Walnut Bay Light - 2013 HBS Creatin' Contest entry

by brae  

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.

Walnut Bay Light was built in 1888 and serves as an automated aid to navigation to this day.  The lighthouse and attached quarters are located offshore, accessible only by boat.  The residence was last occupied in 1970, after which the light was automated.  The structure fell into disrepair and was scheduled for decommissioning and dismantling in 2001.  It was sold to the newly formed Walnut Bay Light Foundation for $1 with the stipulation that the tower and residence be restored and maintained.  It is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

It is one of the few lighthouses offering weeklong stays, and the schedule has been full since the lighthouse opened to the public in late 2003 with a waiting list requiring reservations months in advance.  While many of the original furnishings and details were lost to time or moved to other locations and museums, the Walnut Bay Light Foundation has tried to invoke the feeling of years past with its restoration while allowing for a comfortable stay.  The electricity has been modernized as well as the plumbing, though it might not seem that way compared to the daily comforts you might be used to enjoying.

The boat will take you to the lighthouse on Monday and return the following Sunday to bring you back to shore.  During your stay, there are lightkeeper’s duties to perform and a log book for recording your experience at the lighthouse.  There are provisions in case of emergency, but you should be prepared for a self-sufficient weeklong adventure and a trip of a lifetime!

This is where Walnut Bay Light began...the Creatin' Contest Charming Cottage and Greenleaf Lighthouse dollhouse kits (purchased during HBS's generous April Fools sale).

Walnut Bay Light was inspired by Chicago Harbor Light, which has a tower flanked by a lower building on either side.  Originally, I thought about putting the lantern room topper on the existing cottage roof, but when I saw this photo, it was all over from there.  :D

I've also photographed this lighthouse up close on a harbor cruise.

Chicago Harbor Light, June 2003

Since I planned to have a substantial base, I cut part of the first floor of the lighthouse tower down.  I replaced the kit windows and door with Houseworks working attic windows and narrow door.

This eliminated the middle floor in the lighthouse tower, which meant I needed a breakneck staircase to access the upper floor.  That's my initial mockup of the spiral stairs in cardboard, tape and bamboo skewers.  Yes, there was math involved, but it worked out really well.

I got about this far when my condo got struck by lightning.  I hadn't worked on the kits since I had originally planned to enter the Greenleaf Spring Fling contest as well.  Work ceased on both projects at this point since there wasn't much room at the hotel where I stayed and the stress of it all zapped my creative energy.

Fast forward two months, and work was able to finally begin again.  So, yes, this build was done in roughly a month and a half.  :O  I had a week's vacation planned for the end of October, and I spent most of it working on Walnut Bay Light.  I had applied 3/16" thick Cellfoam 88 and carved stone in the surface since that worked so well for The Aero Squadron Lounge.  I planned to stucco the entire lighthouse and keeper's quarters, and it ended up not showing through as much as it had for the Lounge.  Oh, well.

The 16.25" tall spiral staircase is scratch built from textured and smooth plastic sheet, an orchid stake, wood beads and spindles, jewelry findings and brass wire.

The textured sheet is 1:16 scale double diamond plate by Plastruct; due to its thinness, I glued plain white styrene to the back.  Each of the 22 stairs was cut using my Proxxon scroll saw -- I actually used that saw more than I thought I would for this build.  It saved me so much time and aggravation.

I built the staircase without glue at first to give myself some time to consider the next step.  In the meantime, I planned the living space on either side of the tower.  First the bedroom.  I planned on a full bed (a twin was used in the mockup), bedside table, dresser (around the bend of the tower), desk with chair, and a potbelly stove.

I ended up removing the dresser for a corner closet bar with hangers and a suitcase valet.  Suitcases by Fran were borrowed from the Haunted Heritage attic.

Yes, it folds for storage!  :D

I ditched the potbelly stove for a Chrysnbon radiator since there was no place to put it other than to have it vent right into the tower.  Haaa!

The Colonial four post double bed is a kit from HBS.  I used the kit's foam mattress, covered it with millinery batting, plain white sheets, a sunflower printed bedspread and a wool blanket made from heather grey felt.

The desk was made from a House of Miniatures kit.  I think the distressed black and heavy hardware make for a perfect Captain's desk.  I have another chair in mind for this room, but I didn't have time to finish building it.  The stand-in isn't exactly bad, so it will likely stay.  :]  The rug is from Manor House Minis.

The photograph is In the lee of the port bow of the 'Parma' while becalmed from the National Maritime Museum.

I made the roller shades from fabric, Woodsies small dowels and thin lace trim.  I love this room!  Since the tower faces east, that's a sunrise....

This painting is The Tall Ship 'Clipper Kaisow' by Montague Dawson.

The attic above the bedroom holds two extra wool blankets in a wood box made by Lyssa.  :]  I didn't add permanent light fixtures in the two attic spaces since they are so open and small.

On the other side of the tower, there's a modest kitchen and a very narrow bathroom.  If you notice, I forgot the refrigerator in my mockup.

I thought about adding an old fashioned ice box but went with the monitor top fridge instead.  There was just enough room for an HBS upper cabinet after moving the window opening over on this front wall.  On the right, there is the Daisy House wall hutch I made and a gateleg table and stools from HBS.  I had planned to paint the table and chairs but ran out of time.  I had made the apron for the Heritage but didn't have room for it.

The hutch kit was easy to assemble and has a lot of character.

The stove is a Phoenix Models Metro Gas Cooker from New England Miniatures.  I think I need some pots on pegs above it.  :D

This was not an easy thing to put together, and I still need to do some altering.  It's gorgeous, though rather pricey for an unfinished piece.

If you've ever stayed at an old B&B, this bathroom might actually seem spacious.  I joked that this was perhaps renovated from the former dry pantry.  :D

The artwork is Ariel and Taeping by Montague Dawson.

The loo had to be put in place before I could close up the room, so it and the radiator are permanent.  Yes, that's real tissue paper on the holder.  :D

But, I borrowed the Heritage bathtub since the work in progress tub (which is nearly identical but newer looking) was not finished in time.  I modified the sink to have a tile backer and used an HBS chrome faucet set.  I have this very set in my real life bathroom.  :]  I still want to add some further detailing, so the sink is not yet glued together permanently.

The textured glass window was made using two layers of rippled water sheet from HBS in place of the acrylic inserts included with the Houseworks working window.  Just the right amount of privacy for the bathroom.  We don't need someone falling backward over the railing after getting an eyeful!  :D

The attic above the kitchen and bathroom holds emergency supplies.  These started out as mini cardboard boxes from HBS.  I added the labels.  :D

Once I had my room dimensions, I cleaved the cottage in half.  :O  I moved the left window toward the center and filled in the floor beneath the tower (I later removed the overhanging piece from the right front).   No turning back now!

The main tower doesn't have a lot of room for miniatures, so I tried to place a few important items.  On the lower level, there is a small House of Miniatures side table with a flashlight, log book and pencil.  I want to still make a radio for this part and add a few more accessories.  Underneath the table is a pair of boots (Manor House) and a toolbox (HBS).

To the right are a First Aid box and a fire extinguisher.

Inside the toolbox are the tools I picked up from Wright Guide Miniatures at the Bishop Show.

By the door to the kitchen, there's a broom and dustpan from D's Miniatures as well as one of my creamer trash cans.  :D  The other trash can is in the kitchen but hard to see in the corner.

I love these!  :D

The left side has a Chrysnbon coat rack and a scratch built ladder on holders made from paper clips.

The ladder gives you access to the window above the door.

It also allows you to change the lights.

Speaking of the tower lights...those are made from doll hair rollers from Dollar Tree.  :D  More on the lighting here.

Here's the upper floor, which is very hard to photograph.  The conduits don't actually hold the wiring in this build - strictly for show.  The top railing is made from wood dowels, Tiny Turnings and Laser Tech railings.

I have the green Hepplewhite Serpentine Table here.  The star charts are from L Delaney, and the magnifying glass and binoculars are jewelry findings.

The lantern room straight out of the box was great, but I did make a number of modifications to it.  Since this is a solid room (no open back) and I planned to have a lighted Fresnel lens inside, I needed the room to be removable and therefore solid.  Basically, I added siding and a lot of trim to the lantern room itself.  Here you can see I added double diamond plate to the exterior landing.  (You can find my post of tips and tricks for the tower assembly and lantern room in this post.)

I had bought two Fresnel lens models in preparation for Jasper Inlet Light, a future build that is still on the distant horizon.  Unfortunately, these were both too large for the kit lantern room.  Instead, I've used the smaller Christmas ornament (one of a set of four), also by Harbour Lights.  These are a little on the small side but more workable than the larger models.  These are no longer made but you can find them on eBay from time to time.

I built a support mechanism for the lens from a kitchen spray hose guide from Home Depot and some mdf circles from the scrapbook aisle at Michaels.  :D  You should have seen me wandering around Home Depot just looking at all the components in the plumbing and electrical aisles.  I must have been asked a dozen times if I was sure I didn't need help.  I wanted something that looked mechanical and gave the illusion of having the ability to rotate.

I made a metal ring to attach the lens to the hose guide, and the light sits underneath the lens ornament.  I later removed the top ring of the ornament as well.

The ornament has a solid core and no way for a lightbulb to sit inside the lens.

I used the Cir-Kit lighthouse beacon, which had to be wired separately from the rest of the lights.  It comes with its own control box and transformer.  The only thing I didn't like was that there's no on/off switch; you have to climb under the table or reach behind things to unplug the transformer.  You could put it on a cord with a switch, but an on/off switch seemed an odd thing to be missing.  Otherwise, it's an awesome product...really gives the illusion of a rotating beacon.

The base, railing and lantern mechanism are fixed to the tower, and the lantern room and roof lifts off.  The laser cut tabs allow this to work well.  I cut a floor door to allow access from the upper tower room.  I made another scratch built ladder as well that isn't shown here but matches the one in the lower tower.  The conduit covers the wire channel since tape would have been obvious.  Yes, I was up on a step ladder for this part.  :D

I reinforced the railing with small dowels since there wasn't much surface area to glue them side to side.  I painted these black and you can't even tell there is anything there.

I left the acetate out of the lantern room for now.  I like being able to see the Fresnel lens without light reflecting on the window surface.  The lantern roof has a small knob finial as a finishing touch.  Love it!  :D

The original roof had more of a cottage style.  I cut down the front and back kit pieces to fit around the lighthouse and cut new side panels from foam core board since the angle had changed and the kit pieces would no longer fit.

I then covered the assemblies with 1/32" birch plywood veneer and 1/16" x 1/8" strips.

Painted Alizarin Red by Americana followed by satin varnish, the roof looks like metal.  Tyvek strips serve as flashing.

I used stucco patch from Home Depot for the exterior surface and painted it with leftover Benjamin Moore White Chocolate.  It's the color of my upper kitchen cabinets and has a wonderful semi-gloss sheen - no extra sealing required!  It was nearly identical to Warm White by Americana topped with Delta Ceramcoat satin varnish, which is what I used for the trimwork throughout.

The nautical items are from Fiddly-bits Miniatures.  The metal holders are the cut ends of large paperclips.

And, all that fuss about my broken glue syringe?  I was weather-stripping the windows and doors with spackle.  :D

The big base started out as wood and now looks like weathered concrete with a nice coating of algae.  :]  More on that to come.  The railing and ladder are made from brass rod painted black and brown.  The boat bumpers are made from a foam hair roller.  The eyelets at the top of the ladder allow the chain to be removed for access to the breakwater.

The railing is made from wood mushroom buttons and 1/4" dowels from True Value, jewelry eyelets, Woodsies tiny dowels and chain from Michaels, and spray paint.  I love my scroll saw - 26 dowels all cut to size in a matter of minutes.  Drilling all the tiny holes, however, took a lot longer.  :\

It was a lot of work but well worth the effort.

See, the bumpers work!  :D

I started a Midwest dinghy model that didn't get finished in time.  Honestly, it's been giving me fits, so I am not sure about its future.  :\  When I was first planning at the beginning of the year, I was going to make a Tall Ship with all the rigging and assorted craziness.  Maybe someday....

On the surface of the breakwater, there are caution signs.  :D  These were made with rub-on transfer film and a free spray paint font I found online.

This is a Tim Holtz compass coin, found in the scrapbook section at Michaels.  It is embedded in the surface of the breakwater concrete in front of the main door.  This was an interesting process that I will detail separately.

I hope you've enjoyed visiting Walnut Bay Light as much as I have enjoyed building it.  Even though the build is completely furnished at the moment, there are items I want to replace now that there is no time crunch.  I've got a few great things on the idea list that I still want to try...hello, where's the foghorn?

Update 05-03-14: I received some wonderful minis for Walnut Bay Light from Bill.

Thank you all for the encouragement and support along the way.  A special thank you to April, Lyssa, Blondie, Erica and Peggy for the helpful advice and friendship!  :D  And, of course a huge thank you to mom!!


Comment from: Blondie [Visitor]
I'm soooooo proud of you!! It's beautiful. Thank you for letting me play along. :) bravo!
12/16/13 @ 20:47
Comment from: April [Visitor]
There are so many stunning features throughout. A gorgeous build Brae, elegant simplicity.
12/16/13 @ 21:03
Comment from: Neen [Visitor]
Wow, I am speechless. Your mastery of the large and the small is amazing. Well done!!
12/16/13 @ 21:20
Comment from: Steve Panner [Visitor]
Amazing work! Great to see you are back after the recent events, and what a comeback! Had a haunch it was a lighthouse after the third sneak peak. But never expected something so wonderfully detailed. Actually, that's a lie, knowing your previous work, I came here today expecting exactly this kind of amazing details :) You totally nailed it!
12/16/13 @ 21:40
Comment from: Nancy Enge [Visitor]  
A tour de force, absolutely delightful. Thank you for setting the bar impossibly high, that we may continue to aspire without being utterly cowed.
12/16/13 @ 22:44
Comment from: Marijke [Visitor]
Amazing how beautiful clever ideas with the lamp. Your lighthouse give my a summer feeling when I was at the lighthouse of Texel! Thank you for showing your lighthouse you make me day! groetjes van Marijke
12/16/13 @ 23:44
Comment from: Janine Thiedeke [Visitor]
Dear Brae, it is an inspired space. I enjoyed it so much and these light houses and houses are dear to my heart. Thankyou so much for your details description. the staircase is amazing. Regards and good luck Janinet
12/17/13 @ 00:11
Comment from: pepper [Visitor]
Brae, as always you have stuffed the build with so many beautiful designs and ideas, I can't help be inspired. Every tiny detail just adds to the magic and realism of the piece. Well done you!
12/17/13 @ 00:54
Comment from: Keli [Visitor]
Wow. Super wow. Holy mother of wow. I'll comment later, when I pick my chin up off the floor and can formulate a coherent thought.
12/17/13 @ 00:57
Comment from: Blanche [Visitor]
Che meraviglia! Sono assolutamente impressionata dai dettagli, da ogni vostra piccola e grande genialità! Vien voglia di vivere in questo faro. :-)
12/17/13 @ 01:03
Comment from: Lara [Visitor]
Speechless! It is so beautiful. I love lighthouses, and yours is absolutely stunning! All the details, you did a great job. Best regards, Lara
12/17/13 @ 01:33
Comment from: 12Create [Visitor]
Another fabulous and inspiring project Brae.
12/17/13 @ 01:50
Comment from: Pat [Visitor]
Awesome work. I would like to be in on a project with you from start to finish. You are amazing. Pat
12/17/13 @ 04:15
Comment from: Sarah [Visitor]
I can't believe I didn't think of a lighthouse!!! DUH! :D IT IS AMAZING! I love it, and all those big details really make it too, ie. the green algae, all the surface textures, the roof, then with the little details, the light covers, piping, buffers, the list goes on, THE TIME AND ENERGY, where do you find it? :D I love the photo of it lit up too. And the splashback! The little attic space. Staircase!!.. I am in danger of writing a long list here.... :D Just fantastic and very inspiring. P.s. That cat has a knowing look!! It knows the mayhem (and late dinners? :D) that ensue when big boxes arrive :D WARNING! Do not place heavyish plates on the phoenix cooker rack, I have the same one, and over night, they bent the rack...
12/17/13 @ 05:47
Comment from: Kara [Visitor]
Absolutely fabulous!! Good luck in the competition. This is fantastic. :)
12/17/13 @ 06:24
Comment from: Mad for Mod [Visitor]
I wouldn't have expected a lighthouse, but then you are full of surprises. It's awesome! Your attention to the details floors me every time!
12/17/13 @ 06:34
Comment from: Jyoti [Visitor]
Brae - you are a true artist - I am just floored!!! The level of detail is incredible. Worth the wait :)
12/17/13 @ 07:12
Comment from: Susan Wener [Visitor]
I thought it might be something nautical but never such a splendid lighthouse. I am always in awe of your exquisite attention to detail and your ability to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear… doll hair curlers!!!??? Who knew? Love it!
12/17/13 @ 07:15
Comment from: Jeannette [Visitor]
Wow! You've done it again! It looks amazing!
12/17/13 @ 08:26
Comment from: Lyssa [Visitor]
I just adore this build, Pea. I love being a part of the behind-the-scenes team, and seeing how your builds come together and just how much it takes to get them done. Another fantastic, museum worthy build. It's absolutely stunning. And even though there was no "reveal" for me, I'm still with Keli here.... Jaw on floor. Bravo!
12/17/13 @ 09:54
Comment from: Evelyne [Visitor]
Not surprisingly, it's absolutely beautiful and perfect!!! I am a huge fan of your work and "visiting" your creations is a wonderful journey filled with ahhs, and oohhh... Thank you!!!! No need to wish you good luck on the contest, you are already a winner and - as far as I'm concerned - the winner!!! BRAVO!!!
12/17/13 @ 10:18
Comment from: Deb [Visitor]
TOTALLY AMAZING! I know I'll be coming back to read through this over and over--your attention to detail is superb! LOVE IT!
12/17/13 @ 10:26
Comment from: Gill [Visitor]
You never cease to amaze! The attention to detail is always impressive, and so very creative. Seeing your miniatures that look way better than my REAL house is just remarkable.
12/17/13 @ 11:08
Comment from: Susan Korman [Visitor]
Hi Brae! Terrific build! I have to admit after the last big hint I thought it was a ship :-) Silly me. As usual you never cease to amaze. It is super spectacular! I really enjoyed my walkthrough. Susan
12/17/13 @ 14:23
Comment from: Ana Correia [Visitor]  
OMG, I am sooo amazed,this is a dream lighthouse! The wall paper is so cute and the stove just steel my heart!I want a lighthouse now.lol
12/17/13 @ 15:11
Comment from: Jane s [Visitor]
Just more perfection from you madam! You do inspire us to reach for the top of the imaginative peak in the mini world. The pictures are so wonderful I am always awed by your choices in design every little piece looks like they were made as a set...even the hair rollers! Wonderful and fantastical..and nautical perfection!
12/17/13 @ 16:00
Comment from: azteclady1 [Visitor]
Oh my good lord, this is amazing! I couldn't ever have come up with the idea of using two different models together this way--as usual, the result is incredibly appealing and so detailed! Thank you for sharing these images, I know I will be back to see how you realized the other details as you post individuals items. I'm always amazed at how your mind works and how you see the finished product on something not entirely disparate.
12/17/13 @ 18:10
Comment from: Judy [Visitor]
This is brilliant!
12/17/13 @ 18:45
Comment from: Irene [Visitor]
What an amazing read. I have just followed this from start to finish and to say I'm impressed is an understatement! I love what you've done with this and appreciate all the links you've passed on. Very well done and a Merry Christmas to you when it comes.
12/18/13 @ 12:31
Comment from: elizabeth s [Visitor]
I think that this is really wonderful Brae! You have made a complex and incredibly interesting and authentic looking lighthouse with living accommodations, and everything is Beautifully detailed all the way! Congratulations on a job Very Well Done! :D
12/18/13 @ 13:04
Comment from: Josje [Visitor]
Oh Brea, another beautiful build! I love the story of the lighthouse and your interpretation with the build. Your detailing is so wonderful, with that light just being the crowning glory of it all. I can just see you roaming the ailes of Homing Depot, that is so recognizable! Brava Brea!
12/19/13 @ 04:29
Comment from: Betsy Rogers [Visitor]
Wow, Brae! Congratulations on another Amazing Building!!! There is so much to look at... so many ingenious details and special features... so much Inventive Genius !!!! You are Amazing!!!
12/21/13 @ 08:50
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you all so much! :>>
12/26/13 @ 19:51
Comment from: Marisa [Visitor]
I love this light house, in the back of my mind I had a vision of doing something like this for myself *ive always been fond of light houses* (and I still might get around to doing it once real life gets out of the way) Happy New Year Marisa
12/30/13 @ 13:49
Just beautiful.
01/06/14 @ 00:04
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you!!! :>>
01/07/14 @ 10:25
Comment from: Kathi [Visitor]
Gosh. I go away for a couple of months and just look at what you've accomplished! I love this! Every single detail is perfect!
01/28/14 @ 06:13
Comment from: brae [Member]
:>> Thank you! And, welcome back!
01/31/14 @ 05:15
Comment from: Grace [Visitor]
Oh wow, this is absolutely beautiful. Congratulations on your win in the miniatures.com competition! I'm delightedly impressed, and I also have great LOVE for this, a very special rare love that I don't get too often. Wonderful!
02/15/14 @ 14:38
Comment from: MiniDork [Visitor]
Gorgeous Brae. Just gorgeous.
02/15/14 @ 16:37
Comment from: Marjie [Visitor]  
Your work is magnificent. Thanks for sharing, in such detail, the process of your build. Congratulations on your placement in the Miniatures contest.
02/15/14 @ 18:02
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you!!! :>>
02/15/14 @ 23:20
Comment from: Bennie [Visitor]  
You did an amazing job!! It looks totally realistic - adorable!!
02/18/14 @ 09:24
Comment from: Laura [Visitor]
Wow, this is a masterpiece! The level of detail is inspiring. Also, a huge congratulations on the second place win in the HBS creatin' contest.
02/18/14 @ 11:50
Comment from: Victoria Miller [Visitor]  
What a work of art! This lighthouse is stunning! I received it in an email from HBS Miniatures. If this was second place, I don't even want to know what was first! And then I had to investigate more! What a talented and creative miniaturist you are (to say nothing of your other accomplishments)! This delightful creation really brightened my day. And I'd be interested in knowing should you decide to build a tall ship. There are a couple in the harbor right down the street from where I live.
02/18/14 @ 15:07
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you!!! :>> I may still get to a Tall Ship someday...they are beautiful. :yes: And, I've even been sailing on one.
02/26/14 @ 12:24
Comment from: Raine Scott [Visitor]
First of all, your work is breathtaking beautiful. The patience and skill you have is unbelievable. I couldn't even begin to fathom how one even attempts to create such a masterpiece. I'm in awe, looking at the art you create. I am surprised at the ingenuity of how you incorporate seemingly tiny insignificant objects into your creations and then how they go from a doll's hair curler to become an interior lighthouse light. Really amazing. I have been working on a really little project myself, and what I mean by little, I mean really small in artistic talent. I love the texture on the outside of your lighthouse, may I ask, how did you accomplish this?
06/23/16 @ 08:10
Comment from: brae [Member]
Thank you! :>> I used stucco patch from Home Depot for the exterior surface and painted it with leftover Benjamin Moore White Chocolate.
06/23/16 @ 09:30
Comment from: Raine Scott [Visitor]
Thanks so much for your reply. You are really gifted. I wonder what you will come up with next.
06/23/16 @ 20:23
Comment from: Pam [Visitor]
I bought the lighthouse light kit. What can I find to make it look like the bulb is enclosed in glass? Thank you for all of your tips!!! Pam
06/14/19 @ 00:36
Comment from: brae [Member]
My ornament Fresnel lens was solid, so I mounted the light underneath as shown in this post. It would depend on what you use for the Fresnel on how you would mount the light inside. :yes:
06/18/19 @ 14:39

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