The Making of CreepyVille
Creating your own miniature village pieces is much easier than you might think. Like everything it all starts with an idea. You don't need to be an artist to sketch your idea so just do your best and draw a quick concept picture of what you want to create. You will most likely be modifying this idea as you begin to build so don't go too crazy on things like dimensions and such in your sketch.
Now it's time to decide on the size of your miniature. Since CreepyVille houses are designed to fit in with Lemax and Dept 56, I get a measurement of one of those buildings to decide my length, width, and height.
All CreepyVille houses are built with foam board. Foam board if you didn't already know is very inexpensive and can be purchased just about anywhere. Michael's, A.C. Moore, Walmart, and various Dollar Stores all sell sheets of foam board. The Dollar Store or Dollar General have the least expensvie at just a dollar a sheet. I prefer the slightly more expensive Elmers sheets from Michael's as they are a bit more sturdy.
Now that you got your foam board, it's time to start cutting it up. Using your measurments, draw the front of the building onto the foam board. Then draw each additional piece that you will need to cut out making sure you drew them at the correct measurements. There are some tools and mats that you could purchase at higher prices to help guide you through your cuts. The first thing I would recommend is a self healing cutting mat. A self healing cutting mat can take all the razor cuts you can throw at it and it really heals itself. These are a little expensive but you can use a coupon on them at Michael's for a good bargain.
As for the cutting tools you can either go the traditional route and use either an Xact-o blade or a basic box cutter or you can go a little more extreme and purchase specialty Foamwerks cutting tools from Logan Graphics. These cutting tools are designed specifically for cutting foam board. There are a wide range of tools to choose from and you can either purchase them seperately or you can buy one of their package deals. I highly recommend the freestyle cutter, the straight cutter, and the channel rail. However I bought the package deal shown in the pic. You can find out more about these tools at logangraphics.com. All can be purchased on Amazon.
So now you got your sketch, your foam board, your dimensions, and your cutting tools. Now you can proceed to cutting your pieces out of the foam board and begin to assemble the pieces. I highly recommend using a hot glue gun for gluing the pieces together. Hot glue works amazing on foam board and dries almost instantly. So go ahead and start gluing your pieces together.
There are different ways you can go with the windows. You can either make them out of balsa wood, you can create them with polymer clay, you can purchase them from various suppliers online, or if you are fortunate enough to have a 3D printer, you can 3D print them. I design and 3D print all my windows. After you have your window frames you can decide if you want to add clear cake box plastic to the inside of them or just leave them open. If you leave them open then whatever light you use inside is the light you will get. If you choose the clear plastic sheets, you can paint them any color you wish to light them up. For the Last Ride piece, I painted the inside red giving a look of horror.
Your structure is assembled and your windows are in place. But how are you going to light it up? Because it is all foam board, the choice of lighting is led's. You do not want to use any kind of heat admitting bulbs, led's stay cool and will not damage the foam board. Now you can go the easy inexpensive route and just use battery operated tea lights, but that would mean you would need to leave a hole underneath and lift it from your display every time you want to turn the lights on or off. My sources for led's are lighthouseleds.com who sells led's for very cheap, and my other source for specialty led's is Evan Designs at https://www.modeltrainsoftware.com/collections/hobby-leds . I also purchase them from ebay and Ali Express. It's important to note that I only purchase pre wired led's. This means they are fully assembled and ready to be plugged in. No need to add resistors but depending where you want them you may have to add some length to your wire by soldering extentions. Otherwise, the only work involved is wiring them together, soldering and putting them in place. The other decision you would want to make would be if you want to make them battery operated or plugged in via a 3V or 12V power supply. Most led suppliers also sell the power supplies.
So now we have a fully assembled foam board structure with windows in place and led's all where they need to be and in working order. You can now attach your building to it's base and begin sculpting.
This is the fun part. When I first started I used several different mediums until I found one that I was comfortable with. Polymer clay or "Sculpy" needs to be baked in order for it to cure. Since we are adding the clay to foam board, baking is not an option. So the best choice for starting out is air dry clay or paperclay. I later moved on to epoxy clay but we will not get in to that right now. For air dry clay, I prefer the brand "Das" which can be found at Michael's or on Amazon. But before you can sculpt anything, you will need an assortment of sculpting tools. Amazon again is the place to find a great assortment of sculpting tools such as sculpting tools, dentist tools, chisels, and clay shapers. You will also want a small rolling pin.
The sculpting is rather easy. Rather than explain in writing, I have attached a short video on the basics of sculpting with air dry clay. I also want to mention that Das clay dries with very little to no shrinkage or cracks. If you have a crack you can always patch it up. Do not over saturarte the clay otherwise it will have cracks. Let the clay cure overnight before painting.
Do not be turned off by your first piece if it didn't come out how you envisioned. You WILL get better with each piece. And you WILL learn new techniques as you go. Now I mentioned earlier something called epoxy clay. Epoxy clay is a two part resin that cures solid very quickly. I use the brand Magic Sculpt. It is more expensive than air dry clay but I love the results. It is very sticky so the one big drawback for me is I cannot use a rolling pin to creat even flat sheets. You still need to wet your fingers but you need to put in the extra work to get an even smooth finish. Epoxy clay does not shrink or crack and dries like solid resin. For sculpting this material I prefer to use clay shapers.
You don't need to sculpt the whole piece in one night. Take your time but I would suggest you complete one wall or section at a time so that you won't have any seems or lines where one part ended and the other began.
After all the sculpting is completed, you can now begin to paint. Again make sure you give your piece enough time to fully cure before painting. If the clay is not dry, it will absorb the paint and become mushy. After the entire piece is painted you will want to spray the whole thing down with a clear coat to protect the clay. I prefer Krylon Crystal Clear.
So there you have it, my tutorial on creating CreepyVille village buildings. If you decide to give it ago, please share your work! I would love to see other peoples creations. Let's inspire each other!