March 29, 2009

Acorn Cottage materials



Click on the photo for a closeup, use the back button to close the closeup

I am often asked about the trees that form the timber structure of the cottage, what kind of trees are they and where did I dig them up? I dug them up at the Home Depot in the lumber section, they started out as Western Red Cedar, square lumber spindles for deck railings. Turning them into trees is band saw work as well as carving with a structured tooth carbide bit in a Foredom Motor hand piece  and then a little more detailing with a hand chisel. An amazing number of jigs for the bandsaw and also the routers are used to create this piece. The acorn which tops the cottage was turned on one of my lathes and then detailed with a hot knife. 

I also get a lot of people asking where I got those special leaf shaped shingles. They are ordinary cedar, rectangular, miniature, dollhouse shingles but I shape the end of each one into a leaf by cutting it with scissors. After the glue dried the shingles were wire brushed to soften the edges and give them a time worn appearance. A varied stain of green is applied and a lot of aging solutions along with some brighter green paint here and there for a mossy look. A good looking roof is a great deal of work and thank goodness this is just a small one room cottage.

Most all of the landscaping materials came from the woods except for the moss which I scraped off the docks and the sidewalk near where I live.  The tree closest in this photo is a broken branch from a coral bark maple and the tree on the far side of the cottage is a branch from a curly willow. The stones around the base are local pebbles. The tufty bits that look like grass are the blooms of the moss. The moss has a floral preservative on it. It would turn brown over time but the secret to keeping it looking green forever is to tint it with water color. I mix my own paints so I get a wide range of greens instead of a flat and un-natural looking monotone. The shorter looking grass area is watercolored as well but it is made from the cedar sawdust I get from my power miter saw. The sawdust is much nicer looking than model railroad foam grass and it cost nothing. It is a very common practice in Europe to use sawdust to make grass for miniature projects. It will last a few lifetimes at least. And the moss I use is also long lasting, it won't crumble to dust like Reindeer type moss.
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