Monday, March 26, 2012

DIY Instruction for Chick Inn

This is what you'll need for supplies -
Assorted scrap wood
Candy box
Several drinking straws
A small bag of natural excelsior
Various miniature making tools
Some assorted doors and windows
Elmer's and or Tacky glue
Landscaping green stuff
Assorted paints but in particular Titanium White tube acrylic, all the rest can be craft paint
Ceramcoat Matte and Gloss Acrylic Varnish
Liquid Nails or other filler type stuff
Assorted quarter scale furniture

Before you begin to work, I always advise reading through all the instructions first so that there won't be any surprises.
Begin with the Easter sized candy box by Hershey’s - either Robin’s Eggs or Whopper’s Eggs. They look like a little milk carton. Open the bottom as carefully as you can. Eat the contents, or whatever...

Cut off the bottom flaps and cut away the front as cleanly as possible. The front will be the side that has the gap in the eaves with the cardboard overlap on one front side. You’ll see from my photo that I have some uneven edges to clean up on the bottom. Also, cut off the top roof ridge leaving about 1/8” left.
If your ceiling has big gaps (some boxes do, some don’t) squeeze or smooth some filler like Liquid Nails, Paper Clay, or Water Putty into the cracks and smooth it off. Let dry well before moving on to the next step. Paint the entire box with a rough coat of Titanium White tube acrylic. When that is dry, give the ceiling inside and the exterior walls another coat of white. The look you are after on the exterior and the ceiling is of plaster with some texture.
Cut a straw the length of the side of the house. Cut it again in thirds lengthwise. Glue one strip to the very edge of the wall/roof corner. Do this on the other side of the roof as well. Tacky glue works well for this and the next step of tiling the roof.
Cut the straw into 1” pieces. Cut each piece lengthwise in thirds. (half would be easier but it’s too much of a curve) Then cut the 1’’ into four short pieces. I didn’t fuss too much about being totally accurate and making them all just exactly the same. I think the little differences in the tiles made the roofing look old and interesting. Glue on the first row of tiles about halfway hanging over the long strip you first added. Use plenty of glue. Glue a tile on each of the ends and then fill in. As you add more tiles, keep in mind that you don’t want any huge gaps but it’s alright to have some space if needed.
As you add more rows, you will be gluing one tile over the next just slightly and you will be keeping them in rows. This is when it’s kind of nice not to have each tile exactly the same size. It takes about 7 or 8 rows. Eyeball it or draw lines to follow. When you get to the last row, you will either be able to have it meet the ridge or you will have to add another row of half the size. Either way looks good. Do both sides and let it dry really well.
Give the entire roof and ridge a good coat of Titanium white paint. Make sure you get the white paint into all the crevices. Let it dry.

Before we move on I want to tell you about a painting technique that I use often. I call it "Dirty Varnish". I use it to stain wood, to antique projects and to marry colors. I mix it in different ratios of paint to varnish depending on the darkness or lightness that I want to achieve. I will use the acronym DV for the usual which is made from Burnt Umber acrylic paint and Delta's Ceramcoat matte varnish in the bottle. The normal ratio is about 1 - 4, paint being the 1 and varnish being the 4. I also add a brush full of water. Only make a small amount as it doesn't keep well. Dark Dirty Varnish (DDV) is the opposite ratio. Light Dirty Varnish (LDV) is paint/varnish 1 - 8. All of these are approximate ratios, just play with it to get the color you like. I usually just make a little puddle on a recycled lid.

Give the exterior of the inn a very light coat of LDV. Have a paper towel handy to dab it if it looks dark. Let that dry. Mix up a puddle made of a couple dots of yellow and lots of water. With a big brush, give the entire exterior a sun wash. This should just flavor it and not really color it.
Paint the roof with a traditional terra cotta color. Get into all of the grooves. It may need 2 coats. Dry brush it with some yellow mixed with a tiny bit of terra cotta, just hitting the high spots. When that is totally dry, give the entire roof a coat of LDV.
Wallpaper the inside with whatever you like. Because you painted it first, it should stick well. Some people like to use YES glue, but I'm happy with Elmer's on small pieces of paper.
If you like you can cut some thin wood or paper for interior moldings as well.
You may be concerned that the wall sides and front edge of roof are a bit wobbly. It will all come together soon and be quite solid.

Gather your pre-painted doors and windows. Lay them out on the front of the house in a pleasing arrangement. Make light pencil lines to show where you want to cut away the wall to accomodate the windows, etc. Make sure you leave enough wall edge to glue on top of unless your windows are the kind that fit into the wall.
I used a block of wood and a fresh x-acto knife to cut away the wall. After cutting you may wish to take a tiny bit of burnt umber (if that is the color you have used on your window trims) and dab it around the inside edge of the window, so that any wall or paper color doesn't show up.
Glue on the doors and windows and interior trims. Make a little sign and some shutters and window boxes from scrap wood to fit your inn.

To make the inn strong you will need to make some support beams for the front from some thin scrap wood. It will need to be about 3/16" wide. Cut the first piece the length of the ceiling just under the eave. Cut four more the height of the side walls both for inside and out. Because we are going to add a base with a lip, you will need to think about that first and trim the bottom end accordingly.
After you have your pieces cut, you should also cut a face trim or frame to cover the front and to clean up the edges. give all of these pieces a coat of DDV.
Before we move on to gluing them in place, cut out your base so that you can test fit.

You will need a piece of wood about 2 3/8" x 2 3/8". This is a rough measurement. You need room for the inn to sit on the base and not overhang. Also cut 4 pieces about 1/4" wide and 2 will be the length of the base and the other 2 will need to have the thickness of 2 wood pieces figured in as well. The wood for this can be about 1/16" or 3/32" thick. The base can be thicker. Glue these pieces flush on the bottom and to the edges of the base, creating a lip in which the inn will sit. If you look at the picture of the finished piece, you will notice that we carved away some of the front lip so that the door and decorative pieces will show better. You can do that too, before you glue it all together.
To get some height on the base you can make 4 little legs or use some 1" furniture legs cut to size. Be creative here. Once the legs are in place and dry, paint the base with light green. Finish it off with a wash (lots of water to a small amount of paint) of a darker green.
As you can see from the above photo, don't worry too much about any gap in the top corners as you can fill it with the excelsior straw later.
Add the inn to the base. Make a little chick ramp from some scrap wood and then glue some landscaping greenery all around the edges.
As you can see, this is what your finished roof might look like. You can also see the straw made from cutting excelsior into little bits and then glued in place. Use a little in any spot that has a gap and maybe also into the interior corners of the inn. You can put a bit of the greenery on the roof as well.
To add the natural straw and greenery, make a pretty thick layer of Tacky glue and then tap the stuff into it. After it's dry, you can shake the excess off.
This is what we did with the interior. We do have a kit available on our website if you like what we did. It's all pre-cut and ready to make. *NOTE - if you think you want to use it, you should purchase prior to making your inn as the window in the Chick Inn Bed needs to coordinate with your window cuts.
Hope you enjoyed this DIY. Let's see what you can do!

1 comment:

  1. That is super! Robin, I just love your creations!