Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fairy Houses

I've started to make Fairy Houses. In a lot of ways, they're more fun than conventional buildings, because I can make up the details as I go along. I don't have to measure a damn thing, and if it's a little wonky, that's a good thing.

I made this from a plastic soda bottle, some air-dry clay, cardboard and acrylic craft paint. I'm using a technique I learned from this YouTube channel: Creative Mom. By starting with a plastic or glass bottle and building on the surface, all you have to do is cut away the clay where you want a window, and HEY-PRESTO! your window is already glazed. After fitting dozens of tiny bits of clear plastic into HO-scale Tichy windows for my last commission, this is much more fun. I can bat one of these out in an enjoyable afternoon, and paint it the following day.

I started on a fairy-house-style train station to go outdoors, and for that, I started using Smooth-On Free-Form Sculpt epoxy clay, as suggested by this YouTuber: Ultimate Papier Mache. Here is the first part I completed: the ticket window.

So far, I've found it a tough medium. The "clay" is very sticky, unless you keep a lot of water on hand, and it doesn't really have clay-like qualities when you're working with it. At times, it was like trying to sculpt with warm taffy. You have to wear latex or nitrile gloves when you use it, which is a drag when you're used to using Sculpey. However, the end result is rock-solid, and I have no doubt it will stand up to harsh weather. 

Anyway, I'll keep slogging along with this new-to-me medium, and I'll see if the result sells on Etsy! 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Imitation of a Sanborn map.

For no particular reason, I decided to create the footprints of a bunch of Clever Models in the style of an old Sanborn fire insurance map. I might use these to plan a layout someday, or maybe I'm just fooling around.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Railcars! Railcars! Railcars!

Man, do I love railcars!

I found these images recently while researching 1920s trucks. They're from a Google Books scan of the trade magazine "Motor Truck: The National Authority on Power Haulage" from 1921.

The roof on this one is really good...

 I always call these sorts of things "palindromes," after a kitbashed engine built by Chris Wallas.

This last one is from another source...

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Replacement for Ertl plastic powerhouse.

A client sent me an HO scale Ertl kit, the Easton Mill. It consists of two plastic buildings, but the sculpt, fit and factory paint-and-weathering on them... let's see, how to say this nicely... it's not up to my standards.

I talked my client into allowing me to build the power house as a cardstock model. I pulled all the dimensions from the Ertl kit and then made it in The Gimp.

Here it is.

Stereoscopic View

The main part of the building is inkjet-printed cardstock laminated onto museum board. I used Clever Models textures, as usual. I laminate with the cheapest spray adhesive I can find, which happens to be Aleen's Tacky Spray. (I'll have to do a proper how-to post on this technique when I find the time.)

The most painstaking part of this build: I cut out the doors and windows, then painted the thick edges of the holes with neutral grey acrylic, then I used brown, yellow and grey gouache paints to touch up the edges to match the stones.

I tried a new technique for the steps; I made the bottom tread part of the base of the building. That way, there's no chance of the steps falling off if the structure is handled roughly. Once I had the steps assembled, I treated the edges with cyanoacrylate glue and sanded the edges. 

The original model included a boiler out front, and I replicated it with two caps from Trader Joe's disposable pour-over coffee brewers, along with some brass tubing scraps and bits of museum board.

All in all, a quick and fun project.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Clever Models' Papercraft Trailer Shed Freebie

Thom Miecznikowski designed a papercraft model of this oddball structure, and put it up as a freebie on the Clever Models site. I assume he based it on a prototype he saw during his travels.
It's only available for a limited time, so JUMP ON IT NOW and maybe send a donation. I sent $5.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Papercraft Chimneys

I got frustrated trying to saw a notch in some plastic HO scale chimneys, so I decided to make my own.

I started with the working drawings from the Great Northern Historical Society's Modelers' Pages (#392, "Section Houses and Facilities.")

I'd already enlarged the image to use as a template for making walls and roofs, so I just scanned my enlargement at 100% as a starting point. I opened The Gimp, and used one of Clever Models' excellent brick textures to make a simple box with a notch on the bottom. I used that scan of the enlargement to get the size and shape of the chimney correct. I inkjet printed the result on matte photo cardstock, along with a partial sheet of just the brick texture. I cut and assembled the chimneys, adding strips of heavy black cardstock to the interior as I folded, to give it a little thickness. I touched up the edges with gouache paint as I went along. I cut two strips from the brick texture -- one strip was three bricks wide, the other, one brick wide -- and I wrapped them around the chimneys near the top.

The first chimney must have taken about 45 minutes to make, and I messed it up badly and threw it out. By the time I'd made three, they all looked uniformly nice and my time dropped to about 15 minutes for each.

Here is one of the chimneys test-fitted to the roof I completed earlier.

 I opted to scratch-build these four models for my client rather than buy and assemble four GNHS kits, since it's actually a savings for him -- cutting the pieces myself and assembling them takes only slightly more time than merely assembling a kit. This also means the money I would have spent on the kits -- which are about $25 each -- goes directly in my pocket. Another advantage to me is: I only charge the client for the time spent on the buildings I make for him, and I track my time very carefully, so as I go along, I can make a fifth model on my own time and at my own expense, and sell it to another client later.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Hipped Roof Hacks

Working on four section foremen's houses and I'm working out a way to make the hipped roof good and sturdy. This seems to work pretty well: from right to left in the center is the jack rafter, to which I added two right triangles on each side (running up and down in this image). I glued this array to the ceiling piece, then I measured the diagonals from the center to the corners, and cut four more right triangles to fit.

I know I'm saving time in the long haul by making four at once, but it feels really time-consuming.