diy

Progress on Porker Residence

Many around the village have been curious about the large construction project in the midst of the town center. Well, wonder no more as we bring you a sneak peek of the newest addition to the downtown skyline.

Porker House WIP Exterior Front

Village grocer Paul Porker has been working closely with Blanche and Bertram Beaver on planning and building a new home for his family.

“It was time that we moved closer to the grocery, and what is closer than right up the stairs?” said Mr. Porker.

Mr. Porker was able to take some time out of his busy day to give us a quick tour of the premises.

We started one flight up from the grocery in the main room:

Porker House WIp Kitchen

“This is a nice big room, which is important for my big family. This over here is where the kitchen area will be.”

We then headed up the stairs to the master bedroom.

Porker House WIP Master

“My wife and I feel it’s important to be able to have some restful time to ourselves. With five children, the opportunities to do so often feel few and far between. But a private master bedroom should give us a bit more of a chance.”

The next door down is the boys’ bedroom:

Porker House WIP Boys Room

“We let our older son Patrick pick out the wallpaper for the room he’ll share with his little brother. Orange stripe isn’t necessarily what I would choose, but as long as the boys are happy with it, it’s fine with me.”

Up another flight of stairs we came to the attic which doubles as the girls’ room:

Porker House WIP Girls Room

“With our three girls sharing a room, we decided they needed a bit more space, so they get the entire attic. Although the sloping roof reduces the amount of usable floor-space, I think they will enjoy spending time up here.”

When asked what his planned next steps for the house are, Mr. Porker sighed. “There is still so much to be done. I think I need to first focus on getting the kitchen up and running. I thought that once the structure was built, furnishing and decorating would be short work, but to be honest, the amount of work still to come is a bit on the daunting side. If only I could just buy a box that had everything I needed for each room!

 

I have been working for the past two weeks on building the Porker residence. I always underestimate how long these things actually take to build – not even counting the furnishing and decorating! So I thought I should at least blog a bit about the process in slightly smaller chunks rather than one big reveal to at least have something new to share!

Porker House WIP Exterior Angle

This structure is my first with a usable attic space – I’ve made an angled roof before on Mr. Beaver’s workshop, but in that case it was primarily for style reasons and not usable. But I knew I needed a third floor, due to the large family. Yet I also wanted it to fit in with the overall village look. So my inspiration for this building is more or less Nyhavn, Copenhagen

As per all my building projects, the house is constructed out of foam core board. Since my last project, I bought a ruler with a finger guard, which has made a huge difference in my cutting confidence/ability.

This time, almost all the additional materials were paper. In the past I have used real wood for the floors and window sills and frames. But I’ve found that using paper keeps the costs and labor down (oh my goodness – multiple coats of paint on each tiny piece – arg!) and looks good enough to me. Yes, it is a bit flatter-looking and a bit more cartoonish, but I don’t dislike it.

I apply all of the surface papers (exterior walls, wallpapers, and floors) before I glue the structure together. It’s much easier to do when the walls are flat on my work table! I use Elmer’s x-treme glue stick to adhere the paper to the foam board, and for added adhesion I like to run a rubber brayer over the top. I have had no issues with the papers lifting.

Porker House WIP Floor 1

Porker House WIP Floor 2

For the first time, I’ve made my “hardwood floors” out of paper. I used a stamp from Stampin’ Up called Hardwood. It is the perfect scale! I wanted to give the floors a bit of texture, so I cut the stamped image into strips, trimmed each strip into 3.5″ lengths, then applied them in a staggered fashion so they looked more realistic. For the white floor, I simply adhered the strips directly to the foam board; for the brown, I didn’t want any white to show through the gaps in the floor, so I adhered a piece of matching brown paper onto the foam board first, then added the “floor boards” on top.

Porker House WIp Window

For the windows, I used Stampin’ Up window sheets. The plastic is quite thin and easy to cut, but adds a bit of realism. In the past I have made the window mullions out of wood or paper, but once again I used a shortcut. This time I used a fine-tip white paint pen to draw the mullions on the window sheets. This process turned out to be a bit tricky, and I had to remake about half of the windows – my paint pen is slightly old and leaky, and I had some issues with smearing. But in the end, I am very happy with the look, although the pictures don’t show them well.

Once the walls and floors are fully papered and finished, I glue the structure together. I have had success using Aleene’s Fast-Grab Tacky Glue. It tacks together quite quickly, so I don’t have to sit there holding it for too long. And I’ve found it to be quite sturdy over the last couple of years. 

Porker House WIP Interior

Another part of the process is making sure all the foam board edges are finished. Sometimes my cuts aren’t very tidy – the foam part of the foam board tears rather than cuts cleanly. So I like to have all visible edges covered – including the window sills. The thickness of foam board I use is the most common – 3/16″ I believe. But with the stupid Imperial measurement system, it’s annoying to measure that width. Luckily, 5mm is really close to 3/16″. So cutting at that width works perfectly for me. Just a handy tip.

In general, I am very happy with what I have created so far. Of course, Mr. Beaver’s sentiments regarding furnishing and decorating closely mirror my own feelings. Don’t get me wrong, I really do love making things, but goodness, my to-do list is a bit daunting. Of course I could buy furnishings, but that can get really expensive, and I sometimes want a more taste-specific look. But we’ll see where I am at after a couple more weeks of crafting!

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Around Town: Icy Fun

High up in the mountains, winter has already arrived with snow blanketing the landscape. We are so lucky in Crabapple Crossings to have a winter wonderland within easy travelling distance. The youngsters especially enjoy the skating rink.

ice-rink

We captured Winifred Whitetail and Fiona Firefox out on the ice.

“I’m learning how to skate backwards,” Miss Firefox explained. “I keep falling on my tail, but I’m having lots of fun.”

“My favorite part of skating is doing spins,” Miss Whitetail said. “I love ice skating.”

ice-rink-3

When asked if she was cold without her coat, Miss Whitetail explained that got too hot with the vigorous exercise of ice skating. “I put it back on as soon as I’m done! I don’t want to get frostbite!”

 

After a bit of a hiatus, I am back with this round of Iron Craft. The theme this time was “I is for…” so we were to come up with a project that used the letter I in terms of materials, subject, or technique. Brainstorming “I” projects was a bit of a challenge. I could barely think of anything fun that started with that letter! Finally, I settled on “I for ice rink.”

ice-rink-2

This project was actually quite simple once I settled on my theme. I started by finding a white styrofoam wreath base and a round craft mirror that was larger than the wreath’s inside diameter, but smaller than it’s outside diameter.

Using a knife, I cut the wreath base in half so that it would sit solidly on the mirror. I then painted the wreath base with some “Snow-Tex” textured paint. It was kind of weird stuff. It has almost a mousse-like texture. And because the styrofoam is quite slick, it was a bit difficult to get the textural portion of it to adhere. It took a bit of coaxing to stick; I found that a sort-of “scrape and dab” motion worked best. I let it dry for a good 24 hours, just to be safe, and it is really nice and solid – not crumbly to touch.

A lot of Christmas villages use a simple mirror to simulate a frozen lake, but I think that looks too reflective. So while the snow effect paint was drying, I traced the mirror onto a clear plastic window sheet and cut it out. I then used the finest paper on a sanding block to rough up the window sheet. I sanded all over with circular motions. This gives it a cloudy look and obscures the mirror surface a bit while still allowing some reflection. 

Once the wreath base was dry, I used a low temperature hot glue gun to adhere the window sheet to the bottom. Since the mirror was a bit on the expensive side, I decided to not permanently alter it; so the “ice and snow unit” simply sits on top of it. A folded up white towel borrowed from my bathroom and some cloud-printed bulletin board paper completed my wintery scene.

It was fun getting back into a bit of crafting after my break. And I love the effect of the window sheet over the mirror – it’s just the right combination of cloudy and reflective for my taste.

Parade of Homes: The Mouse House

The first stop on the inaugural Crabapple Crossings Parade of Homes is the home of the Mouse Family. As Mr. Mortimer Mouse has to awaken bright and early to get started on the day’s baking, he didn’t want to live too far away from his bakery. “Nothing feels better than knowing that my commute is just a short trip down the stairs, especially on cold winter mornings,” he says.

mouse house exterior

mouse house kitchen

The Mouse family had the home built to their own specifications and preferences. “We wanted a nice cozy kitchen and living area,” says Mrs. Mitzi Mouse. “It’s so wonderful having a nice space for all four of us to spend time together in the evenings.”

mouse house bedroom“But also Mort and I do enjoy being able to have time for rest and relaxation, so we definitely wanted a private master bedroom,” Mrs. Mouse continued.

mouse house kids roomOf course Millie and Martin Mouse’s favorite room is their shared bedroom. “It’s so colorful and fun,” says Millie.

“And I like playing with my toys there,” adds Martin.

“We really love our home and welcome guests wanting to come take a look,” says Mrs. Mouse. “It’s wonderful to get to share our ideas and tastes with our friends and neighbors.”

mouse house interior 2

 

To be completely honest, this project has been more or less done for quite some time, but I just haven’t shared it. It was probably the most time consuming of all of my projects, from the initial design through construction and then decorating.

As with most of my self-made buildings, the Mouse House is built from foam-core board. I wanted a structure that could sit on the Lil’ Woodzeez bakery I repainted, so its measurements are based on that. This was my first major construction project and I did a lot of figuring it out as I went along, but I have to credit this site with helping me figure out how to best build with foamcore board. I also have found that Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue works a lot better than other glues I have tried. Just don’t forget to replace the cap or you’ll get a tough workout trying to squeeze out the glue from then on!

Oh! I also want to mention that I chose to apply all of the floors and interior wallpapers before I glued the walls and floors together. It is a whole lot easier to apply them while everything is still flat. I used a heavy-duty gluestick to apply the wallpapers and it’s been probably a year, and I’ve noticed no un-sticking. The floors are this super-cool adhesive-backed wood veneer called “BARC.” It was super easy to cut into small “planks” and then just stick down. And I love that it’s real wood.

One of the trickiest and time consuming parts of the project was the windows and window frames/trim. Each piece of wood had to be cut to the right length, then the corners properly mitered. Then sanded, and painted a couple of times, then fit together and glued, and finally glued into place. The house has six windows, each of which had 12 pieces each to trim it out. The rest of the exterior is also trimmed out in painted bass wood, though the “siding” is just cardstock paper. Each piece of trim also was mitered to create a more streamlined look. Seriously, the amount of time I spent on the woodwork was not fun. Which is why, as much as I wanted to add baseboards and crown molding to the interiors, I just couldn’t do it. And that’s also why the shutters and window boxes are made of paper. I was too tired of cutting, sanding, and painting that I just couldn’t take it anymore!

mouse house exterior 2

Speaking of the window boxes, they are filled with handmade paper marigolds and little clumps of decorative moss. I really like the cheery look they give the house.

Once the actual structure was completed, it was time to decorate. I guess that probably the best way to do this is by room. 

mouse house interior

Kitchen/Living Room

  • Stove, sink, pantry, table and chairs, and most accessories are the Calico Critters Deluxe Kitchen Set.
  • Stove backsplash is self-made with 1/2″ paper squares (I used a punch) applied to a white background. I then used “Glossy Accents” to add shine and dimension to the “tiles.”
  • Stools and benches are self-built of balsa wood.
  • Chair, stool, and bench cushions are self-made from fun foam and cotton fabric.
  • Clock is a button with a printed clock face applied, Glossy Accents added to give it dimension.
  • Side table is a tiny wooden candlestick I found at a thrift shop flipped upside down. 
  • Curtains are cotton lace that I embroidered with red floss to make it more fun.
  • Book and plant on side table are purchased miniatures.
  • Seed packets are self-made.
  • Paper doll images were found online, scaled down and printed.

Master Bedroom

  • Bed is self-made of balsa wood. Mattress is fabric-covered fun foam. Pillows are self-made, blanket is felt. (Note: I hate the felt blankets and intend to change them, I just haven’t yet.
  • Side tables are self-made of balsa wood and miniature wooden spools.
  • Books are purchased miniatures
  • “M” is a necklace pendant.
  • Picture frame is a plastic refrigerator magnet picture frame, magnet removed.
  • Image is this printable, resized.
  • Curtains are cotton lace

Kids Room

 

Hmm, well, I think that’s pretty much everything I can think of to say about this project. I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to share it (actually, taking the pictures probably was the hold-up.) I still am very happy with how this project turned out, although I always have things I want to add or things to improve – and actually, the seed packet box I made for Iron Craft a while ago is in there now. Other things to work on still: new coverlets for the beds (no more felt!), wooden window boxes (if I can figure out how to transfer the flowers without destroying them), better-looking shutters, more flowers around the house (Mrs. Mouse is the village florist after all!), a chimney, improved master bedroom tables, and some nicer looking books. I honestly have no clue how any serious miniaturist ever decides that something is done!

If you have any questions or want more detail about anything, don’t hesitate to comment!

And just for fun, a  bonus picture of the teensy mouse-themed paper doll:

mouse house kitchen 2

New Restaurant Coming to Town

After months of planning, the long-neglected Seaside Restaurant is getting a much-needed face-lift. And Crabapple Crossings will be welcoming something new to the village’s culinary landscape: sushi!

Cooler1

“I’ve been wanting to open up my own restaurant for years,” says Owen Otter. “When I saw that the old Seaside Restaurant was up for sale, I felt like I finally had the opportunity to make my dreams a reality.”

cooler2

When asked about whether he thought a sushi restaurant could succeed in our small village, Mr. Otter was extremely optimistic. “I love traditional fish and chips as much as anyone. And I know some may find the idea of sushi a bit intimidating. But I think that once people taste it, they will embrace it. All of our fish is as fresh as you can imagine – as you may know, my wife Octavia is our town’s fishmonger and is awake bright and early on her boat. You can’t get more fresh than that!”

Of course, Mr. Otter also plans to offer some options for the less adventurous eaters in town. “Not all sushi is raw fish. Some is cooked. And we of course will have some really delicious vegetarian options.”

Although the restaurant is not quite ready to be open for business yet, this week’s delivery of a special sushi case cooler gets Mr. Otter that much closer to the grand opening. “I can’t wait to open my doors and share my love of food with everyone!”

restaurant1

 

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I have been so incredibly busy that I haven’t been able to spend much time in Crabapple Crossings, and projects have been relegated to the back burner. My July was packed, and my August looks to be even more so! But I was able to find time to do a project for this round of Iron Craft. The theme was “Cool” – things to keep you cool, made with cool colors, or otherwise get you in a “cooling” mood.

I had an idea as to what I wanted to create, because I have been thinking about creating a sushi restaurant for probably almost a year now, since I first saw the Calico Critters Seaside Restaurant. But with all my other projects, it fell to the wayside. When I saw the “Cool” theme, though, I knew I could at least get started on the conversion by creating a sushi bar style cooler.

cooler3

The set came with a counter with a built-in grill – I think the restaurant is supposed to be in the style of a hibachi restaurant? This counter made a great base for my sushi cooler.  I didn’t want any of my changes to be permanent, so the cooler just sits on top of the base. It is made of thin foamcore board, plastic window sheets, and cardstock. 

The items inside the cooler are a mix of handmade and pre-made items. On the left is supposed to be a piece of tuna, made from polymer clay. The two shellfish came with the seaside restaurant. The salmon is polymer clay. And on the left is a bowl of “scallops.” The bowl is from a different Calico Critters play set, and the scallops are the filling from a Dollar Tree baby rattle favor. No, I did not come up with it myself, this person of Flickr gave me the idea. (She has tons of other great ideas for minis, too!)

It was overall a fun project, and it makes me excited to continue furnishing the sushi restaurant. I’m not really planning that many big changes, mostly just making lots of tiny sushi!

Around Town: Harold Hopper’s Aquarium

Today we captured a snap of Mr. Harold Hopper with his beloved aquarium.

“I’ve been keeping fish for years,” he tells us. “After so many months and years spent on the sea before I retired, I like to have a little bit of the ocean to keep me company. So I keep goldfish.”

aquarium1

This round of Iron Craft was themed “It’s a Zoo Out There”. We were to make a project that featured an animal, could be used by an animal, or used animal-themed materials. Of course, I’m almost always making things “for” anthropomorphic animal characters, but making just any mini for my village seemed like a bit of a cop-out on the theme. So I wanted to make a project that focused on other animals in this imaginary world. Since all the villagers are mammals, this left me with making a project about birds, reptiles, amphibians, or fish.

And then I stalled out/procrastinated for two weeks. Finally, on Monday I realized I had to make something. So I finally settled on making a little fish tank. The past few rounds of Iron Craft I’ve been trying to avoid buying new materials for my projects. So I used things I had on-hand for this project.

aquarium2

The base of the tank is a 1″x 2″ piece of foam-core board. I smeared white glue on it and sprinkled it with some craft sand. After it dried, I added a second coat. Meanwhile, I cut some silk flower leaves into tiny little plants. I just eyeballed them. I then used Fast-Grab Tacky Glue to attach the plants. This glue has a more viscous consistency, so it kept the leaves fairly vertical. The five or so plants I had cut out looked a bit sparse, so I grabbed some green embroidery floss I had on-hand. I coated it lightly with white glue (just smearing a bit on it with my fingers) and let it dry. Once dry, I separated out the individual strands. This turned out awesome. It really looks like grassy underwater plants! After all the plants were glued in place, I added a bit more glue and a bit more sand where the plants and base met to ease the transition and cover up any shiny glue areas.

aquarium3

The walls of the tank are very thin acetate sheets. Mine is from Stampin’ Up. The sheets are scored at each corner. I then used narrow adhesive strips to attach the acetate to the foam core base. A narrow strip of black cardstock adhered over the top gives it a tidy look.

The next challenge was the fish. I struggled with this part of the project. I tried using styrofoam, but I am not talented enough to carve a realistic looking fish. I then tried origami (I have experience making tiny origami projects) but I couldn’t get them small enough to look right. I considered polymer clay, but I my sculpting skills are not nearly up to par. Finally, I decided to simply make them out of paper. I found an image of a goldfish and mirrored it in Photoshop so that it was attached at the mouth and could be folded in half so both sides looked good. I printed and cut them out. I carefully used a marker to make the paper edges orange (I find white edges on paper crafts like this ruin the look.) I had some ultra-thin clear thread on-hand (I can’t remember the gauge of it, but it is finer than strands of my hair) and I sandwiched it in between the two sides of the printed image and glued it all together with a tiny dab of white glue.

The top of the tank is an identical piece of foam board to the base. I cut out a piece of black paper to fit the foam board and poked holes in it to thread the clear thread through. Making sure that the fish were freely hanging into the tank, I affixed the thread to this piece of paper and glued the paper to the foam board. More narrow adhesive strips attached the “lid” to the acetate walls. This also helps keep the tank properly squared. More black paper was adhered to the top of the foam core and around the edges for a finished look.

I am really happy with how this project turned out. I love the freely hanging fish – they look really great in-person. It was nearly impossible to get an in-focus picture of this project, so I apologize for the blurriness and weird digital artifacts in my photos this week. I am so enjoying the Iron Craft challenge because it is forcing me to be creative in new ways – I never would have thought to make a tiny fish tank for my village without this round’s prompt – and I just love what I came up!

Around Town: Lemonade Stand

We spied a couple of enterprising children ushering in the warmer weather with a favorite summertime treat: fresh-squeezed lemonade. Patrick Porker and Beatrice Beaver had set up a small stand selling refreshing homemade lemonade right downtown.

lemonade1

“We’ve made almost fifty cents already!” said Patrick.

“It’s a hot day, so I guess people want something cold to drink,” said Beatrice. “I know that I’ve had two glasses already!”

lemonade3

When asked how often their stand would be appearing this summer, Peter stated “I don’t know. Probably when we are bored with doing other things or want some spending money.” So make sure you stop by and get a glass of tasty lemonade when you see it.

This round of Iron Craft was themed Summertime. We were asked to make a summer-themed item or something to use in the summer. I wanted to make something that was quintessentially summer – and a children’s lemonade stand definitely said “summer” to me. 

lemonade2

The stand is made from some unusual super-thin foam core board I found at a local junk shop. I think it may be used for framing? I got a few small sheets of it, but I’d love to find more! It’s a great material for minis. It’s so nice to have similar materials with various thicknesses and I think traditional foam core would have been too thick for the bulk of this project. 

The base is the thin foam core covered with white cardstock. I then added stripes with additional pieces of cardstock. The “counter” is a regular-thickness piece of foamcore covered in more cardstock. The uprights are thin pieces of bass wood. They help keep the structure squared. The sign is just cardstock and marker.

The details are a bit harder to see in my pictures (I couldn’t get my camera to focus well on them. The light isn’t great today.) On the left is a purchased miniature wooden bowl. I filled it with polymer clay lemons. In the center is a knife and cutting board from a Calico Critters set. The lemons are a polymer clay cane I made (it’s easier to see in the middle picture above.) The glasses are eraser covers from “Push Pencils.” This site has a good image of the pencils. They are the perfect size for making minis. I found mine in the Target dollar spot, 8 for $1. Figuring out how to make them look like they had lemonade in them was a huge challenge for me. Many people who do miniatures use resin to create faux-liquids, but that was a bit more than I wanted to attempt. (Lots of room for error and it’s not an inexpensive material.) I finally settled on using a yellow Sharpie marker to color the cups to at least give them a yellow tinge. I ended up coloring both the inside and outside of the cups to make them look nice and bright. It may not look as authentic as resin, but it’s effective enough for me!

Sylvia Squirrel Makes Sweet Dreams a Reality

Ms. Sylvia Squirrel has always had a bit of a sweet tooth, “Growing up, my mother could not seem to keep the candies out of my paws.” Luckily for her, the elder Mrs. Squirrel knew a thing or two about sugary treats – she, too, was passionate about confectionery. “I spent many afternoons and evenings helping my mother create the most delicious candies. Of course, it was not too much of a chore for me, as I got to help ‘clean up’ and sample all of the wonderful treats.”

squirrel1

Since those days of her youth, Mrs. Squirrel has dreamed of opening up her very own candy shop. “I’ve been imagining my store for nearly as long as I can remember,” she says. “So I could not be happier to finally have the chance to share my love of sweets with my family, friends, and neighbors.”

squirrel2

Her shop specializes in both simple, old-fashioned penny candies and higher-end artisan chocolates, made by Sylvia herself. “I try to stock all of my childhood favorites,” she says. “We have pretty much everything you can think of – gumballs, gummy fruit slices, caramels, mints, lemon drops, licorice, candy dots, candy corn, circus peanuts, bottle caps, and more. It’s been so fun deciding what treats to stock.”

squirrel3

But she is especially enthusiastic about her hand-made specialty chocolates. “These are the candies my mother taught me to make. I use dark chocolate, milk chocolate,  white chocolate, and lots of fun fillings. I tend to make whatever I’m excited about at the time, so I should always have an interesting assortment to fill a box.”

children

It looks like Mrs. Squirrel’s shop is going to a success. While photographing her shop, we caught some local children peering in at the tasty treats.

“I do eat candy every day,” Mrs. Squirrel admits. “But I always make sure to brush my teeth and I’ve never had even one cavity!”

Okay, I’m the first to admit that this round of Iron Craft is a pretty big stretch, but hear me out. The theme this time was “Dots.” I was really stuck! I love polka dots, but I didn’t want to sew anything, and I just couldn’t think of very many crafts I wanted to make that used a polka dot pattern. But then I thought of candy dots, and that seemed like a fun mini project. So I got out my 1/16″ hole punch and strips of paper and made some candy dots:

candy dots

Of course, once I saw how cute these tiny candies made of paper were, I couldn’t seem to stop! So I punched out tiny paper bottle caps candy. And tiny M&Ms candy. 

inspiration

Well, once I had my three kinds of dots candy, I was pretty pleased. I had completed the challenge and was happy with the results. But something was missing. And that something was a place to put my tiny paper dot treats. So I decided to make a candy shop.

exterior

interior

It’s crazy, I know. And the reason this post is going up in the afternoon is that I finished the project today. I think this was my first Iron Craft time crunch! 

So, just a few words on supplies and such. Pretty much the whole thing is made of foam core and cardstock. I cut and dry fit the structure out of foam core, then applied all the papers while it was still in flats. The checkerboard floor was helped along with a 1″ square punch. The window is a piece of plastic window sheeting, which I wrote on with a white paint pen. The shelves and display case are foam board, cardstock, and window sheets as well. The chalkboard frames were a find in the Michael’s dollar bins (though I think they were $1.50.) The candy jars are from the Dollar Tree. They are for nail art glitter and come 8 to a package. A complete steal for real glass bottles. I filled the jars and case with some paper dots as shown above and polymer clay candies. The final touch (what took me into the time crunch) were the candy boxes which I printed onto cardstock, then cut and glued together. The one box is (mostly) full of the leftover chocolates from the display case, each one with its own paper candy cup made from a hole punch (hey! another dot!) of tissue paper.

This project was such a challenge for me. I’ve made and decorated structures before, but never in such a short time frame. I know it seems simple, but I really worked hard to get this done. I think I am the slowest person ever when it comes to polymer clay. It’s honestly quite ridiculous. And I’m still not sure I’m really done with this project. I always have tweaks I want to make. In this case, I want to add an awning to the front, because it’s really very boring and maybe some sort of hanging “open” sign. Just make the exterior more interesting in general, I guess.

So, I’m not sure I did so hot for the Iron Craft challenge of it. I mean, I truly was inspired by “Dots” as the theme, but the end result is maybe 5% dots to 95% everything else. But on the other hand, I would not have undertaken this project without the dots inspiration as a jumping off point. But either way, Crabapple Crossings has a candy shop now, and that makes me happy.

Greengrocer Display Tutorial

Here are directions on how to build Mrs. Goat’s greengrocery display. I’m admittedly not the best at doing tutorials, so please let me know if any part of this needs more clarification! This display is made for these crates from about.com. Other items may fit on this display as well, but it was designed with those particular crates in mind.

Supplies:

  • Bass or balsa wood sheets, 1/16″ thick (mine was 4″ wide by 24″ long, so I only needed part of one sheet)
  • Balsa wood sticks, 3/16″ x 3/8″ (I needed two 36″ long sticks)
  • Balsa wood stick, 1/8″ square
  • Self-healing cutting mat or other cutting surface
  • Xacto knife
  • Metal ruler
  • Glue appropriate for wood. I use Aleene’s Fast Grab Tacky Glue (a PVA glue)
  • Toothpicks
  • Paint of your choice. I use multi-surface acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush

Directions:

  1. Using an Xacto knife and metal ruler, begin by cutting the wooden sheets into the two flat parts of the display. Each flat should be 4-1/4″ by 1-3/4″. Since my sheet was only 4″ wide, I first cut the 4-1/4″ length, then subdivided it into the two 1-3/4″ widths (plus a little bit left-over.)tuto1tuto2tuto3tuto4
  2. Cut the 3/16″ x 3/8″ wood into eight lengths, each 4-1/4″ long. If lucky, you can get all eight lengths out of one stick. However, balsa wood is prone to splitting and/or breakage, so having more on-hand than you think you will need is a good practice.
  3. Cut two lengths of the 1/8″ square wood, each 4-1/4″ long.
  4. You should now have:
    • 2 wood sheeting flats, each 4-1/4″ x 1-3/4″
    • 8 pieces of 3/16″ x 3/8″ wood, each 4-1/4″ long
    • 2 pieces of 1/8″ x 1/8″ wood, each 4-1/4″ longtuto5
  5. You have two options at this point. 1) Paint all pieces with 2 coats of acrylic paint OR 2) continue onto Step 6 for assembly. If you want the painting to be easier, paint now. If you want the construction to be easier, construct now. For the purposes of this tutorial, I pre-painted all of the materials. But if I had to do it again, I would assemble first and paint later. It’s really up to you.
  6. Assemble the stand with the glue, using toothpicks for application. Apply glue all over the 3/16″ width of one of your lengths of wood. Carefully line up and apply along the long length of one of the flats.tuto6tuto7
  7. Apply glue to one of the 1/8″ square lengths. Apply to the front edge of the flat.tuto8
  8. Repeat steps 6 and 7 with other flat.
  9. Apply two of the 3/16″ x 3/8″ strips to the bottom side of each flat.tuto9
  10. Choose one of the two units to be the back tier. Add the two remaining 3/16″ x 3/8″ strips to the bottom of the previously glued strips, doubling the heighttuto10
  11. Add lots of glue to the back of the bottom tier. Really give it a nice coating, like frosting a cake. Bring the two tiers together and very gently join them together.tuto11
  12. If you did not paint the pieces for the display in step 5, allow the glue to dry and give it two coats of paint.
  13. Allow the glue and paint to dry completely before placing handmade crates or other items on top. In general, be very gentle with your display, as it is quite delicate.

tuto12

Mrs. Goat’s Greengrocery Display

Local citizen Mrs. Gail Goat is helping to spearhead a campaign to get the youth of Crabapple Crossings to embrace good nutritional habits. As a purveyor of fresh vegetables to the town, she is in a unique position to encourage healthy eating.

“I know that with my children, they sometimes turn up their noses at the veggies on their plates, afraid to try new things. At least with my kids, I have found that offering vegetables for them to taste without pressure, especially in their raw form seems to make the veggies less scary and more an exciting undertaking. So I decided to offer this to all the children of the village. After school, I will offer the children tastes of what vegetables I have available at no cost. I think the children of the town will be excited to get a free snack.”

While I was interviewing Mrs. Goat, several village children stopped by. Mrs. Goat offered Hugh Holstein some broccoli.

grocer story 2

At first Hugh wasn’t sure. “I’m not sure I like broccoli,” he said.

“That’s okay,” said Mrs. Goat. “But if you change your mind, I’ll be happy to give you some.”

“What do you think, should I try it?” Hugh asked his companion, Martin Mouse.

“I love broccoli!” Martin said. “I think you should at least taste it.”

grocer story 3

“Okay,” Hugh said. “I’ll give it a shot.” He bit into the broccoli. “Ooh, it’s a bit peppery. But it’s pretty good! Thank you, Mrs. Goat.”

“You’re welcome, Hugh” she replied.

grocer story 4

Meanwhile, Wesley Whitetail was peeking into the bin of pumpkins. “I don’t think you’ll like those so much, Wesley,” Mrs. Goat told the tot. “They need to be cooked to taste yummy. Why don’t you try this carrot instead? It’s orange like the pumpkins.”

grocer story 5

Wesley happily accepted the carrot and crunched happily on it. “Normally Wesley doesn’t like to eat his veggies,” said his older sister Winnie Whitetail. “But I guess he’s enjoying his carrot a lot!” she said as he finished. “I’m sure mama will be so happy to hear that Wesley has gained a new appreciation for a healthy snack!”

Mrs. Goat is already quite pleased with the success of her program. “If it gets just one child to discover a new favorite vegetable, I’ll call it a success. And I think today proved that it can work.”

Mrs. Goat’s greengrocery is open daily from 9 to 5. She offers seasonal vegetables at this time and hopes to offer a variety of fruits in the future.

The theme for the third round of Iron Craft was “G is for…” Our projects had to relate to a skill, material, or subject that begins with the letter “G.” I decided that Mrs. Goat’s Greengrocery would certainly fit this alphabet-based theme.

Greengrocer

This project was not as intensive as my last one, but I really should learn not to make so many projects that need to be “filled”!

I began this project by creating the crates based on this tutorial from about.com. They came together pretty easily, although I now see that I didn’t actually follow the tutorial particularly well. They turned out pretty nicely despite my apparent inability to follow directions.

I then built the stand. I wanted the crates to be on an angle, so I played around with different thicknesses of balsa wood. I eventually settled on a 3/8″ riser. I also used 1/8″ wood to create a little lip or stop at the fronts of the risers to keep the crates from sliding off. The entire project is made of these two widths of wood and 1/16″ wood sheets. After assembly, I painted it a fresh spring green.

Then I had to fill the crates (why do I keep doing this to myself!?) As it is winter here, I decided to primarily make winter vegetables. I also wanted a variety of colors to make the display more appealing. I use Premo Sculpey, because I have heard that it is one of the more stiff clays. I always have very warm hands, so I chose a clay that could withstand that. I also work on tile that I keep in the refrigerator when I’m not working on it. I realize I am very much in the minority with my hot hands, so it’s worthwhile doing some research to find what will work best for you.

I used a whole bunch of tutorials as a guideline for my veggies. Most of these tutorials are very involved and result in hyper-realistic veggies. I am not that much of a stickler for super-realism – my village inhabitants are anthropomorphic animals; a little cartoonishness is okay with me. (And I’m kind of lazy.) So these links are just guidelines – I definitely did not follow every step!

  1. Carrots (video)
  2. Eggplant/aubergine
  3. Parsnip (pretty much the same as carrots)
  4. Broccoli (video)
  5. Butternut squash (video)
  6. Potatoes (video)
  7. Beets (for general shape)
  8. Pumpkin (video; and see butternut squash video)

Some of the items I made enough to fill the crate; others I didn’t. For those that didn’t look full enough, I added some small bits of crumpled tissue paper on the bottom of the crates to give them a fuller look. I then made mini signs with some scrap paper and used a 01/.25 mm micron pen to write the signs. I used Scotch tape to stick them on. It’s really not sticking well, so I will need to find some other solution.

Greengrocer stand

This project was really fun. I truly enjoyed creating all the veggies and working with polymer clay. I’ve only done maybe one or two other projects with the clay, so this has been a great learning experience. Figuring out how to mix the clays I had to get the right colors was really interesting. I always had a reference image available for color matching and shaping. Are my items amazing? No, but they are effective-enough for my taste. And I can see why people are enthusiastic about polymer clay; it really is fun!