I recently invested in a better lighting setup in a vain attempt to make myself a better photographer (similar to the expectation that buying new athletic shoes would somehow make one a better athlete). Nonetheless I bought it, and that created the desire to build a better room box for taking photographs of my miniatures.
With summer drawing to a close, I find myself wanting to capture the essence of a summer beach vacation, so I can hold on to my favorite season a little longer. To that end, I created a beach cottage room box to use for displaying new items that I make. The box has light grey walls and white wainscotting, with a white chair rail and baseboard. The wood plank flooring is made from large craft sticks (I call them tongue depressers) weathered to a lovely grey shade with a vinegar and steel wool solution. The trick to getting that shade is to use the finest grade steel wool and allow the solution to mingle just one day, and not much longer. If you are going to faux age wood, you might as well do a lot of it, so I spent the good part of a day soaking wooden sticks in the solution and spreading them in the sun to dry, then flipping each one to get a uniform color. I aged a bunch of the aforementioned tongue depressors, regular craft sticks (a.k.a. popsicle sticks), as well as 5.5″ and 7″ long coffee stir sticks. The finished floor used a total of 22 tongue depressors, their rounded ends being removed with my small mitre box saw. Slender coffee stir sticks are great for making small wooden crates and picture frames. Craft sticks are good for making other more sturdy furniture, or narrow plank flooring.
The completion of the beach cottage room box inspired me to create original artwork for the wall. I pulled out an old picture that I had sketched over 25 years ago. I was going through a bohemian phase one summer, where I hung out at the UW Union pretending to be a young starving artist (emphasis on pretending), sketching the sail boats and such. The endeavor yielded just one picture that didn’t end up in the trash can: a pencil drawing of sand dunes by the ocean with seagulls flying overhead. And speaking of phases, my cat went through a chewing phase several years later, so the original work has been majorly taped back together. I wondered if I could replicate that picture in 1:12 scale miniature (minus the chew marks). For this I used a very fine leaded mechanical pencil, and a 2″ x 3″ piece of sketch paper. I was quite pleased with the result, so tried a second one – another success that was similar, yet unique. Then I crafted frames from coffee stir sticks weathered grey to match the plank flooring. When I mounted the artwork in my room box, I was very happy to see my vision had come to life. I can’t wait to make some shabby chic/cottage style furnishings worthy of this room box.