Your miniature questions are welcome here!

The original Miniatures Question and Answer Blog was the brain child of Nikki Rowe from Witch and Wizards Miniatures. Lately, she realized that she was spreading herself way too thin to continue doing all the things she's involved with well.

Since we all wait in anticipation of what awesome item she'll create next and we all want her to concentrate on making those fabulous mini's that we love, I have agreed to take over the responsiblity of the Miniature Question and Answer blog.

Format is the same. Once a week, on Sunday or Monday, a new question will be posted, researched and, with any luck, answered. You are all welcomed and encouraged to comment with your own answers and suggestions.

If you have a miniature related question you'd like investigated, the best way is to send me an e-mail.

But you can also put it in the comments section as a suggestion for the following week and, hopefully, I'll find it.

Nikki will be deleting the original blog so you will have to "re-follow" here, but I have saved all the questions...and answers and comments and they will be the subject of the first post.

Sounds like fun, eh?



Sunday, October 3, 2010

Fighting the Effects of Aging…..or Not!

One of the “left over” questions from the original Miniature Q&A Blog had to do with aging. 
Aging paper or cloth using tea, coffee, inks and ….good lord!!....scorching  were discussed under the “Paper”  topic. 
But miniaturists age lots of other things, too.  
What are some ways to age wood or stone or upholstered furniture or air dry clay or walls made of styrofoam or Mod Rock or spackling paste???  The list goes on…..
I’ll start with a tip I learned many years ago when I took a class by Bill Lankford.  The building in question was a ½ scale Chicago brownstone.  The walls were molded brick and architectural detailing in stone, but the actual composition of the walls was some sort of light-weight foam.  After the bricks and stone were painted (and thoroughly dried), a wash of denatured alcohol and India ink was liberally applied.  Voila! Instant old building!
The proportion is lots of alcohol and very little ink….like maybe 4 – 6 oz of alcohol and 2-3 drops of India ink. I think the "official" recipe was 1 tbsp ink to 1 qt alcohol.  We brushed it on with a large brush but I have also used this in a spray bottle on painted Paper Clay brand air dry clay.  I have also brushed it on to raw and painted wood with good results.  Use an old brush or one of those cheap bristle brushes.
I do not know if the reaction is different if one uses isopropyl alcohol as opposed to denatured alcohol but because their chemical composition is different, I’d guess that there might be. My understanding is that India ink was made by suspending lampblack (or soot) particles in denatured alcohol or even vinegar. 
Which reminds of something I read on Casey's blog just the other day.   Woolly Vinegar

This reference suggests using tea on the wood prior to the vinegar solution.
Be careful with the India ink as it stains permanently and is almost impossible to get off your skin…wear  gloves and old clothing and protect your table tops and floors.

Here are two examples of aging.

The original looked exactly like the settee on the right...which was dark glossy green.  I dropped it a while back and the front leg snapped.  The repair was too obvious and I put aside until recently when I needed another chair for the Alice project. 

I painted it white and then used several washes of various colors of acrylics to achieve the "aged" look...the added mosses help, too.

This is a door I did recently for a castle ruin I'm working on.

I used the alcohol solution on the raw wood after gluing.  You can see how it did not take where glue had seeped into the wood, even though I wiped it off well...I thought!

For my purposes, it was ok.  I also used some of Tim Holz's alcohol inks.  And ended up using some of acrylic paints (both washes and straight) to acheive that green damp and the rust.

I aged the metal bits also with paint as the metal aging product I had did not work on these jewelry findings.  First I gave them a light coat of Testors enamel (flat black) as the water based paints wouldn't stick to the metal.  Then I used burnt sienna and some grey and green to achieve the aging.

Here a great site:  How to Make it Old
The author discusses supplies, techniques and how to use "layering" to age an entire room or setting! Thanks to Lyn from lynstinycorner for the link!

So what about the rest of you?  How do you age your miniature creations?  Do you have more than one technique you favor?   Let hear from YOU!!!


Glenda said...

Thanks for taking over this Q&A blog :)))

Re 'woolly vinegar' - I first knew of it as 'bug juice'. Don't seal the bottle, as it does expand. It's best to use less rather than more, as it can get very dark quite quickly - or at least it did on cedar shingles - mine turned out almost black after a short soak! And it does make the wood very acidic - I don't know if you can neutralise this, has anyone tried? It takes a while for the smell to go away, too.
All in all, I find I prefer to use dilute acrylic washes now - more controllable, and a choice of colours :)


Tabitha Corsica said...

Glenda...I remember Pat & Noel Thomas sold a product for aging called "bug juice". Never used it myself but, as I recall, the recommended method of application was spraying. Several references I saw also recommended dilution as the effect can be very dark, otherwise.

I, too, find myself using washes of acrylic but the warpage can be a big problem, especially with very thin wood such as shingles.

Another possible problem with using stains like the vinegar or alcohol solutions is that they cannot penetrate glue, so one is often left with a "white" area, requiring some touchup with paint anyway.

nikkinikkinikki72 said...

I always stain with acrylics and have not had probs with warpage. I mix water into the paint say half and half, but wipe off instantly leaving the wood quite dry and only slightly coloured, maybe thats whay i have not had the warpage problem.
Kate Whittaker sent me a magazine as a gift and in there one of the top house makers suggested using grey acylics as a base in a light wash on wood, letting it fully dry and applying another wash of raw umber. Its meant to create a tudor look to wood and when i tried it found it did just that. Looks lovely especially if the wood is scored/scratched and notches made before applying both coats.
I also do the same to creat damp wood using greens and start of with an alomost lime green wash, let it dry a bit and then touch up here and there with a darker leaf green... looks great.
I do exactly the same for walls in lots of washes using acrylics.

Tabitha Corsica said...

I added some pictures. BTW, if anyone has photos of examples, just e-mail me and I'll add them to the orignal posting!

Elena said...

Thank you very much for all this tips. I think this kind of discussion is very very useful for newcomers as I am. Just read, think and try !

Very glad that can ask my questions to such experts as Nikki, Susan, Glenda and others.

Best wishies

Omsk Russia

Michelle's Mad World said...

I only use acrylic washes too and I've not had any problems with warpage. I like Nikki, remove excess water as I go and as Nikki says is probably the reason for no warpage. Ink is a medium I want to try as I like the look. :o)

I LOVE the door Susan...did you cut the shape yourself?! I bought mine for Hogwarts and they were made of MDF...they were impossible to age. :o((( If there's anyone out there who knows how to age this hideous medium I'd be most interested! lol

Michelle :o)

Glenda said...

Aaaaaagh!! I hate MDF!! I've been sitting looking at my raw (sealed) tower for days now, wondering how to present it :( At the moment all I can think of is to cover those parts with veneer.

Tabitha Corsica said...

Hi Michelle...yes,I did cut the shape mayself. The Abbey Ruin had an a door opening cut but no door...and I needed a door. SO I made a paper template and laid my wood strips on it and them trimmed and glued them..and sanded and then sanded some more. The inside of the ruin has a much prettier door trim. I will be covering the outside with Paperclay eventually.

Glenda...I do not think it is possible to effectively age MDF. It is only useful as a substrate. You could paint it as Nikki suggested and then use various acrylic washes.

Elana...glad you've joined us and that you are finding it helpful!

Katie said...

I love that there is a place for all these questions we all always have:) I, too use acrylic....but I also use my brown stamp/ink pad..... I just run the item where I want it stained and then go back over it with my finger and smudge it up... Works on wood pretty good, and doesn't seem to stick to much to what had already been painted...For example...I recently made birdhouses, and after I painted them I went back and sanded them...then they looked to I went back over the edges with a brown ink pad, and it worked perfectly.

...and I love your door, too! Love how you used a jewerly clasp for the handle! Very smart!! :)

Tabitha Corsica said...

Yep, Katie, that is a toggle clasp. I guess I could have looked online for some type of medieval door pull but I would have waited for it and it would have cost me. I had this bit and it was perfect! Don't you love it when you stumble on something like this??!!

Anonymous said...

I don't know if this helps but this was on another site and she wanted to share her information on 'grunging' or making things old and dirty

Tabitha Corsica said...

Thank you Lyn! I have had that site bookmarked for ages and totally forgot about it! What a dumb bunny I am. :-(

Janice said...

I am so glad to find this site again and I would like to ask something for a future post

I am not very good at mixing colours, is there a site that gives you a mixing list

eg. rose + turquoise+ ochre = ?

Found this post really helpful too