Happy Tree diorama info

Crafty Time with Dave

Or, what’s the deal with all the little buildings?

Look what you can make! Toys-O-Rama, Grocery Mart, and the Happy Tree Times are just three of the Happy Tree City businesses featured in Crafty Time, with instructions in the Shelton-Mason County Journal.

What started as filler in the Activities Pages alongside comics and crossword puzzles in the Shelton-Mason County Journal has evolved into the miniature town of Happy Tree.

Having made miniatures, terrain and buildings for years as a fantasy gaming hobbyist, I felt it would be a fun activity and skill to share with Journal readers. To make the creations family friendly for all ages, I looked to Fred Rogers, Bob Ross, and Norman Rockwell among others for inspiration.

Crafty Time is an exclusive feature that shows readers how to affordably create each element at home step by step from cardboard and other abundant materials.

During the Covid era, readers in Mason County have been home, many of them in quarantine. Crafting is a wonderful outlet for people of all ages. It is my hope that Crafty Time will brighten some days, provide a welcome distraction, and bring smiles to readers’ faces.


We all remember how fun it is to buzz a toy car in hand from place to place. Here are some of those places for those cars to go. You can easily and affordably make them all at home from scratch:

Four trees, three picnic tables, three houses, four fences, three parking lots, six downtown businesses, three river sections, six road sections, streetlights, six park trail sections. A roundabout. A pedestrian road crossing walkway. A castle with a drawbridge. Police and fire stations. A lighthouse, bait shop, and shed with boats. A drive-in movie theatre. A gas station with repair shop. A swing set, merry-go-round and teeter-totter. A farmhouse.

You can make fun buildings, too!

Step by step, Crafty Time walks you through how to create each of these, using cardboard, school glue, acrylic paints and other simple, affordable items. Each project uses abundant, nontoxic and recycled materials and safe, simple tools and techniques.

Crafty Time is truly a lot of fun and unlike video games or TV, you have something to show for the time you put into your creations. The scale is approximately 1″ = 5′ (1/35th). This size works well as a play area for a wide range of small toys in smaller and larger scale ranges, without taking up too much space. The art of creating and/or painting scale model figures, terrain and buildings is a wonderful lifelong hobby that is enjoyed by people of all ages, not only children, from every walk of life. If you can imagine it, you can make it!

You can view the display in the window of the Shelton-Mason County Journal. But it’s not about “look what I can do.” It’s about look what YOU can do! Even if you don’t create these exact projects, it is my hope that you will be inspired. I welcome your feedback, photos, and instructions questions.


Idea 1: Simple Buildings

Click above for instructions

Don’t forget the curbs! Cardboard, sand, glue and paint are all you need to create cool miniature roads that make your buildings pop.

Idea 2: Roads

Click above for instructions

To create realistic miniature trees, look beneath real trees and start from dry sticks.

Idea 3: Trees

Click above for instructions

Idea 4: A Bridge

Click above for instructions

Idea 5: Ponds and Streams

Click above for instructions

Idea 6: Castle with stained glass tower

Click above for instructions

© 2020 by Dave Pierik, Shelton-Mason County Journal

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