The Den of Slack

Aging the faux copper roof

Continuing with the Victorianna’s “copper” tower roof — it doesn’t take long for pretty, orangey copper to tarnish and turn blue out in the elements, so I need to dirty it up.

To do so, I bought a set of Vintaj Patina paints. This set is appropriately called Weathered Copper and includes three colors: moss, vertigris, and jade. This stuff is meant to be used on metal but it’s just paint, no reason it can’t be used on wood.

I started with the moss since it was the darkest and tamest of the three, using my favorite dry brush technique to splotch it on. (Dry brush technique: dab a stiff bristle brush in paint and then splotch most of the paint off on a paper towel before using it.) It didn’t look quite right, but I figured if I didn’t like how it turned out I could always repaint the roof copper and start over.

Next I splotched on some vertigris. Yikes, that’s bright.

And finally the jade. This is definitely not the look I’m going for. Back to the drawing board painting table.

For my second attempt I used a sponge brush and applied the paint more liberally. Here it is with a coat of moss.

Followed by vertigris (just one panel in this photo, to give you an idea of how the vertigris changes the overall color).

And finally the jade. This looks better than the last attempt, and is reminiscent of a tarnished copper roof. But I want my roof to be mostly copper with a hint of oxidation, not the other way around.

Using a dry brush again, I re-applied the copper paint. This process reminded me of the eraser tool in a program like Photoshop — splotching on the copper paint effectively “erases” the other colors until only a hint remains.

Here’s how it turned out. I might play with it some more when I do the other tower roof.

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Tower with a gazebo widow’s walk

Last time, I posted about the bell-shaped copper roof for the Victorianna’s left tower. I didn’t want to do the exact same thing on the right side. Since the house is made from two Victorianna kits built back to back, it’s perfectly symmetrical, but Victorian houses usually aren’t symmetrical. So I decided to make one of the towers taller than the other.

(Note: In hindsight I wish I had eliminated one of the towers completely and turned it into a peaked gable to look something like this. Too late for that now.)

I poured over photos of Victorian houses with turrets and started thinking about turning the top part of one of the towers into a sort of observatory with windows. Some Victorian houses have what looks like a gazebo up on the roof, and I thought I could use a 1:48 scale gazebo to emulate that look. Most of the ones I found were six sided and my tower has eight sides, so my options were limited.

I ended up buying this one from Laser Dollhouse Designs. I’m leaving off the base, and I’ll add strip wood to the windows to make them look more like the lower part of the tower. This picture shows the roof from the kit, but instead I’m going to use a (smaller) bell that matches the other tower roof.

The inside dimension is only 2.5 inches tall (the equivalent of 5 feet) which is a bit short for a half scale person to stand up in, and I also wanted the windows to have a purpose and not be a separated-off thing that these imaginary people could never reach. To address these issues, I cut holes in the floor and ceiling. The piece with the hole below is the kit piece that’s supposed to form the bottom of the tower roof. I traced the hole onto the octagonal pieces from the gazebo kit.

(I’m using what would have been the very bottom of the gazebo, if I hadn’t left off the base, as the top piece that goes above the windows. It’s slightly smaller than the octagon that normally forms the bottom of the gazebo roof, and closer in size to the bell I bought for the roof.)

Geoff helped me cut them with whatever this is. A circular saw hole saw attachment on the drill press, I think.

The traced hole came too close to the holes that the gazebo wall tabs get inserted into, so we made the hole slightly smaller than the original. It’s also a little bit off-center but you won’t be able to tell.

At 3.25″ across, this octagonal piece exactly fits inside of the tower walls, so I decided to do away with the piece from the kit that fits into these tabs (the one shown above with the hole in it).

I used the utility knife to cut off the tabs. Of course this would have been easier before the tower was assembled! I started by making several vertical slits in the tab.

Then I cut sideways, and the tab chipped off in pieces as the knife reached each of those slits.

After cutting off the tabs I sanded with the mouse sander to make the wall tops relatively flat. I’ll position crown molding inside the tower room so the floor of the gazebo can sit on top of it.

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Tower with a bell-shaped copper roof

For months, I’ve been looking into options for the Victorianna’s tower roofs. I didn’t really like the look of the roof that comes with the kit, plus I suspected it would be hard to assemble. You can see what it’s supposed to look like in the box photo.

The Victorianna is a half scale version of the McKinley (pictured at the bottom of the box), but the proportions aren’t quite the same. The McKinley’s tower roof lines up with the roofline of the house, while on the Victorianna the tower sticks up over the roofline. The Victorianna’s tower roof also seems more squat, but that may be an optical illusion.

I spent a lot of time looking at photos of real houses with towers, particularly octagonal towers. I’m not a big fan of towers that come to a point at the top, but I really like the ones with bell-shaped turrets. I started looking for bell-shaped items that could sit on top of my towers — lampshades, candle holders turned upside down, and even (duh) bells.

After hours upon hours of searching for just the right solution, I finally placed an order with an Etsy seller in Russia who makes large wooden bells. They’re available in three sizes, with the largest, about 3.75″ in diameter, slightly smaller than the octagon trim at the top of the tower. Not knowing yet exactly what I wanted to do with it, I asked her not to drill a hole in the top and insert the clapper.

(I thought about adding a dormer between the two towers and went as far as making one out of foam core, then decided it’s too busy. Disregard!)

The bell isn’t perfect — a bit too tall, I think — but I do like the curved shape. Some of the turrets I found online have seams on the dome to correspond with the eight corners of the tower. I thought that adding my own seams might make the bell look more like it belongs.

I cut eight lengths of braided leather cord and taped them together at the top.

Next I drilled a hole at the top of the bell, large enough to push the ends through.

I put the bell on top of the tower and marked the corners of the octagon with a pencil. Then I glued the pieces of cord to the bell to line up with these marks.

Looking less like a wooden bell and more like a turret roof? Maybe?

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