Sunday, 8 May 2011

Country Cottages, Fireworks and Fur

After boxing up some of the recently finished parts of the ruined castle and the ghost town to give me more working space, I uncovered a box of partially completed models.

This included two of the country cottages, I have four completed, pictured here – but I found another two packed away for whatever reason in a just started state.   I’ve dug these out and now intend to finish them off.


Regular readers will have recently seen a tribute piece I wrote for my parents. Once again I must credit mum with two great ideas which feature dominantly on these cottage models, in fact I’m sure it was these ideas that fuelled my drive to use as much recycled materials in my models as I could.

These models start life like most of the other buildings with a foam board skeleton, and cardboard roof.  I was buying a lot of balsa wood sticks to build the models, and then following one Guy Fawkes Night mum retrieved a rocket stick from our garden. Instead of throwing it away she brought the stick in, it was a bit harder than the balsa wood but certainly very similar that it could easily be used in the model construction somewhere.

Now, for the last few years I take a stroll around the streets of Dagenham on the morning following the Guy Fawkes celebrations and gather up as many sticks as I can find. This annual horde provides quite a collection of different sizes and thickness of wood all very suitable for model construction with just an occasional clean up required for a few burnt ends and paper bits glued on.

(Need I emphasise here the firework code, about not returning to lit fireworks?  These sticks have all fallen from the sky once the fireworks have gone bang and all that remains is the wooden stick.)

Last year's horde of sticks

Most of these cut with the craft knife like balsa wood, some of the thicker or harder wood sticks I use a small hand saw. The front of this cottage was built with balsa wood; the other three sides which I completed this weekend have been constructed from firework sticks.

Once the wooden frame has been stuck to the foam board I fill the areas between with the good old modelling favourite the wall filler.

I know from memory that the original cottages were made using the mix it up yourself stuff, but this one I’m now finishing off has been filled using the same ready mix product I’ve been using on the castle ruins.

Now comes the next idea from mum, the thatch roof. I tried a few ideas for thatch none of which appeared to come close – then mum suggested an old (fake) fur hat that wasn’t wanted anymore.

We cut this up and glued it to the roof of the cottages, then cut across the fur in bands to give the fur a layered look. After that the main effect came from the painting.

This time I’ve used some craft fur bought from the hobby store. I’m hoping this is going to come out just as effective, at the moment it looks a bit like a bad wig.

You glue the fur on in separate pieces, one for each side, ensuring that the fur hangs downward on both sides. Using a straight edge I ran a blade along the fur forming layered sections, not cutting right into the fur but enough to make it appear like the fur is like layers of thatching.

The next stage is to glue on the chimney and the capping stones seen in the finished models before giving the whole model a clean up before painting. The true effect of the thatch comes with the paint work.

But that’s next week. Country Cottages The Thatching