Old West Hotel

Much like my other western buildings, I started with cutting my walls & floor out of sheets of foam core. Where the walls join, I cut the foam core at 45-ish angles & glued them together with a low-temp hot glue gun. The floor is still separate at this point because it'll be easier to adorn my walls in future steps. 

I planked my floor with popsicle-sized craft sticks, then took a metal pointy tool & scraped in some deeper lines to enhance the wood grain & applied Minwax woodstain.

Of course we need some stairs to get to the 2nd level, so I cut the main support out of foam core & added some more craft sticks to the tops & sides of the step areas. For playability's sake, I put landings in that fig's bases can comfortably stand on.

The stairs along with some more interior walls and we've got the floor plan to level one. I don't show it, but to help keep the 2nd floor from moving around when they're stacked, the top floor has an extra piece of foam core cut smaller & sets inside the main outer walls and the inner walls of the 1st floor are .25" shorter than the outer walls to fit that extra piece.

Here's level 2:

Time for wall paper. I printed off various patterns on a laser printer (this will not work with inkjet printers - inkjets are waterbased & will bleed when wet) and cut them into strips that correspond to my wall heights, covered the backs with glue, smoothed onto my walls, & then when they were dried, I cut out the windows & doors... In hindsight, I hosuld've paid closer attention to making the corners tighter. Some of them I didn't get the paper all the way into the joint, so it looks funny.

Also, what's a hotel without some can-can dancers, so I'm putting in a stage. What good are can-can dancers if you can't see ergo the stage needs some lighting. Taking some sequence, a drinking straw & styrene rod I made some candle holders with guards.

For the flame on the candle, I took some Crystal Clear silicone caulk, mixed in some Vallejo transparent orange & yellow, then dabbed the ends of the candles into it to get a good gob on them.

They were hard to glue together straight because nothing is holding those candles in, but they look alright.

Ok, so wall paper is up & stage is in (white area behind stage will be painted black & covered with a curtain). The inner walls look a little wonky right now because they're not glued in place yet (the floor still isn't either). I still had to put the wood trim in around all the doors & windows and the more I could maneuver around them, the easier it was going to be.

Next, I took strips of sheet balsa, stained them, & trimmed all the edges of all the doors & windows, plus the inner depth of the foam core. Then finally hot glued the floor & all the walls in place. And kitty posed for scale Razz

That initial sets of stairs you saw did have to get adjusted a little bit, because I forgot to make it .25" shorter to compensate for the drop from the 2nd level. I am pretty pleased with how it lined up in the end though.

I did all the siding & outside trim work with strips of sheet balsa.  

Then as previous buildings, I painted the whole thing & then sanded it in various areas to look like it chipped off. I'll be doing a grey/brown stain over this, but I want the rest of my outdoor wood done so I can stain them all at the same time. I didn't grab a photo of the painting stages, but you'll see it in the other pics.

I'm having a wooden plank sidewalk around the front/sides of the building as well as a wooden plank balcony. To make sure the balcony was stable enough to hold a couple of models & out of the way so the 2 floors could still fit together properly, I poked a bamboo skewer into the side of the building, & attached it to the bottom of the balcony.

So far it looks like this:

I had originally intended to make fancy railing banisters on the balcony by sanding down toothpicks, but I realized I wouldn't have enough length on the banisters to really do anything. Instead, I made the balcony support beams fancy by using a power drill & sandpaper to shape the middle of them.

Here's a 
Melly's eye view video of how that worked.

Looks pretty good on the building.

So, next I'll get the railings for the balcony cut, build the outdoor stairs, & all doors leading outside then I'll be ready to stain... 

The main sign is just sheet balsa, cut in circles & painted.

Roof base is just thin cardboard with small rectangle shingles from more sheet balsa glued on in rows.

Stairs are sheet balsa, with square dowel supports & craft sticks. I made the upper most platform connected to the second level, but still resting on the rest of the case when the 2nd story is in place.

I finally had everything ready for a mass staining

Black wood stain was far too dark for the look I was going for so I mixed it with some of the 'natural' I had... and by some, I mean a lots. I didn't measure out my ratio but on the left you can see how much natural stain filled the cup, then after the black was added the level is barely more than before.

Once everything was dry & less stinky, I started getting the loose bits attached. To help keep the balcony railing stable, I took my pin vice & drilled in pilot holes for the banisters. I was a worried about not keeping them straight down the line so I made a quick guide stick so they were all put the same distance from the building.

Repeat that dozens of times, glue on a strip of balsa across the banisters, glue the support posts to the sidewalk and outside walkways are done.

Next I'll  start working on the interior furnishings.

Mostly everything is made from crafts sticks & sheets of balsa, then stained with Minwax. Here we have a couple framed paintings, a front desk, benches for the concert hall, a few tables (the supports are wooden spools), a backing for key pegs, and shutter doors to enter the hall.

I also made a piano that you haven't seen yet, but to make the foot petals I heated up some styrene rod with a lighter & then flattened the end like this:

Also made some beds out of craft sticks, balsa & bamboo skewers. I rounded the head/foot boards using a dremel. Then, I put in some chunks of foam core to be the mattresses.

Here you can see the finished piano, beds made & couple of dressers.

The first stage curtain didn't turn out very well. I had some red satin ribbon that I pushed wire through but it wouldn't lay nice:

So, I soaked some red coverstock paper in water, poke through a brass rod & that worked out much better.

There's still more furniture to make, but I put these into place to get them out of my way... 

oh yeah, I made a cuckoo clock too.

Here's the front desk with key holder.....


Wizard's Summer Tower

I started with cutting my insulation foam into circles, the bottom ones have an "arm" extending off the shape that'll turn into a bridge/ramp.

Then, I had at it with a couple of hot wire cutters to give the tower a bit of a flare at the top & bottom, and the ramp its shape

I wanted to add a couple binary towers using the tube from some wrapping paper. To get it to mimic the main tower's shape I cut slits into the end, spread it over the bottom of a plastic cup and taped the outside & then the inside into place

A couple bridges & some hot glue later we have a neat little layout

The area on the top of the main tower is where the unit of dudes can be perched. When not in use, there will be a removable roof that can be put back on.

Then, I sanded all the foam down to smooth everything out, and did a coat of gesso on the whole thing. I'm trying a new stone technique for me: rolling a ball of DAS air-dry clay & pressing them on as cobble stones. 

 I've used Sculpey oven bake clay a lot and this is definitely a different kind of consistency & texture to it. I don't think I like using it just on it's own, but for this in particular it didn't work very well. They wouldn't stick to the foam as well as I had hoped. So, I had to coat a small area with spray adhesive first, then press on the clay.

Getting the whole thing covered in stones took waaaaay too long.

I'll probably not do that again on such a large area. I've since found textured scrapbook paper that looks like cobblestones or was given the idea by a cake decorator to use a fondant roller. So, there are alternatives out there. 

The next tedious task was painting all the stones. In my mind it would have been an easy drybrushing/sponging that would only hit the stones & not the recessed mortar areas. Of course that didn't work. The shape the stones have from me pressing them is more hill-like. So the edges are rather thin & the middles are rather thick. To get coverage on the whole stone, I really had to get in there on the edges which painted my mortar too. I didn't want to, but I bit the bullet & hand painted each & every stone.

For the removable roof, I had cut square holes into the foam floor to fit some square dowels I had. The whole floor was then covered in more clay & had stones etched into them. For the roof itself, I cut out a circle that would be the bottom of the roof & made corresponding holes for the dowels. To make sure everything lines up right when separate, I put the dowels in the holes first & assembled the roof while they were in there.

I attached it to the series of cones that will be the roof. On the building it looks like this:

And off it looks like that

To shingle the roofs, I took the circles that come out of a hole punch & glued them on to the main cardboard shape in rows. One thing I learned here was: not all hole punches are created equal. The 3 hole punch at my work was larger than the hand held I have at home. The different sizes do come in handy because the smaller circles lay nicer on the steeper part of the roof. I just wish I had known that ahead of time so I wouldn't have already done 2 of them with only large circles.

Here's all the roofs in place. The dowel/hole setup is pretty nice. It stays in place - you could do cartwheels with it. 

Taking it off is pretty easy & putting it back took a little bit of fiddling so I tapered the ends of the dowels which helped a lot.

Here's all the roofs shingled & primed.

While perusing the bead isle at the craft store, I found some neat bead spacers that I'm going to turn into torches. I grabbed a bead that would sit down into the cone a bit to be the base of the flames.

Using the same fire technique I did in the Teepee Town, I mixed up some magical colors with my clear caulk...

And then loaded them onto the beads in a flame-y fashion. I tried to make the different colors kind of twist around each other, but it didn't come out as great as I had hoped.

Glue the flame into the spacer & we've got our selves a torch.

Also, I tried using Silflor Ivy based on raving reviews by another modeler & didn't much care for it:

The picture sucks, but it seems so messy to me and a lot of the little leaves fall off so it just looks like a wad of hair you pulled from a drain clog. I may just need more practice working on it, but I didn't have the time or patience for it anymore.

Instead, I found an example of ivy using Parsley flakes that seemed to look alright so I did a test piece like that. I took some spanish moss I had & tacked it in place with a low temp glue gun. Then, I brushed it with PVA, sprinkled on the parsley, shook off the excess and got this:

I liked that a lot better & it was quicker than the pre-made stuff, so I started putting it on the towers.

After all the ivy was on, I started basing the rest of the board. I haven't got any pictures of the process but I can tell you what I did.
You can see in the early roof shots that I had covered the whole base with a thin layer of Woodland Scenics blended turf:

After all the ivy was on, I started doing the rest of the ground cover by spraying an area with a spray adhesive, then sprinkling on random patches of Woodland Scenics course turf - some in light green some in dark green - in about half of the area that was sprayed:

Then sprinkling varying colors of static grass in the remaining areas:
Image from http://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/images/NewWSWeb/FL635_c_1.jpg.
And finally went over all of that with another thin layer of the same Blended turf to cover any spots that may have been missed. Most shook off when I was getting the excess off, but some stayed even over the other layers and gave it a nice rolling meadow-y feel.

Random bunches of large clump foliage in 2 different colors were spot glued on to be bushes (some glued to dried grape stems to be trees):
Image from http://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/images/NewWSWeb/options/CF-LG_c_1.jpg.Image from http://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/images/NewWSWeb/options/CF-DG_c_1.jpg.

Finally, I put around random grass tufts from Silflor. Some just normal grass, some with little blossoms on it:
Image from http://www.sceneryexpress.com/images/Lt-Sum-Tuft-A.gif.Image from http://www.sceneryexpress.com/images/Leaf_Tufts_72523.jpg.

And that was my ground.
I also painted up some random bits, glued them on & called it done.

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