Milo Valley Farm - a pictorial review

by brae  

This post has the "best of" photos along the way to completion.  :D  This post will change as the build progresses.

Many images in this post can be clicked to view larger.  To see a list of posts showing details on how I made things or what materials I used, as well as more pictures, click this link.

Milo Valley Farm is built from Denise's City Cottage, which was the HBS Creatin' Contest kit for 2015, but I did not enter this build since the kit was a free gift from HBS as part of their blogger outreach campaign.  HBS set up a Pinterest board for my build as well as boards for all the other bloggers that participated in their outreach campaign.  I don't typically post to Pinterest, but I will update the board.

Here's Denise's City Cottage as it looks built to spec.


The idea behind the build is making a barn find diorama.  :D  Here are two great examples of the look I'm going for: a 1961 Jaguar E-type and a 1952 Barn Find Cunningham C-3 Coupe #5209.  Barn finds can be quite sad looking at first sight but turn into cash cows and museum gems.  I love this Charger, too, though so I am sure I will fluctuate between a before and after barn find car.  :]

I've named this build Milo Valley Farm after my current hamster friend.

I've made the structure narrower but added to the depth.

I made these changes to accommodate the 1:12 scale Tamiya Datsun 240ZG.  :D

I added a taller foundation and used builders foam for the main landscaping base.

The foundation is covered with aquarium pebbles and stucco patch.

The siding was applied using templates.

I added nail hole detailing and aged the wood.

There's a removable wall to enclose the back.

The handle is disguised as an old bar used to tie up horses.

I made a black paper template of the floor. I did some math and determined 5.5" x .75" boards would work best, so I drew lines on the paper to test out the placement. Starting down the middle, I glued the boards in place. This is the same material used for the siding but left full width.

I used the same painting technique as I had for the siding for the base color. I applied a few dark washes to age the planks, even dropping some puddles in places to make stains. These were lifted and reapplied a few times over. I added wheel marks and residue rings from cans that have leaked. I will add more later on during final finishing.

The windows come already assembled, which is good and bad.  Good in that you don't start with an overwhelming amount of small pieces and have to ferret out a window (or four) from said pieces.  Bad in that you have no way to remove the acrylic inserts for painting or staining.  I disassembled the windows for finishing.  You can pop the windows into the microwave for a quick 10 second burst to loosen the glue.  I used the same painting technique as I had for the siding to finish the frames.

To mess up those clean inserts, I used Testors frosted glass, flat olive drab and Krylon grey primer. I first sprayed each side of the windows with the frosted glass finish. If you do this lightly, you will still have a moderate window reflection shine but a more obscured view through the glass.

For the two color spray paints, I sprayed under the windows on the board. This allowed for overspray to hit the glass. A few sweeps here and there are enough to cloud the glass, reduce the shine and add some color depth to the dust. You can always add more, but too much paint will look like...well...painted glass. :D These windows will be seen from the inside and outside, so I went with a lighter color to simulate dust.

With the windows and flooring installed, I can now address the interior structure.  This is by no means meant to be a precise carpentry replica.  It's meant to disguise seams and give the illusion of a structured barn as well as provide a way to hide the 12V wiring system.

The barn has a faux knob and tube system made from plastic tubing, plastic rod, crochet thread and copper headpins.  I mapped out the course of the knob and tube with sewing thread to work out any issues before installing the real deal.  (See parts one, two, three and four of the knob and tube system.)  Here's the real deal.

image from Wikipedia

I had to splice the cord wires together near the front of the barn. I used masking tape then painted it black. Those four splices required an unusually high amount of curse words to fall into place.  Much of this exposed work would have been done with cleats instead of knobs, but I like the look of the knobs and perhaps the builder just used whatever he had the most of in the old barn.

I led the wires down the wall to a key switch (made from a bell push from Sussex Crafts and a wood disc). To age all of this madness, I scraped some chalk pastel dust into a bowl and then dusted it onto the cord. It toned down the true black of the cord material. I used some grey and brown paint mixed with Americana Staining Medium to dirty the knobs and tubes.

A lot of this was guesswork since much of the knob and tube wiring examples I found are modern inspection photos of improper splicing with modern wiring. But, I think I managed to capture the essence of it, no?

I made the porcelain fuse block for the service entrance like the one shown in this image (the whole article is awesome).  I used polymer clay (Sculpey in Pearl) since it was easiest to mold and shape and would look enough like porcelain to pass.  I used jewelry findings for the connectors.  The measurements for the real deal are roughly 3" x 6" from the few I saw listed for sale.  Mine is a little large for scale at 1/2" x 3/4", but it's all relative in the barn and it shouldn't make a difference for realism.  I didn't think I could successfully work any smaller.  :D

The fuses are made from brass and silver watch parts (painted) and two clear plastic discs.  The switch doesn't pivot; it's glued in place.  I mixed some brown paint with Americana Staining Medium to age the assembly.

The actual 12V electrical system is hidden in the channel molding that forms the beams and posts.

The old barn light was made from Meyers Wall Light.  I used pliers to bend it outward a bit, which removed some of the paint.  That's fine for an old light, and I brushed on flat black paint to remove the gloss shine.  Once that was dry, I dry brushed on dark brown to make the finish appear corroded and dirty.  Since the door frame sticks out, I added a square of scrap wood to serve as a base for the light.

On the inside, I connected the lamp wire to the 12V wire I fed during the overhead light installation.  I didn't bother adding knob and tube wiring for this lamp since it would have been hard to see and just make a mess of the work I did previously.  Just a few modifications and it looks like an old barn light that's been there a long time.

There's a receptacle inside an old sea chest.  The wiring leads out through the foundation and is covered by the landscaping foam (that process here).

The 12V lighting features some new old stock E-Z-Lectric light fixtures from Itsy Bitsy Old Stuff.  These are great since they already look a bit aged; a few of the bulbs show crackling in the frosted glass finish.

Here is the test shot before installation.

It's the perfect amount of old, yellow light for the barn.  (See parts one, two and three of the 12V system.)

The old electrical pole was made from a 1/2" wooden dowel cut to a proportional size of 16" tall, not exact scale.  I took into consideration the fact that the wires need to clear the barn door to reach the tubes on the side of the barn.  I then brushed on a grey paint stain just in case any glue seeped out during the later steps.  I marred the surface with sandpaper and an awl, then added more washes.

I cut the cross bar from basswood, painted and aged before assembly.  The v-shaped stabilizer was cut from cardboard and painted to look like weathered metal.  I used metal headpins and tiny brads for stability and nail detailing.  I glued green adventurine cone beads onto the side wires and added aging washes.  These are as close to mini glass insulators as I could find.

I cut the roof board down since I had narrowed the building.  I had to cut an additional piece for the back since I had made the building deeper.  Interestingly enough, I ended up with an extra roof board since the one that came with the kit originally was damaged so I had enough to cut the extra piece for the back from the same material.

I made a template for the ceiling from black paper and used the same thin wood strips as I did for the siding to mimic a plank ceiling.  I made sure seams hit where a beam would cover the gap, and I alternated the placement so it wouldn't tend to bend along that break.  I left a tiny bit of room between the boards to allow for the curve.  I painted it to match the rest of the interior siding.  Here it is propped in place to test the fit.

The barn doors were scratch built (see parts one, two, three, four and five).  I made a rail for sliding doors that extends past the end of the building on either side. I saw this setup in real life at a wedding locale.  I used rectangular plastic tubing to have a good surface to attach to the barn itself.  I made a tiny channel in two lengths of tubing, closed on one end and open on the other. Ball-top sewing pins, cut to fit, are attached to the doors and serve as the rollers inside the tubing.

The door brackets are made from zinc metal sheet my friend Bill sent me. I glued the brackets in place and supplemented the hold with tiny nails.  I spray painted the plastic tubes and bracket hardware flat black.  I stippled on dark brown to simulate aged and corroded metal.  It's a subtle finish.

I made door handles from brass tubing and finished them the same way.  I drilled holes through the door and glued in black brads to finish the end holes. I added aging washes to the surrounding wood and painted the brads to look like corroded metal.  I installed the handles at an angle, because I liked the look of it.

I attached the plastic rails and then added strips of wood around the rest of the door opening to help with the slight gap between the door frame and the doors.  This won't block all of the gap, but it will help.  This might not have been necessary had I planned better, but let's just say this is a replacement set of doors tacked onto the front after a wayward tractor mishap.

I added brackets to either end.  These are black craft paper not zinc since they are mainly for show not function. Plus, it was easier to make them from paper and get a good fit.  I slipped in one door and then the other.  It took a few tries to fit the doors well.  I bent the pins until they hung properly in the track.  They can't be moved using only the handles; I have to grip them by the sides to slide, but that's just fine with me.

Perhaps there should be a handle inside, but...I kinda love it as is.  One of my art professors once said it takes two people to make a work of art; one to do the work and one to hit that person over the head when it's done.  :D  I going to hit myself on the head concerning the doors.  We'll just say there's enough of a gap to get a hand in there to pry them open.


Interior Accessories

While building, I've taken some time to make some minis for the old barn like these 1:12 scale license plates.  :D

These are made from paper but look like old worn metal and even have the embossed detailing of the real deal.

Bill sent me a whole bunch of marvelous mini tools that he made.  See more here.

A few items from the 1/12 scale Tamiya tool set.  The vintage Texaco jugs I found online were all red, but I liked the white on the kit box, so I stuck with that.  I added grime with acrylic paints thinned with Staining Medium.  I left the decal whole when applying but scraped some holes from it after it dried in place.  I also cut away the shiny clear portion around the outside of the decal as best I could.  I put a dot of black paint at the tip of the spout to give the illusion of an opening.

For the polyethylene tank, I added the same grime and painted the cap red.   I mixed some of the grime paint wash with satin varnish.  Using a tiny paintbrush, I made a dribble of dried liquid down the front.

I'm sure every miniaturist has a Holy Grail or two...I'd say I have roughly a dozen.  These are miniatures we long for but cannot find, or perhaps afford.  I searched extensively for this metal trash can, and now I have one in my collection.  It has the perfect metallic finish and ribbed detailing.  There is no maker's mark, but it's likely the work of Ken Ketteridge.

I will not be altering this item in any way, so it might be too clean for the barn.  But, the Brownstone has that fancy trash nook.  Another item I acquired already has the aging in place.  You can find these old gas pumps easily and in a number of scales, but they look new.  I could have done the aging, but this saves me the time.

I can't take credit for the sign other than the discovery at Hobby Lobby.  It's a magnet and the surface has embossed detailing.  They had several kinds of old time logos and signs, but I stuck with the Texaco brand from my other accessories.  No reason for the preference.  It's been an unplanned theme.  :D

These fabulous miniature cinder blocks were sent to me as a free sample from Mini Materials.


Landscaping Details

The landscaping is meant to be rural but not unkepmt (see parts one, two, three, four and five for the processes).  I planted two greenery bushes purchased from A Little More in Miniatures at the mini shows earlier this year.  They smell awesome.  There is, of course, a rabbit hole.  :D

The rabbit is Friedrich, and he will live on Milo Valley Farm.  He is incredibly realistic, made by the talented micksculptures724 on eBay, the same artist who made Sherwood.  I love his little bear pose.  :]

For the non-grass detailing, I added Fine Ballast Dark Brown by Woodland Scenics around the edges of the barn and used a lighter colored Woodland Scenics Ballast left over from Baslow Ranch for the disappearing ramp.  The grass mat is Wild Grass in Dark Green by Heki from Scenic Express (they call it Summer Green TurfGrass on their website).  It has high dark green grasses with some variegated coloration to simulate a wild but well-kept lawn.  Just because there's a barn find car inside doesn't mean the whole property has to be an eyesore. :D

I added Goldenrod Weeds "Silflorettes" by MiniNatur.  The landscaping here is spring/summer grass with a weed or two cropping up between mowing with the big riding mower.  :D  I added smaller bits of grass torn from the scraps to the gravel ramp to give it all a more realistic appearance and touched up the dirt and gravel around the barn.  

I made a delightfully disgusting abandoned bathtub to plant in the landscaping.  This is a Chrysnbon plastic tub painted and aged.  The overflow cover is made from the tip of a pen cap.  Herbert the frog is by Amanda Skinner.

I love that the tub looks like heavy cast iron that's seen better days.  :D  I didn't glue it into place; it's just wedged into the foam.

Looks like our weedy bush is proliferating.  :D

more to come... 


Comment from: Barbara [Visitor]
The Pinterest board calls it "mini magic in the making". It is!
04/29/15 @ 14:59
Comment from: Betsy Rogers [Visitor]
Hi Brae! Your work is always so well thought out and so detailed and precise! It is wonderful to follow a project from the beginning... I learn Soooo much! The Bathtub is Awesome!!! How many of these have I seen "down on the farm"? The only thing I would add is More muck and rust! Lol!!! Thank you for sharing so much of your techniques and sources.... it really is a help to those of us who are just learning slowly how to be adventuresome with the materials! And your ideas and themes are so wonderfully original! I look forward to seeing what you are making every time you post!
04/29/15 @ 17:25
Comment from: Pepper [Visitor]
It's all looking fab. I find it odd that photos of abandoned places always have a bath tub/shopping cart/couch outside. Wonder if it's the same person wandering from place to place?
04/30/15 @ 01:01
Comment from: Alex [Visitor]
Fantastic! Such creative ideas :) I love the license plates, and the bunny, and the tub, and the...
04/30/15 @ 05:31
Comment from: 12Create [Visitor]
Friedrich is fabulous. I really love those number plates.
05/05/15 @ 03:38
Comment from: Monique [Visitor]
I think this is another great build Brae, the idea, the way you're building it and because of all your added fun-ness and details! The bath is fun and looks very real, those plates are awesome etc etc, very well done! It's amazing already, can't wait to see the rest, I guess now Otter Cove (if I'm correct about the name) is finished you have time for it again?
12/16/15 @ 07:21
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! :>> Yes, now I will be able to dive back into the messy barn. It's been in my workroom while Otter Cove has been on the dining table. I'll have to see if spiders moved into the barn in my absence. :))
12/16/15 @ 07:27

Form is loading...