Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Seaside Cottages ..... and a new toy

At the moment I'm quite into the idea of constructing small dioramas so as to experiment with different modelling techniques in a small and contained area.   I came across a photo of seaside cottages at Mousehole which I fancied having a go at modelling, full of character and in an attractive setting too. But should the walls be of embossed styrene sheet or DAS?  Since the idea of the diorama is experimentation, it had to be DAS.

After cutting out the structure from 30 thou styrene and lots (I thought) of bracing, the walls were covered with PVA followed by a couple of millimeters of DAS, smoothed with a wallpaper seam roller.  None of this is new of course. I copied all of the techniques from Iain Robinson's blog which is full of superb examples. Have a look here at the latest.

The drying process overnight showed up some inadequacies in the bracing with a few warped walls. However, they can be bent back into shape and braced after the event and any cracks filled with DAS.

Then comes the scribing which leaves a sore forefinger but is actually quite relaxing when accompanied by Radio 4 (or Radio 4 Extra when the alternative is Front Row with Mark Lawson).

What about windows?  Off the shelf, bespoke, home made? On Mikkel's blog I read a discussion on the Silhouette Cameo cutter.  I couldn't resist buying the smaller version - the Portrait - and what a wonderful toy!  Reasonably priced too considering the cost of bespoke windows. With forgiving and easy to use design software included it was no trouble to produce a few sample window built up in layers -  window frame, top sash and bottom sash for example.  I couldn't get it to cut through 15 thou styrene but the sheet was sufficiently deeply scored to make cutting through by hand with a scalpel a very simple task.

I just wonder how durable it will be and how often the blade will need replacing but so far so good.  It goes without saying that I am looking for more excuses to play with it.


  1. These are going to be great, of course. Looking forward to reading about progress, and thank you for the link. I agree, I can't stand Mark Lawson's voice, thank goodness for the iplayer!
    I have been following the thread on RMWeb about the cameo cutter, that has all the info anyone would ever need and I am glad to see you have taken the plunge. Laser cut and etched windows are so prohibitively expensive, I think you have done the right thing. Your windows look lovely. Can't wait for the next instalment!

  2. Thanks very much Iain. Yes, I found the RM item fascinating although the author there seems to be able to get it to cut 15 thou. Perhaps it's because it's the cameo version rather than the portrait. Anyway, no matter, I'll keep experimenting and even deep scoring allows far, far more precision than I could ever achieve..

  3. I've been following the RMweb thread avidly and find myself with a long list of reasons to justify buying a Portrait so I'm fascinated to see what you get up to with it.

    1. Hi James, I rationalised away the cost of the portrait as the last lot of windows for the hotel, good though they are, were rather expensive. The results are not as good as a laser cut but are good enough for me and easier than fiddling with styrene strip. Go on, you know you want one!

  4. Typical, I go away for a few days and return to find another masterpiece under construction !
    All we need now is a glimpse of your diorama taking shape so how about it Chas?

    The window components look very nice indeed but by golly those cutters are an expensive piece of kit. Mind you for a professional model maker one would soon pay for itself, hint, hint Mr Robinson :-)

    Etched windows can be very cheap if the style and size you need are available off the peg, so far I've been lucky in that respect.

    Looking forward to your next update,


    1. Many thanks Geoff. You're very kind. I've a couple of shots of two dioramas which I may post but they're pretty poor at the moment. I'm not sure they're going to get any better either. I've just seen that you have been busy again so time for a quick visit to Llangunllo for inspiration before work!


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