Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Sleigh Bed Village - How I made it

Do you ever have visions of minis that won't leave your mind?
I do and this is one of them.
Last year I started thinking about this project.  I don't even remember the exact beginning but it was to mix scales with the bed that had little houses on it in a pile of snow.  This is similar to art by Colin Thompson.  I even bought his book, "Pictures of Home" as inspiration for this project.
Initially I had thoughts of using this bed that I made 20 yrs ago with my club.  It has since been played with and damaged.  I had given the bed to my daughter 10 yrs ago or more when I downscaled.  (Oh, I just invented that as a word for minis.  But it does describe what I did - changing focus from larger to smaller scale in my case 1:12 to 1:48 or smaller.)  She said recently that the first thing that broke was only one foot so the rest may have gotten damaged in my storing it away until I was ready to fix it.  Lesson here is that if I had done so it would have been fixed and maybe not further damaged.  However I will say that the design of this bed was poorly done in that the sides were done all as one piece.  So the grain of the wood goes horizontal.  For the ends and feet this isn't so good structurally.  Last year I waffled around with fixing this bed, making a new one or buying one.  I never found one to buy and ultimately I put the whole project away in a project box.

Fast forward to now - I was inspired by the maker of the little paper houses I am using, Karin Corbin. She talked about making her 2015 set and shared pics.  So when I finished up the other projects Swaps Mall and then RA House additions, I was inspired to pull this one out.


After a brief examination of the earlier made bed, I pulled out the pattern I had from all those years ago.  I decided I would make a new one.  Only this one was going to have curved ends instead of flat in between the rails. I did of course browse the web including pics I had saved to pinterest to decide on that. This is a free form shape that I did cutting a pattern. 

I lightly glued two pieces of basswood together and drew out my pattern so I would make four end sides.  I repeated with shapes for my long rail sides to go between the end sides.  
The sets of three sides (2 end sides and 1 long rail sides) were all cut out and sanded to match.  Then I separated the pieces I had glued together so I had 6 pieces and all these were sanded very well including rounding the edges.  Well except where the end sides would match up to the long rail sides, I did not sand so they would glue together nicely.

Here is a pic on how the curved bed ends started.  I cut the wood from bass wood the right width and used the height of the wood.  Ok, to clarify, the height is the width of the wood (4 inches) that I cut it from. This means the grain goes across the width of how I will use the pieces. Then I got both pieces wet and I wrapped them around a dowel and this glass. The clothespins are clamping the wood to the dowel and the blue clamps were holding the dowel and the rest of the wood around the glass. I let dry overnight.  I loved doing this technique.  


Only problem was I had already cut the ends of my bed (end sides).  The shape of the dowel/glass combo didn't match, so I had to re-wet.  This time I laid the wet wood over two paint bottles.  Two for each piece - one under and one on top the end.  Then weighted them all down using bags of sand. Hindsight I could have done the wood shaping and then cut the end sides afterwards.
I did have to clamp the shaped wood to hold in the right place when I glued it between the end sides. And even then I had to reglue when I added the dowels.  So maybe add the dowels to the shaped wood and then cut the end sides.

Once my two ends were fully assembled, I added in the long rail sides. I added scrap wood at the joints between the end sides and the long rails for inside the bed. Not sure if this pic shows it very well, but the white piece is the scrap wood.  At the top can barely see that there is a join that the scrap is helping support.


Next I painted this entire frame in off white. I wasn't sure what color to go with. I did my sketches with color and was undecided. Granted the sketches helped me eliminate a few colors. I narrowed it down to red or a blue. I waffled on these two for a day or so.  I was all set to use blue, but when I went through my paint, I couldn't decide again.  So I pulled out my fabric stash.  

I pulled this blue and red pattern out right away and it screamed pick me.  

But I keep looking and pulled out several others.  I even waffled back to the red side and traditional Christmas red and green colors.  I laid these on the bed and I just couldn't decide. So I thought, let's switch gears and make the mattress.

I cut a piece of builders pink foam.  I used scraps thinking I was going to put in two layers. Silly me. I had to recut because I only needed one layer. Those scrap pieces of wood I used to support the end and rail sides made perfect supports for the mattress.  But I did decide that due to adding in batting that I would lower the mattress inside the bed. So I trimmed away a bit careful so that the support pieces still held up the mattress but lower than initially. This pic shows the notches I added.

Now I could play with the fabric actually wrapping it around the mattress.  So the first one I tried was the blue and red mix.  I added pieces of torn paper towel to give me a visual of snow.  My vision is to have a bed that sort of morphs into a snowy village, so I need the bedding to be colorful.  Well, I think I do at this point.


Next I decided I needed to finish the bed itself - the frame color and finish. I wanted to add some sort of decorative design. I had thought about doing some stencil painting. But I wanted something dimensional. So I looked in my stash to see what I could use. I found some paper doilies. I cut some different sections and combined them for the headboard. 

White on red is kinda hard to figure what it will look like so I did a test of various stains and finishes.

I was trying to decide if I wanted to add white back to the design with dry-brushing.  I really like the aged look in the lower right - using a brown stain that I then covered with a gloss.

Next I finished the blue and red fabric as the bed covering as it was the one I liked the most with the red glossy bed. Notice how much darker the red is now with the brown stain.  Also the stain in the nooks and crannies of the design didn't stay as much as I would have liked but I am still pleased with the color and finish.
Also there was a gap between the covered mattress and the sides of the bed.  To solve that I just added some additional fabric to hang down below the mattress into the long rails.

The feet were cut from some spindles I had leftover from another project. 

Then it was time to start adding snow.  I had visions that I would use the plaster cloth to help with draping.  I did use it but in hindsight and other steps, I think I could have done without it.

I removed the plastic after working the cloth and it was completely dry.  The cloth is very wet so the plastic helped to keep the bedding from being messed up.  Also it allowed me to be messier while applying the cloth.  I think using the plastic was a good choice for working with the plaster cloth.
I don't have a picture of the next two stages - I decided I needed to do the lighting. Also I added spackle over the cloth. 
This next pic does show the spackle added and adding the snowtex. When I added the spackle I worked around the lights very carefully.  With the snowtex it was slow going as well.  I added the houses as I went so I could add more snowtex to level the houses.

When adding the spackle and snowtex, I normally use a small palette knife that I have.  For this though I knew I needed even smaller blades to work around the lights and the houses.  I pulled out my clay tools.  Oh my those are fun to use as well.  So I will be using them more often.
In the front at the bottom was a layer I added with spackle that got broken off as I didn't wait for it to dry.  So I have this extra light sticking out.  I decided to move it over in the area to the right. I am actually very pleased with that change despite the re-work it required. 
I tend to do that with lighting - not plan as much as I should. I actually planned to use a string of lights, but then realized after using the plaster cloth that my layout would not work with the string as the placement of the houses wouldn't work.  My answer was to use separate lights and connect them together - all red leads together, all black(green wires with the led's I have) together and then used a coin battery and push button switch.

After adding the snowtex my next step was adding glitter.  I used white glue to do that. Working a small section at time, I applied glue, then the green bits and then glitter.  The glitter stuck to the green bits without adding additional glue. After each section, I shook off the excess. Also when adding the green bits - they looked best added around each house and not so much around the rest of the areas.  So added too much and assessed it at one point and removed some I had added.
As I was adding glitter to the snowtex, I also added it to the roofs.  A layer of glue and glitter, even though the houses already had been glittered.

One important note - when I turned on the lights, the roofs of the houses that I had painted over with white looked so much better. I had one roof I had not painted. I thought I could just use the white card.  It looked fine until the lights were on. Then the light shone through that one house differently. So I had to do something to fix it. I tried adding an additional later of glitter - nope, a layer of white paint on the glitter - nope, so I opened up the house and painted the underside of the roof.  It worked enough that I could finish this project.
The last two steps I did was to add smoke to the chimneys using fiber fill and cleaning up the bed.  I had to fix a spot or two that got messed up and also wipe off the glitter that stuck by static.

So here it is - my sleigh bed village

My favorite little house is that yellow one in the middle, but the others are great too.

And with the lights on

The back...

Those of you who live or have traveled in the South East US, will want to check out the back of the barn.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

So beautiful. The lights make it a Winter wonderland!

Linda Marie

JackieW said...

Really turned out a very special work for a very special idea.
Really looks pretty and the bed design and curve was well done and shows the care you took making it.
Good job and a lovely project.

Debra Zachrich said...

This is beautiful! I am always amazed at the creativity and artistry that goes into combining things--like the sleigh bed and the snow--because that's really hard for me. I don't think 'out of the box' as much as I'd like to! Thank you for the inspiration!

debbie vazquez said...

Where in heavens did you find the cute little houses? Oh I just love this project!!!

Preble said...

The little houses were purchased from this lady's etsy store http://karincorbin.blogspot.com/