She has been speaking to me for a long time. Little whispers of her origins, her tidy house, her hearty ancestors. This is what I know about Miss Thistle.
I’m sure she cooks on an open hearth and has a cozy spot by a window for sewing and correspondence and daydreams and tea.
She tends a medium size garden and keeps chickens and goats and bees. And she has sweet miss-matched china – passed from aunts and grandmothers and friends.
My way into Miss Thistle’s world is the hearth. Your tiny rag doll might need a hearth too.
It’s not hard to make. And before we dive into how I want to tell you about the next Miss Thistle Society project: her mismatched china. I have a trick that makes it pretty easy and spectacularly fun to make her tiny hand-me-down plates and cups. Look for that next week.
You probably have most of the things you need for her dishes, except maybe the clay. I use paper clay – this is my brand and you can get it here (The Miss Thistle Society gets a tiny commission if you purchase through this link). I use it for lots of things but I always buy the small size because it does not store well after opening.
To make the hearth you will need:
- paper egg cartons
- light cardboard
- elmer’s glue
- mat board (or a thick cardboard (not corrugated)
- exacto knife and scissors
- masking tape
- spackle ( Find it at any hardware store – I like Fast ‘n Final Lightweight Spackling)
- craft paint
- brushes – a variety of sizes
- a sponge and a soft rag
- fine sand paper
And you will need a hearth. A shape to work on. I made my shape out of foam core and mat board. It’s assembled with hot glue mostly. So many burns… And I made a giant hearth – you don’t need to. A small one is sweet and quick to make.
This tutorial is concerned with making the stone finish but I will offer a couple tips on making your foundation shape.
The easiest thing to do is start with a box (a sturdy corrugated box). The box above is about 6 X 9 inches and 1 and 3/4 inch deep. Mark the opening and use your exacto knife to cut all the way through the lines marked in red and score (just cut the surface of the cardboard) the lines marked white. Fold back the sides to make the inside walls of the hearth. Glue the hearth walls in place and cover the scored areas and edges with making tape.
If you make your own shaped foam core is great – choose white or black.
Whether you build the shape or use a box, re-enforce the corners (inside) with little triangles of mat board glued in. A few in each corner will make everything stable and sturdy.
I’m demonstrating the stone texture on my huge hearth. Cut shapes from grey cardboard and tear shapes from a grey paper egg carton (the flat parts) to create a little variety in texture and edges. Glue them to your structure with elmer’s glue. I made my structure out of black so you could see but it does not matter – white grey or brown is fine.
Cover the entire structure (I left a small section of my hearth un-stoned because I have a wood mantle I want to add). Let the stones dry in place.
Use a plastic spatula to spread a thin coat of spackle all over. It helps to have a damp sponge to smooth a little as you work. Use the spatula to press spackle between your stones and scrap of excess off. Don’t try to perfect the texture – we will sand it when it’s dry. That will be quite dusty. That’s another reason not to make a huge hearth. Cover the entire surface and let it dry completely.
Use fine sandpaper to sand your hearth. You want to sand away hard edges and lumps but leave a little texture. This is very dusty – I kept my vacuum near by, used it often and wore a dust mask. I hate dust.
I used a combination of acrylic paint in tubes and inexpensive craft paint, all water based. You will also need a toothbrush for splattering, several paint brushes and a palette to mix paint on (an old plate is great).
Mix a light color for grout and several gray and umber shades for stones. They should be darker than the grout color.
* note – I made the inner part of the hearth separately and glued it in and spackled the seams before sanding.
Use your toothbrush to spray a fine splatter all over using the darkest stone color thinned with water.
Use a medium size brush to paint your stones. A variety of colors works well. Mix a little paint with water to thin it on your palette. Paint a stone with your thinned paint and then dab it with the damp sponge to remove brush stokes and mottle the surface.
Experiment with the consistency of your paint to get an effect you like. The color should be a little translucent. I like the way the spackle grabs the color and absorbs it. You don’t need to be terribly neat.
When all the stones are painted and dry apply a translucent wash of the grout color thinned with water. Work in small areas applying the wash over the surface and then dabbing it off the stones.
When the grout wash is complete and dry go back and define some of the stone edges. Brush on a little thinned paint (it does not need to match the stone exactly) and then dab it with the damp sponge to blend.
And finally use a pencil to highlight some of the bottom and side edges – not every stone – here and there. Draw a pencil line at the edge and then smudge with your finger.