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Recreating a Real House in 1:144 Scale


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NellCorkin

A few years ago, a client asked me to make a 1:144 Scale version of her brother's house. The modest home, in the nearby town of Manchester, Michigan, was in what I would describe as Late 19th century  Michigan Vernacular Victorian style. The work of a local builder, it was a fairly simple structure, with no gingerbread except for a tiny bit of "lace" at the gable ends, and with distinctive windows. The distinctive stone porch was created from the small boulders left all over Michigan when the glaciers retreated.

 

The client's brother had lovingly restored the house, and planted a lovely garden, which was to be included in the model.

 

I have often had to make copes of buildings from photos alone, but in this case I was able to photograph and measure the actual building. A friend and I spent a rainy spring day doing just that. Here is my workbench a day or so later, with my photos, notes, and the beginnings of a plan and elevation. My indispensable 30-year-old chart for converting inches to decimals is on the right I will explain why I needed it in my next post.

 

DSC_0036_zps9250d1cf.jpg

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Wm. R. Robertson

Your workbench almost looks like mine.... I have a 25 foot long bench and it is so full of junk I can barely find enough space to put down a sheet of paper...... I do most of my work on the 2 " back from the edge.

Can't wait to watch the progress of this project.

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NellCorkin

DSC_0004_zpse163f687.jpg

When converting actual measurements to 1:144 scale, I wind up with figures in decimals. My trusty chart helps me convert them to the fractions found on my measuring tools. Yes, I know, I could get different tools, but I have always used fractions and really have no desire to switch. The only drawback is that this second conversion can result in having to decide whether to go slightly up or down when the decimal falls between two fractions (3/64" versus 1/16" for example). If this occurs a number of times, it can happen that some of the measurements may need a bit of minor tweaking so that all the parts work together. 

 

Therefore, after I had worked out the basic measurements for the house, I made a card stock mock up to make sure everything would fit together properly. I almost always do a mock up when I start a new design, not only to catch mistakes before I start cutting parts, but also just to make sure the building looks "right" and help me think through the construction process. Because my buildings are so small, I usually use note cards for this - the 1/4" ruled lines come in handy.

 

This house has two additions and a chimney at the back, and it was important that all the parts match up properly. The mock up showed that they did, so I was able to start cutting the parts.

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ElgaKoster

Looking forward to see the rest of this Nell.

I also round off measurements, since I am used to working in millimeters and most of the books and websites I use have measurements in inches, I tend to work the full scale measurement into millimeters, divide by twelve and then round off to the nearest mm, can get tricky at times with very small drawers etc.

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NellCorkin

Here are the pieces for the main house and additions at the back, and the footprint marked on the base I use 1/32" birch plywood for most of my structures. I mark and cut out the window and door openings before assembling the structure.

DSC_0002_zpse2479af6.jpg

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NellCorkin

DSC_0003_zps610ff21b.jpgThe house had rather unusual windows and doors, which had been made by its builder. Duplicating them required making  many small parts, as you can see from the unassembled one in the center of the photo. I used .010 thick strip styrene for these. It' a great material for making very small,delicate parts for two reasons: you don't have to fight out of scale grain, and you can join the pieces with a solvent cement that melts them together, so you aren't changing dimensions by adding glue. It's easy to paint with craft paints, too. You do have to be careful with the cement, though - too much, and you have a puddle of goo where your window used to be.

 

Here's a closeup of one of the windows:

DSC_0006_zps02b4c072.jpg

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ElgaKoster

Oh my, that is small, your 1/144 scale houses was some of the first I saw many years ago in one of the British magazines and I have admired your work ever since, I couldn't believe the amount of detail you put into these tiny structures...awesome work!

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NellCorkin

DSC_0001_zps024e1fe6.jpgHere's the house as I began to assemble it. All of the doors and windows, including the modern door with the tiny panes, were scratch built from styrene. The porch roof is lying next to the house.

 

The biggest challenge I faced was replicating the stone wall around the porch; a very prominent feature.

DSC_0031_zpsa9498a45.jpgI didn't really want to sculpt and paint individual stones, and was concerned that even if I did, the wall wouldn't look "right". The solution finally was to use a photograph of the the stones (this very one, in fact) and give it the needed texture by building up dots of acrylic matte medium on top of each stone. It took considerable time, but worked very nicely.

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That is a great solution. I learned how indispensable matte medium is at Guild School, in a class by Hiroyuki Kimura.

We built up areas on bonsai, built up detail on stems on a caladium, etc. I can totally see it working beautifully for your stones.

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NellCorkin

Here's the finished house, prior to landscaping. You can see the texture on the stones, even in the photo. I used photos of the actual windows behind the frames, so the curtains would match the real ones.DSC_0003_zpsd9bec6b9.jpg

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ElgaKoster

Nell, it is amazing how you capture the detail in this scale, your house looks great and just like the real one.

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Debora Beijerbacht

So many neat little things you do to duplicate this properly it in this scale! Even the roof trim is there! It's just amazing! Truly a field on it's own. I've great admiration for all the challenge you're faced with in this scale, and all the various solutions you must have figured out to overcome them all.

 

Looking forward to see you progress. 

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Wm. R. Robertson

Wonderful!...... Does doing this ever make you feel like a giant or wonder why the real house you live in is SO big?

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Catherine Ronan

WOW! It is fantastic! I love how you have made all the small details of the RL house. The stone looks great. I look forward to seeing it finished.

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Josje Veenenbos

How wonderful to see these progress pictures!  I enjoyed reading how you build up the stones out of matte acrylic medium.  That is something I will have to remember for future use on some project.  Thank you for sharing!

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NellCorkin

DSC_0004_zps13b3b87b.jpgJust realized I hadn't shown the back side of the house, so here it is! It has the kind of cellar door that allows for coal delivery - typical of houses of this era in Michigan.

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Catherine Ronan

I love it. You have done such a beautiful job. The landscaping is wonderful.  I see you  have put the tree that is in the photo of the RL house in just the right place in the 1: 144 version.

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Josje Veenenbos

Wonderful!  I love all the detail, like the tiling on the porch roof.  I bet your customer is going to be (or is already) thrilled to see it!

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Warren Barnard

Absolutley beautiful, you have captured the house amazingly, but to me the grass takes away from the house. The trees add bimho the grass feels long and in needing of a mow, very model train like, unless this is what you were after and it captures it perfectly. This is not a criticism, just an observation. I have been following and been inspired by your work and I find 144th just to small for me to work in nowadays so congratulations on your amazing work.

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