Preparing for the overhaul...

Friday, February 14, 2014

Answering Questions

I was going to post in the comments section, then realized that a) my post would be an ode and b) I wanted to use visual aids.  First, Jack is right; were the chimney to be built that way in real life, it'd die a painful death once it reached about 4' off the ground.  Let alone before it was used for anything.  However, this is fantasy and that pattern came about as a means of necessity: I measured the chimney wrong.  I was using reclaimed wood bits to build it, and ended up with one of those situations where no combination of "normal" bricks would work.  I'd still rather live in my dollhouses than in most of my real houses!  For me, building models began as a way of experiencing houses I couldn't--either could visit but couldn't live in (I grew up surrounded by historic homes, in all of my different childhood homes, from castles to puritan communes), or structures I couldn't experience because they no longer existed.

Anyway, moving on.

Brae asked about my grout.  Now, as I've posted on her blog, I am in awe of her skill--in this area and in many others.  Her own facility with egg carton bricks was what led me to try making them in the first place.  My challenge with this project was that I wanted lighter grout, keeping this a "cheerful" house, but still some aging.  On the as-yet unseen Glencroft bricks, I did do some darker washes and stained the grout (I think with good results).

My dinner last night.  Just wanted to see if you were paying attention.

For "dirt," my favorite color to use is Folk Art's Medium Gray.  It's a very warm, brownish gray.  On the Glencroft, I used a wash over the entire surface of the bricks, colorizing both grout and brick alike.  On this project, I did something similar but with mostly water and barely any paint.  I floated in more paint into the crevices, then used even more water to brush it out over the grout.  I wanted the change to be very subtle, more to eliminate certain things I didn't like/that I thought clashed with my intended realism (like white convex corners) than to noticeably age or alter anything.

These are two of my pastel palettes, the ones that (at present) I use the most often.  I just, for whatever reason, am preferring pastels on this project to washes.  I've always loved pastels, since way back in my fine art days, and think PanPastel makes a really good product.  So once my gray, well, essentially underpainting dried, I went to work.  Another reason I like pastels, specifically, for this kind of project is that I'm not inhibited by drying time.  I can work and rework the colors, until I like what I'm seeing.

This is the orange-y color I've been talking about.  Like all PanPastel pastels, the effect when it goes on is very subtle which I like.

This is the gray I used.

 To "age" the brick, I did a light wash of gray pastel first, followed by the orange, adding in some places and removing in others, and blending the two together until I got an effect I liked.  I then added some black, very subtly, into the deepest crevices.  Some of the pastels colored the grout, too, just because that's impossible to avoid and I at least was pleased with the organic nature of that development.

For stucco, grout and mortar all,  I use Greenleaf's stucco.  It's very versatile and, for me, much easier to work with than commercially prepared modeling grouts--which tend to be sanded and the sand particles are just too big!  I've never been happy with the results I've achieved, using them.  I made tan grout because--nerding out, here--real brick mortar, in the pre-Home Depot days, would've been made with local materials and an area that quarried a lot of sandstone wouldn't have probably produced a lot of quartz dust.  Mortar is made from Ordinary Portland Cement, hydrated lime and whatever aggregate (sand) is handy.  So, more sandstone.  So I tinted it with the same paint I used to color the sandstone in the first place.

Since the brick surface is rough--at least, rougher than I thought, and I'm trying to bring out as much of the texture as possible, I'm really eating through sponges.  I buy them online (cheaper) but basically these are just high quality latex wedge sponges--the same thing you've used, if you've done any theater.  They always seemed singularly useless for their intended purpose, but for art they're just about the greatest thing ever.  Still, I wish I wasn't eating through them quite so quickly but they do get shredded.

Once I've gone over the rest of the house--this morning's project, once I get the Wee Bairn off to school--I'll hit it up with another coat of spray finish.  And then it's on to the doors and windows and trim!  Anyway, I hope this helped.  I like questions, they make me feel special!


Giac said...

Hello CJ,
Once again thank you. Your emails are so helpful! I am not quite there yet...but I am thinking about using your egg carton technique...maybe!
Big hug, and give an extra hug to the little guy, I hope he is better!

C.J. said...

You should! I know it takes forever, but a lot of the cutting, shaping, etc can be done while doing other things (like watching movies with your spouse). It's quite meditative. At least, sometimes. But the final results are, I think, worth it--and it's certainly more cost effective! For me, the other deciding factor is that I can do so much more with cardboard than I can with real brick slips. The actual application is a lot less frustrating, and more enjoyable. And, previous to this, I was a huge fan of brick slips. I have a few more stone-type finishes I want to try, so my next (very small) project is going to be an Edwardian mausoleum.

C.J. said...

And yes, he's feeling much better! Mommy, however, is not. But that's okay :-)

otterine said...

First, thank you so much for the compliments! :D

I misunderstood what you were getting at in your post. I thought when you said you hated bright clean looking crevices, I thought you meant you weren't getting dark grout results that you wanted. I see now you just making an observation. :D I think you've done a marvelous job on this project. Love me an old brick house!

Giac said...

Hello again CJ,
I am happy Jackson is better and hope you will get well soon. I was going to use egg cartons to make slate shingles for the roof, but I love your work so much I have decided I will make the bricks out of egg cartons...that being said, have you posted about making good slate shingles? I could not find it in your past posts? I think bricks and slate from egg cartons would kill the illusion since the texture would be the same? Any tips?
Thanks for your help. Get some rest
Big hug,

C.J. said...

Giac, I actually am planning on using egg cartons for the slates also--and plan on getting to that stage in the project in a week or so (I devoutly hope). So I'll be posting about it then. In the interim, I've played around with a couple of slate ideas and I think it'll work out well.

Brae, you're welcome!

Michelle said...

C.J for a slate what about normal card, it has less texture than the egg cartons?Tbe colour of slate though is hard to mimic and not something I realise! Lol

Michelle said...

Sorry typos! On phone lol

That should be relish!!!

Idske de Jong said...

Don't know why I missed your earlier posts, but it did give me the chance to read them all in one go! I'm working on a box room, made from cardboard filing boxes and I'm going to try your method, not just for the walls, but also some steps and a pavement. Your house is just super and I suppose it doesn't weigh a ton either! Thanks for inspiring me and for your detailed photos. They should make it much easier to get the right look!

Susan Korman said...

Thank you for sharing what you use for your techniques. Oh, and dinner looked good :-)


Steinworks said...

I've said it before and I'll say it again you are a better woman than me because after doing all those egg carton bricks I'd have to be medicated..rock on sister girl!

Janice said...

It is so helpful to read about the different products people use in their products as well as the techniques involved. Your work is truly inspiring.