Thursday, February 26, 2009

Weathering and Aging Miniatures

Freshly built dollhouses or roomboxes often have one small flaw about them - they're too perfect. The average home has an assortment of furnishings - some new and some old. Some things are pristine and others are well used. For instance, I remember in my family's home the doorjamb to the study had little tiny pen marks on it where my mother had marked my height as I grew taller.

Adding a little of that "used" look to a scene can make it more homey and realistic. In this photo, you can see a very weathered front door. I intentionally aged it down low where the rain would most have been blown up against the door. (If you study doors on old houses, the lower portions seem to show the most wear.)

Here's how I "weathered" the door. I put some rubber cement on the bottom of the door first. Then I painted it. After the paint dried, I rubbed hard where the rubber cement had been, and the raw wood began to appear. I continued rubbing until all of the places that had the rubber cement on them were once again bare wood. As needed, I used a little sand paper to enhance some of the erosion in addition to this method.

To grey the wood, you can use Bug Juice, which some miniature stores carry. Or you can create a stain by taking old nails, soaking them in vinegar for a couple weeks and then painting the wood with that "enriched" vinegar. Another way to age or dirty-up wood is to take a small amount of india ink drip it into a baby food jar and then fill the rest of the jar with rubbing alcohol. You then can paint this alcohol-laced india ink onto the places where dirt would accumulate on doors or walls. If the first coat isn't dark enough, you can add progressive amounts.

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