Idea 4: A Bridge. May 7, 2020 Shelton-Mason County Journal (WA), Week 19.20

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

Fun With Bridges!

A bridge will go nicely with the trees, roads and buildings of our Happy Tree Village diorama.

0. Setup

You will need:

Tools: Ruler & Marker, Scissors, paintbrush, and a Knife (an old kitchen knife will work)

Materials: Styrofoam, Cardboard, Craft Sticks, 4 Wooden Clothespins, Paint, Glue, Masking Tape, and a bit of dried moss.

A Plan: Here’s what we want: something solid (We’d rather not build it twice!) that can go over either roads or water. Our roads are about 4” wide and most vehicles, etc. at this scale range are around 2” tall or less.

  1. Measure

Styrofoam: 2 triangles, 4” wide x 2.75” tall, tapering 5.5” This does not have to be pretty, it’s for support. Cardboard:  4” wide x 22” long (road, to bend over the Styrofoam), over the top of a base piece, 4” wide x 20” long. 2 lengths (curbs) .25” wide x 22” long. This example also uses 4 side covers, triangles 2.5” tall tapering 5.5”

2. Cut & Assemble

Note that you might need to glue Styrofoam together and let dry, then cut it to size/shape with your old table knife. Place the Styrofoam triangles on the base and test-fit and mark the road over the top, then bend (don’t cut) the road along your marked lines. Glue it all together.

3. Clamp

Use your masking tape to keep it all together until the glue can dry, but before it completely dries, go to step 4.

4. Test fit

Make sure your bridge will be wide and tall enough for what you want to do, and adjust as needed. Now is the time to make sure it’s coming together according to your plan. Tick-tock, the glue is drying!

5. Curbs

Glue down the strips, leaving some room on the outside (the width of a clothespin). Then put more glue along the inside of the strips and flock with sand, the same as we did with roads in a previous Crafty Time.  Let dry.

6. Pillars

Take the metal spring out of a clothes pin. Now, flip around and glue the flat parts together. Make 4 of these interesting-shaped pillars, and line them up on the outside top corners. Glue them down, clamp with masking tape and let dry.

7. Crossbeams

Carefully test-fit two craft sticks across the pillars. With scissors, cut them to size. Glue them down.

8. Diagonal Bracing

Use the details on the pillars to line up craft sticks. Test-fit, mark, cut and glue in place. Let dry. Add more glue on all the joints, flock with sand, and let dry again.

9. Cut opening

Now that everything is solid, you can cut the middle part of the base out. It should be just over 4” wide.

10. Check

Pick the bridge up and turn it around at different angles. Fix anything you don’t like, prior to painting.

11. Base Coats

Black for the road, grey for the concrete, and a mix of red and brown for the bridge. You can mix things into your paint such as glue for extra strength, a bit of sand for extra texture detail, and/or water if you prefer thinner coats.

12. Foliage

Put the glue on first, then carefully place the bits of dried moss where you want them, pushing them into the glue. Check and adjust until you like it. Let dry.

13. Details

A caution sign for a low bridge makes sense. Cut a square of cardboard, glue it on there and paint it orange. Add all the other details you like.

14. Overview – Bridge

Happy Tree Village now has a bridge you can put over the top of road sections. It would also work over the top of water, which is conspicuous by its absence – until another time!

Have you created anything lately? What would you like to see in an upcoming Crafty Time? Email with your photos and feedback!

Idea 3: Trees

crafty time trees.pierik.18.20

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik

Shelton-Mason County Journal

Fun with trees

Previously, we made buildings and roads out of cardboard. Now our village needs trees!

You will need:



Paint and brushes




Moss &/or lichen and Sticks (see below)

1. Gather moss

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss. But you do! Go outside, where from just about anywhere in Mason County I’m guessing you should be 100’ away or so from some moss and lichen if you look around. In this example, it was right in my backyard. Moss is more abundant but both moss and lichen work great for tree foliage.

2. Pick up sticks

While you’re getting the moss, look down for a few dead branches that look interesting. It’s easier than you think. Break them down a bit, to a foot long or so each.  I found four different sticks with branches for this example. You don’t need a lot and you don’t need to be too picky at this stage.

3. Dehydrate foliage

Before you begin, start dehydrating the moss and/or lichen now. I used parchment paper and the oven just above the “Warm” setting. Not too hot! At about 150 degrees, you can dehydrate your moss and lichen in about six hours in the oven. You will want it nice and dry for the steps at the end.

4. Shape Styrofoam

With your hands, break the flat sides of some regular packing Styrofoam into rounded, natural shapes, leaving the bottoms flat. A bit of the middle part of each top should also be flat.  Each mound can be any size or shape you like. In this example, they are about 3” across, but there’s no need to measure this time.

5. Mark, cut and glue bases

It’s all about that base. No trouble. On corrugated cardboard, outline each of the Styrofoam shapes, leaving about a half an inch extra room in every direction. Lift the Styrofoam and mark your place before you cut along the lines you made. Then, line up your marks and glue the Styrofoam to the cardboard so there’s room to spare in every direction. Let dry.

6. Trim branches

Cut any of the longer, thinner or broken branches off. I prefer my trees to balance well and to be somewhat sturdy. After this step, I have a nice group of little wooden stick bits, great for future fine scale modeling details like wood piles outside of buildings, logs by river banks, etc. If you have a bits box, throw them in along with your leftover Styrofoam if you like.

7. Plant, glue and sand

“Plant” your trees, pushing the trunks deep into the Styrofoam, but not the cardboard. Then, remove each tree and fill the gap with glue. Put the trees back in there. Now, paint the sides and tops of each base with glue. While the glue is still wet, flock by sprinkling the base with sand and shaking the excess sand off. Use extra sand and glue around the trunk for support. Let dry.

8. Paint bases

Using your brush, lightly stir black and brown paint with a bit more glue and some water. Paint the bases. Some areas will be black and others more brown on this basecoat. Let dry.

9. Glue foliage

Put glue on the top of the branches, where your foliage will be. Then, break apart and place the moss or lichen, putting it into the wet glue. You will get better at this with a bit of practice, be patient. Wait for the glue to dry.

10. Touch up bases

Mix some dark green with a bit of black and brown paint, and highlight the taller areas of grass on each base, especially on the top. You can also use a bit of brown and grey to drybrush the tops of some of the rocks on the sides of the base, going for a natural look. Let dry. When everything is done, you can topcoat it all with two coats of matt-finish clear spray paint.

11. Happy trees village

Along with the cardboard buildings and roads featured earlier, trees really add a natural touch. This setup is great for the imagination! Your kids or grandkids can spend hours playing with cars, small dolls, dinosaurs, robots and who knows what else. You could make a YouTube movie or music video featuring your diorama. Customize your village however you like!

What would you like to see next on Crafty Time? I’m thinking our village could really use a water feature, maybe a creek and a bridge. Please email your thoughts, ideas and photos to

Idea 2: Roads

Crafty Time

By Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

In last week’s Crafty Time, we had fun creating cardboard buildings.

Some readers asked about roads, so they could play with their cars among the buildings (the brand rhymes with Wot Heels). So, here we go, let’s make some roads!

1 You will need:

Cardboard (a fairly big box)

Ruler and marker


Masking tape

White glue


Paint and brush

2. Cut a fairly big corrugated cardboard box to flat pieces. It’s up to you how much to use. Round up – cut extra!

3. Measure!

Grab your marker and ruler.

For this example, you will need the following measurements:

6 of: 12″ x 4″ (for 2 Highway, 2 Main Street, and 2 Residential roads)

12 of: One-half inch (1/2″) wide x 11.5″ strips (for the curbs and curb cuts. Make extra to allow for errors)

4 of: 4″ x 4″ squares (for intersections)

1 of: 8″ x 8″ square (for roundabout)

16 of: 1″ x 1″ squares (for the corners of the intersection pieces)

1 of: 3″ circle (for the middle of the roundabout)

2 of: 3″ squares (the cut into triangles with curved middles to shape for the roundabout corners – will make 4)

4. Measure, mark and cut

(shared caption with 3.)

5. Measure, mark and cut – Template tip to save time

Mark right on there, how you want it to be. They say measure twice, cut once. There’s a way to measure once and cut twice – or more! Make one template, and then use it to cut more pieces to that same size!

6. Cut along the lines you made. Don’t lose track of your pieces, and what goes where, or you’ll have to cut more pieces.

7. Gluing. For roads, the main things going on are the curbs. It’s tempting to put the curbs right up to the outside edge, but don’t. It will look better and be more durable if you leave a quarter-inch to half-inch margin on the outside, to show some green on the outside of each of the 12″ x 4″ roads.

8 Gluing the Roundabout

You will need the 8″ square, the 3″ round in the middle, and the four 1 and a half inch curved-middle triangles for the corners. Glue it all up, flip it over and clamp it with masking tape.

9. Clamping the curbs

You will find that the 1 half inch wide strips like to bend around, especially when you put wet glue on them. Not to worry! Masking tape will hold it down until the glue dries.

10. Removing the tape.

The masking tape worked great. Once the glue is dry, carefully pull it off. It’s only cardboard underneath, so don’t worry too much about ripping some of the top layer off, because you will be painting it later anyway.

11. Sand.

Why Sand? It fills the gaps on the edges of the curbs, looks great, and strengthens the road. Run glue along both sides of all of your curbs, then add sprinkle or dump sand onto the wet glue. Tip the rest back into your work area and keep going. This technique is called flocking.

12. Sand – flock style

Here, the sand is sprinkled along the glue line, with the road piece tipped. Sand that does not stick will fall right back to the work area.

13. Sand – Highway curbs

This is a great photo of how sand and glue will finish the sides of the curb lines. The tough part is waiting for the glue to dry!

14 I want to PAINT IT BLACK!!

Here, we are getting the basecoats of paint underway. Use acrylic paint, a nice big brush. Have water and a paper towel handy. Black is only needed for the road itself, and you’ve got ready-made borders on the sides with those wonderful curbs. I like to have everything ready at this point so I can just go and go with the paint.

15 – Green basecoat

Now you can see why we left that gap on the outside of the curbs. A nice dark green base coat really pops. You can always add more detail and touch things up later.

16 Paint – grey curbs basecoat

Concrete is grey (or you can spell it gray) so that’s what I did here. You could add yellow or red areas, especially on the main street curbs. Do that later. This is a base coat, so if the yellow or red does not cover well or chips – it will look like concrete underneath!

17 – Touch Up paint

It’s fine if basecoat is a bit sloppy. This second coat is your chance to go back and fix all of those spots. You know where they are. It is worth the time.

18. Highway stripes – prep

After the black paint is dry, with 2 pieces of masking tape, leave an even, narrow strip down the middle of the highway pieces. Press the tape down a bit to keep the paint from getting underneath it.

19. White paint – highway stripes

The stripes are that one bit of white. Try to paint evenly and not too heavy. Use a couple of thinner coats rather than one heavy one, before you pull the masking tape off.

20. White paint touchup. Use black paint to touch up any areas where the masking tape did not cover, or you did not want white paint. A flat brush works great for this, and the black can even add a touch of realistic road wear and tear if some of it goes over the stripes.

21 Overview of road pieces with buildings

So altogether we now have:

2 Highway pieces

2 Main street pieces

2 Residential road pieces

4 Intersection pieces

1 Roundabout

It looks nice, and you know how to touch up, replace, or add as many pieces as you want! You can also protect it from wear and tear with 2 coats of a clear matt finish spray paint on both sides.

Along with the cardboard buildings we created last week, this is a great start for a “Whot Heels” or other scale-model figures.

What would you like to see in the next Crafty Time? I’m thinking trees would be a good addition. Email me at with your comments, project photos and suggestions. Until then, have fun!

Idea 1: 15.20 Buildings – Crafty Time with Dave

This information first appeared as the first Crafty Time, as two activity pages in the April 9, 2020 Shelton-Mason County (WA) Journal.

Crafting.pierik. 15.20

Crafty Time
By Dave Pierik
Shelton-Mason County Journal

Cardboard buildings – fun to make, fun to have!
Or – a beautiful day in the neighborhood

  1. The building above was made with leftover cardboard and paint from the example below –
  2. You will need:
  • A corrugated cardboard box
    *Ruler & pencil, pen or marker
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Masking tape
  • Acrylic paints and Paintbrush
    Optional: * Toothpick
  1. Open the box, pull it apart, cut off all the flaps, and …
  2. Cut it into pieces along all of the folds.
  3. Measure and mark the walls. For this example, each of them is 5.5” wide x 3” tall. You can also cut out any windows or doors at this stage.
  4. Cut along the lines.
    Lay out the walls on a larger floor piece and hold in place with masking tape.
  5. Use more tape to hold the walls to the floor.
  6. Run a bead of glue along all of the seams. Leave the tape right where it is for now. Let it dry.
  7. Flip everything over.
  8. Tape and glue the roof, as you did the walls and floor.
  9. Measure and mark doors, windows and other details as you see fit.
  10. Here, six 1” x 3” strips are marked out. Four of them will add details to the corners of the building, and two will make long windows.
  11. Cut them out.
  12. Fold four of them for the corners.
  13. Put glue on the corners, and then clamp them on with masking tape.
  14. While you wait for the glue to dry, move on to the next step.
  15. The front and back doors should be about 1” wide x 1 ½” tall. For small windows, about 1” square works.

Side Note: Think about what other details you would like for your building. This building is approx. 1/35 scale, so 1” = 5’. Experiment and play with your favorite details!

  1. Cut Nice & Straight
  2. Time to start putting the details together. Shown above are the big side windows.
  3. If you saved the cutouts from the windows, you can cut them in half to make storm shutters.
  4. Storm shutters and a door coming together. It’s okay to leave the tape and work over the top.

Note the lone piece of masking tape that was not removed – don’t worry about this kind of thing, you can remove it later or leave it and paint over it after you’re sure the glue is all the way dry. In this example, the glue was still drying as other parts came together, so rather than risk pulling the building apart, it worked better to leave it there.

  1. It’s coming together at this point. For a more finished look, some gutters would be nice. You can measure directly along the roofline and cut them very carefully, ¼” width works pretty well.
  2. Take your time when measuring, marking with dots and then connecting them with lines for cutting.
  3. Cut, glue, and place the gutters, then use the masking tape to keep them in place until the glue dries.
  4. For the door handle in this example, a bit of a wooden toothpick was used. Acrylic paints work great, start with a base coat and build up from there.
  5. Pick out the detail using different colors.
  6. Change up the sizes, colors, shapes and details, and over time you can create a little town, great for staging model cars, superhero or fantasy figures, or for decoration.

Giant Speculation: hand sighted moving buildings
Happy Tree locals continue to report occasional sightings of giants so big they can move city buildings with one hand and rearrange them. This of course is utter nonsense.