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June-July 2012

A Quarter Scale Project

"Let me live in a house by the side of the road ...."


Hooray! Guess who came for her cousin's wedding, and stayed for a nice long visit? And just happened to want to do a project once again with Nana?

This all began after a 13th birthday phone call to my granddaughter, Laura, on April 30. She told me that the family had gone to a Logan's Road House in San Antonio and that she now had four little empty buckets - like the ones used in her and Jenna's Bucket Bunnies - and mused, "Maybe we can do something with them, Nana, when we come for Jeremy's wedding in June!"

I said, "Sure, of course," happy that she wanted to do a project with me again after all this time.

So, after the flurry of wedding activities, we settled in for a nice visit and she worked intermittently on a project, in between re-reading Harry Potter and other hefty tomes, playing computer games and watching movies with me.

Well, I wanted to get a picture of her with her finished dome in the chair where she and Jenna have posed before after making projects with Nana. "Oh my goodness, how you girls have grown up," I said, as we looked through pictures of old projects that she had forgotten doing!

When I asked her to pose this time, I told Laura, "Hey, your legs are longer now than YOU were when I first started taking pictures of you in this chair!"

"Oh, Nana! You make me laugh!"

"Okay; let's settle down now," I said, trying not to laugh any more, either.

"Well, you started this, Nana."

Okay - so we didn't get a totally clear picture....

"Who lives in the house?" I asked Laura as I worked on these pages. She thought a while. "I'm not sure, Nana; all I know is it's Logan's House by the side of the road - Somebody-Logan - and he likes to watch the people go by ...."

Aha! That reminded me of a poem ...

(picture by Dana McCartney)

There are hermit
souls that live withdrawn
In the peace of their self-content;
There are souls, like stars, that dwell apart,
In a fellowless firmament;
There are pioneer souls that blaze their paths
Where highways never ran;-

But let me live by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

Let me live in a house
by the side of the road,
Where the race of men go by-
The men who are good and the men who are bad,
As good and as bad as I.
I would not sit in the scorner’s seat,
Or hurl the cynic’s ban;-
Let me live in a house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

I see from my house
by the side of the road,
By the side of the highway of life,
The men who press with the ardor of hope,
The men who are faint with the strife.

But I turn not away from their smiles nor their tears-
Both parts of an infinite plan;-
Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man

(picture by Dana McCartney)

I know there are brook-gladdened
meadows ahead
And mountains of wearisome height;
That the road passes on through the long afternoon
And stretches away to the night.

But still I rejoice when the travelers rejoice,
And weep with the strangers that moan,
Nor live in my house by the side of the road
Like a man who dwells alone.

Let me live in my
house by the side of the road
Where the race of men go by-
They are good, they are bad, they are weak, they are strong,

Wise, foolish- so am I.
Then why should I sit in the scorner’s seat
Or hurl the cynic’s ban?-

Let me live in my house by the side of the road
And be a friend to man.

The House by the Side of the Road
by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)


When we decided to work on her project, we played with the buckets to see how they would do in a setting, and originally she planned to use all four of them.

PART I - The Base

I explained that I almost never make my scenes directly on the wood base, but use a separate piece so that the scene can be changed, if desired. Her dome is the size of the Portland Centerpieces; see the Fall setting on the table above.

I made a pattern using aluminum foil and she traced around it on cardboard, which had been between stacked canned goods or perhaps water bottles, I think. I wanted to be sure that our base was slightly smaller than the wood, so our scene would fit inside the glass dome.

At this point, I figured we better get our work trays ready to contain our messes.

We decided we needed a double layer of the cardboard, but figured it would be easier to cut one layer at a time, so she glued the cut circle onto a bigger piece and then cut out the layer on the bottom using the top circle as a guide.

I gave her a tip to cut straight across first, cutting away as much of the excess as possible, then curving with the scissors. Much easier, she agreed, than manipulating the entire larger piece as she cut.

We covered the glued base with a piece of wax paper and weighted it with heavy books and put it aside.

Some time went by before we got back to the project, as summer is not my best time of year and I just couldn't seem to get myself together. Fortunately, she entertains herself easily and was happy to play on the computer and read and watch NetFlix with me!

We both became fans of a British series called Rosemary and Thyme.

Part II - Floors and Walls

Knowing that we would have to move the base a great deal while we fitted and landscaped, we decided it would be best to completely furnish the rooms so everything would be firmly glued in place beforehand. So the next time we pulled out the trays to work, that's what we focused on.

Laura looked through my stash for items she thought she might use in her four buckets - a living room, kitchen, bedroom and bathroom.

We spent considerable time trying to figure out her layout, and eventually realized that she could not effectively use all four buckets, so one bucket was put aside for another purpose. She decided on two floors below, facing one direction, with one atop, facing the other direction, eliminating the bathroom.

Making the patterns in these curved buckets was a daunting prospect for Laura, so I did this, and it was hard enough for me, but it helped that not long before that I had attended Darla K. Smith's luncheon at the NAME Regional in Portland, OR, where she explained how to make patterns for a teacup. It took considerable effort to measure and draw and cut and measure and cut the patterns for the floor and the front. (Apparently it was so daunting that I forgot to take pictures of the process. lol)

Here Laura is gluing her floor printie onto the cardboard. Fortunately, I had a page in my stash of Anita McNary's wallpapers and floors that I had printed out from a miniature magazine, and although I think they were intended for 144th scale, they worked nicely here. Thanks, Anita!

She selected two different wood floors for the living room and bedroom and a black and white check for the kitchen, and a brick for the lower curves under the lower floor.

She decided to use wallpaper on the back of the buckets only, and chose a pale green print for her living room (to match her chair and ottoman), a pale blue for the bedroom, and a pale yellow for the kitchen. Unfortunately, they don't show up well at all in these pictures, but they are finished neatly in real life.

We marked each bucket, base and wallpaper piece since each shaped a slight bit differently. The paper was glued onto the base, with a little extra so that she could fill in any gaps. Because it was softened from the glue around the edges, it was easier to press into place for fitting, and then to cut away excess as needed.

Laura decided on the trims to finish the edges and cut them with a longish tail so the thread could be looped around as it was glued over the edge of the back wall. She found this easier to do with the bucket bottom sitting flat on the table while she stood over it.

The first one was the hardest while she figured out how to do it, but the other two went much more quickly. "Hey, this isn't bad at all, Nana!"

This seemed a logical place to put her project aside for a while.

PART III - Furnishings

Our next phase was the furnishings, and since Laura wasn't particularly interested in making furniture from scratch, she had shopped in my stash earlier.

For her kitchen, she used a tiny resin stove (I think I purchased this from Georgia Matuschak) which Laura painted gloss white, and when dry, painted the burners and knobs black. She also chose a BPF table and two chairs.

I showed her how I had cut sections from a paper napkin for previous quarter scale projects and she decided she liked the white daisy-like flower against the black background, so used that section to cut cushions for her chairs.

Here she is gluing a cushion into place. The chairs were already an off-white, as I had used them previously in a little Joe Hermes house, but she gave them a new white coat which she felt would go better with her black and white check kitchen floor.

The table was already like this when I purchased it as part of a large batch of BPF that I found on Ebay, but she gave it a fresh coat of white so everything would match.

She wanted a tablecloth and found just the muted lace-like design she liked on this little Christmas napkin.

Here she has glued the edges of the table - not the top because it might leak through.

Now she is working from one side to the other, pushing and pulling gathers into place against the glued edge.

She decided on a flower centerpiece instead of food on her table, and this mixture from Bill Lankford works beautifully in cases like this. She used a bronze finding as a bowl.


The black and white check floor, dark cushion bases, plus addition of the black pot on the stove and the dark bowl on the table make her little kitchen setting pop.

The plates were made by punching out tiny circles from the border trim of the wallpaper she used for the back wall. They were shaped on the foam and glued onto a tiny shelf made from the flooring leftovers.

I didn't get a separate up-close picture of the shelf with its two plates (three plates was too many) and it is so tiny it doesn't photograph well, but it looks fine in real life. Here you can get a better view of the wallpaper and thread trim on the back.

The focal point she had chosen for her living room was a big screen tv which I had received in a swap. Unfortunately, I didn't get a better picture of the tv than this.

These are the pieces from my stash that she chose to go with it, a comfy chair and ottoman and a lamp. The table she made with an earring back and a finding, after trying out various others for fit. She decided she wanted to paint the lampshade to match the pink in the ottoman and found a felt marker in my collection that she thought would work.

Here Laura is checking to see her if her paint job on the lampshade looks all right.

So far, so good!

The green armchair was one that I had used many years before in the little Joe Hermes house. Unfortunately, when she glued it in place you could no longer see the pillow and throw very well, but at least I know they are there. lol

I didn't get pictures of the process for the bedroom. Basically it was just gluing things in place.

She had already chosen the flag-draped bed and a nightstand from the Hermes house and because of the lamp on top we did have to lower the floor so the nightstand would go further toward the back.

She decided the only other item she wanted for the bedroom was a plant of some sort and made this dramatic floor arrangement using a bead for a pot and various pieces from my dried and artificial flowers stash.

Well, it is summertime, and my energy level is practically nil, so some time went by - again - before we got back to her project.

PART IV - Finishing the Base

With her three rooms floored, wallapered and furnished and set aside to dry throughly, it was time to work on the base.

I got out my landscaping stuff. I find it helpful to use various sugar and spice shakers for certain things. Isn't it amazing how much we have to buy when we may only need small amounts for our projects?

Most of these items date back YEARS! That brown rectangular bottle was given to me by my son-in-law probably 15 years ago when he used to work for Farmer Brothers, after I mentioned wanting some poppy seeds to make an ocotillo. I still have enough poppy seeds to last me into the next millenium!

Not long after Laura arrived, I had emptied an egg carton and on impulse tore it in half and threw it into a plastic container in some water to soak, figuring I might flatten it to save for future use. They don't take up so much space if they are dampened, weighted and dried flat.

When Laura started talking about a project, I thought, Aha, the egg carton! And that's what we used to give the base some dimension so her bucket rooms could "sink into" the ground. Here she is adding some glue to the already softened paper mache.

So you think this will work, Nana, she asked doubtfully?

She coated her base with a brown-paint and Tacky glue mixture, and drew a line across the edge for her road, making sure the buckets would still fit. She pulled apart and slightly mounded pieces of mache and we used the extra bucket to press into it to see how the finished rooms would look, and kept adding mache until we got the right angles.

Then she used my standard dirt mixture - coffee grounds and model landscaping foams - to cover the glue-coated mache, and then added grass bits here and there.

And here she is holding the two rooms while the glue and Super glue dries. One thing we discovered is that the egg carton mache is a bit resilient; you press down onto it and it springs up slightly (perhaps it should've been mushed up further). So, she wound up with a gap between the houses, which actually worked out better later anyway, when she added her upper floor bucket.

After she glued her finished lower floor buckets into place she began adding flowers to the landscaping - she had decided she wanted primarily red and yellow to match the logo on the buckets.

Back in the winter I bought a grass covered styrofoam ball at the dollar store and tore the grass all off and stored it in a plastic bag. It works nicely to fill in small grassy patches.

She dampened each piece in a glue-and-water mixture. When I empty a glue bottle I often add some water to the bottle and when I want to use a very thinned-down glue mixture give it a good shake and then pour into my little container.

I now make sure I label the bottle clearly, after I once forgot what I had done and thought it was my regular glue bottle, accidentally pouring out a big stream that went all over everything when I thought I would get only a smallish viscous glob. lol

It was NOT an easy process getting the top floor level without messing up the lower floors. She was philosophical as she worked. "Well, Nana, these buckets have been beside the road for a while and they are sort of buried with dirt and grass."

She kept adding grass and dirt to build up between the buckets and then bits more of grass underneath.

She had used small landscaping rocks, I think from Christmas villages, to make her wall, and really liked the effect that came from adding grass and dirt above - it trickled down and filled in the spaces around the rocks quite realistically.

At this point, she had decided she was through with walls and floors and wasn't concerned about the open space below her living room floor.

Well, time to put the project aside for another day!

And have a chips break!

PART V: The Rest of the Landscaping

Let's add a birdbath and some colorful tiny flowers ...

And then sprinkle a bit more dirt here and there .... She had discovered that it helped to elevate her scene slightly, so it is sitting atop the glue/paint container.

And finally, "We just need to finish the road," she said, "and we're done."

It was interesting how we had different visions of her prospective road - I somehow saw it as a dirt road; she saw it as a highway! So, she painted it black to suggest pavement.

And let's call it finished: Laura's Somebody-Logan's Road House!

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