How to Make a Dickens Village Display

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A Dickens village display.
A Dickens village display. (Image: village image by papydiesel from Fotolia.com)

A Dickens village display is a model village based on Victorian England, normally set up on a table or series of tables. Because the Dickens model buildings are often snow-covered, Dickens villages are normally a part of, or mixed in with, larger Christmas villages. For beginners, it is probably better to start with a small display, like on one half of a table, and then add buildings and detail slowly over time. Be careful though; before you know it, the room where you keep your Dickens village will soon be taken over as you continue to add pieces and detail.

Things You'll Need

  • Dickens village pieces
  • Thick Styrofoam blocks
  • Thin Styrofoam sheets
  • Table
  • Utility knife
  • White felt cloth
  • Masking tape
  • White pushpins
  • Surge protectors

Draw out how you want the village to look on a piece of paper. This doesn’t have to be pretty or exact, just give yourself an overall template that you can look back on later. Include all the major elements of the village on the design and try to keep it to scale as much as possible, so you can find out early if what you want isn’t going to fit on the display.

Set up one or more tables where you want to have the Dickens village display. Because many village displays have elevation changes, the tables don’t have to all be the same height, although you will have more design options if they are. Position the tables in a corner or area of your house where they can be viewed easily and you have access to several electrical outlets. Cut Styrofoam sheets to fit on top of the tables and place them there.

Place Styrofoam blocks on the rear portion of the tables to add some elevation to the display. You can cut the blocks to a desired shape, if you like, but place a sheet of Styrofoam on top of the blocks to give a stable surface to any buildings you may want to put there. If you don’t want to use blocks, you can add elevation with books, bricks or even pieces of wood.

Put one huge sheet of white felt, or a snow blanket if you want a more puffed-up look, over the entire table. Use white pushpins to hold the cloth in place around your elevation, so that you can shape the cloth to look more natural. The cloth should go all the way to the floor in front of the table, as this will give you room to store all the boxes and electrical cords out of sight. If your sheet is slipping, feel free to use masking tape on the back side to keep it in one place.

Add the houses, figurines, roads, light fixtures and vegetation to your display. If you are skilled with crafts, you can make some of these yourself, but it will have a more cohesive look if you purchase the pieces from a village manufacturer. You can also add a model railroad running through the town, if you desire.

Cut slits in the felt behind the electric pieces and run the power cables under the felt and down the back of the table. You can run the cables on top of the felt if you don’t want to cut it, but it will be difficult to hide black cords on a white background. Plug the cords into a surge protector and then plug that into the outlet.

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