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The Christmas Village Book
, written by Edward J. Coburn.

So, you’ve bought several houses, or someone bought them for you, because you want to create a Christmas village. Or, perhaps you bought just one house because you thought it was cute. Now what do you do? Well, if you’re like most people, you will clear a spot on some table, put down a little cotton batting, position your house or houses, surround the houses with your other village elements such as animals, people, and, of course, trees, and you have a very presentable display. But, with just a little more effort, using the techniques shown in this book, you can have a truly eye-catching display. You will learn how to create a diorama for your Christmas village and, along the way, you will learn techniques that can be used to create dioramas for any display such as your model cars, military displays, train set, or anything else you can think of. You will even learn how to create some of your own diorama elements such as a stone fence, from simple materials. Finally you will learn one thing to do when you have a large number of buildings and other accessories.

Here, read the first portion of The Christmas Village Book. Then, if you like how the book starts, you can order the ebook in Kindle format at Amazon.com .




Introduction

     
     So, you’ve bought several houses, or someone bought them for you, because you want to create a Christmas village. Or, perhaps you bought just one house because you thought it was cute. Now what do you do? Well, if you’re like most people, you:
     * Buy or use an existing table
     * Put down a little cotton batting, like that used for stuffing pillows or making quilts, to simulate snow
     * Position your house or houses
     * Perhaps, surround your village by that Christmas train you bought
     * Add a few trees, if you bought any
     * Add people, if you bought any
     * Plug your houses in, if they have lights
     * And you’re done with a very presentable display.
     But, with just a little more effort, using the techniques shown in this book, you can have a truly eye-catching display.
     We will start with a discussion of some of the elements you might want to put into your display and some of the more interesting buildings, people, and accessories I have found to create my displays.
     Then we will look at how you can create a diorama with a single house. You have no doubt seen dioramas before even if you didn’t know that’s what they were called. If you have ever been in a museum where people or animals were in a life-like setting, you have seen a diorama. We will explore the different elements of creating a dioramas and then you will be able to create one of your own such as the one shown in
figure I-1.

The bonus with learning to create this type of diorama is that you will learn techniques that can be used to create a diorama using any elements such as your model cars, military displays, train set, or anything else you can think of.



Figure I-1 Simple Christmas diorama.
     
     

Chapter 1

     Village Elements
     
     There is any number of elements that you may wish to include in your village. This chapter deals with some of the more interesting ones I have found to incorporate in my village displays.
     
     Buildings
     There is a wide variety of buildings that you may find at your local department store such as Walmart or your local home-improvement stores such as Lowe's or Home Depot or even at the various kinds of hobbies stores you might find locally. You can find houses like the one shown in figure 1–1, ordinary buildings like police stations or churches like those in figure 1–2, and even specialty buildings like the Christmas tree shop shown in figure 1–3.
     
     

     Figure 1-1 One of many houses available. Notice the people through the window and Santa about to slide down the chimney.


     
     
     Figure 1-2 Ordinary buildings that might be found in any actual village.
     
     

     Figure 1-3 A Christmas tree shop with Santa on the roof and his sleigh out front.
     
     

Fences

     Fences are an important element if you want your display to look authentic. In every village, town, and city, regardless the size, there are always at least a few houses that are surrounded by fences. You won’t want your display to be any different. To find fences, however, you will probably have to visit specialty shops. I have found that few department stores that carry fences. The fence in figure 1-4 is the one exception. I did find the picket fence in a department store.

     
     
     Figure 1-4 My white picket fence.
     
     My other two stone fences in figures 1-5 and 1-6 I found at a Christmas store I frequently visited. Notice the fence in figure 1-5 doesn’t have a gateway into whatever the fence is surrounding whereas the fence in figure 1-6 has a very elaborate gateway arch. Also, this fence has fence accent posts with small trees. I often have wished I had a fence for my house like the one in Figure 1-6.
     
     

     Figure 1-5 Stone fence without a gate.
     
     

     Figure 1-6 Stone fence with a gate.
     
     If you want a fence but can’t find any, you do have the option of building your own with just a few supplies. To begin with, you will need some short, narrow, pieces of styrofoam as shown in figure 1-7. You can find suitable styrofoam at virtually any hobby shop such as Michaels or Hobby Lobby and, possibly department or home improvement stores. Whatever you get, you will need to cut it into short, narrow pieces of a length appropriate for the fence you want to build.
     
     

     Figure 1-7 A Styrofoam piece to build a stone fence.
     
     You can create separate pieces to go down the sides of the yard and separate pieces for the back and front or you can glue two pieces together to form a corner as shown in figure 1-8. Personally, I would take care making pieces too long or around corners because they will be hard to store after Christmas is over.
     
     

     Figure 1-8 Aligning and gluing a corner for the fence
     
     The objective is to create a fence similar to that shown in figure 1-9.
     
     

     Figure 1-9 A home made stone fence.
     
     To create such a stone fence, the second thing you will need is pea gravel (very small rocks). You can find bags of pea gravel at any home improvement store. Then you need to sort out the rocks that are basically flat as shown in Figure 1-10. You want flat rocks because they will stick to the mortar better since they have more surface area.
     
     

     Figure 1-10 Sorting the pea gravel to get the flat stones.
     
     The next step will be to mix up some plaster or hydrocal (a special type of plaster made by Woodland Scenics) to use as the mortar for the fence. Hydrocal is nice because it’s harder when dry than regular plaster and, thus, the rocks will generally stick better. Unfortunately, plaster and Hydrocal is white. You will want to add coloring to the plaster to make it look more like mortar such as that shown in Figure 1-11. The easiest coloring to get is just some clothing dye at your local department store. It is inexpensive and readily available. Of course you can use dyes that are made for crafters, such as the kind manufactured by Woodland Scenics, but I have found that ordinary clothing die works just as well for making mortar. You will want to use black or dark gray dye. Since the plaster is white, mixing black with it will give you a pleasing gray color for your mortar. You may have to experiment a bit to get the color to your satisfaction.
     
     

     Figure 1-11 The plaster colored like mortar.
     
     After mixing up the mortar, spread it on your Styrofoam a bit at a time as shown in figure 1-12. You need to go slowly with the plaster, especially if you are using Hydrocal since you don’t what it to be dry while you are trying to press your rocks in it. If it is already too dry, the rocks won’t stick well.
     
     

     Figure 1-12 The mortar spread on a section of the styrofoam.
     
     After pressing the rocks into the mortar, you will have the start of a fence as shown in figure 1-13.
     
     

     Figure 1-13 the start of the stone fence.
     
     After you have your rocks pressed into the plaster, let it dry before spreading the plaster for the next section. If one of the rocks should fall out of one of the completed sections, you can use a small bit of plaster spread on the backside of that stone to place it back in the fence.
     One of the many advantages with creating your own stone fence is that you can create it as if it is a very old fence that is falling down with age. You can do that with a central section of the fence falling, as shown in figure 1-14 or with the end of one of the sections as show in figure 1-15. Notice that I spread several rocks around the bottom of the fence as if they were the stones that had fallen. I think that adds just one more touch of realism.
     
     

     Figure 1-14 The stone fence with a central section collapsing.
     
     

     Figure 1-15 The stone fence with an end collapsing.
     
     

People

     Naturally, if you want your village to look authentic, you will need to add people to your layout. Here are some I have collected over the years. Some have been purchased at department stores but some of my favorites were picked up at specialty shops such as the Christmas shops that seem to spring up at that time of year. These are generally more expensive, but some of the figures you buy at department stores, aren’t manufactured very well and they may not look very realistic.
     One of my favorites is the doctor and his buggy as shown in figure 1-16. It was, as you probably surmised, bought at a specialty shop.
     
     

     Figure 1-16 The doctor and his buggy.
     
     Of course what would the season be without kids putting up snowmen as shown in figure 1-17.
     
     

     Figure 1-17 Children building snowmen.
     
     Since this is to be a Christmas village, various people with Christmas packages would seem natural as shown in figure 1-18.
     
     

     Figure 1-18 People with presents.
     
     Carolers are also nice to have as shown in figure 1-19.
     
     

     Figure 1-19. Carolers.
     
     Another accent that I found that works well in my village is skaters. I found a small plastic mirror and painted it with a thin coat of white to better simulate ice as shown in figure 1-20.
     
     

     Figure 1-20 Skaters on a frozen pond.
     
     I think sledders or those being pulled on sleds make a perfect addition to any village as shown in Figure 1-21.
     
     

     Figure 1-21 Sledders and kids being pulled on sleds.
     
     Sledders such as the two in the middle of figure 1-21 are ideal to have sliding down a hill. A hill is easy to make with a few slanted 2X4’s as shown in figure 1-22 covered by a bit of batting. With the sledders added as in figure 1-23 it looks pretty good.
     
     

     Figure 1-22 The 2X4s for the hill.
     
     

     Figure 1-23 The sledders added to hill after covering the 2X4s with batting.
     
     

Trees and Bushes

     There are a variety of different trees and bushes you can find for your village. Some of them I use for my village are shown in figure 1-24. Notice there are many different sizes and shape of evergreens along with a different type of tree that has lost all its leaves.
     
     

     Figure 1-24 Some of the variety of trees available.
     
     What would a Christmas scene be without some of the bushes covered in lights as in figure 1-25.
     
     

     Figure 1-25 Bushes with lights.
     
     And, of course, you will want some trees with lights as in figure 1-26. One nice thing about this tree, even the star on top lights up.
     
     

     Figure 1-26 A lighted tree.
     
     

Animals

     Like everything else for Christmas villages, there are a number of animals that you can add. You can have deer as in figure 1-27, and ducks and squirrels as in figure 1-28.
     
     

     Figure 1-27 Deer.
     
     
     Figure 1-28 Ducks and squirrels.