Monday, 27 January 2014

Off the beaten track

Last year at CRISIS in Antwerp I got a 28mm miniature by Paul Hicks as a gift. It represents Messire Joseph de S├ęguiran, Marquis de Bouc, colonel-lieutenant of the R├ęgiment de Maine, who was killed at the battle of Eekeren (also spelled Ekeren or Eeckeren) in 1703.
Well this is not actually my period, but I liked the beautifully sculpted figure so much that I painted it. Now here it is, the officer wearing the uniform of his regiment. Whether this is correct I do not know. It was some work to find out how the regiment was clad, anyhow!


As you can study at Colonial Williamsburg, town houses - at least those of the better-off - were normally accompanied by a variety of outbuildings. There were outhouses (American English for privies), summer kitchens, kitchen wells, smoke houses, dairies, strewn across the estate.
Photo from Williamsburg, VA, showing summer-kitchen and well (on the left) and an outhouse (on the right).
Having built my store house and looking at some of the photographs of the renovated building I discovered something in the background that looked very much like a comfortable and luxurious outhouse, well becoming a wealthy landlord. So I decided to build one.
Part of the plan of a luxury outhouse
On the net I found several plans of historical outhouses and let myself be inspired by them. So the first outbuilding was a luxury privy!
The outhouse under construction
I started with a square foundation of plywood. To its sides I glued stripes of quarry stone. These I got by filling a mold I bought some time ago at a model railway shop, with some kind of model plaster (Stewaform), and then cutting two rows off with a metal jigsaw. The clapboard walls I made of soft plywood into which I cut the boards with a chisel. The sash window I made of remnants of my window production for the store house. The roof was made of cardboard with rows of cardboard slate over a plywood base. On top you can see the end of a tooth-prick and a wooden bead.
The construction of the roof is to be seen here
The roof is detachable (you could use the outhouse as a decorative box if you feel like it).
View of the interior with two toilets
The finished outhouse
 The next building on my work bench was a summer kitchen. These were more or less chimneys with an attached building. The foundation and the chimney were to be of brick masonry. To produce this, I had first to make a mold (as I didn't want to use the "wallpaper" method again as with my store).
So I first cut a module of a sheet of fine-structured polystyrene (about 10 to 7 cm), pasted it on to a board covered with a plastic material layer, and dug the joints into it with a pin. 
The module (sheet of polystyrene)
This brick structure module I surrounded with some old ledges. And then poured in the two component rubber material for the mold.
Ready for pouring in the material for the rubber mold
Filling the mold with my model plaster again I got several tiles with which I could construct the brick work of my model house.

A tile of model plaster
Then I started building the kitchen. I laid the foundations with plywood and three layers of brick at the edges. The walls were done in the same method as those of the outhouse. The voluminous chimney consists of a piece of wooden ledge, layers of 3mm plywood, and pieces of model plaster tiles cut to size with the jigsaw.

The kitchen with its fire-place (by Thomarillion)
The construction of the detachable roof
For the slate-roof I used sheets made by my friend Bernd Kufahl (again cut to size with the help of the jigsaw).
The finished kitchen house
The chimney side
The entrance
 The next - and last - building of this set was the kitchen well. It was made of 3mm plywood and cardboard. As a base I used the bottom of a box of French cheese.
The kitchen with the well
The most intricate part of this latter model was the bucket. I made it of a piece of round wood, some thin wire, and cardboard. It turned out to be quite some challenge for my poor old arthritic fingers! But what can you expect at the age of 80?

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Colonial Store

Scanning the Internet for pictures of historical buildings I came across pictures and plans (!) of the Prentis Store building of 1740 in colonial Williamsburg, VA. No question I wanted to have a model of that store house in my collection, especially as the plans contained all necessary measures of the historical building. I also found a report on the archeological research made.
My first problem was that the building has got brick walls in English Bond, and there was no material to be had of the right size and structure for our 28mm figures (scale 1/56).
I started experimenting. I made a rubber mold of a brick wall, and got some sheets with a brick structure - but in Stretcher Bond, as I didn't know better at this point. Besides I realized that the plaster sheets were not practical for modelling the building with its corners and edges, especially the chimney.
So I decided to use "wall paper", sheets of paper produced on my computer printer, for covering the walls. Finally I found a picture that could serve my purpose. I printed several sheets of brick wall and slate roof.
Then I started drawing plans of my model. I had to do a bit of calculating again, converting feet and inches into meters and centimeters, and then sizing them down by dividing them by 56.
I reduced all measures a bit, to avoid making a building that would dwarf the miniatures too much. Still it became a stately building, measuring 19 to 12.5 centimeters, with a height of the chimney of 18 centimeters.
Plan of the base of the roof (as an example)
The ground structure of my model I made of 4mm plywood, partly working with several layers, ans also using cardboard (on the roof and chimney) and 2mm aeroplane plywood (on the basement and stairs). And, of course, my building had to have a detachable roof.
The front wall of basement and ground-floor (window openings still to jigsaw out)
The rear wall glued to the ground floor with its stairs to the basement.
The 3 different doors, made of plywood and balsa wood (backdoor, front-door, and attic-door)
The stairs under construction
The sub-structure of the (detachable) roof
The finished basement and ground-floor (the weight inside is for gluing the thing to the base)
Inside view of the ground floor with the interior staircase and fireplace
For the windows I bought extra parts from a German producer (, which are very neat, and allowed me to make Colonial sash windows.
Sash windows of one of the side walls
The slate roof with its dormers
The bottom of the roof section with the beams (which serve to keep it in place)
The shop sign I made of aeroplane plywood and wire. It is stuck into a small hole in the wall (and so detachable for transport).
The store sign
Finally, here are some views of the finished building.
Left side
Back side

Front side
The 2 (unfinished) civilians document the size of the building
The wallpaper method doesn't look too bad, after all. And it is cheap!