Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Time to Get Crackin' on Garden Railway Structures

I've got a commission to make a shop for a garden railway, and I've got a confession: I've never done a structure for a garden railway before. I did a little research, and I've decided how I'm going to do it. I've found two good sources for making lightweight, durable outdoor displays. The first is right in my neighborhood -- The Davis Graveyard. They teach workshops on making Halloween haunt displays, and the material they use for gravestones is insulation Styrofoam. They leave their elaborate graveyard display up in the Northwest rain for the entire month leading up to Halloween, and re-use the props year after year.

Here's a video of their recent "abbey" project. As you can see, all the visible surfaces are painted insulation Styrofoam.

The other interesting source was Chris Walas, who builds whimsical fantasy scenes for his backyard railway. These are mostly foam and latex paint.

Some of his designs are really wild, like this Lemurian temple scene.

Okay, insulation foam and latex paint it is! Now I can move on to what I want to build. The commission is for a small craft shop with the owner's name on sign. It didn't take me long to think of Fiddler's Green paper models. Their two specialities are: aircraft and quaint buildings. I think this flower shop fills the bill nicely: it has a window for displaying some tiny craft creations, and a pleasant whimsical appearance. In its papercraft form, it's quite cartoony, but I'm not aiming for high realism in this model.

As a pleasant bonus, I got three free models for signing up with Fiddler's Green, so this cost nothing. (I will be signing up for the Fiddler's Green "Magic Key" subscription soon, because it seems like a very good deal.)

I've reached the next step, which is turning the model into a template so I can scribe the lines onto the insulation.

Now to enlarge the elements of the template, take them to the copy shop and have them printed on 11" x 17" paper.

This model is going to involve a lot of bevelling edges down to 45 degrees so everything will fit together neatly, but I'm up for a challenge.

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