Time for a Spring Clean - Miniature Chaos in the Dolls House

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19 March 2013
imports_HAC_whatamess_79763.jpg What A Mess
Catherine Davies shows us how to take a pristine scene and change it into a miniature room of chaos. ...
Time for a Spring Clean - Miniature Chaos in the Dolls House Images
We start with a pristine, spotless kitchen in summer… but roll forward six or seven months to spring and the kitchen is now a filthy catastrophe. The owners have abandoned it to the elements mid-way through the washing up, the kitten has grown into a cat and the creepy crawlies have moved in. How could this happen? It’s time to get down and dirty!

You will need:
• Sink scene
• Sandpaper
• Weathering powders
• Weathering liquids (Modelmates) and/or acrylic paints
• Spray adhesive
• Enamel paints
• Scatter Grip Glue
• Solid Water
• Perfect Plaster Putty
• PVA glue
• Cocktails stick or fine paintbrush
• Clear glue (such as UHU)
• Nest Hair
• Tea, coffee or wood stain
• Milliput or air dry clay
• Hat stand or bead
• Cling film
• Sheep’s wool/polyester stuffing
• False eyelashes
• Tweezers
• Fimo

This is how it started, all clean and lovely.....and then.....

General Grubbiness


Give the paintwork a good roughing over with sandpaper – in this case it nicely exposed the bricks beneath.

Weathering powders (used widely in railway modelling) come in many different colours and are excellent for aging, distressing and dirtying objects. All you do is rub them over the surface of the object. Here I have used two different shades of grey.

Concentrated patches of dirt/stain can be created beautifully using the translucent weathering liquid dyes from Modelmates. (I used a mixture of mould, mud brown and dirty yellow). You can also drip a wet teabag down the wall, or anything else you fancy, for interesting dirt effects!

Mud on the floor and boots


To make mud, mix together one part PVA to one part Perfect Plastic Putty (by Deluxe Materials). Colour with either brown acrylic paint or mud brown weathering liquid and stir in a little model railway fine brown ballast (optional). Spread over the floor and over the boots – as much as you like!

Mouldy grout on tiled splash back

To make a mould/grout, mix together approximately three parts PVA glue to one part Perfect Plaster Putty and add either mould weathering liquid or acrylic paint to colour.  Draw in-between the tiles with the mixture using a cocktail stick or fine paintbrush and allow to dry.

Dirty washing up


To create the impression of old left overs still stuck on plates and dishes you need first to mix together the two part resin Solid Water (again from Deluxe Materials) with enamel paint for colour (ie dark brown for gravy) and stir in scraps of suitably coloured pre-cooked Fimo to represent food remains. Scrape the mixture onto your plates, dishes and crockery.  This will stick as the resin hardens (which can take up to 48 hours so be patient!)

Place your dirty dishes in the sink. Lightly colour some more Solid Water with a little yellow to give the impression of murkiness – or any other colour that takes your fancy - and pour over the dishes while still very runny.  At this point, you can throw anything else into the sink that you like. For example, I have shreds of dead leaves from the plant on the shelf above floating on top of the water.

Bird’s nest

The bird’s nest is made from Nest Hair – a pale, natural product sold in pet shops for bird breeders.  Stain it to the colour you want with tea, coffee or wood stain (I used a dark oak). Cover a hat stand (or a bead) with cling film and place a little cap over it made from brown Milliput or air dry clay.

Spray the cap with tacky adhesive and carefully wind the stained nest hair round and round until covered.  When the glue is dry, remove the cap from the stand, peel off the cling film and stick more nest hair inside.  

Creepy crawlies


You don’t need to see a slug or snail to know you’ve got them – their slimy trails will tell you they’re there somewhere. You can draw these into your scene simply by dipping a cocktail stick into some clear glue and pulling it gently along wherever slugs and snails are likely to go – which is probably everywhere.

I won’t deny it. These spiders are fiddly and time-consuming to make, but very effective so arachnophobes should look away now. The centres are just little balls of pre-hardened black Fimo with false eyelashes for legs. (I bought a box of two pairs of false eyelashes – complete with the most effective glue – from a £1 shop!) Using tweezers dip one end of eight individual eyelashes in the glue supplied and press into the body one by one. Don’t attempt to move the spider until all the legs have dried otherwise they will fall off.

Spiders webs


Sheep’s wool (or polyester stuffing) makes good spiders’ webs. Once you’ve decided where your web is to go, dab the starting and finishing points with Scatter Grip glue (Deluxe Materials). This milky coloured fluid goes clear as it dries but then remains permanently tacky.

Once the glue is tacky, press a ball of sheep’s wool into the starting part and then gently tease the fibres out and towards the finishing point, thinning as you go to get the shape and effect you want. Press into the finishing point.
Position your spiders where you like by pressing them gently into a small drop of tacky Scatter Grip – or place inside a web.

And the finishing touch…for loose dust, just sprinkle over some grey weathering powder.  (Or why not use real dust?)
Time for a spring clean anyone? And would someone please pay attention to the cat!

Catherine Davies
W: www.dollshouseheaven.co.uk
E: [email protected]

This feature was originally published in Dolls House and Miniature Scene magazine. If you like making miniatures, why not buy yourself a copy of the magazine. Or better still take out a subscription so you never miss an issue. For fans of Facebook and Twitter, or to email, print or comment on the feature, please use the buttons above to share with your friends.

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