Berber Style House

Once again what started out as an experiment resulted in something not-half-bad.  Pictures below kind of describe how I built a simple Berber house.  These are the kind you see stacked on top of each other in small villages nestled on the hillsides of the various  Atlas Mountains in Morocco and Algeria.  I didn’t plan on making a tutorial on this so some of the steps are not photographed.  Instead I”ll describe the process here:

I started out with a box–an Irish Spring soap box to be exact.  I often use small boxes or inner square corner supports to make the walls go together straighter.  I taped the empty box closed and glued on “blue foam” strips, cut to the dimensions of the box, along the sides.  Before gluing on the front strip I cut out a door and a window using an Exacto knife (the sharper the better for foam).  Glue was the craft store “foam glue”.  Once this had set I sharpened several pencils and proceeded to make a brick pattern into the foam.  This was really the intent of this project–to see how well the foam takes an etched-on brick pattern.  Call me cheap but I can’t see paying $8.00 for a sheet of embossed brick pattern plastic sheet.   So I proceeded to make a halfway decent irregular brick pattern onto the foam of each side of the house.  This took about 40 minutes (two beers).  I made sure to leave a frame around the door and the window–similar to the pictures I researched on the interwebs.   Next step was to paint everything (at least the foam) with my hobby store acrylic burnt sienna.   Then I took out the “spackle” (or whatever they call the white stuff I use for covering nail holes) and put a large enough glob (quarter size) together with a dime sized squirt of off-white paint.  For this I used “Country Tan” from the ubiquitous array for Walmart crafts colors.   Once I gave the spackle some color I used a large paintbrush to paint it onto the brick pattern and then immediately I wiped off the surface of each wall to get back to the Burnt Umber color of the bricks.   This left the lighter color of the spackle rest in all of the nooks and cracks I made with the sharp pencils.  After this dried I hit random bricks with a bit of random colors (dark brown, red brick, tan, light brown, etc.).  There is no special set of colors you have to use–just vary the appearance a little.  Also not every brick needs new paint.  I then dry brushed some sandstone over each side then fitted the door (made with blue foam cut a little shallower than the brickwork, sliced lines to simulate the door wood and added two cross boards and light blue dry brushing over Burnt Sienna) and the window (made with foam cut to size,  paint, thin slices of electrical tape, and clear packing tape to give it a glass effect).  On the roof I glued some broom bristles sticking out of the sides to serve as the wooden lattice they use as the roof.  I then cut some strips of gauze and soaked each strip in a mix of patching cement, bit of water and Burnt Sienna (again).  I laid these strips on the roof and covered it over with more until the roof looked right.  I let this dry overnight before I then dusted over the entire house with very fine wood saw dust.  This lightened up the whole model a bit.  I then hit some highlights on the roof with some light dry brushing (Sandstone).  Done.

About Jack Wagner

Retired Army.
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