Half Clocked

by brae  

The wait is over!!  Introducing Half Clocked, my entry in the 2018 Creatin' Contest by Hobby Builders Supply.  Some images in this post can be clicked to enlarge. Click here for a complete list of posts on Half Clocked, including how I made things and the materials used.  I will make more detailed posts and add info to this one in the coming weeks.  Since I ran myself down to the wire, I didn't have time to make the big post as usual.  :]

Half Clocked is situated in a market village known for its unique shops, mountain scenery and beautiful gardens.  While the shop has timepieces for sale in every price range, the main attraction is the working cuckoo clock on the face of the building.  Every hour and half hour, the cuckoo emerges from his home and bellows the time to the delight of onlookers.  Half Clocked is open daily from 10 to 4, but the cuckoo sounds from sunrise to sunset.


Structural Changes

It all started with this year's kit, the Three Gables House.

My original idea was to cut the kit down to the bare minimum depth in the front and make a wall-hanging cuckoo clock with minis decorating it.  Then I thought, "Why have a normal cuckoo clock for a real life house when you can have a giant cuckoo come out of the front of a mini clock shop?!!"  :D  As soon as I searched, I immediately found two examples: one in Eble Uhren-Park, Germany and one in Britain.

The doors and windows that came with the kit were great, but I ended up rearranging their placement. I cut six inches from the depth, so now it's much more cottage-y.  I filled in three windows on the sides, leaving one single side window to conserve interior wall space.

I cut a new front for the building since that was easier than trying to plug the large hole in the kit wall and then swapped out the main door for one a little fancier: a Design House shop door #1014.

I cut a new enclosed gable board to have more wall space inside.  The roof now has two smaller matching skylights as well.

My modifications made for an open back structure, so I had to make a new back wall if I wanted something to keep the dust out.  I originally considered a hinged back wall, but since I decided to have an eave on the back, hinging the house-shaped wall would not work. It would bind on the roof overhang. The solution, magnets.  The back wall was cut from a piece of 1/4" thick plywood.  I finished it front and back to match the rest of the build but added small pieces of K&S 0.008 thickness tin sheet left over from the Otter Cove kitchen.  It works well enough to keep the dust and light out, though the wall did warp a bit and the magnets are no match for that.  :\

Unlike Ye Olde Taxidermist, I remembered to decorate the interior of the back wall.  :D  The vintage bird prints are from the Newport, made from images from A History of British Birds, published in the 1850s by Rev. Francis Orpen Morris.


The Cuckoo

Having a working cuckoo clock enclosed in the structure didn't seem that out of reach until I started looking for a mechanism to build around.  It hadn't occurred to me that I would need a pendulum and weights for the classic mechanism.  :\  So, then I searched for tabletop cuckoo clocks and found this amazing MUJI cuckoo clock.  It's a small, concise mechanism with actual bellows for that authentic sound.  In fact, I liked it so much, I couldn't bear to take it apart and had to order a second one to incorporate into Half Clocked.

Taking it apart turned out to be relatively easy, and then I just had to build my wall to suit.  Fitting it to the back just required some braces.

There's obviously the hands and the bird, but there is also a light sensor so the clock doesn't sound when dark and a test button to make the cuckoo come out on command.  :]  I had to line up my holes just so.


The clock face on the front wall went through many different versions before I settled on the final layout.

I had this lovely wood rabbit I bought back in 2012 from artbase.  I always knew I wanted the rabbit on the clock face, but I didn't want to alter the original for my purpose.

I made a cast of it instead using EasyMold Silicone Putty and Alumilite Amazing Casting Resin, my first time using an opaque resin.

It turned out well considering my original mold was not that great.  You often can't tell you have a bad mold until you cast something in it.  But, the resin was sandable, and I did not want to start over.  The instructions recommended painting right away, but the acrylic brown I used did not want to stick. I washed the paint off and then used a spray primer.  The paint adhered to the primer without issue.  Pretty great for a maiden voyage, and it works well for my purposes.  :]

The flowers are Finishing Accents by Darice, the Tando Creative chipboard clock dial was leftover from Roland's Retreat, and the flourishes are new old stock Architect's Choice bracket kits from All About Miniatures.  The gables are finished with Greenleaf speed shingles in half scale, and the scallop trim is from Diminutive Details purchased at a local show (CheckMouse now has these trims).

Originally, the door was meant to open and was cut as one solid piece.  Since the cuckoo mechanism came from a modern clock without a door, I planned to engineer the hardware to fit.  The parts didn't work out partially because my door hinged on the left (fairly common in cuckoo clocks) and partially because the cuckoo arm extended on a curve instead of straight back and forth.  I surrendered the battle and made a split door that's always open.

The white modern cuckoo got a makeover with acrylic paints to better resemble the real life great spotted cuckoo.  :]


Exterior Detailing

I went with a brick base again, so I was back to the egg carton brickwork.  For the porch landing and walkway, I made a straight brick border with a herringbone center.  I couldn't find a true example of vertical bricks on the riser in real life from a quick image search, but it doesn't look terribly out of place.  These are painted my standard Liquitex Burnt Sienna.  For the grout, I mixed spackling, neutral grey paint, black paint and Aleene's Quick Dry glue.  I added the glue just in case the paint made the spackling too thin to stay put.  I replaced the kit post with a Houseworks turned post.  Finn was a great buddy during the build. (He was made by JMDS.)

Above the brick, the stucco is a relatively easy though fickle finish.  I spread spackling over the two walls where I filled in openings; the other two I left plain.  After it dried, I sanded the areas smooth.  The walls didn't have to be completely flat.  I just needed to mask the window outlines so their halos wouldn't be seen later.  Next up was a coat of Americana White Birch.  This is a satin paint, so it has a lovely sheen once dry.  I tapped the paint on with the flat side of a foam brush to achieve a light stucco finish.  I stained the trim pieces Minwax Jacobean.  I love this rich, dark chocolate brown.  :]  I'm usually a white trim gal.

The door frame is stained Minwax Jacobean to match the rest of the trim, and the door is painted Night Sky by Americana. Though there are not a lot of colors available in the satin paint, I do like that using this paint eliminates the need for a final varnish coat.  I added a paper kickplate.  I also had to cut a new window insert since the paint apparently swelled the wood so much the original would no longer fit.  I eliminated the draft that most dollhouse doors have.  Since adding the draft block made the amount of room for hardware so limited, I opted for an old style center knob.  Quirky, which fits.  :D  The hardware is by Classics.

I painted the porch ceiling stucco white so it would brighten the space.  The front porch light is a coach lamp from HBS, and the door mat is a silver metal piece I painted black.  I made the sign using a graphic from iStock.

I opted for subtle signage since I imagine it would be fairly obvious to passers-by which building was the clock shop.  haaaaaa

Thanks to Sheila, we know what bargeboards are.  :D  I stained lengths of 1/16" x 1/4" basswood to attach to the exposed edges of the roof using Minwax Jacobean.  On top of that, for the gables, I added Paulina trim from Heritage Laser Works.  These are only 1/32" thick and very delicate, so I had to come up with a way to stain them without breaking them (full post on that process here).

There's a lovely space that is perfect for a built-in dovecote (just ask Sheila).  I did some scouting around online, and found this great site for inspiration and instruction before attempting to make my own dovecote (parts one and two).  Originally, I was going to cut a triangle and then cut the popholes, but I wasn't getting good results.  So, I re-engineered my approach.  I'm very pleased with the end result.  :]

My doves were made with Hearty Super Lightweight air dry clay and a little paint.  :]  The clay was easy to work with and set up overnight.  It's still pliable enough to squeeze the fat little birds into the popholes.  :D

I used Greenleaf speed shingles for the roof.  These are laser cut, thin wood.  I use Quick Grip glue, which is stinky and messy, just the way a fun project should be.  Utilizing movies and/or TV in the background makes the job bearable.

There's one valley on the roof, so I lined that with Tyvek and painted it Liquitex Iridescent Bronze.  The roof color was achieved using a mix of these paints by Folk Art: Villa Green, Succulent, Greenscape and Basil Green.  There's a Tudor house near my office with a green grey roof that I just adore, hence the color selection.

I ended up having to tone down the coloration with Slate Green by Americana and then using some aging washes to add depth.  (Full process here.)  But, the greens gave the Tyvek flashings a wonderful patina.  For the one roof hip, I cut a piece of cardboard to cover the join, painted this Liquitex Antique Bronze and gave it a light patina to match the rest.

It's not quite the color I was aiming for, but I truly love it.  :]


Interior Detailing

I added a removable interior wall (parts one, two, three, four and five) to allow access to the clock mechanism while disguising its presence from the inside.  I used a Classics narrow door since other interior doors looked proportionally too large for the space.  I wanted to be able to access the front room more than the narrow door would allow, so I always planned to make the insert wall removable.  This was a bit of hassle since I didn't want the board to have gaps all around it nor did I want to continually risk scuffing the floor and ceiling moving it around.  So, I cut the wall into two pieces - one to be a permanent part of the structure and one to be fully removable with the door acting as the handle.

The wallpaper is scrapbook paper Happenstance - Fluke by The Paper Loft.  It is flat paper, but it has a printed design that looks like old fresco.  You might recognize it from the first floor of Watson Mill.  For the enclosed gable, I opted for plain drawing paper.  It's not pure white, so it works well for the space without being too much of a contrast.  Since there's a warm white vaulted ceiling, I didn't think a big blue triangle would look right.  The flooring is Houseworks red oak stained Minwax Jacobean and sealed with Delta Ceramcoat Matte Varnish.

The removable wall trims were originally painted Ceramcoat Waterfall.  It was nice, but it was darker than I wanted once in place.  I was trying to make the door blend more with the wall as if to say, nothing to see here.  I mixed the Ceramcoat Waterfall with Ceramcoat Blissful Blue to get a lighter color.  I painted over the base coat of Ceramcoat Waterfall, and the result was much closer to my original idea.  The brass plate is from The Dolls House Mall.

The baseboards around the room are Minwax Jacobean.  I thought it might end up looking weird to have dark baseboards on the removable wall.  Typically, when you're painting a door the same color as the walls, the trims are also the same color.  I didn't want blue trims throughout, so I mixed the styles.  Somehow, it works and looks relatively seamless.  :]  It might not be the cleanest solution, but I just didn't want dark trim to interfere with the line of sight when the structure is filled and I needed that large of an opening.  The wall is a tight fit, which is just fine.

This won't need to be removed often - just twice a year to change the time and replace the battery.

There wasn't a lot of space for lighting once I cut down the structure, so I chose recessed ceiling lights and two alcove ceiling fixtures for the interior.  I've put NovaLyte can lights in past houses, but they require a 3/8" thick board to sit flush.  In this instance, I faked it with LEDs from Evan Designs and nylon washers.

I put in eight lights for the ceiling. It might seem like a lot, but the vaulted ceiling is high above the living space and I wanted to be sure there was plenty of light.

I ran these wires along the roof to the enclosed gable and down through the small front room to the landscaping board. They aren't easily replaceable, so let's hope they last a long time. Hence, the reason to use long-lasting LEDs.

I added two new old stock ceiling light kits by Illinois Hobbycraft to the front alcove.  I used LEDs for these as well.

I was originally going to use Houseworks 8-light windows for the skylights, but one fit perfectly and the other didn't.  Since they would be right across from one another, there was no way to disguise the variation.  I checked the kit windows, and they were the same size.  Since they come as separate fronts and backs, they are easier to paint and finish.  Plus, you don't have to worry about slight differences in wall/roof thickness.  I painted the interiors White Birch and the exteriors Slate Green, both by Americana.  I cut new acrylic inserts since the kit glass was smaller than the full opening, and I didn't want them to shift out of place.

The interiors blend well.  I thought dark brown rectangles would be too much, so I didn't stain them to match the rest of the trim.  I think this was the right choice.



Furnishings, clocks and such

The birdhouse kit is from Art of Mini.  Originally, I had painted the birdhouse green, but then I thought, "Why is just about every birdhouse I make green?  I'm sure birds like other colors."  So, I painted over that with Battleship and painted the roof Bittersweet Chocolate, both by Americana.  Now it's a house suited for the unassuming bird who doesn't like to draw attention.  :D

This later ended up on the outside of the building.  Debora made the beautiful brass clock.  The brass had naturally aged while in storage, and that made the hands hard to see.  I added a little black paint to bring them back.  I cut and painted a block of basswood to serve as the wall mount and added the clock to the porch.

The trestle table is a House of Miniatures kit.  After filling in any minor gaps with wood putty, I stained the piece Minwax Dark Walnut. I touched up any glue/putty areas with brown paint and then added a coat of Delta Ceramcoat Satin Varnish.

The Shenandoah Designs tiered server is one of those frustrating three-legged contraptions that make me swear even more than usual but often turn out so nicely.  I started with a coat of Basil Green by Folk Art.  I had to paint this since I always get glue everywhere when putting together any three-legged stand. I used one of the small rubber stamps with the same paint as the French side table to add some detailing.

The French Side Table kit is from Art of Mini.  

For the French side table, I started with a coat of Bittersweet Chocolate by Americana. I want this to be an old table, perhaps once stained and lovely then re-purposed with a coat of paint (or three).  The Folk Art Vintage White paint I had was very thick for being rather old, so I added some water.  With the dark undercoat, it took several layers to even out.  That added to the refinished look unexpectedly, so a nice happy accident.  I rubbed the paint with a piece of brown paper bag to remove the high spots.  Then I used a light grit sanding stick to bring out some of the dark details from underneath. 

I added metallic detailing with Taupe by Folk Art.  I used a rubber stamp and the same paint on the top (technique detailed here).  I rubbed the piece again with a piece of brown paper bag until I had a nice sheen. The legs warped a little, but that adds to the antique feeling...at least that's what I tell myself.  :D

I have no chimney, but I am using a fireplace with a false brick insert.  The fireplace was part of a miniatures lot I bought online.  I have two that are very similar, and one is for the Brownstone.  They are heavy, well made and have crisp detailing.  The material appears to be some sort of translucent resin.  There are no markings or manufacturer details.  The seller indicated that she purchased them in 1996 at The Dolls House Toys Ltd., Covent Garden, London.  The fire screen is by Ellen Moore.

The modern side table was inspired by the Oly Studio Ichibad Side Table and made with Tiny Turnings.  I needed some sort of cash transaction station for my shop, so I added a vintage desk from my stash and stool from Boutique Miniatures.  The desk is a cheap miniature, but it has always appealed to me.  It was also from a collection a friend gave to me after his mother passed, so it has that sentimental draw as well.  The laser cut Victorian wall clock is from D-Tales Miniatures, bought at the Bishop show.  The hourglass is fron Here Today Gone Tomorrow, and the pintail drake decoy is by Linda Master.  The Art Deco working clock on the right mantel top is from Halls Miniature Clocks.

The black grandfather clock was made from a Chrysnbon kit.

For more details and pics of the clocks and accessories on this side of the room, click here.

The ivory grandfather clock is also Chrysnbon.

The blue Mora clock began with a Miss Lydia Pickett Cottage Clock (you can see the construction in parts onetwothreefourfive, and six).   This is a 1:12 scale kit by Robin Betterley's Miniatures.

Yeah, had to have a cuckoo clock in the cuckoo clock, right?  This awesome kit is from MiniaturasMyE.  It came with a wood cuckoo, but I wanted a little more realism.  I thought I had a half scale bird from Barbara Meyer, but I couldn't find it.  Instead, I used a full scale bird and shaved it down to fit.

The fancy plant stand is from Arjen Spinhoven.  I didn't want to lose the carved detailing, so I stained it Minwax Driftwood and finished with Delta Ceramcoat Matte Varnish.  The working clock on the top is from Halls Miniature Clocks, and the ceramic rabbit and brass seal figurine were likely from Manor House Miniatures.

The rustic table is from Barbara Begley Miniature Gardens.  At the last minute, I realized I needed a rug...so I swiped the Tree Ring rug for the space.  Now, I can leisurely make a replacement.  :D  I've made the Banjo wall clock from Cynthia Howe Miniatures before, but this time I went less traditional.

For more details and pics of the clocks and accessories on this side of the room, click here.

The gable clocks are made from kits, jewelry findings and watch parts.  Please click here for the detailed post.

The tiered table has a selection of small clocks that I picked up from shows, but you can find them online.  I made the bird statue from jewelry findings, and the spiral vase is from Patricia Paul.


The Landscaping

I went with a modest and tidy landscaping for the build since it seemed reminiscent of a simplified cuckoo clock.  The landscaping board is finished on the edges with iron-on veneer edging.  I then glued layers of white 1/16" foam sheets by Woodland Scenics using Weldbond glue.  I went with thin foam so I could keep the land relatively flat on the baseboard while still allowing for natural unevenness.

For the grass, I used Heki Summer Meadow Field Grass.  It has a paper backing that isn't the easiest to seam, but I do like the color, variation and texture.  I also had it in my stash already, so that saved on costs.

Since I planned to have 20 shrubs around the structure, I opted for mulched areas. This cut down on the grass quite a bit.  I added Woodland Scenics Fine Dark Brown Ballast as the mulch base, to serve as dirt. If there were any bare spots in the mulch, this would blend well.  I held it the ballast and mulch in place with Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement applied with a pipette.

The shrubs were made from Styrofoam eggs, Styrofoam trees from Hobby Lobby and and loose railroad scenery foliage.  You can find the tutorial here.  I'm a huge fan of Squeeze Me trees and shrubbery, but if you need a lot of them, it can get very pricey.

Of course, at the last minute (two days before the deadline) I decided I needed flowers around my shrubs.  My twenty shrubs.  Flowers do not go a long way and take considerable time to make, but I did it.  :D  And, I think they add just the right amount of color.  These were made from Bonnie Lavish kits, HBS So Easy kits (also Bonnie Lavish) and flower punches with origami paper.  The flower pots on the porch were from Manor House Miniatures.

And, of course, you want to see the cuckoo in action.  :D You know, it's interesting to work on a miniature house that is constantly reminding you of time passing by while you're building it.

That's a wrap (for now)!!  :D


Thank you to Debora, mom and my boyfriend for all the support during this crazy process of building!  Thank you to Samantha for not spilling the beans with her spot-on guess a couple of weeks ago!  Thank you to everyone for the encouragement along the way.  It means the world to me.  Best of luck to all who entered and thank you to HBS for another wonderful kit this year.


Comment from: Debora L. [Visitor]
Bravo! It’s wonderful! I love ALL the clocks, and want to wander around inside and browse. :)
12/17/18 @ 19:03
Comment from: Barbara [Visitor]
Oh my! Just wonderful - I want to live in that village over Christmas.
12/17/18 @ 19:53
Comment from: April [Visitor]
Beautiful innovative build! Best wishes with the contest, but regardless of of the outcomes you have an extraordinary addition to your collection. I'm really looking forward to the accessories post, there are so many fab mini clocks inside.
12/17/18 @ 20:09
Comment from: azteclady [Visitor]
Oh my goodness, I would never have guessed! It's absolutely wonderful, every last single detail! You have such talent for making things, and for coming up with solutions and alternatives, but also an incredible vision. I would love to visit the shop, or at least stand on the sidewalk, marveling at the outsized cuckoo calling out the time. Congratulations, Brae, every build is better than the last.
12/17/18 @ 20:11
Comment from: Jeanne [Visitor]
Brilliant! Wish I could go shopping there -- I see a couple of clocks I've had my eye on for a while!
12/17/18 @ 21:19
Comment from: Samantha [Visitor]
Phew! I’m glad that’s over! Hardest secret I’ve ever kept! Lol And it’s amazing! An actual cuckoo! Brilliant! The addition of the rabbit is delightful.... I feel like, he’s late, he’s late, for a very important date! :D Can’t wait to read about all the fabulous mini clocks.
12/18/18 @ 01:26
Comment from: Sheila [Visitor]
Oh that's beautiful! I'm constantly amazed at all the 'working' houses you build, windmills, cuckoo clocks... I love your flowers, that pop of color is so pretty. And all the details inside... Beautiful!
12/18/18 @ 06:35
Comment from: Nancy [Visitor]
Ohhhh, so much better than the chubby accountant toiling over his books that I had imagined! I’ve been following you since I started doing minis (2008) & your creativity just blows me away plus you always share so many details of how-to. Thank you Brae & good luck in the contest, in my mind you’re always #1. Well done!!!!!
12/18/18 @ 12:46
Comment from: Carrie [Visitor]
Well done! The whole concept is so creative...I can rest peaceably now that I know what is behind the mystery door. Wishing you winning entry. Cheers!
12/18/18 @ 13:37
Comment from: Gayle Taylor [Visitor]
Your imagination and work always blow me away. You're a winner in my book. Beautiful entry.
12/18/18 @ 15:52
Comment from: ann [Visitor]  
I had no idea where you were going with the project and it is absolutely amazing. Your work is so perfect and beautiful. I love the idea of a clock shop. You have a sure winner! And then all the work that you went to to write about all of your hard work. Thank you.
12/18/18 @ 15:52
Comment from: elizabeth s [Visitor]
The wind up of your Half-Clocked Cottage Build was certainly worth the wait! :D Your working cuckoo is such a Cute idea and adds both whimsy and character to the building! The vast collection of clocks on display inside is truly Magnificent! and I am eager to learn more about them in your up-coming posts. Well Done Brae and Best of Luck! :D
12/18/18 @ 20:31
Comment from: Elga [Visitor]
Wow Brae, it turned out fantastic!
12/19/18 @ 07:37
Comment from: Lisa [Visitor]
Always enjoy your detailed progression through a project.
12/19/18 @ 07:47
Comment from: Keli [Visitor]
I would never have guessed. Ha! Such a novel idea, carried out, as always, so precisely. Well done, and good luck.
12/19/18 @ 14:33
Comment from: The grandmommy [Visitor]
As ever Brae quality! I can hear all of the clocks ticking and maybe a few gongs. I especially enjoy your pristine style. The lawn, the interior. Very nice!
12/19/18 @ 19:07
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you all so much! :>>

Now you all know why I couldn't share many sneak peeks of the front or the clocks being made. A small house wouldn't need more than two clocks at most. :yes:
12/20/18 @ 00:27
Comment from: Jodi [Visitor]
Truly marvelous, ingenious and so inspirational! I can't wait to read all the how's in the next posts! Good luck in the contest, and congratulations on another incredible work of art!
12/20/18 @ 10:39
Comment from: Kamelia [Visitor]
Amazing project! You did a great job, I love all your ideas and details you made.
12/20/18 @ 15:08
Comment from: Irene [Visitor]
Who'd have guessed there were so many miniature clocks out there - all so lovely. What a fantastic entry. I love it, especially the little cuckoo. Very well done with this and best of luck with the competition. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
12/22/18 @ 05:21
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you so much!!! :>>
01/02/19 @ 13:15
Comment from: Jennifer [Visitor]  
Amazing as always, love all the detail that you manage to put into your displays. Your photos are amazing too. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year. Jenn
01/04/19 @ 11:07
Comment from: Teresa Martens [Visitor]
How wonderful! All your little details are amazing and the overall effect is stunning. I love the cuckoo clock on the outside of the building - how ingenious! I wish there was such a magical place in real life! Thank you for sharing! Hugs, Teresa beaconhilldollhouse.blogspot.com
01/06/19 @ 12:44
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! :>>
01/10/19 @ 13:28
Comment from: betsy rogers [Visitor]
That cuckoo is so utterly cool!!! I completely missed this part of your build! Wow! As usual, you have not disappointed with your layers of amazing detail and unique ideas!!! (Thanks for pointing me back here... I love it!!!) :)
01/13/19 @ 14:51
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you so much! :>>
01/24/19 @ 16:53

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