After starting the Mizupo build a couple weeks ago, I quickly started another “pocket build” alongside it.
This one, however, is based upon a prototype of a building I had seen in the city of Minneapolis. It’s called Matt’s and here’s a photo:
What I particularly liked about this building was the roof cap. It struck me as having what I referred to as an “inverted mansard”. I knew that presented a decent challenge to build, so I set to work.
Initially, I pursued cutting the roof from chipboard. In the recent weeks I discovered a very cool app on Mac called “Unfolder” that takes a 3D object and, well… unfolds them. It flattens the shape into 2D so it can be printed and cut from any material. So, I designed the cap in Tinkercad and let Unfolder do its very quick work:
There is no doubt this would have been successful, but I was pressed for time. So, I cheated. there, I said it! I printed the shape on my 3D printer. It was a just fit for the build plate.
As the build was to be stucco, I cut some simple walls from 1/16 Basswood, braced them and assembled.
I got to applying the stucco. I used two separate techniques to achieve the look. First was with a can of Stone Effect rattle can Rustoleum. After a liberal coating, I then used Water Putty to vary the stucco so it’s not completely uniform. After dry, I painted it a light beige. As I waited, I made some signs and ads for the walls and applied them the next day.
The seam between the cap and wall is more noticeable than I would’ve liked, but I am happy with the result.
With the walls complete and partially weathered, I made the storefront. I used the prototype as reference once again.
The stone is textured foundation strip wood from KC’s Workshop. The walls were cut from scribed siding sheets from Northeastern Scale Lumber. I carefully painted and varied each board using a variety of acrylic paints and Hunterline stains.
Upon a dry fit, and looking at the prototype again, I realized there was one more thing I’d need to print. A storefront sign. I hopped back on Tinkercad and made this:
I then made a cap to fit around the storefront. After the print was done, I painted it a bronze color and added a Verdigris effect using a special effect paint.
I picked out some Tichy windows from my stash and painted them with an aged white applied with a sponge.
For the roof, I used a 50pt chipboard that I covered with black construction “tar paper”. I used the technique of spraying it with a grey primer, and lightly sanding and aging each strip before applying. I use 3M transfer tape on all my roofs to avoid messy glue situations. Once in place, I lifted various corners and added dirt and debris, weathering with pastel chalks to complete. I also added a stove pipe cut from brass tube.
With the building largely done, I turned my attention to the base. I knew I was going to make a diorama from it, so I cut a base from pink insulation foam (Home Depot stuff). I then used Hydrocal plaster and made a street. This was a simple as using masking tape to mask the appropriate area, apply the wet plaster, smooth out and wait to dry. Once hard, I used an xacto knife to scribe the expansion joints and cracks. I gave it a wash with Hunterline stain.
After I was happy with the street, painting the sidewalk in the process, I positioned and glued the building to the foam.
Once in place, I knew I wanted something else on the build to make it more whimsical. So, just like the Siekirk’s Seafood build, I made a little side structure from Clapboard and shingled roofing. Once stained, painted and weathered, it was glued in place. At this point, I added ground cover to this side of the diorama.
Ground Cover recipe:
1. Real dirt mix (right now I don’t have access to any dirt as it’s under about 4 feet of snow) so I used a store bought dirt from Scenery Express. I mix the dirt with ground up real leaves I collected in the Fall. I sprinkle this mix directly onto dry pink foam. After I’ve leveled the mix, pushing it up against the structure to make it appear sunk into the ground, I then use a dish soap water mix to wet the ground. I get it soaking. I then use scenery glue to fix it all in place. Before it dries, I immediately move to step two:
2. For the small shrubs, I use two colors of Woodland Scenics “Underbrush”. The taller grass tufts are from AK interactive, but these can be found at other suppliers. The tiny dots of green is Woodland Scenics coarse turf. All of these elements are pushed into the wet ground, so it can all dry together. Scenery glue takes many hours to dry so there’s plenty of time to work.
3. Once all dry, I vary the ground cover by adding growth to the sides of buildings and scatter trash, leaves etc…
I continued this method around the entire base. Althugh I didn’t require them on this base, larger shrubs can be made using fiber material from places like Woodland Scenics or Accurail. This fiber is then cut to size, soaked in matte medium and various turf sprinkled and added all over.
Looking at the diorama at this stage, I knew I wanted to vary to height and draw the eye, so I set out to make a power line pole.
For this I used 1/8 dowel I bought in a large pack at Hobby Lobby.
I cut this to length, then round the end using an emery board. After that, I run a fine tooth razor saw down the length of the dowel to add a wood grain effect. After removing any splinters, I give it two coats of Driftwood stain.
I then add my power line arm. Currently, I am using Italeri’s telephone pole kit. Even though it’s 1/35 scale, it seems to fit HO very well — at least in my opinion. The kit cost me $5. For the transformers, these were 3D printed from a design by Luke Towan. You can download that file for free from his website. Here’s my me of the finished poles:
I drilled an appropriate sized hole through the Hydrocal and fixed it in place. Adding a meter (FOS Scale casting) and weatherhead (actually a cut 1/35 gun accessory) to the building, I then used EZ line for the cabling.
After a few extra details (a casting or two, newspapers, streetlight, Preiser etc) the diorama was finished. It took approximately 15 hours on and off work. Here are the final photos:
by Solo Buildson February 7, 2021, filed: