Dio-Bolical Monday No: 2 – “Fools Gold” – Part 1

This last week I have begun work on my “Fools Gold” diorama.  As the Table Top World cottage building is the smaller and much cheaper of the two (the other being the Wizard’s Tower) it made sense to use this model as the experimental one.  As with much of my diorama work my starting point was the base.  Not the base I would build but the base I would build the diorama on.

Now unless I plan to box the completed diorama up and store it away I prefer to have it on display in such a way that it doesn’t get covered in dust.  My wall storage units are not deep enough for displaying larger dioramas so I lean towards individual display cases which I buy from my mate Paul at Just Bases.  I generally buy the larger perspex cases he sells which measure 35cm wide by 20cm deep and 13cm high.  This then governs the size of the diorama I am about to do.  Armed with a ruler and my large cutting mat I worked out that this size base would be just about right for what I had in mind and duly placed my order with Paul.

Now under normal circumstances I would meet up with Paul and collect my base from him within a week or so but as we all know these times aren’t normal.  Meeting up wasn’t the problem but getting perspex was.  With all the screens going up everywhere to deal with Covid-19 perspex is an in demand material meaning it has become a little harder to get and more expensive to buy.  Oh goodie!  Paul assured me all was not lost and in a few weeks he would be stocked up, things would just take a little longer is all and so for now I am waiting on the base.

The good news is that because the design for this diorama incorporates a small stream section the base needs to be built up.  The MDF base that comes with the perspex case cannot be dug into so if I want to achieve depth I have to build upwards.  Does this make sense?  Well it does to me and if it is confusing you then all will become clear in due course as the diorama develops.

While I am waiting to collect the base from Paul I figured there were three things I could work on 1) the mine opening, 2) the Reaper figure and 3) painting the Table Top World cottage.  I decided I would start working on the mine entrance.

Plaster board has very much become my material of choice these days for a great many things.  Having raided a skip for some thrown out board a long time ago I went to the garage to review my stash.  Some suitable bits  were found and using an old tile saw I set about cutting some basic shapes to get me started.


Exciting pictures huh?  I cut out a few of these and then did a Google search for some reference material.  I settled on the image below for a rough idea of what I wanted to achieve.


I liked the idea of the mining track and wagon, the hole in the side of the hill and the wooden lintel to add some contrast to just the earth and stone.  I hadn’t consider the mining wagon and track before but thought it would be a great improvement so I thought I would try and see what I could find to buy.  As luck would have it Zealot Miniatures came up trumps so I ordered a couple of bits from them which hopefully will arrive shortly.  Fortunately their website had measurements for the track so I was able to press on with more of the mine construction.


Now whilst things might look like a mess at the moment you should know that I am delighted with how this is shaping up so far.  Essentially this is nothing more than the skeleton to which the flesh will be added.  The plaster board is building up the side nicely, the wooden supports and lintel are in and slate chippings have been added to show exposed rock from the digging and blasting which created the whole in the first place.  The thing is I can’t do much more on the mine now until I get the Zealot delivery because I need to fix the track in place and be able to get to it for painting before I can put a proper top on the mine entrance.

While the mine work done so far was set a side to dry I thought I would take a look at the Cottage.


It really is a lovely and highly detailed two part model.  On the positive side of things I can’t screw it up with glue (I don’t get on well with glue, whatever I do it goes every bloody where).  On the slightly negative side it is going to be a challenge to paint the inside.  Brush angles to paint the fireplace and windows is going to be tight.

The kits say they don’t need to be washed but I did so anyway and after they air dried I began to prime the two parts.  For as long as I can remember I have always primed using Humbrol White Matt Enamel diluted with White Spirit.  Unorthodox?  Most probably but it works for me.  Time now for the cottage to dry too so for now that is it for this week.

Hopefully next week I will press on with the mine if the Zealot bits come, if not I’ll start painting the cottage.


Tomb Stoned – A 28mm Old West Diorama (Part 2)

If I’m being honest this is probably going to be a dull post to write and an even duller one to read but lets see how it goes.

The truth of the matter is this is going to be a long project involving lots of work and lots and lots of down time while I wait for things to dry.  Progress will be slow but in many respects that’s the point.  One, it gives me a large background project which can develop as it goes and allows me to dip in and out as I please.  Two, while things are drying I get to work on other things allowing my boredom threshold to not get the better of me.  Hence the posts I have put up since part 1!

So, where exactly am I at the moment?  A bloody good question!

Well the roof has now been fully tiled.  It now needs to be undercoated and painted.  I will probably undercoat it but I am thinking I might keep the proper painting on hold for the moment until I have other buildings at a similar stage.  It might be easier that way to match colour schemes, not that they have to be identical in any way.  I’ll mull that one over a bit more.


The building walls have been assembled and 99% has now been clad.  There is an annoying little bit to do which I need to get my head around so I don’t create a problem for myself at the next stage of assembly.  The same issue on painting applies here too, do I wait until I have made similar progress on other buildings first?


The chimney is almost finished.  Now completely clad in bricks it does to my mind look so much better.  What needs to be done now must wait until the next stage of sub-assembly.


All in all I am happy with the progress.  Yes it is going very slowly but that was always the plan.  The questions for me now are where on this building do I go from here?

Right now the big question I have to answer for myself is what, if anything, is going inside the building?  This is not a gaming board, it’s a diorama.  The figures don’t simply sit on the groundwork they have to be incorporated into it.  The question of how much you will actually see also comes into play.  Some serious thinking to be done before making some purchases and/or starting some scratch building.

In the meanwhile I have another biker to finish!






Tomb Stoned – A 28mm Old West Diorama (Part 1)


Last November I went on my first ever visit to the Telford show.  In a brief write up afterwards I mentioned that one of the many things I came home with was a very large display case which set me back the bargain price of £50.00.


My plan was and still is to put together an Old Western Town diorama featuring half a dozen buildings and a good number of figures.  For sometime now I have been trying to decide just what to do and although I still have no detailed plan I am clear on a few things.  With that in mind I decided I would make a start and, like all the dioramas I have ever done, I will figure a lot of it out as I go along.

So, a couple of things to note before getting into some detail.  Firstly, the title for this diorama is a working one.  I have no idea right now what to actually call it.  Maybe this title will stick, we will see.  Secondly, this diorama is going to be a marathon.  If it doesn’t extend into a 100 posts I will be amazed so this is going to be a long ride for all of us!  However fear not.  There is no way I will be dedicated to this without deviating from time to time to do something else.  All things being well there will be lots of other posts to break things up a bit.

Now let’s get started.

Building No: 1 – Blacksmiths & Livery Stable

Of one thing I was certain, this diorama was and is is going to feature a blacksmiths/livery stable.  The question I had to answer was do I completely scratch build something like I did way back when I did this building …


… or do I buy an MDF kit and pimp it?

Before answering that question I decided to take a look at what buildings were out there.  After checking out the manufactures I knew and others I found from more searching, I once again settled on Sarissa Precision (I suspect I will use Blotz for all the other buildings I do).  Sarissa had a Dutch Barn which I didn’t like and a Livery Stable which looked nice but was just too big for the case.  In the end it was the Blacksmiths building which caught my eye.  At a cost £20.00 it was a no brainer so I made the decision to “pimp”, made the purchase and a few days later this is what I got.


Now followers of this blog might remember that I have a love hate relationship with MDF.  I love the precision fit but I hate the flat finish even when it has been neatly etched.  It’s personal but there you are.  In fairness I struggle to get the depth on flat surfaces that others can achieve with their painting so adding texture overcomes the problem for me.  It does require a lot of effort though.  Still that is what I do.

A study of the bits revealed that assembly would be relatively straight forward and also highlighted what I needed to do.  The etched brick work has to go as does the etched boarding as well.  The flat interior will have to be addressed and the roof needs to be tiled.  Signage is something I need to get my head around and I will need to make a decision before too long as to what figures and accessories to acquire before I get to carried away.  They need to be incorporated into the assembly before hand and not afterwards.

What figures to buy is still an issue I need to resolve.  I have two preferred suppliers for the old west.  Kuckleduster are far superior to Dixon miniatures but Dixon’s produce wagons and a stage coach whereas  Knucleduster don’t, well not so far.  The obvious thing would be to use a combination of both suppliers but Knuckleduster figures are heroic scale and Dixon’s are more like 25mm.  I appreciate people come in different shapes and sizes but this difference in scale just doesn’t work for me.  As things currently stand I am erring on Knuckleduster and hoping the figures and accessories will continue to expand over the life time of this project.  Time will tell.

In any event I have made a start.


The fire/furnace and chimney has been put together and as you can see I have begun to clad the assembled piece with individual bricks.  The bricks are a red mix from Juweela and are 1:48 scale.  They match perfectly with the etched MDF so just a case of sticking down whole and half bricks in line with the etched pattern and finishing of with some filler to any gaps afterwards.  I reckon 500 bricks should do it!  That’s me sorted for the next week.

Might even listen to IRO’s podcast while I’m at it!





Operation Overlord – A 28mm WW2 Diorama (Part 1 – Building No: 1)


The Plymouth Model Club has chosen D-Day as the theme for next years show, an exhibition to mark the 75th anniversary of the invasion landings.  All the club members have plans to produce something and for my part I thought I would, in addition to a few other models that I will produce, make a sizeable diorama.  If I manage to pull it off then it will be the biggest diorama I will have done.  Not necessarily the most complicated but certainly the biggest.

It will also be time-consuming to produce so this will most likely be the first of a number of posts on this project.  I will post regular updates but for my sanity as well as yours I expect I will work on a few other things in parallel and vary my future posts accordingly.

So what do I have in mind to put together?

The concept is a simple one and one which may well evolve a little as I begin to make progress.  The plan is to have three, possibly four, buildings representing a small street scene with troops from the 101st US Paratroop making their way carefully along the road.  Dimensions and aesthetics will play a part in the final design.  Written down I can’t believe how shit this concept sounds but the image in my head is much better so at this stage you’re just going to have to trust me!  The devil will be in the detail as I hope you will come to see.

Key to the diorama will be the buildings.  Initially I thought I would do my own completely from scratch but windows in particular are a nightmare.  I then decided to buy a kit from Charlie Foxtrot, ironically a company I discovered at this year’s Plymouth show where Colin, the owner had a display.  If I like the end result then I will purchase the remaining buildings from him too.

So let’s get this series underway starting with the first building.

The Kit – Ruined House No: 2 by Charlie Foxtrot Models

Below is a picture of the actual kit as it appears on the website.  It’s probably easier to look at the pictures of how it is designed to look than for me to tell you, particularly as I have plans to make a number of changes.


The link below will take you to this kit on the website and to the online shop if it’s of interest to you.

28mm 1:56 "Ruined House 2"

Looking at the kit you may well be asking yourself why would I want to make changes to what is essentially a highly detailed kit?  There are two main reasons.  Firstly the kit is made of MDF which is a great material for accurate laser cutting and etching but the finish is flat and characterless.  Secondly, whilst the kit is probably ideal for war gaming in that it neatly comes apart it is not detailed enough when it comes to being a feature of a diorama (well not for me at least).  This will probably become clearer as the construction of this kit gets underway.

I mentioned earlier that my plan is to have at least three buildings.  This is the first of the them and I expect it will prove to be the most challenging, mainly because it will require internal changes and enhancements in addition to an external makeover.  I’ll explain why as the build progresses.

Time for a couple of photos.


The first picture shows an image of the kit unopened in its bag.  The second and third show all the bits neatly laid out as I try to work out how the hell it all goes together.  A single A4 sheet of instructions is provided and to my surprise it did prove to be sufficient coupled with a bit of common sense and a few references to the online images on the Charlie Foxtrot website.

The model when assembled is meant to consist of three parts.  The ground floor, the first floor and the roof.  Because it is a war gaming building it is also meant to come apart rather than to be assembled as a solid single construction which is what I will be doing with it.  My first consideration therefore was to determine if it would be possible to see inside the ground floor.  If it was then I would need to make changes at this point as access to this area would not be possible once the first floor was added.

I decided it would be possible to see a little bit inside through the windows and through the hole in the ceiling as you look down from the first floor but I couldn’t be sure just how much.  I therefore concluded that some internal fitting out was necessary, just to be on the safe side at least.

The first thing I decided to do was wallpaper the internal walls.  On a “Dolls House” website I found some free wallpaper downloads.  I chose a small print for scale purposes and printed a couple of sheets on to photographic paper.  Photographic paper being thicker would glue better to the walls and would not make the inks run.  Each wall was “papered”and the floor too was covered with a wooden floor board print which I also found on the same website.  Normally I would use coffee stirrer’s for a wooden floor but didn’t think that was necessary on this occasion given how much would be seen.


The next step was to glaze the windows using clear hard plastic.  Pieces were cut and stuck to the inside of the walls.  The windows would go in later after they were painted.  Completing the glazing at this stage would also stop the windows from falling into the building when assembled when it would be harder to get them out if that happened.  I also made one of the windows with “broken glass” by simply cutting the clear plastic accordingly.  Using some paper painted with acrylic paint I also made curtain for the windows which would be visible from the outside looking in.


A similar problem to the windows existed with the front and back doors so to prevent them from falling in when it was time to fix them in place I glued matches to the top and bottom of both the door openings.  When the first floor is in place there is a hole in the floor which looks down and into the ground floor.  Now was the time to put debris in place so ground plaster board along with a few scale brick and pieces of timber were added.  At this stage the modified ground was complete and duly assembled.

The next step was to direct my attention to the first floor.

The first floor is divided into two rooms, one of which represents the damaged end of the house where the roof above the floor has been blown up.  Now the first thing I noticed with the kit design was that you could look into both these areas.  In itself this would not have been a problem except for the fact that the kit has no internal staircase.  This bugged me and so the only way I could see to get around the problem was to put a ceiling above the undamaged room (if anyone asks the staircase is on that side of the house!).

The ceiling was made using wooden coffee stirrer’s stuck to a piece of MDF which was cut to size.  The ceiling piece had to be inserted rather than simply laid on top as this would have thrown out the fit of the roof at the next stage.  For support coffee stirrer battens were positioned at the top of each of the four wall sides.  Having created a ceiling for one half of the first floor it was appropriate to make a damaged one for the other side too.  The first floor was also wall papered and glazed in the same way as the ground floor.



The sharp eyed among you might notice that I have Peter Gabriel on in the back ground!

The next stage was to look more closely at the roof assembly.  The only thing which really needed to be addressed was the tiling.  I don’t like flat roofs and do not have the skill to produce 3D style painting so there was nothing to do but cut out several hundred cardboard tiles and glue them row after row to the MDF.  I’ve done this several times in the past and my method is tried and tested.  With suitable music or a DVD on it doesn’t take that long to achieve.  To make the tiles I used my Greenstuff World tile punch and cardboard from a cornflake box.  I find it is best to use cardboard where one side has a gloss finish.  The gloss finished side should be facing out when the tile is stuck down.  This is better for painting.  The other way around and the cardboard turns to mush if you aren’t careful.

Finally the two wall ends of the roof were rendered on the inside using ground plaster board on PVA glue.


Following a little painting of areas which would prove difficult to paint if not done now the three components of the kit were ready for assembly.  The assembly itself was very straight forward, testimony of the quality of the kit.

The next job was to glue the windows, which had now been painted, into place.  This was then followed by adding some initial bits of debris to the first floor and then rendering the outside walls.  The rendering was done over several days as each side was allowed to thoroughly dry before moving on to the next external wall.  Diluted PVA was used on the outside walls before chinchilla dust (yes, chinchilla dust!) was applied to the outside.


The damaged wall kit pieces came with small MDF brick sections which could be stuck on.  As with the roof tiles the brick looks very flat so I simply decided to go with ground plaster board to provide a rough cast finish to the top edges of the exposed MDF.

Once it was all dry I painted the render with some Dulux Emulsion paint and used Burn Umber oil paint heavily diluted with white spirit to provide some initial weathering to the walls.

The completed model to date is shown below.  It is not finished.  The render needs to be weathered further, the window shutters need to be fixed in place and so do the doors.  At this stage I’ve yet to decide which windows will have open or closed shutters and the same goes for the doors.  These are things I will look at more closely when I make further progress on the rest of the diorama.  Scattered debris of brick, tiles, wood and broken glass will be added to the inside and outside at a future assembly stage but for now I have done as much as I can do on this one.

The next step is to order the remaining buildings for the diorama having decided I like Charlie Foxtrot’s kits.  While I’m waiting for them to come I can divert my attention to the October challenge!

Images of the current state of play below.  It doesn’t look very impressive at the moment but there is a long way to go!



28mm Building Project No: 7 – WW1 Farmhouse Diorama

Off the Work bench!

This week was all about assembling the various bits and pieces to complete the diorama.  All in all it went together pretty well after some careful thought as to what should be placed into position first.  It wouldn’t have been the first time I’ve boxed myself into a corner but on this occasion I managed to avoid any such dilemmas.

Not a great deal to add in terms of narrative as I think I covered most aspects of the build in previous “On The Work Bench” posts.  Will be interesting to see what, if any, feedback I receive when it receives its first public outing.  If nothing else my mum likes it and thats good enough for me!

The aim of the diorama, as mentioned in the first post of this sequence, was to depict a small group of British soldiers making their way through the French/Belgium farming countryside.  Hopefully I managed to convey that.

Now on to the next project(s).  Still have a few WW1 items to do to complete the series but think I need a change of period in the coming weeks too so still deciding what next is on the agenda.

Pictures of the completed diorama below.






On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 5

This week was all about finishing various scenic bits and pieces but mainly completing the figure painting.  I had hoped to complete the diorama assembly too but alas life caught up with me and so that will have to wait until next week.  All being well this is the penultimate post for this diorama.

The figures were all painted in Vallejo acrylics with oil paint washes. The figures were from Empress Miniatures, Great War Miniatures, Gripping Beast – The Woodbine series and from a company in Belgium who supplied the rural types.

This coming Saturday I’m off to my first show of the year being held at the Bovington Tank Museum in Poole , Dorset and am hoping to take the completed model with me so whatever happens I do need to get it finished! I doubt anyone who reads this is likely to be at Bovington but if you are then please come and say hello!

In the meanwhile some photos of the finished figures.



On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 4

For various reasons, not all of them to do with modelling, this has been a busy week.  It’s also been a week in which I realised I have a great deal to do in the coming weeks and months and less time to achieve it in than I would have liked.  Failing to deliver on numerous commitments is not an option I want to consider so I’m  left with little alternative but to get my finger out!  With this in mind I managed to make progress on this diorama and, as an added bonus, managed to complete a vignette that had taken a back seat over the last couple of weeks.  Details on the vignette will follow as a separate post shortly after I hit the publish button on this one.

A few finishing touches were needed to the building itself, one of which was painting the filler that I had been placed at both ends of the “drinking straw” ridge tiles and had simply forgotten to do. I also completed the wire aperture for the tree which will feature and also managed to get the filler added to it along with the first few coats of paint.  Hopefully the tree will be completed this week.  A few figures have also been completed and all the others are well on the way.

The diorama when complete will also feature a small barn/shed.  The main significance of this building being to provide the “walk through” between it and the main a house for the British troops, something which will make far more sense when the diorama is complete.  I’ve managed to get the walls done, the roof made and the painting done but the door still needs to be attached which will happen once the building has been fixed to the base and the ground work has been built up around it.

The barn/shed itself was made using foam board on this occasion. The board was clad inside and out using coffee stirrers.  The roof was made using a tool I acquired from”Green Stuff World” for making corrugated panels using metal foil.  This was the first time of using this tool and it wasn’t quite as easy as I’d hoped.  In the end I found it worked better if you turned the key slower. Although I didn’t think I’d been turning it quickly the metal kept going off at an angle.  In itself this wasn’t much of a problem but it meant I had to square up each sheet that had passed through and that produced a lot of waste metal foil which wasn’t particularly cheap to buy. I shall definitely being looking at alternative materials to use In the future but the tool did produce a good result.

The nice thing about using the metal foil for the roof was when it came to weathering it after initial coats of paint had been applied.  Simply scratching away some of the paint exposed the metal beneath and produced a nice result along with the addition of a few applications of Humbrol Rust weathering powder.

If I’m lucky I hope to have this one finished in a couple of weeks.  The figures need to be completed along with the tree and numerous other bits and pieces but the assembly will undoubtedly take a while as it will need to go together in stages in order to access individual areas for  fixing and painting.  In the meanwhile I  need to get ready for the Plymouth Model Clubs annual competition on Monday (my first) as well as this year’s first show which will be at Bovington in a couple of weeks.  Hopefully both will prove to be fun.

Latest progress photos below.









On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 3

This week saw the main building of this diorama virtually completed.

Before the outside painting was started there was a need to complete some internal details.  Clear plastic was placed behind each window to provide the glass and an internal wall was added.  I couldn’t be certain if it would be possible to see into the building through the windows but couldn’t afford to take the chance.  Once the building was stuck down and having decided on a fixed roof there would be no opportunity to do so later.  The internal wall was given some wallpaper and a couple of pictures were placed on the wall to be visible through each window.  I had also decided that the front door would be ajar and so I also added an internal porch and flooring for appearance.

The wooden shutters were painted and fixed into place as was the chimney and the front door.  For the rounded ridge tiles I used a plastic drinking straw.  A piece of drinking straw was sandwiched between two pieces of foam board to create the chimney.

The outside painting, walls and roof, was done using a variety of oil paint colours thinned with white spirit to create washes of various dilutions.  Darker colours were used for the brick pointing and lighter colours to provide highlights as appropriate.

Before fixing the building into place it was appropriate to construct part of the groundwork, specifically the cobbled area around the building itself as this was created using another Green Suff rolling-pin.  Milliput was used instead of DAS clay on this occasion.  Time allowed for some vegetation to be added around the building, primarily to cover up the joins between the bottom of the building walls and the base as well as to add colour and authenticity.

Next up is creating the small outside barn, a tree and a few other bits and pieces as well as painting the dozen figures which will feature.

Progress pictures appear below but suffer from too much shadow and so appear rather darker than the actual model.  I will try to do better next time but photography is not one of my strengths!



On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 2

Progress this week has been slower than I would have liked owing to a major dose of Man Flu.  Apparently there is a strain which is doing the rounds which has been labeled Aussie Flu and is by all accounts rather nasty.  All of this has of course been wasted on “her who must be obeyed” who’s level of sympathy extended only to the words “Man Up”.  As every man knows, Man Flu is generally considered by 50% of the world’s population (mostly men it must be said) to be worse than child-birth.  There is of course a counter argument to this by approximately 50% of the world’s population (mainly women unsurprisingly) that this is of course nonsense.

Despite pointing out these statistics the level of sympathy from “her who must be obeyed” surprisingly went down!  Further more it was pointed out to me that when she had the same as me a few days earlier she still got on with the house work, cooking the meals and doing the shopping.  Proof, if indeed proof were needed I pointed out, that her viral strain was clearly not as bad as mine and hence why I had to stay in bed.  I can’t recall what she threw at me.  Women, can’t live without them but can’t shoot them either!

So, as I say, model progress not as much as I had hoped but a fair bit done none the less.

Having stuck the four sides of the building together it proved necessary to do a minimal amount of cleaning up and do some patch work on each of the corners.  This was done using Milliput and a cocktail stick to etch in the brick work where appropriate.  My next step was to start work on the roof.

As I mentioned previously I had already decided that the roof on this building would be fixed and because of this I chose cardboard for the base layer.  Had I decided to have a removable roof then I would have chosen MDF, the same base layer used for constructing the walls.  The other reason for using cardboard (in this case cardboard from a corn flakes box) was because in this instance I wanted to get the bowing effect that comes when the PVA dries out which doesn’t tend to happen when using MDF, hence using it for the walls.  Old buildings often have warped roofs and I was hoping to get this by using cardboard instead.

Having cut the cardboard to a length slighty longer than the building and with a little bit of an over hang front and back I then drew horizontal lines 5mm apart to indicate where each row of tiles would be placed.  The next job was to cut out each tile and glue them down.  To produce the tiles I used a tile cutter which was a Christmas present to myself from “Green Stuff World”.  Essentially it’s a hole punch and they do others in various leaf shapes.  Santa bought me one of those too.  Thereafter it was all about glueing each tile in place and as the finished roof took over 1100 tiles it took a while.  That said it was an ideal job given I wasn’t at my best and I had YouTube to keep me company throughout.  A little tip if you find yourself doing this.  Dip the tip of a cocktail stick into PVA every so often and use it to pick up the tiles instead of trying with your fingers.  Makes the job much easier and surprisingly speeds the process up a lot.

When doing the roof tiles I find it’s best to do so much and then let it dry before doing some more otherwise it can all become a bit messy.  It also helps with your sanity too.  So, while things were drying I set about making other bits and pieces such as the fence, log pile, five bar gate, water trough, window shutters and doors.  These were mostly made either from match sticks, wooden coffee stirrer’s or both.  For the doors I also used some metal foil to make the hinges and twisted wire for the fence.

That’s as far as I’ve got since last week.  This coming week I’m hoping to start the out building shed and begin painting some of the figures.  I’ll also give some thought to the inside of the building before permanently fixing the roof in place and attaching the chimney and ridge tiles.  I also need to finish the windows and then start on … (to be continued).

Progress pictures below.



On The Work Bench – Building Project No: 7 – Part 1

Welcome to my first post of 2018!

Those of you who follow my blog will be aware that I have been keen to start a new building project and over the last few days I’ve managed to get things started.  The diorama when complete will be a further addition to my WW1 series.  I’m not sure I would describe it as the centre piece but it will be the largest piece in the eventual timeline.

Some modellers I know begin their next project by sketching out plans for the proposed build, I’m not one of them.  I’ve never really worked from sketches, mainly because I’m useless at drawing and so learnt instead to formulate and retain all the details in my head.  I can’t therefore share with you a picture of what the end result will look like until it’s complete.  However, the basic idea behind the model is that of a rustic type cottage/farm-house on the French/Belgium border with two or three civilians/farmer types watching as a dozen or so British troops pass through their land on their way to the frontline.  Not very exciting I grant you but the best excuse I could come up with for the type of building I wanted to construct.  In my head it looks OK!

One thing that I do though before starting a new diorama is create a written list following a brain dump of all the things I could potentially include in the model.  I then use it as a check list as I go along.  I then look to see what’s in my bit box and follow this by working out what I can scratch build and what, if anything, I might need to buy.  For this model the list, which will most likely be added to, currently looks like this: –

water trough, wheels, ladder, barrels, window shutters, chimney, tree, plants, chain, rope, fence, chickens, sacks, tools, fence, gate, cobblestones, puddles, wheel tracks, door thresholds, door handles/knobs, hinges, boxes, crates, grass, walls, furniture, wood pile, path, animals, shrubs, ridge tiles, roof tiles, weathering, shed with corrugated roof …

The starting place for all my buildings is the base.  Paul at “Just Bases” does some nice stuff and the biggest base that he does which has an acrylic cover measures 351mm x 201mm x 135mm high and is reasonably priced.  Someday I’ll do something bigger but storing it will be the difficulty and packing it away to keep the dust off of it seems a shame; for now this is as big as I go.  So, taking account of the base dimensions I decided to go with a building which measuring 190mm x 100mm x 100mm high.  I also decided that the walls of the cottage would be stone in appearance and that the roof would be fixed and not removable like some of my previous builds.  I also decided that the basic construction would be made using 3mm thick MDF which would then be suitably clad.  I have used cardboard and foam board before but find they both bow as the cladding dries out which doesn’t look great and makes it harder to assemble the sides and ends.  The MDF warps a little but it’s minor by comparison.

Having made these decisions my first step was to measure and mark out the sides and ends followed by the locations of doors and windows.  The first buildings I ever constructed were MDF kits produced by Sarissa Precision which were excellent but very two-dimensional.  My painting skills weren’t, and still aren’t, good enough to produce a 3D appearance so I went with cladding to achieve some relief for shading and highlighting.  However, what these kits did give me was an easy way to achieve 28mm scale measurements.  For this build the doors measure 40mm high x 25mm wide and the windows are 20mm square.  One door and window to the back wall and one door and two windows to the front.

My next step was to cut out the four sides and check assembly.  This was followed by marking out the door and window locations and then cutting them out too.  Once done I used match sticks to make window and door frames which were then glued in place and left to dry.  Once dry, each side of the building was in turn coated with DAS clay which was then levelled and smoothed out.  I had never used this clay before but was advised via a YouTube tutorial to add PVA to make a kind of dough mix.  The PVA apparently prevents the dried clay from future cracking.  Having only ever done this once I have no idea if this is true or not but I figured better safe than sorry and besides it did seem to make sense too.

Before the clay dried (the clay air dries and does so reasonably quickly but I thick adding the PVA slows the process down) I used my recently acquired “Green Stuff” textured rolling-pin to produce the stone effect.  This was another first and I was extremely pleased with the result.  It is best to wet the rolling-pin a little as this prevents it from sticking.  I also found that it worked better to roll the pin forward a little and then roll it back on itself again making small advances as you move along.  Rolling back enables the impression the roller makes to be more defined but if you go to far forward the roll back is less likely to line up accurately with the initial impression made (I hope this makes sense!).  Once done I cleaned the rolling-pin up using soapy water and a nail brush before any clay residue had a chance to set.

Having let everything dry overnight I then wanted to complete a couple of other things before assembly.  The first was to complete the door and window on the rear wall.  I decided the door would be in a shut position and the window, which would have wooden shutters, would have these closed too.  For both the door and the window shutters I used wooden coffee stirrers cut to length and glued in to place.  Holes were drilled in both the door and window shutters to accommodate the tip of cocktail sticks which were used to make knobs and handles.

The second item I wanted to complete before assembly was to construct and glue into place the internal window frames.  In the past I have tried to use all sorts of materials for this and haven’t been truly happy with any of them.  I think it’s the scale which has given me the difficulty as I just couldn’t get things to line up as I wanted or make them without breaking.  However, following a moment of inspiration I tried using some preformed mesh wire, the same as I had used to make railings on a previous model, and found this worked very well.  I rebated the MDF at the back of the front wall a little and inlaid the section of wire and then glued it into place and left it to dry.

Once everything was dried it was time to test the assembly before gluing.  A little sanding was required to ensure a smooth fit although it was evident that some filler would be needed at each of the corners once put together.  To ensure a stronger bond I glued small sections of foam board to each internal corner and then held everything in place with a few elastic bands to pull it all together before leaving it all to dry.

Next up is the roof, windows and shutters, the door and the Chimney and …… but these will have to wait until part 2.

Progress images below.