1940's Shadowbox

We went to the miniatures trade show last weekend, and returned with a back seat full of bags of miniatures, which are finally all sorted, tagged, photographed, measured, and in the store. The US mail, UPS, and Fedex will be arriving with more things to sort, tag, photograph, measure, and add to the store during the next few weeks. Some, I am sure, are on their way right now.

Meanwhile, last night I started fooling about with my mother's 1940's kitchen room box. I wrote a little about it in my post about the kitchen roombox I made for my mom several years ago.
I found this ad in the back of the April, 1947 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. Back then, the box cost #4.95, postpaid. My version is a little different, but it was obviously made by the same company.
I noticed last night, that the door in my little room could be opened. There was no knob, and I couldn't see any sign of glue from one, but since the frame was coming unglued, I pried it off. I found a painted scene inside.
Although the scene looks pretty fresh in this photo, in real life it was terribly grungy. I took a chance and tried to wipe off some of the grime, but discovered it was painted in watercolor. I dried the sections I had wiped right away. I'll be painting a new scene.
You'll notice in the picture, that the door has a Z on it, to simulate the cross boards. The front of the door is plain, so I imagine it was meant to stay open. Maybe that's why the frame work structure next to the door confused me originally. I had guessed that it was meant to be bunkbeds, and once I took a close look, I could see that nothing had been glued to it. With the door open like that, it's obvious that they're bunkbeds. I'll have to make some bedding for them.

Here's a closeup of the fireplace, with a fire painted on the wooden boards.
The paint used on the chimney is an oil paint, and I found I could wash it with no trouble. The hanging put is securely attached on a wire, and I won't try to remove it for cleaning. The red pot next to the fireplace is also firmly attached. One of the benches was partially loose, and when I cleaned the table, I found that the glue on the back leg washed off easily. I thought I'd try to pry off the bench, but discovered that it was nailed to a support, and wouldn't come out without a fight. I decided not to fight. Apparently several kinds of paint and glue were used on this scene. Some wash off, some don't.
You can see what the wood originally looked like, underneath the painted door panel.
The splotchiness is where it's still damp. I had to remove the old glue and bits of cardboard that were under the original scene. I decided to use vinegar, and although it loosened up the debris, I found that the lines that simulated the boards and nails were done in a paint that could wash off with a little scrubbing.
I think the only further cleaning I'll do will be the gentle kind.
Many of the original pieces are left. I can pretty much tell where they might have originally stood, because of the glue marks and residue on the table and shelves.
I have one extra lid. It doesn't fit the red pot by the stove properly, so I think I may be missing a pot.
I also found some extras that I and maybe my younger sister added to the scene. I think my mother had stashed away the shadowbox before my brother and youngest sister showed up.
The two gray barrels are plastic and say "powder". I remember having a western style playset, maybe they came from that. The other, black barrel, was originally red. the black paint washed off and made a huge mess when I started cleaning it last night. The green lid and bowl are plastic. The bowl is stamped made in Hong Kong. The comb is plastic, painted tan, and the wooden yellow ball fits the extra red lid, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't an original piece.
The metal "cauldron" looks like it was an ashtray.
. There's some paint on it, which I'd like to remove, but there are also some tiny spots of rust on the metal. I don't want to damage it. Even if I don't replace it in this scene, I may want to use it in another project. It's cute.

If you'd like to read about the restoration, click here.

Amos Gooch's Cottage - part 5 a new table

Last time I was left with a table that was the right size and shape, but the wrong color. It was white, and the chairs were light oak. Now they're not.

Yes, that's the transformed white table and oak chairs. Originally I was thinking of maybe painting the table blue, like the cabinet. I went to get my can of spray primer, but I had none. I knew we had a can of regular brush on indoor latex primer, but once I got the lid off I discovered that it was full of rust, and no good to me at all. I was ready to paint, but had no primer.
I tried just brushing the paint on the table, but it didn't cover very well, and I knew I'd wind up painting several coats, and sanding, and probably wind up with a mess, but then I noticed something and it gave me an idea.
As I swirled the brush back and forth over the table, it left a pattern, a pattern that reminded me of a very common 19th century faux finish. I cleaned my brush and got out some pleasing looking brown paint.
I simply started brushing brown paint on the underside of the table, then, when the white was covered, I swirled and zigzagged the brush til I was left with a pattern I liked. I did the same thing to the pedestal. After the paint was dry, I found a tiny speck of white here and there, or maybe a section that I thought should have had a bit more color and brushed on a tiny bit more paint where I felt it was needed.
When the paint was dry, I sprayed on some Krylon Crystal Clear acrylic finish. I bought it recently, mainly because it would dry quickly, and I've only used it a couple of times, but so far I like it.
I waited a day or so and gave the underside of the table a gentle scratch test, and it passed, so I started painting the table top, and this is how it came out, once it was had a spray finish.
All I did was brush the paint on, zigzagging the brush back and forth all the way across the table, then I turned the table so I could zigzag the brush going across in the other direction. I let the paint dry, then sprayed on the finish.
I'll give the table yet another coat of finish later on.

I'd seen similar patterns in faux wood graining on 19th c. furniture, and if Amos could paint that pretty leaf pattern on the bedroom floor, he could certainly have painted this table during a cold Maine winter.
I painted the chairs the same way, only I decided to paint the spindles black for contrast.
You may have noted a couple of other additions to the room. There's a large pelican. I believe Cap' carved it as a gift. There's also a new oil lamp hanging over the table. Unfortunately, the manufacturer stopped making those lamps a year or two ago.

Continued here

Amos Gooch's Cottage - part 4, interior

I was still working on a couple of furniture pieces as I ended the last post. Here’s a picture of one of them, the low, country red cabinet, also distressed.

I was also working on a small dresser. I had an unpainted dresser that had a gouge on one side, too much roughness on another side, and a couple of drawers that didn’t fit very well, so I decided to see if I could salvage any of it.
Below is a picture of a complete unpainted dresser, the upper part of the flawed one and some dollhouse molding. At the bottom of the picture you can see a section of molding that I cut from the longer piece. I trimmed off the scallops, and I’m going to use it to fill in the open bottom of the little dresser.
And thanks to the magic of digital photography, here it is, all finished. I painted it, and added painted wooden knobs.
I needed a bed to go with the dresser for the little girl’s room upstairs. I had a stash of several wooden beds I bought for 50 cents a piece a couple of years ago. The bed was too high, so I cut it down, closer to the floor, and painted it to match the dresser.
I’ve been adding furniture to the main room. I had wanted to include the firehouse chair. It would have been so right for a room like this, but 4 chairs were too many, and 3 different chairs didn’t look right either.
Although I really like this table, it just doesn’t look right to me in this room.

It doesn’t seem to matter what way I turn it, it just doesn’t look quite right. I think there may be too many legs in the picture.
I do have a round table, which does seem to give the room a better symmetry. It’s white, though. I could use the darker brown version, but I don’t think I want a dark table. I could wait for an oak round table, but I don’t want to. I’m on a creative roll here, and I don’t want to stop and wait for a new table that might be a little bigger. This table is part of Lee’s Line miniature furniture, and it’s just a little smaller than some of the other round tables that are available.

The round drop leaf table would be a good size, but it doesn't fit my mental picture of the finished room. The stands true for the square drop leaf table
I think I’ll spray the white table with primer, then paint it, either a golden blond color sort of like the chairs or maybe blue like the cabinet.

So, here sit our friends, Amos and Cap’, having a bit out of the jug. Cap seems to be intent on making his point clear. Amos seems to be more of a laid back kind of guy.
Oh yes, I’d like to introduce Star, Amos’s adopted daughter. Her room seems to be just right for her. She already has her own puppy and a wagon to pull. I think she wants to go berry picking.

Continued here

Amos Gooch's Cottage - part 3, cabinets

Feeling on a roll, with some furniture ideas in my head, and the laundry all done, I spent some time in my studio.

Here’s the Michael’s hutch. I added a couple of nonworking drawers in the middle, where it originally had an open space. Also, I changed the knobs, and gave it a little “wear and tear”.
I sanded off some of the paint in strategic places, like around the knobs, and just below the upper cabinet doors where people might have put things down over and over as they arranged the plates and put things away. A few scuffs on the front corners and along the bottom front would be appropriate too.
I also decided to use part of another hutch to make a low cabinet to go under a window. It was handy, I had already used the top half on another project, and it was just the right size.
I flipped it upside down, using the base as the top, although I trimmed the overhang a bit. Here it is next to what became the blue cabinet as I was working on both of them.
Yes, I added a drawer fa├žade to the low cabinet too. I use scraps of whatever I have handy to make false drawers. For the low cabinet I used a piece of L molding from the lumber yard.
I cut and sanded it to fit the space, then I made a cut to simulate a gap between “drawers”.
Next I applied some glue to the inside of the cabinet and inserted the L molding.
I also filled in the holes where the original knobs were.
I felt the cabinet needed some little feet. Sometimes I’ll use small wooden balls, but this time I chose bun feet. I can’t remember what these little bowl shaped things were called. I don’t think they were miniature bowls, though.
They do make dandy feet for furniture.

I still have to finish painting it and add the knobs.

Continued here

Amos Gooch's Cottage - part 2

My original concept for Amos’s cottage was of a house unfinished because of a faithless sweetheart. I had stained the shingles, using Minwax cherry stain, because it was supposed to be a pretty new house.
Now that Amos is older, the house needed to look older too. The shingles should look weathered, so I weathered them with paint.

I used acrylic craft paints, white, Payne’s gray and a small touch of Hauser medium green.
Payne’s gray is a purplish black color, when mixed with white it makes a bluish gray. I can’t exactly explain why I added the Hauser green, it just seemed the right thing to do. It’s how the color Green Earth, or Terre Verte, changes some colors. I was out of Green Earth, and Hauser Green seemed a good substitute.

I started by mixing the colors, then, with some of the paint still on the brush, I dipped the brush in water and began brushing water on the brown shingles.
If you apply the paint directly, the shingles will absorb more paint, and you’ll get a painted look. Wetting them first makes them absorb the paint more like a stain.
On the roof you can see I’m applying the wash quite quickly, the camera couldn’t keep up. I’m slopping it on and spreading it around.
Here I’m applying the gray paint. It’s not very thick, but not runny, either. I just keep brushing it on rather quickly. When you water down a paint, it acts like a stain. The depth of color depends on how much water you add.

After the first coat of weathering gray paint had dried, I applied another coat. You can see the lighter area has the second coat, the browner areas of wall are where I had applied the paint the day before.

It’s going to look a little streaky when it’s done, which is good. A point to keep in mind though, you want your streaks going the right way, up and down, or straight across on horizontal boards like the caps on top of the roof. They should never, ever, ever go diagonally.

Here’s the cottage, nicely stained a weathered gray.

Here’s a picture of my neighbor’s garage.

The color is pretty close. Actually, that garage was originally stained a light green, but to the previous owner’s chagrin, after a dozen years or so the green faded away altogether. Up under the eaves, you can still see a little of the original brown cedar shingles. Amos’s cottage shows a bit of the original brown here and there too. Wherever I had a little brown left in what I thought were the wrong places, I just dabbed on a little watered down gray paint. When it dried, it blended in with everything else.

On the roof edges, where you can see the ends of the shingles, and the plywood roof below, I used straight gray paint, without the preliminary wash. The rough wood absorbs the paint very quickly, and painting them, in the end, gives a stained look anyway.

I also brushed the watered down gray paint on the blue roof and the front door. I gave the roof several brush coats, it gave a nice aged look. I gave the front door one coat, then rubbed some of it off. The gray settled in the grooves of the wood, and mottled a little on the door, and I liked the look. It wound up looking like a door that could use a new coat of paint.

A word about roofing shingles. You may have noticed some of my shingles go a little higlety piggelty, a bit wavy. I just like that look. Sometimes roofing shingles should go on straight, but other times, like on cottages, they add a cuteness factor. I’m a sucker for a cute roof. :)

On the inside, I filled in a few gaps in the “plaster”. I used drywall compound and my usual supple artist’s palette knife. Some knives are fairly rigid. I like the ones that give a bit when pressed. I also decided to try a 1” disposable foam brush to spread the putty around and into the corners where the gaps were. It worked pretty well, working the putty into the gaps and smoothing it out.

When it was time to sand the repairs I used a combination of a foam sanding pad and an emery board. It also struck me that the foam brush might make a good wet sander for a few places, so I dipped it in water, squeezed out the excess and rubbed away. It did a pretty decent job.
By the way, I’ve found that if you cut the end of an emery board straight across, you can get into corners and tight spaces with it. Sometimes I’ll even bend the emery board into an L shape.

Continued here