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The Un-box Room Box

My urban patio scene is large.  And given that I'm still chugging away at my mid-century build and some other ideas in the pipeline, space will get short.  I decided that I wasn't going to make the patio a traditional room box, but rather an un-boxed room box.  I'm at a loss for clever words/phrases to describe it!

The 2 walls and the base are not attached, just 3 slabs of wood.  I used a few books and vases to prop the walls up.  Next time I have my table saw out, I plan to cut a wood triangle and put a 90 degree groove in it to essentially keep the two walls together at the top while I use the scene.  The beauty of this design means I can use different backgrounds, or use the walls for other photo shoots.

The Pool

The pool is a trimmed with some scrap baseboard trim I had laying around.  On top of the trim and the "water" area, I applied wall spackle.  Or wall filler.  Or wall patch filler...whatever you call the stuff that fills holes in a drywall or plaster wall.  I then used a simple yellow sponge with a green scrubby top to texture the stucco.

The pool was my first foray into this magical water for model making.  There are a few brands out there, Magic Water and Woodland Scenics.  Both are "pour and done!" No mixing products.  That said, you can only pour 3-4mm thick at a time. In the end I did 3 pours waiting 24 hours between layers as directed.  By chance I watched a YouTube video about the water and it said that it can be cloudy for a few weeks as it slooooooooowly cures, but in the end it will dry clear.  Between pour 2 and 3 it was cloudy.  And it had every changing sections of cloudy for 3 weeks!  It finally cured and is now clear.

Had I not known about the cloudiness being normal, you might have seen that plywood go flying out my front door!

The Stones

I had enough egg cartons for the stones, but the thought of painting and cutting them up was too much.  So I took the $10.99 route.  I went to the art store and found some thick, rough, texture paper for painting and decided that it looked like stone.

The paper was 22 by 30 inches, so I have A LOT of stone available for future projects.  I took a variety of grey, off-white and brown paints and made a mess on the paper.  Then I proceeded to cut it into bricks.  The process was quick and painless, and took much less effort then egg cartons.

Some might take the time to use a ruler and make marks for the herringbone pattern.  I did not.  Sheer laziness.  I did, however, find the center of the board and made a mark there so I had a starting point, but that was it.

Once the tiles were laid, I sealed the bricks with a water based top coat and used the wall spackle as grout.  Then came many washes with brown and grey to dirty it up.  

The Concrete Walls

I have always wanted to try making a concrete effect for a mini project.  I didn't know where to start, never had the right project and was worried it would look like garbage once I had it finished.  Well, on a hope and a prayer, I took the wall spackle and gave it a try!

There are many types of concrete walls.  Do a quick internet search and you'll see there are long panels, square panels, panels with pipes, and panels you can see holes where rebar existed.  Many options, all worthy of re-creation.  I decided to keep this first try simple with just tall panels.

I mixed the spackle with grey paint to lessen the paint needed to finish it at the end.  I then divided the walls into equal sized panels.  I taped off every second panel.  It's a two step process.  Then I applied the spackle and textured with my fancy yellow/green sponge. You definitely need an image of concrete as you texture to get the right smooches and stippling.  

Once the sections started to dry I removed the tape.  The following day, I applied tape to the spackled sections and spackled the unspackled panels.  Valuable lesson: you don't need to intentionally leave a space between the panels for effect.  I moved the tape over too far and left a huge, unnatural gap.  I then re-taped right along the stucco line and it became clear that the adjoining panels were distinct with a line between the spackle.

After everything was dry I sanded with a fine grit sand paper.  This is KEY to getting the concrete look, because it removes any obvious sponge marks or unnatural swirls.

Then its just a few simple coats of medium grey paint and a few well placed dabs of darker grey applied with a sponge.

It's a room box, no its an un-box room box!  And now its sitting in its 3 panel form neatly in my basement not taking up valuable real estate. 

Greetings From The Mini-Miniaturist

Miss Kitty is now 6 and quite the miniaturist.  She sets scenes with all her dolls and Lego on a daily basis.  But when she saw all these mini goodies out, she couldn't resist getting in there with mom!

Using my minis and a huge selection of her own, she made her own patio scenes.  No mini can be left behind, everything gets into her scene no matter the obstacle or lack of space.

I promised her I would post her accomplishments.