Today’s snowstorm kept me home from work and school and gave me a chance to finally finish a craft project I had started before Christmas: a mini winter village.
It was originally supposed to be a mini Christmas village, but since I didn’t get it done til now I’m rebranding it and leaving it set up for another month (or more if I remove the faux snow).
My mini village actually started out as a bunch of tiny birdhouses.
I was buying these little buildings at thrift stores and garage sales for a long time with no clear idea of what I was going to do with them.
Then as the holiday shopping season got underway, I started seeing cute little house-shaped ornaments and Christmas villages popping up all over, and I suddenly knew my birdhouse collection was destined to become its own one-of-a-kind small town.
To transform the buildings from mini birdhouses into mini people houses, I pried most of the roofs off (with plans to replace them) and sketched windows onto the exteriors.
Then I broke out my woodburner and attempted to trace over my window lines.
I’ve had a woodburner in my crafting stash forever, but this is the first time I’ve actually used it. I quickly discovered it takes a steady hand to make straight lines and even impressions in wood. I also discovered my hand is anything but steady.
It also became apparent to me that no two mini birdhouses are made of the same type of wood. I found myself constantly applying too little pressure on hard wood, which meant I barely scratched the surface, and then too much pressure on soft wood, in which case the wood would almost melt away under the hot tip.
When I finished the woodburning, I patched up my deepest and most blatant oopses with woodfiller, then slathered a coat or two of white chalk paint over the buildings.
I also distressed the edges of the houses, which hopefully makes the cattywampus windows look kind of intentional.
As I mentioned earlier, I had plans to make new roofs for the houses, but by the time I got this far, it was almost Christmas and I didn’t have any more free time for crafting.
I set a few of my half-finished houses out on display with some vintage bottlebrush trees and some faux snow and called the project done …
… until today, when our forecast called for 5-10 inches of snow. I decided to stay safe and stay off the roads, which meant I finally had a free day and no excuse to put off re-roofing my houses any longer.
I made the roofs out of a roll of corrugated tin that I had found at a thrift store for $1.50. The tin was surprisingly easy to cut with a regular old utility scissors.
After I cut the tin to the right size for each house, I bent the pieces in half and glued the roofs onto their respective houses with Gorilla glue.
Here’s an aerial view of a few of the houses. (The house on the far left had a four-sided roof, which required a slightly different technique and a few tack nails to secure it, since the glue didn’t want to hold there.)
I thought I was done at this point, but when I looked at the houses, I realized they needed one finishing touch yet: chimneys.
I’ve been ogling driftwood cottages on Pinterest lately, and a lot of them have nails for chimneys or smokestacks, so I decided I’d totally steal that idea. I also stole a handful of the rustiest, crustiest old nails I could find in my husband’s workshop. I’m pretty sure he won’t miss them.
Then I drilled pilot holes through the roofs and into the wood …
… so I could pound nails in with ease (and without splitting the wood).
The chimneys required a lot of extra putzing, but they were worth it.
The little chimneys give the houses so much more character, don’t they?
I put some of the chimneys on the left and some on the right, to make each house unique. I also added a few random tack nails here and there to help hold down the roofs where the glue had come loose while I was pounding the chimneys in. But the tack nails also add a little charm, too.
I ended up bending and scratching some of the roofs as I was pounding in nails, but I think that gives the houses a more weathered look, in keeping with the cattywompus-windows-and-distressed-paint theme.
Anyhoo, my little post-Christmas winter village is now done. If only our (real-world) snowstorm was as well …