Old West Bank

I started by cutting the walls & floor base from foam core. The building dimensions will end up roughly 7" wide, 6" tall and 9" deep.

Floor boards were made from Popsicle-sized craft sticks, which I enhanced the woodgrain on using a pointy metal tool we have for some reason. Also, I've learned from experience that these craft sticks are not all straight, so I painted the base of the floor black so that when these sticks don't butt-up nicely, it looks like shadows.

Then it's on to spend some quality time with the miter box & cut the sticks into random board lengths.
(I had laid them out to stain them before gluing down because I was trying to avoid the glue sealing the wood before I stained it & leaving light spots. Really, if you're careful with your glue, this really isn't an issue. I rarely do it this way.)

Anyways, the 'stain' I used was basically 5 parts sepia, 5 parts orgyn flesh (has a reddish tint), 2 parts vallejo smoke, & 2 parts water

This gave the wood a nice walnut color - especially if given 2 coats, but it seemed too monochrome to me...

...so I added a wash of Tamyia smoke to some of the planks to darken them. After a couple of small dots at the ends of each board for nail heads & the floor's done.

On to the outside - I bought some sheet balsa & cut it into 3/8" strips to use as siding.

To make sure I keep the slats in straight lines, I draw them onto my foamcore at 1/4" intervals to compensate for a little of the strip's width to overlap the slat below it. Then working from the bottom up, I glue on the balsa trying to alternate the seems of the boards as much as possible.

After trimming off the over-hang, I cut more balsa to frame all the windows & doors, and well as cover the doors themselves.

For a little extra flare, I took some scraps from decorative dowels I used on a different model, & cut them in half.

and added it to the front of the building with some other wood pieces to make a decorative crown. I also sanded the bottoms of them so there would be a smoother transition.

Here's the bare walls connected to each other & the floor
I plan on making the outside rather weathered, so I started by painting everything with acrylic paints.

Then took sandpaper to it to rough up the paint job & expose the wood.

Finally, I went over the whole shebang with a gray & dark brown wash.

 I wanted to make a fancy window, so I found a western font & printed out a mirror image of it so I could paint it on the inside of the window. I figure that it will have less of a chance of getting scratched.

Painting-wise, I did it in layers starting what would be the top color when viewed from the outside (white), then applied the green and black.

The base of the roof was made by cutting a piece of cardboard to size, then a piece of foam core to the size of the interior opening, & glueing them together to prevent the roof from slipping when it's in place.

Then I added layers of balsa to be the shingles.

Balsa is rather smooth naturally, so to make it weathered, I scraped lines into them & made some of the end jagged with my knife. Because the large surface area, I opted to use regular wood stain we had instead of wasting my Citadel/Vallejo washes. I used a lighter 'natural' color, plus a 'english chesnut'. I randomly blotted the wood with both colors while they were still wet so they would blend & mix together.

Onto the inside: I printed off some wallpaper using a laserjet (wax based) printer (don't use an inkjet, the colors will just bleed when it gets wet) and cut out spots for my windows & doors.

Then I skimmed the backside across a puddle of watered down PVA glue & smoothed it across the walls.
One thing I did to keep the corners clean was to cut on wall's paper longer than it needed to be and laid that down first, then the wall next to it was cut to exact size & laid on top. That way the papers overlapped and the pattern blended together better.
To save some time, instead of doing individual slats of wood panelling, I took one long piece of balsa, stained it, then drew one black lines with a pen.

After I attached the panel to the wall, smaller strips of balsa were used as trim.

Time to make the wall of teller windows. I started by cladding some foam core with the same wood paneling as the walls, then cut it into 3 sections so I can attach privacy walls between them.

 The counters & walls are tongue depressor sized craft sticks.

For the windows themselves, I made enough boards to make 2 frames and I got some window screen replacement to sandwich between the two.

I was having a hard time gluing the wood together without it shifting on me, so I made a quick square from generic 'Lego' blocks to help me out.

Once I got them all done, I put all the pieces together to form the wall of windows.

Plus a door to get back to the office makes the wall cross the whole building.

The outside to the office wall that's behind where the tellers would be, I wanted to make some pigeon holes. I took some more balsa & cut it into strips; some were assembled into a frame & the others I notched corresponding gaps into the length-ways & height-ways dividers so that could be assembled as a grid.

All together it looks like this:
Add a little bit of stain & some scraps of paper & it looks pretty good.

I also made a quick table to rest on that wall

What western bank would be complete without a scale to weigh out gold nuggets. Digging through my bead box I grabbed some small beads, 2 smaller sequence, 1 larger sequence, a staple, and stacked them in a scale-like manner.

What gold nugget scale would be complete without gold nuggets... the best/easiest thing I could think of was crumpling some aluminum foil.
A couple tips from a toothpick on the opposite side & we've got a nice gold scale

Also, the bank needs a safe. I made mine by cutting a block of styrofoam & then cladding it with plastic. I used a heavy stock paper to cover the joints on the corners. A couple more beads for the latch & combination lock. Toothpick pieces with some lines crimped into them with a scissors act as the hinges.

The desk in the office is just bits of balsa wood; oil lamp is more beads.

I made chairs using the rounded tips that were sawed off of popsicle sticks that I had used for the floor.

  I sculpted some money bags out of Sculpey oven bake clay, painted them, & drew on some obligatory Scrooge McDuck-esque dollar signs. These will be left loose so they can be used as loot counters in the game.

Finally, I put together a little dingy bell for customers to get attention of the bank employees. First, I grabbed a small plastic bead & stuck it on the tip of my Exact-o blade, then I held it close to (not touching) the flame on my lighter. As it started to melt, I pressed the bead against the metal shield on the lighter to flatten the bottom. I had to repeat this a couple of times to get enough of the bead flat.
Once cooled, I glued in the miniature nail that came with the hinges I used on the doors to be the dinger.

Here's some final shots of everything together.


  1. Great job wench! I'm always amazed at how the little details make a difference but also how ingenious people can be! Is there a little bit of doll house decorator in you?

  2. Thank you :-)
    No dollhouse experience here, everything in this blog is the extent of my miniature-making. They do look like fun; I may end up doing one some day.

  3. Just had a look around your blog -- the terrain you build is astonishing! The detail is amazing. Very impressive!