Wednesday 29 September 2021

A fantasy Train Project - Part 1

I took on a new project recently for a shop window. It's essentially a toy shop but also caters for crafters and people who make models or create and run train sets. Could I perhaps turn recycled materials - augmented by some of the supplies sold in the shop - into some sort of a train maybe? 

Challenge accepted! 

I started by rummaging in my collection of recycled waste and found a couple of ribbed squash bottles that could be turned into the boiler and chimney base. Then I added a piece of copper pipe, a ping pong ball and the lid from a milkshake for the chimney stack and glued the whole thing to an old cigar box.
I'd been given some sheets of balsa so I'd also started to to build the shape of the cab. Meanwhile, I made the armatures for the two crewmen from aluminium wire and silver foil. Then I started to add the greeblies - plasticard that I'd punched from behind to give the effect of rivets, small bobbins, parts from old models etc. and built up the body. I then took some wheels - laser cut for me by a chap on Etsy for just a few quid - and attached them. Then I sprayed the whole thing black.

(And yes, I know that the wheel arrangement makes NO sense in the real world but this is a fantasy train after all. And who says that it isn't a land train - like a traction engine?)

While this was going on, I began work on the coal tender and the two crewmen. The wagon itself was made from Balsa with all manner of greeblies underneath (including a toothbrush and two scoops from household stain remover tubs). I added a roof made of card and coffee stirrers mounted on kebab skewers. An oil dispenser was made from a Yakult bottle and some bits and pieces and a sack of tinder made from bits of wood and hessian. Then I turned to the coal itself. I considered chopping up some pieces of balsa, gluing them into a clump and then painting it. But then, while out walking my dogs, I was walking along a tarmac covered path when I noted that the edges had crumbled. The little piles of broken off tarmac looked just like coal. So I gathered some up and voila!

The driver and engineer were, in the meantime, sculpted using Super Sculpey and baked hard before painting.

I then returned to the train and made a firebox for the cab and then began drybrushing all of the metallic parts with bronze and silver paint.

It was at this point that I decided that I really didn't like the roof of the cab. And so, in a sudden rush of impetuosity, I decided to replace it with a gabled roof covered in tiles. This then made me wonder if I shouldn't give the cab a really retro Tudor-style look. And, my word, it seems to have worked! I really like this mash-up of styles and eras.

And, as the design was becoming more ludicrous by the minute, I also added a bronze swan - actually a shop-bought plastic swan that once belonged to my grandkids that I gave a lick of paint (it's okay - they're teenagers now and not terribly interested in plastic animals). 

And we were done!

Bonkers isn't it?


Now that the shop window display is over, I'm returning to the train to see what else I can do to augment it. 

Watch this space ... 

Wednesday 8 September 2021

The Doodle that became a Monster

I found this doodle in an old sketch book a few days ago. 
Okay, so maybe it's not the most original idea. A quick image search will turn up plenty of examples, such as this terrific piece of work by Sarah Trummer on Pexels (used with permission).

But I thought it might be fun to build. So, out came the junk boxes and I started work.

The shape of the house was dictated by what I had to hand - which was mostly old boxes, lots of card packaging and wood such as coffee stirrers, chopsticks and tongue depressors.
I made the basic shape of the house and covered it in thick card for strength. I then added lots of Tudor style beams using the wood, and roof tiles made from card. Then, on a whim, I added a loo roll tower with a base made from a plastic powder scoop.
Then I sprayed the whole thing with white primer before turning to the snail/slug thing.
Mr Slug was going to get very expensive if I made him entirely from something like Super Sculpey. So, I found a suitable piece of dead wood while out dog walking, bulked it out with tin foil and masking tape and then covered the whole thing in a cheap air-dry paper clay. It took a couple of days to fully dry but, while I waited, I sculpted the head. 

However, once I'd placed it, I realised that it looked better upside-down! So I remounted it, added a couple of extra eyestalks and then sculpted the neck and baked it onto the clay body. Slug Part 1 completed!

Now, back to the house. I decided on blue roof tiles as I figured they'd go nicely with the colour scheme I had planned for Mr Slug. Then I painted the walls with actual wall paint (upcycled paint samplers thrown out by a DIY store).

I finished covering the slug in Super Sculpey and baked it. Then I added some teddy bear eyes and gave the thing a white primer coat followed by washes of green with highlights in pink and cream. 

I then made a kind of saddle for the house to sit on. This was made from coffee stirrers, twisted wire to simulate ropes and 'bones' - Super Sculpey over a wire armature.

And he's done! Hope you like it.