Monday, November 2, 2009

Fantasy Storybook Village Houses in 1/2" Scale >click here to see models on my Flickr page<

Collectible Storybook Style Cottage Models overview

I own a carpentry shop & art studio with a full compliment of tools from the finest to the largest and have made Architectural, Engineering & Prototype display models as a profession since 1982. We build the display models, pedestals, dust covers, and the crates to ship them in.
Sometimes the work gets slow, and I like to have other creative things to fall back on between big jobs. I began my first old world storybook style cottage in the early 1990s. The first several were exterior only and in 1/2 inch scale. This was mainly to cater to the G gauge garden railroad people, and they are easier to store and display in someones home than many larger 1/12 scale houses.

Modern architectural models are very straight lined and sterile compared to fantasy houses, so it certainly is a nice break from keeping things so precise and by the numbers. Many of the same tricks are used on the table saw, and new ones have to be invented on the fly to get the desired results.
Part of the trick is keeping lines flowing like a freehand sketch. The saw rips everything parallel, so several extra steps are needed to give the distressed look. Most artists and animators strive for a free flowing look, yet not sloppy crooked or 'cartoon town' so there is a balance in between.


I have worked in theme park design for years and many companies do their designing right in their model shops. Often, we may get just a rough sketch and we will flush out many ideas in 3D that aren't always obvious on a 2D drawing. Something like an old world cottage would go from drawings mounted on flat card, then cut and glued in layers to work out overhangs, head clearances, traffic flow, stairways, etc.. then move onto foam sculpting to better refine the details.



When everything is pretty well figured out we go onto the finish model. That's when having a full compliment of tools and a good size work space comes in handy. These being exterior only I can get away with quite a bit on the inside with glue blocks in corners to nail and reinforce to. That's not the case with open back exterior & interior houses. None of these are foam or light duty materials, they are wood, resin castings, plex windows, and can be very heavy.


Over the years I have built up a pretty good library of silicone molds of bricks, railings, stones, window frames, shutters, doors... many scales & styles from old world to modern. These come in handy with repetitive installations and saves time & hand work. I keep wood 'plugs' for each profile piece to act as a template when I assign a door or window to a particular place. After the irregularities of the stucco effect is put on, the plug is removed, and the casting fits right inside.


When complete, its painting, age and weathering for that "Old World" type of look. Very little is air brushed because there are so many tight places to get up into, under and behind. When I do larger houses with interiors, I like to build from the inside out, with paint, textures and finishes completely done as I go along. Exterior walls are actually the last built.

I hope this has been informative! More will follow as I try to show some step by step on construction ideas for these and other styles of miniatures. Most people don't have access to the larger power tools and dedicated space, so I focus more on the architectural elements rather than the details that dress it out (foliage, furniture, collectibles, etc). I like to get it out to the collector to finish it out and personalize it however they wish.

I hope to hear from you any questions or comments!

Ron Nelson / Artisan of Ocala, Florida

29 comments:

  1. Hi Ron! YAY welcome to the world of blogging!

    wow. that certainly sounds like a lot of work. is this cottage still in your possession? very informative indeed! knowing how you did it doesn't unmask the mystery, it adds to it since, well, anyone can pick up a saw but not everyone comes up with your results. WOW.

    i've already seen this, so...;) i'm actually more looking forward to your sweetshoppe....i think i'm in love with it already...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Snowfern and thank you again for all of your help! These are a few cottages & different angles over several years when I was between architectural model jobs. Most of these were carry overs from my Flickr page. I will start a new blog page for the "Bakery / Sweetshop" I am constructing now.

    ReplyDelete
  3. WOW!! Ron...Your cottage is fabulous!
    (Looks like I need to rattle snowfern's chain for keeping you and your fantastic minis a secret.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. haha GUM!! i wasn't hiding him, i actually found him via teammids surfing, cos he was commenting on quite a few members' works! ^ ^

    nice! finally, an update. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  6. fabulous cottage! I wish I could make one as beautiful....! Thanks for your explanations. This is very instructive.

    I understand you made a "Bates house". I would be so glad to see it!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Im still figuring out the blog instructions so everyone please bare with me on my learning curve here.

    Thank you again Golden Unicorn and I think this is a better place to get into greater detail than it is over on Flickr :)

    Thanks so much Tom Im glad you found them! I have run across so many talented people in these sites & this is a great forum to pick up new tips & ideas.

    Right Snowfern, finally an update :)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Ron! Thank you so much for following my little blog so I could find you! Your site is fascinating, incredible and beautiful all at once! Thank you for sharing your talents and welcome to blogland! So nice to meet you! :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Nice to meet you too Kathi and thank you for the warm welcome and nice comments :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Wow!! Amazing work!!!
    Glad you found my blog.... so I could see your fantastic work :=)
    Synnøve

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you so much Synnøve. Im just starting here in blogger and hope to post more work here too. Your pieces are beautiful as well!

    ReplyDelete
  12. This just....KILLS ME!!! It is just phenomenal!!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you Kiva I appreciate the feedback. I see alot of Victorian houses out there, but like you and your Ethnic food sculptures, lets try something different:)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Ohhhh my God! I have no enough words in english to say how much I love your fanstatic work!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Absolutly fantastic work ,so detailed in every piece!Wish to have it here to plant flowers in abudance,oh have so many ideas for such a beautiful house!Jeannette

    ReplyDelete
  16. Thank you KC :)
    Your "Old World" miniatures really caught my eye and I was so glad to have found your page. You have such nice treatments in your colors and textures :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you Garden, I would like to see someone landscape one of these with professionally made mini flowers & foliage. It would really finish off the look and soften the edges :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Well hello there! It's so nice to see you here in blogland! I love this little house....Reminds me of the houses that Mickey and Miney live in at Disneyland! I just love all the curves! :) It's so nice to meet you and welcome to blog land!!

    Katie

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thank you Katie, so glad to be here and meet you too:)
    Ron

    ReplyDelete
  20. It is sooo depressing looking at this house of yours!
    1) I can NOT make one of these... I need too many skills and tools which I don't have and never will!
    and 2) Looking at it I can see that I can NOT afford it, like `i can't afford that chateau in France!
    And yet, I'll keep coming back to look, and wish!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you so much Lize, Im glad you return for another look :) Im hoping some of these could be in a display in a public forum someday.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I have just found your little treasure...and I am shocked...it is so gorgeous and delicious...I think I would like to move right into it, right now!
    Do you have a shrink-ray in your workshop too...so that your followers can have a guided tour around your houses?!
    So lovely to have found you!

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you Oberon's Wood, Im glad you peeked in for a look. Maybe thats the next great invention, to reduce us to see things in greater detail!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Love the 'lil stained glass door. You know how I feel about windows. Great Work!!

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you Lisa, so glad you made it thru after all the hard work :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. questo cottege è semplicemente meraviglioso.... chissà l'autore quanto tempo ci ha impiegato a costruirlo... è semplicemente stupendo

    ReplyDelete
  27. Thank you Rosa for the nice comments
    -Ron

    ReplyDelete
  28. nice work, Ron! what a fantastic cottage! this storybook house looks like The Witch's House from Beverly Hills. The owner, Michael Libow bought the house in order to save it from demolition.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Thanks so much Kim. I used to live in the Burbank / Glendale area of Los Angeles and passed thru Beverly Hills so many times when I was working the studios. I still wish I had made it over to see the 'Witches House' in person, hopefully I'll get back out there again!
    -Ron

    ReplyDelete