Friday, June 17, 2011

Walls and pears

Behold, I've been purchasing fruit :) Vicky Guile's quarter scale pears - they are absolutely amazing!! I can't believe how Vicky has made these tinies so exquisitely perfect!!
They are in a beautiful little bowl by The Helmers - the bowl measures 3/16" across the top, to give you an idea of the size.

I have to ask myself why I'm now trying to work in an even smaller scale - 1:48 - as my eyesight gets worse. No, no, it's not old age; I've found out that I have a rare condition - I'm analog, and the world is digital! :)

My little medieval weaver's cottage is progressing , but mainly in my imagination - there's so much to sort out before the kit is put together; the interior walls and floors have to be finished before gluing, and before that I have to decide where the fireplaces, staircase, internal doors, kitchen stove, etc are all going to be.
I can shut my eyes and happily wander around the house, re-arranging things and trying to avoid those 'oh damn' (or worse) moments later in the build. Otherwise known as daydreaming :D
One moment in the midle of the night was 'Aaagh! Did they have spinning wheels in the middle ages??' My house has now moved to Late Medieval . . . :)

Now, dear Reader, the story of the walls so far.
I love paperclay, it takes dilute colour washes so well, and the texture is great for old fashioned 'whitewashed' walls. In quarter scale though it's much too thick. I tried watering it down to make a paintable slurry, but that didn't work well enough.
So now - gesso, which has a little more texture than plain flat paint. To combat the over-bright white colour, and to get a better surface to apply colourwash, I added some finely grated chalk. At first I mixed the chalk into the paint - this was too textured and difficult to manage (but I'm saving that for 1:12 projects later).
So the final method is here - steps 1-8 are from left to right in the pic:
1. Paint gesso on to the board. (These boards were sealed first with diluted PVA - this might not be necessary as gesso is in itself a sealer. If you are going to make the gesso really thin, add some acrylic paint to the PVA/water sealer as a coloured undercoat)
2. Stipple/dab the surface of the wet gesso very lightly with a screwed-up paper napkin. The lighter you dab, the tinier the stippling. This removes brush marks, which, believe me, you do not want in this scale!
3. Grate a very fine light layer of chalk evenly over the whole surface while the gesso is wet. I used a tool I found in the manicure section of the supermarket - it looks like a nutmeg grater.
4. Hold the board vertically by the sides and tap the edge gently to release any loose chalk.
5. With a clean screwed-up paper napkin, lightly dab the chalk into the gesso, flattening the stipples, until it looks even.
6. Repeat step 4 when the gesso is half dry, if you want it flatter. (You can also do this with your finger, but dip it in chalk first to avoid fingerprints.)
7. Let it dry.
8. Brush very gently or rub with fine sandpaper to get the texture/finish you want.
9. Apply colour washes.
10. Seal with a mix of 1 part water to 1 part PVA glue. Dab this on rather than brushing or wiping, as the colour may migrate. Clean the brush often.

I'm enjoying quarter scale :D Some of the thoughts I've jotted down are:
It seems quite different from twelfth scale - there is more imagery than detail in the initial impression - illusion rather than perfect miniaturisation.
Shapes have to be unmistakable to avoid cluttering the scene.
Colour seems to have more importance; heavy saturation of colours or brightness can highlight some items and unbalance the whole setting. Shiny things need caution, too.  Choose what you want to show up, and where.

If anyone can add to my meanderings about 1:48, I'd appreciate it! The fewer the mistakes I make, the happier I'll be :)



  1. It is interesting to read your meanderings on 1/4 scale. Especially your observations of colours, texture and shapes.

    I am not sure if I want to go any smaller than 1/2 scale but the smaller scale really does save a lot of display space.

    Vicky Guile's pears are just magnificent.

  2. Thank you for your advice on 1/4 "stucco". I have only dipped my toe into that scale but I have friends who are totally switching to it and I'll share this with them.

    (BTW...I am only able to comment here by re-logging in and unclicking "stay signed in". Blogger still hasn't fixed this problem with the embedded comment box. You might want to change to a "full page" one...)

  3. Amazing and detailed work! I have not done 1/4 scale but being a lover of the minute...... I am tempted! I will enjoy watching your progress! I have to laugh at your spinning wheel comment...! It is amazing how we assume that certain things have always been around.... the Early Middle Ages was VERY primitive by some standards! Chimneys didn't get invented until the twelfth century! Fortunately, we really can do whatever we like in a miniature world...... and your minis are so beautiful!

  4. You really made me laugh with your "Aaaaaghhhh"-moment in the middle of the night... ;O) Thank you for this detailed description, I really don't think your meandering through that tiny scale, you're heading straight ahead to the vision you've had during your daydreaming tours...

    Have a great weekend!

  5. The pears are fab. I am watching the progress of your 1/4 project with great interest :) and hope the doctors can help you to improve your sight:)

  6. The little pears are amazing. I interested in 1/4 projects and will be happy to watch your work.
    Thank you.

  7. Sans - I have to admit that the size of all this is great - my workdesk isn't big to start with!

    Susan - thanks for the heads-up re blogger. I had just changed to the new editor, maybe that's the problem. I'm changing back to the old editor - I'm of the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' school, which doesn't suit the modern world. I drive my geeky husband mad sometimes! Call me old fashioned...

    Betsy - I absolutely love history, but I think I'd be appalled if I had to live there! My own version pleases me much better!! :D

    Birgit - I keep a notepad by my bed for those half-asleep ideas - the best ones are when I'm falling asleep!

    Ewa - my eyesight isn't too bad, it's just old age creeping up on me!!

    Drora - I'll be happy to keep you entertained! :)

  8. Que maravillosas peras son absolutamente increibles.
    Estoy deseando ver como desarrollas tu proyecto 1/4, sera intersante.
    besitos ascension

  9. Wow Glenda the pears and bowl are awesome! I wish I could work in the smaller scale but these old eyes can't do it. So glad you are back on your minis and look forward to your progress :)


  10. Hi Glenda, catching up with reading posts from my favourite bloggers and now... well.. I'm beaming with pride after visiting your blog!
    Thank you for blogging about your tiny pears, they look great in the bowl and I'm sooo looking forward to reading more on about your 1:48 journey, Vicky xxx