Saturday, December 21, 2019

DIY Hogsmeade Christmas Village: Madam Puddifoot's conversion and Ice Skaters

DIY Hogsmeade Christmas Village

Previous Hogsmeade Christmas Village Posts:

DIY Hogsmeade Christmas Village: Ice Skaters and 
Madam Puddifoot's Tea and Cakes

My latest additions to the DIY Hogsmeade Christmas Village are a few ice skaters and Madam Puddifoot's Tea and Cakes!

I followed my same basic strategy for these as I have for the rest of the village:
1) Paint solid white
2) Paint in solid colors for major details
3) Do a black 'wash' of very water paint to fill in shadows
4) Dry brush on lighter colors for highlights

Most of the figures and accessories I get are from the Lemax line christmas village.  The stores and houses I purchase at thrift stores (usually not in boxes, so the brands are unknown).

Ice Skaters:

There were two pairs of skaters that came with my set; a couple and a child pulling a sled.  I made the couple a Slytherin and a Gryffindor, and the child is a Ravenclaw.  These figures are slightly smaller than the singers I painted previously, so I wasn't able to put as much detail into their faces.

Ice Skaters conversion

Skating child and dog conversion

Madam Puddifoot's and two carolers

Madam Puddifoot's Tea and Cakes:

I used the same color scheme as the previous buildings to keep the village matching.
Dark grey roof, light taupe brick, tan for the chimney and covered walls, burnt umber for the woodwork, a dark green for the garlands, and I used purple for the windows.  The green woodwork is a lighter green than the garlands. 
This store had a big front window display, large enough to paint, which was quite a bit of fun.  The display had some carved aspects to it, however, which limited my options for the display.

Madam Puddifoot's conversion

The original sign had a large teddy bear sculpted onto it.  I used plaster of paris to cover over the sign, then sanded it down once dry.

You can see the carved string of lights and christmas tree in the display window.  

After painting the purple window frame, I did a very light yellow wash to give the windows a little warm glow.  Then I colored in the window display the way it's carved, but added an extra cup of tea and a cupcake, since it is supposed to be Madam Puddifoot's Teas and Cakes, afterall.

For the rest of the building, as before, after the first block coloring dried (it took a couple coats of most of the colors) I did a black wash by diluting black paint in water and letting it seep into all the cracks and crevices to help accent the shadows.  Then I took lighter versions of all the colors and dry brushed the highlights (for the roof I just added white to the gray to make the lighter color, for the woodwork I used a golden brown to accent the burnt umber).
Madam Puddifoot's in the Hogsmeade Christmas Village

Sunday, November 17, 2019

DIY Hogsmeade Harry Potter Christmas Village: House Choir Singers

Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, Slytherin, and Gryffindor singers in the Hogsmeade Christmas Village!
See the original Hogsmeade Christmas Village post here!
See the Owls of Hogsmeade Christmas Village post here!

My latest addition to the Hogsmeade Christmas Village is a set of singers.  I couldn't find any pre-made Dickensian singers in wizard robes, so I painted the old timey clothes in the house colors for Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff, and Slytherin.  I didn't fully stick to the straight house color pattern; each one got a little extra Christmas flare for the season. 

I purchased a set of 4 figures that were pretty roughly painted.  I didn't do any edits to the actual figures this time, just repainted everything.  First a coat of white paint, then block coloring the clothing, then dark washes.  I used a black wash for the clothing and a dark brown wash for the skin tones.  For a few areas I then also did some highlight dry brushing of the original color. 

Gryffindor Singer Painting
Hufflepuff Singer Painting

Ravenclaw Singer Painting

Slytherin Singer Painting

The faces were a little more complicated.  A sold block color of skin tone, then a dark wash.  Next a tiny dot of white for the eyes, then an even tinier drop of brown or blue for the iris! I then did a little dry brushing of the skin tone again and red lips for Gryffindor.
Gryffindor Singer Face Painting
Harry Potter House Singers in the Hogsmeade Christmas Village

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Healthy Halloween Snacks: Bell Pepper Pumpkins and Krakens

There are lots and lots of sweet halloween treats and decorations available, but we recently hosted a halloweeny brunch and we needed some savory options.  These bell pepper creations were super quick and easy to make, but had a big visual impact.  They are pretty much as easy as they look!

For the pumpkins, carve the pumpkin faces before you cut open the pepper; if you cut it open first it will be less structurally sound and a little harder to carve.  Once you have the faces complete, cut the top off and empty the insides.  You can also put dip inside the pumpkins if you feel the urge.

The Kraken eye is a circle with an ellipse on either side.  Again, carve the eye, then cut the top off and flip it upside down.  It's hard to see from the picture but the Kraken is sitting in blue ranch dip (I just used a few drops of blue food coloring). 

There you go; all ready for a spoooky brunch!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

DIY Hogsmeade Harry Potter Christmas Village: Owls!

As the first addition to the Hogsmeade Christmas Village, I converted some Halloween Owls I got on sale into wintry Harry Potter owls.  It was actually a bit easier than expected; I used a dremel drill to remove the 'Halloween' aspects of the models, then simple acrylic craft paints to repaint them.

The owls I got were in a pack for a Halloween village.  I had no idea what they were made of, but given their price point I assumed that they could contain lead.  As a result, I made sure to take some extra precautions when using the dremel drill to remove the halloween flare.

The owls, as seen above, had a few items that needed to be removed in order to convert them to Wintry Wonder.  I dremeled off the spiders, rats, halloween mask, and the high collar of the dracula cape.  I didn't dare remove the entire witch hat or cape, as it would have required sculpting a large piece of the owl. I used light strokes with the drill to make new 'feather' imprints below the areas where I removed things. 
The original owls before the dremeling
Owls after dremeling
Painting:  I started the painting with a base layer of white.  It took a few layers for the Hedwig owl in order to get a solid white color.  Be sure not to put the paint on too heavily as you don't want to obscure any of the detail.

Next I started adding color.  The non-caped owl I gave darker brown wings/head/back with a lighter belly.  The caped owl I painted a more orangish color for variety (the cape I painted green).  The hat owl I left white, to make a snowy owl a la Hedwig.  The tree trunks I painted a dark brown, with a lighter brown for the cut surfaces. 

From here I began doing layers of dry brushing and washes.

Washing is taking a darker color paint and diluting it with water.  Take this and paint your item, allowing the watery paint to seep down into the crevices of the item.  This will help accent shadows.  Generally I use black paint for washes, but occasionally other dark colors if it will fit in better.
A very light Black wash in Hedwig's wings
(For the eyes, I did golden yellow, then very tiny black dots on top for pupils.  It was surprisingly difficult to get the pupils to face the same direction!)

Dry brushing is when you use a lighter color paint, put a small bit on a brush, then remove most of it on a piece of newspaper or paper towel.  Then very lightly paint with the brush so that only the top bits of the surface (the highlights) receive paint.  Typically I do a wash first, then a dry brush once it has dried.  If you do a wash over a dry brush it will darken the highlights a bit. 
Brown owl with lighter brown dry brush on the feather edges

For Hedwig, I needed to convert the witch hat into either something Christmasy or Harry Potter-y.  I decided to paint her wearing the Sorting Hat.  The hat was light brown, and I added eyes and a mouth with a darker brown paint.  I then did a dark brown wash to give it better depth and texture.

Hedwig and the Sorting Hat progression
Hogsmeade Owls for the Harry Potter Christmas Village

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

DIY Wooden Train Track Accessories

My child has been building a wooden train set and I decided to try my hand at building a few accessories for the tracks.  We use the generic wooden tracks that are compatible with Brio et al (mostly we use the IKEA Lillabo sets; great price) but they work with the Thomas The Train engines which my child adores.  I've heard a rumor that the official Thomas tracks don't link to the Brio et al tracks without adaptors, but I've not tried them myself.  Either way, the trains all work on any of the tracks.

I made three different items; a Water tower with track, a Helicopter landing bridge, and a Buffer.

I used generic wood slats and rods from a craft store to make the structures, plus a wooden bead for the water tower.  I glued them together with wood glue, sanded them a whole bunch, painted them with craft paint, then gave them a coat of semi-gloss polyurethane.

For the painting, I used blue painters tape to cover the bases so they could stay unpainted.  I painted the rest white, then added the highlight colors as needed. 

Helicopter Landing Bridge:


Water Tower:

 I made a track under the water tower which was probably unnecessary but a fun challenge.  I made both ends female because it seemed easier than trying to make one of the male ends.  I made a diagram of the dimensions of the actual tracks in case someone has nicer tools than I do and wants to make a more accurate replica (see above).  The female connectors have a circle that is 1/2 inch diameter; my largest drill bit was only 7/16, so I used a dremel drill to make it larger.  The tracks themselves were much harder; trains have narrow wheels but they stick out a bit in the middle so you really need to try to re-create the trapezoid shape of the tracks to let them run smoothly.  After much sanding and laboring I managed to get the track even enough for a battery-powered train to run through it without getting stuck; I declared victory.


Monday, September 2, 2019

DIY Hogsmeade At Christmastime: Harry Potter Christmas Village

Hogsmeade Christmas Village

I've had a very long-term goal of one day making a Christmas Village, and recently was inspired by a trip to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios to try to make a Hogsmeade of my own.  I looked around online to see if you could buy a pre-made Christmas or Winter Hogsmeade or other such thing, but the closest I could find was the Harry Potter Village from Department 56 which is notably Not wintry (

Hogsmeade Christmas Village Illuminated at Night

So I went to a local thrift store and procured three generic Christmas Village houses and set to work re-painting them.  My primary supplies were cheap acrylic paint from a hobby store and equally cheap kids paint brushes, along with a solid amount of patience and time.  I've broken down the basic steps for each building below, hopefully with enough tips to help you make your own charming Christmas Hogsmeade. 

Honeydukes, The Three Broomsticks, and Flourish and Blotts

Honeydukes, Three Broomsticks, Flourish and Blotts
Painting techniques - I used two 'techniques' while painting which I reference below:

Technique 1) The first is a 'wash' effect.  This means diluting the paint in a large amount of water until you have a very runny paint, or really more like a tinted water.  This is used to darken crevices and make shadows.  This is much easier than the 'real' way to make depth in painting, which would be to paint a very dark layer, then a slightly less dark layer, then a slightly more less dark layer, etc.

Technique 2)  The second technique is 'dry brushing.'  This refers to putting paint on a brush, then wiping most of the paint off on a paper towel (or wherever) so that very little paint remains.  You then lightly brush the paintbrush over the area you wish to highlight, and only the parts sticking out the farthest will be painted.  This is used for highlights; lighter colors put on as accents (the opposite of a shadow).

Building 1: The Three Broomsticks

 This is the original building I re-painted.  I kept most of the patterns, just changed the colors.  I actually didn't re-paint the rock wall; just added a black wash to make it pop.
 Step one: paint solid colors over the roof (deep grey), the woodwork/stucco (light taupe), and doors/windows (burnt umber).
 I also painted the woodwork burnt umber.
 Once all my base colors were down, I did a black wash.  As noted above, this means I took water, added a hint of black paint, then 'washed' the building in that mixture so it would sneak into all the crevices and cracks.  You can especially see in the stones on the wall how this creates a strong shadow.
Once the black wash dried (give it plenty of time!), I dry brushed a light grey onto the roof to accent the tiles.  The light grey was made by simply mixing white and the deep grey I had already used for the roof. 
Here is the almost completed building.  I dry brushed the woodwork with a lighter brown mixed with white, to help the woodgrains stick out.  The white snow on the roof I had to paint because I got paint on it during painting.  The original snow was a sort of warm off-white, and I changed it to a straight white.  It took quite a few coats of paint to get a solid white color, probably because I used such cheap acrylic paints. 

Here you can see how I made the broomsticks for the Three Broomsticks logo.  I started with small matchstick pieces, and cut them quite short.  I then took thread and wound it into a ball, then cut it on either end to make a large volume of short little strands.  I tied these around the base of the match stick.  

I painted the broomsticks dark brown, then hot glued them together to make a triangle.  Once the glue was dry I highlighted the 'straw' on the ends with a lighter brown paint.  

To attach the logo, I cut a paperclip and hot glued it to the roof of the building, then painted it deep grey to match the roof.

The Three Broomsticks Christmas Village
Here is the Three Broomsticks in all its glory!

Building Two: Flourish and Blotts

I know technically this shop is in Diagon Alley, not Hogsmeade, but I really like it and thought it would be a nice shop for a Christmas Village, so I'm telling myself they were able to expand to a second location.

Here's the original building.  

I used mostly the same colors for this building as I had for the Three Broomsticks; Deep Grey for the roof, Light Taupe for the stucco, Burnt Umber for the woodwork.  But now I also have Evergreen for the trees and garlands and Tan for the painted stone walls. 

The logo proved to be a little tricky to replace.  I tried to scrape the logo off, but it wouldn't budge, and I worried I might shatter the whole building.  So instead I used some spackle meant for filling nail holes in walls, and covered it to make a tiny dome. Plaster of paris would have been a better bet, but I didn't have any handy.  I ended up painting it numerous times (eventually gold) and the paint helped smooth out the finish.  (you can see the plaster of paris version in my later Madam Puddifoot's here)

I changed my mind and decided to paint the windows Santa Red instead of brown, and did a first coat of white paint on the window panes.  

Here you can see the black wash, which really helps the stone walls pop.

Here you can see another wash, this time a yellow wash in the window panes.  I initially did an orange wash but it was too dark orange, so I painted them white again and tried the yellow wash.  Even the yellow wash was a bit more intense than I intended, so I did a very light white coat in the center of each pane afterward, to keep the edges yellow but make the center brighter.  My goal was to make the windows appear to have a gentle glow to them.  

Almost done! Here you can see the final effect of the glowing windows, and the gold logo.  I also made the awnings dark blue.  The garlands and trees are Evergreen color with a black wash and Kelly Green drybrush to highlight. The bows are Santa Red mixed with black, then straight Santa Red for highlight.

Flourish and Blotts Christmas Village
Here's the final product! My partner made the logo with a fine point black acrylic paint pen.  

Building Three: Honeydukes

The painting for Honeydukes was much the same as the others except I used a variety of color washes to give the windows a stained-glass appearance.  The windows were much too small to try to paint tiny candy in them, so I figured the colored glass would help convey the colorfulness inside.  

Here's the original building.  There's a lot going on.  

Some of the starting bits: a Pink door and window shades, dark green for the wood trim and awning, burnt umber for the supporting wood structures, deep grey roof, etc.  The Honeydukes from the movies has a green/pink color scheme which I wanted to replicate.  There are actually windows and window shades under that awning which were very much not fun to paint.  

Here I started to paint in the windows and stucco behind the wooden ornamentation. This part involved a lot of painting and then touching up and then painting again etc 

Here you can see the washes of color for the windows.  This part was a lot of fun.

The logo on this building was imprinted, so the wall filler actually worked well to smooth it out so I could paint a new label onto the building.  

At this point the building is almost finished.  I highlighted the roof, beams, doorway, and window shades by drybrushing.  

Honeydukes Christmas Village
And here it is! The final building of the project.  This one was definitely the most detailed and difficult, but also my favorite to have finished!

I hope you have found this tutorial helpful; Merry Christmas!