Thursday, 3 March 2011

Coffee Stick Houses – Part Two

Previously, in the first posting I made about using wooden coffee sticks (Coffee Stick Houses – Part One)  I talked about the inspiration behind these models, now I’m going to start talking about how I put these models together from preparing the sticks and getting the model framework together in this post right through to the finished models in my later posts.

Stage one. Preparing the sticks.

I always try to use as much recycled material as possible in the models, it's a way of being environmentally friendly, but it is also a lot cheaper.

When I get the wooden sticks they have been used by people to stir their lattes, cappuccinos, Americano, hot chocolate or whatever else they might drink, sometimes even tea. They can be stained or coated in residue. Stains are not a bad thing, this helps give the sticks character.

However, sticky residue is not so good. It’s also best to clean them in case of nasty germs as well. The first thing I do with a batch of newly acquired old sticks is to soak them for a short while in boiling water.

Once the water has turned a nice shade of brown I rinse them off and leave them out to dry.

I advise laying them out as widely spread as possible - this helps with the drying, and turn them to ensure they are dry throughout. If you plan to store them NEVER put them away whilst any of them are still damp, THEY WILL GO MOULDY - I know, I made that mistake ONCE.

Stage Two. Building design.

I've started to doodle a lot more, and often these doodles turn into very rough design plans. I don't set out with detailed plans of what I intend to build, quite often I have an idea for the type of building I want or a feature I want to include and then see what happens.

Here I decided that for the next coffee stick building I wanted a porch area and a balcony. I did this rough sketch and from there worked out approximate dimensions and transferred these to the sheet of white foam board. I cut out the basic pieces. This is mainly how I’ve made the frame work to most of my models. I then glued the pieces together with PVA glue and used dressmaker pins to help hold the frame work together as it dried. I originally borrowed some of these pins from mum's work basket before buying some of my own. They do help hold the frame work together whilst the glue dries. Most of them can then be pulled out - sometimes you need to use a pair of pliers to help you. If they really don't want to come out then they can be pushed deep into the frame work - once the whole thing is covered they will be buried.

I use cardboard to form the base of the roof – this can be cut from cereal packet or other similar card with the picture side stuck down on the inside of the model.

Even if the edges and sides are not perfect don’t panic, small gaps in the framework can be covered over with the stick layer, don’t be put off if something does not go quite right. Unless you’re making a detailed scaled replica of a specific building then anything can be incorporated into the final design feature. Don’t be too rigid with yourself.

You can see in this last picture that the roof on the side extension was made by patching two pieces of card together, this was either because I could have mistakenly cut the original too short, or there was not a large enough piece of card left to cut the full length out.

Once the wooden sticks have covered the roof this will not show on the final model seen on the game table.

Next time to get sticking with the wooden sticks...