Thursday, February 21, 2013

Making Bricks for the Front Porch

     Back in 2009, I posted a couple of articles about how to make fake bricks using matte board, paint, and some wall spackling paste. (It's titled - One way to make miniature bricks)
      I used that technique to produce the pillars on this front porch project. And I added a new wrinkle - literally. The "bricks" are not just two-dimensional they instead are really "3-dimensional" as I hope you can see in this photo.
      But they are still made the same basic way, and you will not find a cut line anywhere on these bricks indicating that they were pieced together - because they weren't. So, how did we bend matte board at a 90 degree angle so that it goes around the corner? That's what I'm going to share with you today!
      If you get a thin enough piece of paper, you can usually fold it pretty crisply. The thicker the paper or the cardboard gets, the more rounded your corner becomes on that paper. So, the trick is to take away some of the back side of the brick in a strategic place, and the folding becomes exceptionally easy (and crisp).
     As described in the 2009 article, our club members each chose colors of paint to create their bricks. Some chose a family of light browns, pinks, and umber. I preferred to stick with oranges, reds and some umber. I even sparingly dabbed a few spots with a nearly dry brush of white out (used in typing). Next we daubed and scumbled the paint across the matte board at random, which created some dark and light patches of these colors. After the paint dried, we cut out long strips of the matte board in pieces that were approximately 10 to 12 inches long and as close to .97 inches wide as we could get.
      Next, I used my thicker, carbon-toothed table-saw blade, and adjusted the height of the cut so that the blade protruded above the tabletop by only .035 inches. The matte board I used measured .041 inches after it had been painted, which means I left about .006 of the material intact. (I used a digital caliper to measure the settings.)

     I then set the table saw fence so that there was a gap between the blade and the fence of .22. Calculating in the width of the blade and the cut, I was creating a section that was very close to 3.5" in scale - about the width of the narrow end of a full brick. In the picture at left, you can see the paper-thin thickness of the matte board facing is still there. To keep this depth of cut consistent and not endanger my fingers, I put a 1/8" thick piece of wood down on top of the matte board and pressed down firmly across that wood so that the paper went through the saw blade at a consistent depth of cut. We then had a long piece of matte board with a thin valley cut into it for the full 12 inch long piece. 
         We then used a chopper cutting board with a preset depth to slice the multiple bricks from this blank of matte board. At right you can see that Linda had cut almost all of the pieces from one piece of the matte board. When it got down to the last piece (shown here), she used a toothpick to hold it in place and kept her fingers safely away from the sharp razor blade of the chopper.
        Now, we had lots of bricks for the corners. You can see below an illustration I have made to show how we took the pieces from flat little units to 90-degree angled "bricks."
       The trick to making the paper easier to bend was to insert a small amount of glue into the valley of the saw cut, then slowly bend the piece over. The one side of the matte board fits into the valley of the cut, and you have a nice, 90-degree angled piece of matte board that resembles a brick with absolutely no visible cut lines. Nothing had to be pieced together for it to work. Below this large illustration, you'll see Linda's columns as she worked on them at miniature club.
       Linda preferred to do all of the corners on her column from top to bottom and then filled in the middle bricks. I preferred to go around the column one complete row at a time. Both styles work.
       The important thing is to make sure the rows are all lined up as you work, and to remember that every other row will have the half brick on the opposite side of the column. Using a try square to make sure your rows don't start going down hill is also advisable.
       Note the spacer Linda is using to help keep her work lined up (it's near her watchband at the top of the column just below her left hand). That was an old credit card I used to create a spacer jig. It wrapped partially around the side of the column, allowing us to make sure that both sides of the bricks remained aligned as we glued them to the columns.
       By the way, unless you are an extreme glutton for self-punishment, I would NOT recommend using this technique to do an entire dollhouse, but for four foundation pillars, it was "do-able."
  ;o)  Geo.            


Dale Fluty said...

Excellent idea and tutorial on those bricks. The end result is great looking!


Steinworks said...

very cool! I learned something new today..thank you George :)


Liduina said...

Hey George, thank you for sharing your experiences with making and applying faux-bricks. They look very realistic! Greetings from Liduina.

George the Miniguy said...

Dale, Steinworks and Liduina... I'm so very glad you found this posting helpful. I never will forget asking a couple of miniaturists at a show about how they created the beautiful, realistic fringe on their curtains, and they shared their "secret." The hobby is so much more fun when we can share the "how to" of things rather than being secretive about it. I hope you'll find a time when you can use this idea for one of your projects!

Liduina said...

Hey George, I can't agree more with you that there is no need to be sercretive about doll's house techniques. To me this blogging is about sharing one's experiences and inspiring each other!

Elizabeth S said...

Hi George! I want to tell you how much I am enjoying your blog and your tutorials! Your brickwork is amazing and so authentic! WOW!


Mandy Lynne said...

Hi... gave me an idea for my dolls house... i wanted to do river bed rocks... how would i do that out paper

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