Shabby Chic MIniature Shutter DIY

Okay, so I had a bit of time in the last few days – I am doing quite a bit of magazine writing for dolls’ house magazine and it seems to gobble up all my time. 

For myself, I have been keen to make a Shabby Chic vignette. I have a small box already made that I have had for years and I want to make it into a little space with all things Shabby Chic. 

I am also very inspired by the work of Christine-Lea Frisoni – I simply love her work. You can see her blog here. 

So I set about making a couple of shutters as the first part of my Shabby Chic setting. I want the whole setting to be ultra pale and I plan on using various whites and ecru shades. I will probably only use one shutter in the setting, but thought I would finish off both. 

These are a pair of basswood shutters that I have had for a number of years. The are American made by Handley Miniatures. Here is a link to their catalogue page. 

So the first thing I did was to paint it with my Bug Juice. I call it this, once I realised that the world famous Bug Juice made by Noel and Pat Thomas. The Thomas’ used to make brilliant aged and character items and their work has been a constant source of inspiration to me. Pat Thomas currently writes a very good blog about how they made the many miniatures over the years. It is very entertaining reading how other miniaturists have coped over the years. 

To make Bug Juice – my recipe – you take a few rusty nails and screws and place them in a jam jar. Fill the jam jar to the halfway point with either white or brown vinegar. Let it rest for a few days, you can shake it every now and then. 

Once it is ready, decant the vinegar into another jar. Fill the jar to the top with water, shake well and paint onto your wood. 

Now the reaction is different on different pieces of wood, so I would recommend that you first experiment on a piece of waste wood – it can turn oak almost pitch black.  

So I tried my brown  vinegar Bug Juice on the shutters, but it did not have much of an impact. 

So next, I grabbed a knife and an awl and started to shave off corners, dig out bit and hammer in some holes all over the shutters. 

You can see from the photo that the bug juice had some effect but not enough. You can also see the marks I made. I chipped away at one of the corners to show real decay. 

Then I painted it with some watered down Humbrol Acrylic in grey, rubbing it off almost as soon as I had put it on. The paint seemed to be bluer as I added it – perhaps reacting to the vinegar solution. I worked the paint well into the rebates and the holes I had dug. I was really pleased with the bluish tinge as it seemed to add more authenticity to the age of the piece.  

Once that was dry I painted the shutters with a thin coat of Gloss Varnish (an acrylic one) 

The I rubbed them with a candle here and there so the paint would not adhere all over. 

The last bit of paint was a coat of Humbrol Acrylic in White. Again I kept this quite thin, although I added a bit more paint here and there. 

Then with a knife, sandpaper and so on I removed and scraped away the paint. I am really pleased with the effect. 

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