    big hug,

  6. I love your storefront Elizabeth! sorry to hear that the paperclay warped it but it looks like you turned lemons into lemonade..Kudo's to you!

    Marisa :)

  7. Your little lantern was the first thing that caught my eye and it's beautifully made. It just proves we don't need to spend loads of cash to get lovely things!

    You've made great progress with this and I can't wait to see more.

  8. I love the colors you've used, and I swear by egg carton brick and stone! :D Beautiful!

  9. WOW! That turned out great! And to think it all started with foamcore!

  10. Hello Elizabeth! Such a quaint little shop with tons of atmosphere already! The exterior finishes both on the storefront and on the sidewalk look Beautiful and that little weed poking through is Perfect! This project is a real pleasure to see and the tutorials that are linked in are invaluable! :D


  11. Hi Elizabeth, I have enjoyed this post very much. What a delightful little project that does not take up too much space. Love the aging you have done and so clever to make the lantern!
    Also such a good idea to have changeable store names so you can change the display.

    One month a toy store, another an shabby chic, another an antique store.... not sure what you have in your collection but we may soon be seeing more of your hidden treasures.
    regards and thanks for tutorials!

  12. La remodelación te ha quedado perfecta,muy realista en todos los materiales y el color me encanta!!!!!

  13. Maravilloso trabajo, me gusta el aspecto que le has dado, una verdadera preciosidad.
    Un abrazo.

  14. I really love this project! Fantastic!