Dad’s Garden Train Hogwarts

My sister and I grew up in a pretty artistic family.  My mom and dad both paint and have always been very creative.  So today, I thought I’d share a little project of my dad’s….

I learned to paint and draw when my mom started showing me how to draw shapes and make people when I was still learning to walk.  I get so much of my encouragement and imagination from her.  And I get a lot of my furious, frenetic, constant MAKING from my dad, who was always knee-deep in a project or two, always creating, always building, always doing SOMEthing.  (Sounds very familiar!)

A few years ago, my dad got into building garden trains.  He had fun setting up the track, but also building the structures for the cities and towns in his train village.  At one point, before they moved, he had worked on a Harry Potter’s Hogwarts castle to add at the back. firstThe old town below included Diagon Alley, Hagrid’s, and the Weasley’s.  He even included a few fun things with the  people…

funnyAwhile back, my parents moved to a new home, and my dad started up a new train village.  He built each structure by hand, from sheets of styrofoam and thin pieces of wood, coating them in liquid cement, and then painting and decorating them (often with the help of my mom’s awesome decorative painting skills).



buildings2They’re pretty good-sized structures, too–here are our two dogs–a fully grown Boston Terrier and Boxer, who love to sniff around town. (Thankfully, they haven’t destroyed anything…yet.)

dogsThe liquid concrete and coats of varnish keep the structures fairly well-protected from the weather.

concrete.jpegAs fantastic as dad’s sculptures are, Mom’s painting details are just as amazing!  She creates tiny handpainted murals on some:

momAfter finishing a good chunk of the town, Dad recently decided to try his old Hogwart’s castle again.  But this time, he studied schematics of Hogwarts, looked at reference photos and movie models, and laid out a foundation.  He started by building a styrofoam mountain in the back, up against their patio, adding a water feature as well.

structure1Then he worked on the first building tower, sculpting into the styrofoam and shaping it with wooden pieces.structure2.jpgHe laid the tiny wooden shingles on the roof one by one, by hand.

structure3.jpgHere it is, temporarily mounted on the “mountain”just as a test-run.

structure4.jpgInitially, he matched his paint job to a reference he found, which was a lot more rusty orangey brown (the first photo, below).  He sent a photo of it, and asked, and we talked about how although he matched the reference, the FEEL of it in the movie (although the shots of it are often at night) is that it’s mostly grayish.  So he repainted, and it made a WORLD of difference!

structure6.jpgHere are some more progress shots of the mounted castle tower, and of coating and painting it.structure5.jpgSo, fast-forward to several steps later, and HERE is the final Hogwart’s castle!final2.JPGHe put lights in them, so the towers glow beautifully at night.

final.JPGIt’s so beautiful and amazing!  If you look closely, you can see these tiny Hogwarts shields I painted for him, with each house emblem on them:

shields.jpgI also customized a few figures for his castle, although they turned out a little wonky. I turned one into Harry, and chopped off Darth Maul’s horns and nose to turn him into Voldemort.

people.jpgHere they both are, complete (lying next to an adorable heart-holding griffin Myla drew on my work board).

bothAnyway, there it is!  Dad’s Garden Train Hogwarts castle.final3Growing up, I knew enough to realize that not everyone’s parents were as creative as mine…but knowing that we didn’t come from a ton of money, I realized that everyone had the capability of being creative.  Seeing something start from small beginnings to something huge and amazing doesn’t always require specific tools or the finest art supplies or the best brushes.  Dad was building stuff when we were younger out of dental floss and twigs!  Really, when it comes down to it, the most important thing you really need is a desire to create!final4Congrats on your castle, Dad!



29 responses

  1. WOW this is so amazing, you are so lucky to have such fantastic and inspiring parents. Good work all of you x

  2. Wow! I am impressed, amazed, in awe of your father’s work and commitment. Beautiful!

  3. That’s impressive! You’ll have Harry Potter am fans storming your site now…

  4. Your dad is quite the visionary. Congratulations on a job well done. It must be quite magical to be near.

  5. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it? You are all totally awesome.

  6. Excuse my language but… HOLY SHIT, CAN I GO TO YOUR DAD’S HOUSE?!

  7. So glad I got to see this!! Have you all read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic yet? Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. Does he actually run trains around his creations? These are magnificent!!

  9. I had creative parents, too, but didn’t realize that was unusual. My dad could build or fix anything, and my mother sewed, knitted, crocheted, and a bunch of other crafts (and was a fantastic cook, too). They were both so modest I had no idea it was special. Your parents are amazing!

  10. That is simply amazing… my hubby keeps talking about a train in the garden. Might have to show him this as inspiration for when he’s finished redesigning the tree house with our son!

  11. This is AMAZING! Send major congrats to your dad from me 😆

  12. Your whole family is simply amazing….love love love!

  13. Wow! Just wow! You father is an incredibly talented, creative and focused man.

  14. I just showed my kids and my ten year old yelled, “Oh my god! I NEED to go there!”

  15. Wonderful work. Wonderful creative family! Your share so much love by making this together. (Even if you only did a bit yourself.) I’m blown away by this. ❤️🎄🎄

  16. i love that i mean it is awesome

  17. I’m not a Harry Potter fan (just not familiar) but this is a genuinely amazing piece of work. Well done to everyone, and surely if you didn’t have much growing up your parents could make a bundle with skills like that!

  18. I’ll never buy another house unless there is a model of Hogwarts in the garden.

  19. stunning and inspirational!

  20. That is just amazing. So wonderful for you to have creative parents as well. What a joy for your daughter to see the creativity through the generations. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

  21. I would love to have something like this, but the wallet can only open so far! Looks like something they would use to film the movies, like for aerial shots

  22. This is wonderful.

  23. My hubby is drooling – he has model trains but not allowed in the garden or any more incursions into the house from where he already has!! What a wonderful creative family.

  24. Wow! I never got to appreciate arts until I saw this. This is just too beautiful.

  25. theoldfartsworkshop | Reply

    This is just amazing. I can’t imagine how much time has been spent on creating this. I love the figures too. You have such a creative streak running through your family. I could only dream of projects like this.

  26. wow,this is just amazing😎

  27. Nothing short of breathtaking – I’m in absolute awe. What a wonderfully artistic gift your father has…and such an eye for detail. Truly masterpieces, each and every one of them!

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