Wednesday, 18 December 2019

The making of the Castle Itter Christmas Card

With thoughts of the end of the school term, and the seasonal winding down of work related activities, Michael and I turned our thoughts towards yet another distraction.  This time something suitably festive for the blog.  Naturally, it needed to be related to the ongoing castle project, and as we had a spare gatehouse, the concept quickly established itself!

Merry Christmas everyone!

To begin our festive scene, a suitable plywood base was found to which an MDF base for the scene was fitted.  The gaps were filled with expanding foam which was carved to shape and finished with a generous smear of decorators caulk.
Some BIC pen tubes were added for the tree trunks which were suitably 'enhanced' with some Vallejo earth texture paste.

The addition of some 'Awdry' patent trees helped to fill the scene.  Michael has become quite adept at making these, I'm sure we'll be treated to a write-up soon.

Some reindeer were corralled, and all seemed been going well until someone forgot the safety catch!

However, keen to make progress, we disguised the deceased reindeer by firmly affixing them into the upright position on some sticks, Harnessing them with painted masking tape and some red thread from Michael's sewing box. 

At this stage we had become a little overwhelmed with the static grass, and so called in the heavy plant to help clear the mess.  A 28mm bobcat, (I think it's the best thing on the internet!)

After some initial reluctance, the reindeer were harnessed to the Sherman. 
Upon learning to work as a team, they enjoyed some skiing across the bridge.
Finally, he elements for the photo-shoot were assembled together with some nicely painted resin gifts.  

All had been going well until, there was an unfortunate Green on Red incident in the lead-up to the photoshoot.

Then an inundation of heavy snowfall threatened the whole affair.  So once again the Bobcat was pressed into service....

...and Mr Awdry kindly donated his cape, which made a most useful backdrop.
And thus the scene was set...

The Fieseller Storch being a  totally unnecessary but fun addition.

Merry Christmas everyone!!, and a big thank you to all who have followed and supported our project.

Finally, I couldn't think of a caption for this photograph.  Suggestions in the comments?

Monday, 9 December 2019

Work in progress

I've not posted for a few weeks, as the pace of things has been quite full-on, and finished projects have been somewhat thin on the ground.  A change of job for me post Christmas has forced me to focus upon completing as much of the ground work of the Itter project as possible, as the collaboration with Michael will inevitably become less easy upon my move.  Michael and I both teach, in adjacent studio spaces, which has been a privilege whilst working on this project.  I will of course continue with my involvement in the project after my move, and look forward to meeting folks at Salute.  However, and as I hope you can understand, the more recent focus has been to push the project forward as much as possible.  As is the way, much of this work is not very glamorous and I hadn't felt it worth sharing.
However, Michael's recent work in progress post seemed to peak some interest, and so rather than post nothing I'm uploading some of my own photographs of the build in the hope they provide some inspiration and insight to how we're getting on.

The basic structures are all built-up from laser cut modules, all 3d modelled in advance to ensure they'd all fit as we hoped.  This has been a time consuming process and probably the reason for our overall progress looking a little slow at this point.  However, we are accelerating now and I think this time has been well spent, as it has allowed us to scale down and adjust the plan to fit the board without compromising the feel of the overall scene.  I'm hopeful that when finished, the model photographs will compare well with the original.

The picture below is one of my favourites.  The landscaped board looks tiny when in fact its huge on its own!  My word, what were we thinking!!

This picture shows the principle of laser cutting a 'live hinge' to allow the material to flex.  In this case the serrations were cut radially to allow the ramp to follow a curve.

The same technique is employed here to create a curved retaining wall.

A bit of filler to texture and the effect is worth the effort.

The sides of the bridge were clad with foam...

So that the stone detail work could be scribed on.  The chipped rendering to the top of the bridge is just playground sand PVA'd into place.

Shaped profile boards provide a robust edge to each base board.

Expanding polyurethane foam from a can has been used to create the basis for the landscaping.  A very quick, lightweight and strong method which I can heartily recommend.  I'd advise using gun grade material, which requires an applicator gun.  The cost of the gun being worthwhile for the benefit of a more controlled application.

Here the RFC pilots and Major John Howard are testing the integrity of the embankment!

Stilts were made to hold the castle at the correct elevation, and these were fixed into place with yet more foam.

And the perimeter walls added to the base.  Like the bridge structure, these will also be covered with foam which will be scribed to represent rough stone.

Whilst the castle board progressed, Michael used a mixture of decorators caulk, tile grout, bark and stone to texture the bridge board.  It is quite hard to judge the progress in this photo but he has been doing some sterling work in bringing the board to life.

Here, the RFC pilots are crossing the bridge in search of their Vickers Vernon!

Michael is becoming a dab-hand at tree manufacture!

The castle interior.  The rooms will all be furnished and have detailed wall panelling.  Just visible on the third floor are pieces built by a pupil of ours who has taken on the task of designing the armoury.  These will hold rifles, machine guns and ammunition.  He has also kindly contributed a scratch-built grand piano for the music room, but more of that at a later date.

The third board is being landscaped too.  Same techniques as before.

Well done if you've scrolled down this far!!  

These pictures are a little behind the curve time-wise.  I'll leave the joy of the latest progress to the most excellent 28mmvictorianwarfare.

Finally, I shall leave this post here with the photograph above, being a little hint towards a most wonderful development in our projects' progress.  We will definitely post all about it once we've decided how to do it justice.  
Until then, I think this figure (currently in primer), may well prove to be one of Michael's most satisfying painting jobs to date.

Best wishes everyone,