Many moons ago, I wrote a blog entry about a surprise barn find and the traction engine I'd like to find within. The sentiments expressed remain the same, I'd still like to find something similar in a deserted farm somewhere, but it's unlikely, even though I am on the hunt constantly. I must learn to content myself with making models. This one was made for a customer who brought it back to me recently for refurbishment and possible use on the Greater Hemyock layout. I sat looking at it and became enthused again, thinking that it needed new doors, and that the textures of the wood were non-existant, while the rust textures and roof finish left a lot to be desired. I'm really glad I spent a couple of days tricking it up again and detailing it, to the point where the traction engine inside (a Matchbox Allchin) is a bit crude looking...but, a precious heirloom itself, it will stay now forever inside the crumbling edifice. I worked over the wood parts, a mixture of veneer and card, with a dental burr, then dry-brushing, working back with meths and dry brushing again until the wood looked to my satisfaction. The rust on the roof was several mixes of Burnt Sienna and yellow ochre crafter's acrylics, with a little Humbrol "rust" added here and there. The rust holes were bored with the Dremel and filed off with various miniature needle files. Pastels were finally wafted over the whole lot in delicate brushing motions, then almost all taken off again, leaving a patina of age (hopefully). The new doors are from styrene, scribed to represent wood and distressed.
Here's the nearest thing I've come to finding a traction engine so far...a horsedrawn trap in a deserted farm in North Wales...just look at that lovely junk!
Roots and Branches
I could put off the evil moment no longer. Some trees were required for the Whitehall board and I had to attempt to make them. I had always been discouraged after seeing those wonderful trees by Bob Barlow in the MRJ, by Illiffe Stokes, by the Gravetts...and numerous other folk all better than me. I decided that while my attempt wouldn't be a patch on those masterpieces, I was going to have a go, otherwise I would be no better than the countless people on forums who talk a good model but actually make nothing. After all, the models by the greats are there to inspire, not discourage.
So. The first thing was to find some wire thin enough. I had bought a big pile of straight lengths from Ebay about two years ago, it was sold as fine jewellers wire and I found it useful for the wire runs you see on many of my models. It's quite malleable and looks to be some form of mild steel, not jeweller's wire, but ideal for 4mm forestry operations. I took about ten of the lengths (they are 25cms long) and fixed them together with masking tape. I am sure you have seen this many times on the web and on forums, people solder them together, twist them and tease out clumps of branches five at a time. I won't teach you how to suck eggs or re-invent the wheel.
It was surprisingly easy and I decided to make a Sycamore shape with reference to my Ladybird book of trees, the one with beautiful illustrations by the great S R Badmin. I think the shape is the thing, as I wouldn't be modelling a tree in winter, that is an altogether different level of skill and artistry. When I was happy with the shape, it looked something like this...
At this point I had teased up a load of rubberised horsehair and attached it to the branches with hot glue. There are lots of flyaway bits that need trimming before the "leaves" are applied. The paper protecting the layout is from the Ikea instructional sheets for flat pack furniture. Petra had been building some drawer units ( I am not allowed to join in as I am so cack-handed, being relegated to making coffee and passing the electric screwdriver!) The horsehair is teased out to within an inch of it's existence before being attached, the idea being to provide a fine substrate for the leaves.
You can use foliage clumps at this point, I have seen them used to great effect. I do have a couple of boxes from Woodland scenics, but prefer to make small shrubs out of those. You might ask, why did he attach this to the layout, why not make it off the board? That would have been a good idea, it just didn't occur to me! I had the idea to site the tree in the yard, so that the roots were breaking up the surface, like this.
|Looks like an out-take from a 50's sci-fi movie...the " day of the twisted wire trees", perhaps...|
OK, the next step was to fix the leaves, and I did this in two stages. Firstly, I sprayed the tree's canopy with Display Mount, while wearing my trusty respirator and having the window open for good measure. I then scattered Noch 07154 Laub, mittelgrun...leaves, to you and me. I note that they are also called "follage", "feuillage" and enigmatically, "loof". I thought the result was rather nice and after an hour, hoovered off the excess loof. Then my nearest and dearest came in and gave the tree an unimpressed look. Now, Petra has a great interest in trees and herbage of all sorts, so this was depressing. She reckoned the leaves were too small, and the wrong colour. Darn. Well, there was only one thing I could do, spray over the top again, fix new, different loof and hope the delicacy wouldn't be lost. I wasn't hopeful.
I used a packet of larger leaves from the now defunct little leaf company...how I wish I'd bought more. They seemed to sit on the tree just fine and looked even more delicate- this was a result! The colour was still not right, though- so once I had allowed the glue to dry, I sprayed the tree lightly with the airbrush using designer's acrylic inks, these are made for airbrush artists and don't clog the machine, unless you are particularly careless or clarty. I mixed up a high-summer olive green shade which again, matched the tree across the mighty Afon Teigl from my window.
And there it is...
Meanwhile, the hut still had to be bedded in. I worked on the scene for quite a while with various iterations of Noch meadow and Silflor materials until the area around the shed looked as if it only ever saw the attentions of the occasional sheep. I wanted it to contrast with over the river, where a herd of pesky Ayrshire milkers grazed.
I then added another tree, this time a birch...
The cows are painted with reference to the Puffin Original "Our Cattle" and from some photographs of my own small herd of Ayrshires back in the last century when I lived on my parent's farm, appropriately, in Ayrshire. Incidentally, cattle have a habit of all facing the same way when contented; they are always found in relation to their status in the herd, unless the herd is stressed or disturbed. When I used to check on them at mid-day from a handy drumlin, I could tell instantly whether anything was wrong by the relative positions and demeanour of the beasties.
The small stream in the photos, I imagine, to be crossed by an old road, now out of use...it used two slate slabs as spans, something I've seen a lot here in Wales. Two chunks of Das, carved and sanded did the job. Hedges are mostly rubberised horsehair sprayed as before and coated in various fine leaf mixtures and colours, then wafted with the airbrush to give a little homogeneity.
I hope you've enjoyed this little rural excursion...I'll close with a view of the shed which isn't seen on the layout, (as it's the other way round now) and a photo of the whole Whitehall board ready to be whisked off to my customer.
The original post about the shed is here.