Friday, 9 May 2014

1:12 scale Rustic Shelf

I got the idea for this unusual shelf, after seeing one on the front cover of Caroline Zoobs' book, "The Hand-stitched home", which is full of lovely ideas, so if you see it in a library or book store have a flick through it.  The reason the shelf has that lovely weathered finish, is because I used the same stuff (vinegar and steel wool solution) that Pepper from Mitchy Moo Miniatures used on her shed here.. I have been dying to try it out since she posted about it!! :D

The shelf was made using wood cut to size from lolly pop sticks, tongue depressors and coffee stirrers, and stained before construction. The crate was made quite some time ago, using the wood of tongue depressors, and can be spotted in its original state here. The wood glue holding it together softened enough for it to fall apart (unintended :D ) after I put the solution on, so it had to be reconstructed again once dry. 

I noticed when I put the solution on, nothing happened, but once the wood started to dry, the weathered effect appeared. I used it undiluted and applied a few coats. 

Once it reached the desired patina, I put a coat of beeswax polish on, just in case it "rusted", because I assume there are steel particles in the wood now, though to be honest, I don't fully understand the "magic" happening here, but I was taking no chances.  :D

The glass jug is from My Tiny World and the key is by Tony Hooper

Happy accident. For some reason a few pieces of wood reacted differently to the same solution, so it looks like it has been constructed on the hoof,  from some old wood that was lying about. The nail holes are indents made using a needle, and then a tiny dollop of watery orange brown water colour paint placed over the top, and finally dotted using a fine black pen.

I use an Exacto knife to cut lollypop sticks length wise. Just in case it never occurred to someone, if you pop another lollypop stick under the ruler, it will help hold the ruler flush to the cutting line, otherwise the ruler and cut will slant at an angle. It also makes it that bit safer and more accurate to cut. This is probably a blindingly obvious thing to do, but you would be amazed at the blindingly obvious things I don't think of doing at first, so I'm including this for folk like me :D

A miniature version of a life size picture in my life size house!  This is a postcard, of what I think is an old Arabic painting of a Zebra, but I'm not sure (about the Arabic part, I know it's a Zebra :D )

EDIT! You can see it better here. :D

Made using wood, plastic sheet (some I had saved from packaging of an SD card), paper, metal and minature nails. The clips are made using the metal from tea light holders which is a material I would never have thought of using, so thanks to Monique of Fabulously Small for detailing that on her blog. I happen to have a lot of tea lights too! 

I made the little cup hooks, using wire. They were painted using black Humbrol paint, then a wash of orange/brown watercolour paint, to give them a rusty look. To keep the hooks a consistent size and shape, I've detailed the bending process below. The nails are just a short length of wire, with a dot of paint on the end, to simulate the head, albeit very subtle :D

For illustrative purposes, I'm using quite a thick wire. You will need a rod, preferably solid, unlike the one as show here :D (Normally, I would  use the end of a drill bit, anything with a small diameter). If you want to paint the hooks, you should run wire wool over it first, to give the paint something to cling to.

P.S. The rod I am using here, is one section of a retractable aerial salvaged from an old radio. I thought they would come in useful, for example it crossed my mind you could make a set of pastry cutters in different sizes, using a saw to cut them into rings..............I'll get there eventually :D

Holding the end of the wire against the rod, wrap it around until you have a circle. You can use pliers to create a tighter circle, though if the rod is not solid, be careful, as you may kink the rod and the circle.

Position the pliers (or tweezers) as shown, and bend the excess wire, so that it would lie roughly as the red line indicates.

You should have something that looks like this.

Snip excess at the end of the circle, to create desired hook shape.

And snip again. You will need a small drill bit or  needle to make a hole for the "screw" end to be stuck into. I dab the end into super glue before fitting it into a pre-drilled hole. Make sure you don't push the hook all the way in, as real cup hooks only go in so far. Leave, at the most, a millimetre before the curve begins.
If this is too fiddly, Phoenix miniatures have nice 1:12 scale brass cup hooks in their miniature hardware section, which I used on a shelf here.

I managed not to complain about the weather today! Well, it was sunny, briefly :D


  1. LOVELY! Are you going to put it in a scene?

  2. It looks fantastic. It's great when the weathering solution reacts differently to the wood - I think it adds to the realism of how unevenly the wood would age. Love the clip frame and picture too =0)

  3. Prachtig rek heb je gemaakt.

    Groeten Xandra

  4. Me encanta tu estantería, realmente parece deteriorada y oxidada por el tiempo!, buen tutorial.

  5. Hello Sarah! Your rustic shelf turned out beautiful and I love all the accessories on it, it is amazing, so realistic work!
    I have used the same solution for my shelves in the cellar of my canal house :D! I'll show it later on my blog, because it is not yet time! The solution worked great, but also different at different kinds of wood.
    The technique of making nails and hooks, which you've used on this shelf is the same one, like I have used on my 'bedstee' or 'cupboard' cabinet.
    Thank you for sharing the links, I was still looking for a glass jug like this, so now I know where I have to look ;)!
    The miniature zebra painting behind glass looks awesome, thanks for showing!
    I thank you for the explanation of how to do this all. Because as I said before I would love to share some techniques on my blog, but my knowledge of technical terms in English is too bad for doing it. I now share more things with pictures and try to explain how I did it all.
    Here in The Netherlands it is raining cats and dogs :(, but that is good minaiture-making-weather, isn't it ;)?
    I wish you a nice weekend, enjoy your sunshine :D!
    Hugs, Ilona

  6. Thank you for the shelf.

  7. Merci Sarah pour toutes ces explications. Je suis tellement enthousiaste de votre travail et de l'atmosphère que vous savez si bien rendre.

  8. Un trabajo perfecto, muy realista, me encanta.
    Un abrazo.

  9. I like your shelf very much as well as all the accessories.

  10. Everything is so wonderful! Thanks for sharing. I love the frame! so well done! Hannah

  11. Me gusta mucho.Un trabajo fenomenal

  12. Hello Sarah,
    Terrific work. Your ageing technique is fantastic. the piece looks very realistic. you did a great job on the structure and all the accessories.
    Big hug,

  13. Cute shelf! Everything looks perfect!

  14. L 'étagère est tres belle, les accessoires et les cadres sont aussi très beaux. Merci pour les explications. Le vieillissement est parfait ! Bisous.

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  16. This looks great Sarah! It looks very realistic, I love it! I think the accessories turned out great too, you have a great feelling for what looks real. And card is a great medium, you're clever to use what works best. About the wateringcans, I've seen small(er) kinds in RL, I think all sizes have been made over time. I am also very enthousiastic about your zebrapicture in the 'glass'frame, I think I was oh-ing out loud ;) And laughing for your remark about it (I laugh a lot reading your blog, I like your sense of humor!) And I'm glad my tip for using teacupmetal came in handy for you. Thanks for the cuphook instructions btw, very handy! Bye! Monique


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