A Faux stone floor

 How I used drywall compound to make a stone floor.
By the way, sometimes it's called drywall compound, other times stucco, or some refer to it as wall plaster.


Here's a picture that gives a better view of the floor of Tall Chimneys kitchen. I spread the drywall compound and let it dry a few minutes so it wasn't gloppy. I used a pencil to lightly trace out the shapes of the stones. If you press down on the pencil too much you make ridges, not enough and your stones tend to become indistinct. It takes a few practice trys. I made a couple of errors and just resmeared it up and started over. When your stones are drawn let the floor dry thoroughly overnight or at least a few hours. I next sanded the floor where I had any unwanted bumps and ridges. After that I started smoothing it with a damp rag. A damp rag is the same as sandpaper to unpainted drywall compound. I didn't want the stones perfectly smooth, but I didn't want them lumpy, either. I just kept working with the rag til I got the look I wanted. The nice thing is, if you feel you have totally botched the whole thing, or even just one section of it, you can reapply compound and start over or fix a section. I know, I goofed a couple of times and had to do a fix.

When you're happy with your stones you can paint them. I like to use color washes when I paint stones. I'll cover the stones in a base color, then start applying washes. You can wait for the base to dry or you can apply the washes right over it while its damp. The look can differ a bit one way or the other, you have to try and see what you prefer. To make the washes I select the other colors I want to show up in my stones. I don't recall the exact blend. Most likely it was a mix of ochre, off white, a beigey color, a brown...Color washes are easy to use. They're wet and just flow right onto the surface when you touch your brush to it. If you don't care for the color you can go over it with another wash and change it, or you can intensify it. I did a bit of color washing over my base color in a general way for the first step, giving the whole floor a sort of subtlely mottled appearance. I then began to pay attention to the individual stones. I'd do a stone here and there in a browner wash, then others with an off white wash til I was satisfied. The whole secret to successful painting techniques is to relax, let your wrists loosen up and just fool around with it til it begins to get comfortable and it seems to just naturally flow. I've made many stupid painting mistakes when I was tense and worried how it was going to turn out. It's funny, after years of painting I'm still pleased and surprised when things turn out just right.

A rag-rug idea

I had this idea for a while, for an easy to make rag rug.
I made one for Miss Frobisher's Cottage, back when I was new to making miniatures. I placed strips of embroidery floss side by side and stitched them together with my sewing machine. While I was doing it I kept thinking there had to be an easier way, maybe with spray adhesive?
Well, it took me enough years to finally buy some spray adhesive and try it.
It doesn't look bad at all. I should have spent more time on it, some of the threads got crossed, leaving a few little gaps, but I realized that it was almost 3:30 and I had to get dinner started before family started asking me "is there anything to eat around here?"

I used some embroidery floss my daughter left behind when she moved out years ago, and some cheesecloth. Old gauze bandage would do fine too. I've got some that's been sitting in my dresser drawer for 15 years from when I burned my hand. I should move it to my studio where I could get some use out of it.

I started by cutting out a piece of gauze and laying it on my table, then I cut lengths of embroidery floss a bit longer than the size of the rug I wanted.
I sprayed the cheesecloth with adhesive, and started laying down strips of the floss. It does get to be a bit of a sticky job. I found the best way to do it was to lay down the thread, then hold it down on the gauze at one end while I slid my finger along the thread to lay it flat on the gauze. Then I'd reverse and smooth the other way. I could lay down several threads, then I found that I needed to give the gauze another spritz of glue to continue.
I also learned that it doesn't matter if the glue sprays onto the threads.
Here's a picture of the rug and how it looks from underneath.
I made the rug bigger than I needed it to be, so I could cut off the raggeddy ends.
The spray adhesive stiffens up the rug a bit, and it lays flat.

If you're a bit more careful than I was, taking a little more time, you should have a very nice little rug without too much effort.

About horseshoe hanging

I keep hearing from people that the horseshoe above the cabin door should be hung with the ends up, or good luck will run out.
I just rehung it the way it was in the first place, because there was a shadow of glue left on the wall.

I knew there had to be conflicting folklore about horseshoe hanging, because so many horseshoes are pointed downwards, not upwards.

On the subject of hanging horseshoes:

In depends on where you're from how they're supposed to be hung.
It seems that the horseshoe was associated with good fortune, period.

In some places, they say hang it upwards, so luck won't run out. In others, If it's upwards, the devil will find himself a seat above your door. In an old English tradition, bad luck could be aquired, but good luck could be taken away, so never hang your horseshoes upwards or bad luck will fill it up and enter your home.

Folklore says if you find a horseshoe, take it home with you for luck. On the other hand, if you find a horseshoe, throw it over your shoulder for luck.

There's lots more horseshoe folklore out on the internet, I won't repeat it all. It's pretty much like that old nursery rhyme:

See a penny, pick it up,
All the day you'll have good luck.

See a penny, let it lay,
Or bad luck will follow you all the day.


PS: I was just checking to see if I remembered the rhyme correctly, and it seems there are variations on the rhyme too. Picking up pennies could be good or bad, depending on cisrcumstances.

Some days you just can't win. My teenaged son doesn't believe in luck, period.

The restored shadowbox

In the midst of measuring and taking pictures of the miniatures that arrived for NEM this week, I managed to take a little time off and finish the shadow box.
By the way, would you care to take a peek at what's new on the New Items page of New England Miniatures? I'll just wait here til you get back.

The final additions to the cabin are the bedding on the bunkbeds and the restoration of the door.
To make the bedding, I cut some small squares from the sleeve of one of my old shirts, and some foam to make mattresses. A while ago I bought some spray adhesive, and I finally got to try it out. I sprayed it on the fabric, then folded it over the mattress. I also happened to have some no stitch fabric glue I'd never used before. I put dabs of the glue on the top and bottom ends of the folded fabric and stuck them to the underside of the mattress to make a little foam package.
For the pillows, I used a little cotton canvas cloth which I folded over a few times. Then I hem stitched the edges. If I had glued them, they'd have probably laid pretty flat, and I wanted them to puff just the tiniest bit.

I decided to repaint my own version of the original scene that was in the doorway.
Originally I couldn't decided if the white and purple thing in the original scene was a mountain hanging in mid air or a poorly painted cloud, but as I was relaxing and watching TV the other night, I saw a snow covered mountain, with a foggy valley below it. That's when I knew it was supposed to be a mountain.
I painted in a forest below the mountain.

I'll be getting back to working on Amos's cottage again. I ran into a little problem with his daughter, Star. The poor little thing is now totally bald. When I bought her, she had a straw hat glued to her head. I had snipped off the hat when she played little Red Riding Hood, but there was still some straw left on her crown. I thought if I took her hair off altogether, I might be able to peel off the rest, but it didn't work. I guess I'll have to find some hair for Star.
Here's how she looked as Red Riding Hood.

The Shadowbox restoration

Half of the room is finished.
I had started by cleaning whatever parts of the wood I could with vinegar.
I discovered that it was covered with a stain, that started coming off together with the decades worth of dirt, so I had to decide what I could clean and what should be left pretty much alone.
The stain and painted lines that made up the boards on the back wall tended to wash off easily with a little scrubbing, as I learned while trying to remove the glue that was behind the picture in the doorway. While trying to clean off the glue that held the horseshoe, I inadvertantly removed much of the stain. I tinted the area a little before gluing the horseshow back on, and before I'm done I'll retint to even out the color better.
I've received 2 messages from readers that the horseshoe should be facing upwards, so the luck wouldn't run out.
Well, I knew about that, but decided to replace the horseshoe in its original position.
This side is finished. The original glue turned out to be water soluble, but since scrubbing also removed the stain, I recided to just wet the glue, then scrape it off with a knife blade. Two or three wettings and scrapings were usually enough to remove most of the glue. Some of the glue I left alone, rather than run the risk of damaging the surface.
I could tell from glue residue, that some of the original pieces were missing. Of the items that had been added in my childhood, I chose to keep the 2 plastic barrels, the comb, and the black barrel, which I repainted olive green.
Also, rather than set the accessories in place with a liquid glue, I decided to use glue dots. By the way, although the plastic barrels on the top shelf look almost white in the picture, in real life they're a darker gray and blend in better. They were another reason for using glue dots. If at some point, I decided I wanted to swap them for wooden accessories, the glue dots should be easier to remove.
I had mentioned I had a leftover lid, and no pot to put it on. I found that it fit the top of the bowl nicely. I put some white poster putty in the bowl, the lid on top and squeezed tight til the lid was firmly in place.
I still had some space to fill, so I turned to some unpainted wooden pieces I had purchased at a craft shop.

They're on the second shelf. The original pieces were painted with oil paints. For a while I wondered if I should get out my oil paints and freshen them up a bit, but I decided against it. Instead I selected some acrylic colors that would blend with the other pieces. To age the fresh paint I used my oil pastel crayons. I rubbed my finger on the brown crayon, then rubbed some of the color onto the freshly painted bowl, and then did the same thing with the black crayon. Most people don't happen to have oil pastels in the house, but a piece of charcoal, or some ashes should work the same way. Try rubbing your finger on the charcoal briquet, or charcoal drawing stick, then on the thing you want to age.
After being aged, the item needs to be sprayed with a protective covering, or the dirt and age could come off. I sprayed mine with Krylon matte finish. I've found over the years, that though the product dulls down a shiny photograph, which is what it was originally meant for, it leaves a very soft sheen when sprayed on wooden painted items. This sheen matched the old plates, etc, perfectly,
I nested a small red bowl within the ochre bowl with a glue dot. Next to the bowls stands a bottle I painted olive green.
Finally, I thought I needed a little something else. I remembered that the ad for the other room had a broom, so I made one and stuck it in the corner.

The restored shadow box