Village Display Tips from Stephen Pepin

Stephen Pepin was in Department 56 headquarters recently to refresh, restyle, and infuse creativity to the showroom Village displays. Before formally starting to commission work for village displays in 2002, he began with a love for building model trains.

Stephen ShowroomWhat inspires him?

“The ability to create your own world with the pieces and scenes you arrange. Shelly’s Diner is my favorite Village piece because although the outside lighting is enticing, the scene inside of the diner adds an extra special touch. You truly feel like you’re observing a scene from the outside.”

56.55008We asked Stephen to share with us some tips based off of the most common questions. Stephen regularly provides the following 8 most helpful Village display creation guidelines:

1.) Using carving tools from The Hot Wire Foam Factory can create the smoother texture on the edges and makes cutting foam simple. They make a variety of blades and wires so that no piece of foam is too large or small to carve!

2.) Liquitex Spray Paint will be priceless in helping to create lifelike scenes with foam or other materials. Unlike most spray paints, Liquitex is water based meaning that there are not nearly as many chemicals to eat away at the foam. Bonus: it does not smell as potent as regular spray paints either.

IMG_21183.) Staying organized is extremely important! The Village pieces in your display will likely have different cords and adapters its essential to make sure you keep each cord or adapter with the proper piece. Organization will also make it easier when you’re arranging or rearranging your pieces.

4.) Rather than anchoring down your components right away, play around with position and find a place where they look best. Your initial spot may not be ideal. Moving the around will make it easier to decide where the optimal place to hide the cords would be as well.

5.) Take your time! There’s no need to rush, and an exciting village display is worth the effort. If you’re feeling stuck take a break by finding inspiration in nature, your surroundings, or checking out Department 56 on Youtube, Pinterest, and Instagram.

6.) Department 56 sells both moss and snow, which are perfect for adding to the display. For a more natural look use Woodland Scenics “blended turf”. The color and texture perfectly mimic grassy earth tones.


7.) Don’t ignore the smaller accessory pieces. Although the houses are important and the bulk of the display, the smaller accessory pieces like fencing, trees, street lights, or benches supplement the feeling of being transported into a different world.

8.) Don’t forget to have fun!


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