Thursday, 17 February 2011

Coffee Stick Houses – Part One

First of all I would like to thank Big Lee and The Angry Lurker for welcoming me to the world of blogging, and to those who have started to follow me already. I hope I don’t let you down, and yes, you have Big Lee to thank / blame (delete as applicable) for me being here blogging.
When Big Lee featured some of my buildings in a previous post the buildings made from mainly coffee sticks seemed to get some interest, so I thought I’d start by talking about them in more detail.
Several separate thoughts came together to set me on the road to building these models, and in true tv ‘reality/talent’ show style I can honestly say when I list these they are in ‘no particular order’ any more.

(1)    Big Lee was GM for a while (yes he has been the GM in the past – and a good GM he was too) – he gave us a setting on the edge of a hell like place where everything was wooden construction and coated in sand.
(2)    At the end of the second series of Supernatural, Sam Winchester found himself in a derelict old western-type town, and the atmosphere of the place even before the action started was very creepy.
(BTW I’ll probably draw further inspiration from Supernatural in later projects – personally I wouldn’t mind giving the RPG based on this series a go at some time in the future.)
(3)    I sat in the local coffee shop holding a wooden stick, fiddling with it after I had finished stirring my hazelnut latte (guess where that came from...) and thought that the wooden stick would be great for planking on the side of a building. So I gathered up as many as I could.
(4)    I saw a model magazine (not sure which one it was now – will see if I can still find it and credit it at a later date) where a feature was made on wooden buildings.
In the end it was inevitable where this was going.
I started  at first using the coffee sticks as planking seen here, along with the roof tiles made from cereal packets and lower walls made from balsa and wall filler, but when I started gathering the sticks from the staff restaurant at work, word got round and soon many people were saving their sticks and my supply soon grew.
It was time for bigger projects with the wooden sticks.

Thinking back to that set on Supernatural  I set out to make a town that was just slightly wrong. It was to look abandoned but not entirely derelict. So the edges would be rough, any mistakes made cutting wood to length would be patched up rather than made perfect. In short it was to look like the people who had lived there once had tried to make a go of it, but for whatever reason their civilization had failed.
The models were started in the same way with foam board frame work and cardboard roof, but the entire exterior was then built up using just the coffee sticks.
The first stage was to place on the main support beams, these were glued on using PVA glue, and then a second layer was stuck over them to give the support beams extra thickness. Then the planking sides were fitted in. If the planking sides didn’t always fit then one or two were allowed to angle up slightly – this gave the impression of warping on the building – you can see this in one of the photos.
After that it was basically a job of cutting and sticking the rest of the wooden sticks in place.
Eventually when the entire foam board structure was completely covered I under coated in black paint, then painted over with a dark brown, then a lighter brown & white mix and finally dry brushed with white to give the aged effect. The windows had a couple of coats of black paint to make them really blacked out. I have some other ideas as to what to do with the windows at a later date.
I worked on two models at the same time, as you have to give drying time for the glue to set when placing the sticks otherwise the whole lot ends up in a big mess if you try to be too adventurous in one sitting.
Since these were built (and I might do some final fiddling with them before they get finally get put onto a game table) I have started a few more from this set. These I’ve taken more candid photos of in their earlier stages of construction so when I return to these I’ll be able to go into more detail on how they were constructed and how any mistakes were ‘boarded’ over.