The aim of the weekend was to make between 4 to 6 pieces. I’ve made 5, so I’m pretty pleased to have done so many. Each piece comes with it’s own challenges. The first of the day was pretty straight forward in that I had to decide on a flat or raised roof before getting stuck in. The main challenge of the day was the church which was originally just a very flat piece from a VHS box. I had to build it in 3 sections, the main building, the tower and the steeple. As I was working with different angles and butting I had to go slower and constantly look to see how it was going. The height was reduced before the roof was fitted. The tower has a false entrance below so figures could stand and interact with it. Also it’s a nice feature which I’ve been missing from the others recently, pace has been the main objective, I’ll add details later on.
With this two pieces completed I took a sneaky look to learn I have 7 more to go, that at least 3 visits to the studio to get them done. In between all of that I’m still looking at the cardboard train-set, with the ramp getting slowly completed, one side of posts are fixed so I’ve been adding the rail to that side. The other side was disappointing, as all the of the posts had to be re-fixed, hopefully they’ll have fixed in place this time.
Once the town has been upgraded I’ll decide to either turn to the army fort or to another version of the town in ruins, or even something else, lets see where I go next.
Today I set out to make a start on possibly 4-6 model miniatures this weekend in the studio. So far I’ve made a good start; 3 out of 6 isn’t too bad. I’m now in full swing of upgrading the original VHS box based pieces to something far more substantial. I’m not even being picky as to which one I pick to work on next, simply taking the next one I can get my hands on from the box they’re stored in. It’s a good process so I don’t know what I’m getting to work on next. Each one has it’s challenges as I consider how to take this 2 dimensional objects and flesh them out.
Today I upgraded the hardware store, clothing store and barber shop. I want to focus mainly on the barbers as I focused more on this piece. The other two were pretty straight forward once I knew what was needed. I was unsure of how to work with the red and which striped cylinders – a classic feature of any barbers. The originals were suspended over the sides of the sign above. How could I achieve that this time. At this stage I’m not getting the balsa wood out for these pieces. Wanting to stay cardboard based I decided a low-relief response was best. Taking a short length of cardboard tube, sliced down the middle and pulled back enough for a strip of cardboard to join, filling in the gap. I then carefully tore away at another piece of card to wrap around each piece before fixing in place. At the moment I’m OK with how it looks, however I might change so again it’s suspended at the sides, but low-relief still.
Looking at today’s 3 new additions I need to add a little more detail as I have with the stores, so far they are just boxed in objects, they need to be brought to life more and to the same standard.
I then moved on and back to the train set, the ramp that I started last time was now able to have the rails added. So far the posts for the rails have been added, hopefully I can make it safer next time. Working purely with balsa is never a predictable task as you have to be sure that everything is fixed, in place and ready to take on more.
Another really productive day in the studio, I’m really getting stuck into the making process. I began the day producing 3 more lengths of straight train track before making a start on a curved piece. Using my method or carefully drawing out the piece on a sheet of cardboard I have been able to keep the distance between the rails the same. You can really tell the difference in size when they are cut out. I added the sleepers from pre-cut balsa wood. I had to try out how they worked with a train carriage, with the addition of the bogies. Which more or less work, however I feel that the curve is too tight and needs to be loosened up. For a first attempt at this method it’s not bad at all. I can still use a section for straight track.
I then moved on and away from my now much expanded cardboard train-set to return to the pieces I made for the frontier town for Playing with Plastic which are now just in storage. I’m being brutal with them now as I begin to remake them with more substantial cardboard and fleshing them out to be more 3 dimensional than just improvised on VHS boxes. I made a good start today with two pieces, one a stores (which I think is for my Army fort, and a stagecoach depot, using a toy stagecoach for reference. I’ve kept the scale the same, trying to stay true original design of these pieces. I want to keep things as easy as possible so I can move at a good pace as there is a lot to do. I’ll add more detail later on once I have them all. I do however need to make copies of them as burnt out shells, which I’ll use less substantial cardboard for.
I’ve got a long way to go, it will take a few months to produce just one version of them, another will be probably just as long too. In between all of that I’ll be adding a few curved pieces of track to break things up a bit.
A few weeks ago I reached another milestone with my making skills with the ability to make the model miniatures move. Today I have reached another one, I can now construct complex rooftops. Previously I have found this part of any piece I’ve made difficult to get over, going through lots of cardboard before I able to achieve to cover the roof (making it water tight). Today after going through a few ideas for a train station I decided to again as I expanded my cardboard train-set. I found it easier working on a smaller scale, less cardboard was wasted so I wasn’t so worried about things in that respect. I was able to measure out the dimensions and chip away where necessary on each piece of cardboard before fixing in place. I also made sure that they were fixed to a structure that was more secure. I had boxed out the main piece and added triangles for the pieces to fix onto. The side sections were held back until I made a start on the rear as they all interact. I learned that all the pieces affect one another, so equally important. I’m really pleased with it. I could have reduced the height in places but for now and this piece it really works, I may extended outwards at a 180 degrees angle, I’m not sure yet.
I then moved on briefly to look at adding a ramp to the open wagon for goods/horses etc to be un/loaded from it. At the moment I’ve been working with the balsa wood to raise it into position. Next time I’ll start to add a rail on either side.
I them moved onto make a start at adding more track, which is in desperate need now that the set has more than doubled in the last month at the studio. So far I’ve made 3 pieces, 1 very small, I’ll be making 3 more straight pieces before I attempt a few curved pieces, which again are harder to achieve. I do I have a plan which I’ll be putting into action though.
As I look at the train set I can see that I have a long way to go still. I’m really enjoying the making process. I’ve returned to balsa, the perfect companion to cardboard. Once the additional pieces have been made I may make a start on the town or take a break and look at the Army fort, which I want to be more substantial and possibly smaller, something I need to take a look at further.
It’s been a steady day in the studio as I completed the 3 new refrigerated wagons before making a solid start on the box cars that I wanted to add to the cardboard train set. It’s been a pretty straightforward day, using the original test piece as a model again to work from, also the addition of bogies which I’m getting pretty good at now.
I then moved onto the boxcar wagon which I would like to add 2 to my collection. I am working from photos this time as I’ve had a clear out of the studio of old work. So far I’ve made a good start, with the main body in place now. Trying my best to replicate the original green ones from a few years ago. I’ve kept the detail pretty lose. The strips of cardboard are minimal as I didn’t want to get too complicated with it. For this one to be complete I need to add a raised door that has the potential to slide open, before adding the wheels (complete with bogies) to the base. Then I can simply replicate it and move onto a new coach.
So far my long list of additional pieces is going along nicely, taking my time as I go. Some will take some experimentation to get right, whilst others will be far easier to achieve.
It’s been a day on the production line really. After completing the previous piece, picking up where I left off with the pieces that would eventually complete the bogies for the open wagon.
I moved onto the make a solid start on 3 more refrigerated wagons, taking what I learned last time using the new batch of paper cups, they were sanded down in places before I began. I really enjoy the repetition of making objects, working from a template and just getting to work with plans multiple times. It also speeds things up when your just replicating. Also the scale allows me to make more with less material. The 3 pieces are almost there, I have to add the extra detail before the wheels – on bogies are added. I’ll then move onto looking at another coach before work begins on two more box cars, both pieces should be straight forward to make.
This Bank Holiday I set out to do what I thought would take far longer than a day. That was to see how the two test-pieces look. OK that’s the easier part, before moving onto the trains that I wanted to modify or adapt. So far I’ve been excelling in the studio.
I began by getting out all the pieces for the first test-piece with all the additional pieces that I’ve been making to accompany them both – the track and train pieces. Also I introduced new fence pieces that I’ve bought recently which held some toy cows. It’s an impressive piece to look at, with a sense of organisation about it, with the track at the back and the fueling station at the side with a flying saucer ready to go. It feels like a factory with purpose.
Whilst the second one feels like an sub-station that serves the same function but on a less demanding scale. I want to show that the aliens mean business not just their presence on the ground. Maybe I’m nearing a decision. I like the extra detail on this second piece. However I found that this one could be hard to animate at the side as the refrigerated wagons pass through, making it a very cumbersome and longer process than stop-frame already is.
Moving on I had decided to adapted the bases of all the train stock so they could move on any curved track that I’ll be building in the future. I only learned of the bogie – basically the axle unit below train carriages a few months ago. Knowing this it would make for better model miniatures that could be more effectively be animated on the track, instead of looking awkward as they pass over some sections. So the plan was to create my own bogies . Carefully removing the wheels that were fixed to the base on the carriages. I then cut out pieces of cardboard and worked out a method so they could rotate tightly around a small piece of cardboard tubing. Measuring up was pretty straight forward before cutting everything out and beginning to fit into place. The rotating worked, it sat nicely when straight too. All I had to do was re-attach the wheels which was pretty straight forward.
The process was smooth sailing really. Having previously thought about how best to achieve this effect I now have made a few pieces functional, something I’ve not done before. A few simple changes that allow it to better mimic a full scale train I have reached another level in my making skills if only by accident. I wonder where I’ll go next.
I thought that these two test pieces would take longer to construct than I first imagined. In fact they have literally jumped off the page the last two weekends in the studio. Focusing today on the second piece I have been really fleshing it out using from the rooftop down. It was a pretty straight-forward process in terms of the dimensions. Taking what I’ve learned from the previous piece and applying that to the current one. The only real challenge, hurdle even to overcome was the surface of the fresh batch of paper cups, which have a smooth coating on the outside. This initially prevented them fixing when using my glue-gun. I knew that I had to sand down the surface to allow for a better grip, or any grip. I had to do this to practically all the pieces. I feel I’m reaching a point in my making where everything in terms of making, tools and materials is really coming together. This piece has come at the right point to push my practice further.
I moved on to look at the overall dimensions of the slaughter-house, making everything the same height before beginning to cut away and really shape in the image – as close as to the sketch I began with. It’s a lot narrower than I first thought it would be but has everything in the sketches, even the detailing at the side (no cross hatching sadly) allowing me to have a pretty good version to be proud of.
I think the next stage is to finish this piece off and spend some time playing with the toys to see which works best. Before I left the studio I could see one had more presence, whilst the other was just one of many. Yet it felt part of a bigger part of a larger production line, a working machine that just got on with its function. The chosen piece will then be completed with the addition of gum tape to smooth out any edges
Moving away from these pieces I’ve decided to expand the train capacity, another carriage, 3 more refrigerated wagons. Whilst also adapting the existing pieces to have bogies – wheels on beds that move with the track under the carriages. I have a rough idea of how to achieve this. The adaptation would only increase the height of pieces by only a few millimetres at most. Then I feel I could tackle either remaking the fort or even the whole town.
Today my work on the current test pieces continued. With the current slaughter-house undergoing some massive changes at the sides. Shaving a good chunk from the base to allow for paper cups to be placed underneath to make up the difference. I also added a rail to the entrance instead of the arches that would be traditionally found on this piece. I’m thinking that the ramp has a conveyerbelt, with a rail either side. At the rear I smoothed things off with an additional trim.
I then moved onto make a good start on the second test piece. This came with the knowledge that this piece could be easier based on the experience of making this first one. They both share some of the same elements, I’ll be tackling the construction differently as now know what to do. With the first piece I was somewhat in the dark, never having made a piece with an elevation. I can now think about how the structure works from different angles. It could be the start of more complicated pieces in the future. Knowing me I could have done a huge chunk of the work when I return to the studio.
After a much-needed rest up last weekend I came back to the studio ready to make a start on the next test-pieces. First of all I had to look over my much expanded collection of Cowboy and Indian figures that I have been buying up over the last week or so. I still have a few more to arrive. I spent a good portion of 11th going through everything, making sure I had some decent figures and spent some time re-organising them too. I think I have too many now. At least I can stage some good scenes. Some of the figures were cleaned up, removing excess plastic that remained from the molds.
The rest of the day was spent making a good start on the first slaughterhouse test piece. I only had time for the rooftop. Sped up by making use of an unused flying saucer test, adding another half, making three which I then organised as the control centres. I moved onto raise them up and then fix them to the lower level of the rooftop.
Today I made far more progress than I expected as I began to flesh out the piece properly. Beginning by raising it up creating a box below before the curved edges. At this point I decided to leave out the shortened paper cups, wanting to get it up first before complicating it. Those cups at the back determined the overall height of the piece. At the front I added a false entrance allowing toy cows to be animated moving into the structure.
Finishing the piece off for the day I turned my attention to the detail, with some trim at the rear. This was not before having to extended the rear. During the day I had tested the width to check the train could pass through, but not the refrigerated wagon, which was very tight. Forcing me to look at two options, reworking the main walls so that they were pushed in at the back. Or extend the rooftop slighting, which I found to be easier to achieve. I finished the day with a slope being fitted to the entrance at an angle to further allow the cows to be animated.
I thought that the piece was complete at this stage, ready to move onto the next one, then I thought, what if I added the cups at the base at the sides, the main box remains untouched. This would be more true to the sketch and also look far more interesting. I’m surprised how fast it’s all come together, a little more work and it’s done. It has a real presence and works with the flying saucer I’ve selected.