Bob Letterman

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A Present Called Simpatico

September 4th, 2012 by admin

“Simpatico, a birthday present for someone very special.
Bob Letterman

This is a very different modeling project. In order to understand it’s distinction, you must read the thread immediately below, “Bob’s New Daughter”, then you will have all the information to understand what this is about.

http://www.bobletterman.com/wordpress/?cat=238

The first time I saw my daughter in person was in March, 2010, in Springfield, Missouri. I was 68 and she was 47. We met and spent the day getting to know each other, just driving around town and comparing notes on our backgrounds.

When we were in the eastern part of town, I remembered a house that I had loved all my life since a teen. She then said she had one as well that was in this same area. I started driving in the general direction and she began describing the house. Long story short, Same house. Her birthday is in December and I had planned to build her a Chinese pagoda, another common interest. Then It occurred to me how perfect it would be to instead build a model of that house for her.

Susan and I went down to visit again from the 7th through the 12th of May, 2010. While there, I snapped about a hundred pictures of the house from all angles. Below are a few. This Step By Step build is also unique in this respect. This will be a project over time as the build progresses. Here are the pics of the house and grounds I will attempt to replicate.

The property takes up nearly half a city block, has tennis courts, swimming pool and several out buildings. Is it the greatest mansion in the world? Of course not. But it is a beautiful, magnificent piece of architecture, far beyond my price range. I intend to include everything, maybe not quite all the trees, but it will have enough to simulate the feel. A few of the challenges in doing this is first, the unique stonework. They are not available in scale commercial sheets, at least that I know of, so both will have to be made from scratch. I am using a 2′ X 4′ base, so it will be large enough to show the details. The scale will be the same as the military model scale, 1/35th. I will have a little less than seven months to complete.

My plans are to build this step by step and post each one as it progresses here on my website. I am fairly confident I can have it done in the time allowed, providing nothing serious happens in the interim. Since I only have known of her existence approaching 6 months now, she has inspired me to attempt many off the wall things I have never before tried, like…… writing a poem?? Guess it is all just part of being a father. Who knows what’s next? No, it isn’t military, but the building techniques are identical.

I’ll start with the base. When we built the museum back in 1993, We made about thirty of this type of base. They have a 2′ X 2′ frame, (50mm X50mm), and covered with plywood, then carpeted. The plexiglass cover will keep it dust free. When we shut the museum down, I moved a dozen or so to storage. This base is 4 feet by 2 feet, (1219mm X 609mm), and will be perfect for this project. Note the cardboard sheet for the basic construction of the model and the plywood that will be used to mount the diorama. That way, it can be lifted off for moving it. I intend to dress it up with some wood veneer, and a brass plate, etc.

I spent the weekend getting the basics up and working out the dimensions. I used a calculator more than anything else. It is difficult working from photographs, but I did pace it off from the east and north sidewalks to get the rough dimensions of the real structure. As I scaled down, I used percentages to arrive at the various dimensions. measuring the dimensions on the photograph, arriving at the percentages of difference between two dimensions on the photo, I then use those same percentages when creating the dimensions for the model. The more percentages of difference you accrue, the better the model will have very similar dimensions in scale. Does that make sense to anybody else? Comparing the corrugated cardboard frame to the actual photos, I believe I got the dimensions pretty close. It scaled out to be 1/35th. I had originally intended to include the tennis courts and the detached 6 car garage w/servants quarters above. It is just not possible given the space I have for it, so, I’ll focus on the building itself.

Here is a shot from the right side, I left the Coke can in the photo to give the viewer a sense of the size.

Here is a left side shot.

A front oblique shot from the left.

And from the right oblique.

For comparison.

The next steps will be creating mattboard veneers, That will give the model strength and then make interior bracing with corrugated cardboard to keep it true and square. After all that is completed, the fun part begins. Building the brick and stone walls as well as the open timber ones, the roof shingles, window frames and fireplace chimneys and so on. The model building itself with be 27 inches wide, (685.8 mm). The actual building being roughly 80 feet wide, (about 25 meters)

I got a bit done the last couple of days. I was only able to buy a few sheets of siding materials. I ordered more and they came in today. This is the front entry, I gave it a veneer of matt board.

Then the chimney, it has the matt board and the beginning of the stones. The sheet isn’t identical to the house but close enough when I add several Milliput larger stones at random and give each stone a bit of texture by stipling with filler. A triangular strip of balsa provided the gradient stone and then coated it with artists modeling paste. When sanded and painted, it will have the texture of stone.

Then, as I will do with all windows and doorways, I use 1/8th inch strips of matt board to frame the openings in this unit. I use Elmer’s white glue for the veneering. Next, I will give this a coat of artist’s past, sand and lay in the stones.

I had found some really realistic stucco sheets for the open timbered parts, and applied it the the main gable. Later, I will make a balsa grid that will be painted earth brown. The stucco will get an off yellow color finish to match the house. Here it is assembled. I have added the back wall and laid a sheet of the roofing shingles over two gables.

Another angle.

The front view.

And a view from above.

I got some more done today. I am putting more matt board veneer and cut the bricked area from plastic brick sheeting and applied it over the matt board second floor that I made today.

I am posting this again for comparison purposes. Once I have all the white stone in place, then I will enhance it using several techniques.

I managed to get in several hours on both Friday and Saturday. Here are some shots taken over both days.

Here is a detail shot of the main gable. Note the stucco look behind the balsa open timbers and the attic vent.

The first floor entry. The entry itself is smooth stone, surrounded later with the grey stone most of the building has for an exterior.

Matt board has been added to all front and side walls, later to be veneered with the stones.

I am experimenting with creating the proper “Relief” for the stones on this project. This is a trial and error part as I have never done anything quite like this before. It isn’t there yet, but once the fireplace chimney is “Right”, then I’ll have the formula for the rest of the house and can move forward!

I have veneered the chimney with the sheet stone, however, it can only be used as a basis. It needs some random larger and mid-sized stones, some more protruding than others. Here you see wax paper, baby powder, a brass tube that I use on epoxy putty, (Milliput), to roll it into a sheet. The exacto knife and the ruler are used to cut the stones. Just above the ruler is a bluish colored epoxy putty rolled to a sheet. The baby powder is used between the putty and the wax paper to keep it from sticking!

After cutting the stone, I lift it off the wax paper with the exacto, dip it into the Elmer’s carpenters glue and then adhere it to the fireplace, watching the alignment with the mortar joints. The Milliput will adhere by itself if the baby powder is removed, but this works better, at least for me.

Here are some of the stones placed on the lower portion of the chimney. Don’t jump to judgement as there is much more to do.

Now I have taken some Stucco, (An Italian brand of filler, like Squadron Green stuff), thinned it with Testor’s liquid cement and painted it over the stones on the sheet. More coats to come, and then some material to coat it all with to get the proper “Look”! Also, I will make another sheet of Milliput, this one thinner than the last, and make some more mid-sized stones that will be of a thinner relief.

As I said, I’m playing this by ear!

I built my first model in 1945! Anyway, after 67 years, if I wasn’t at least a little good at it, I would probably be looking for another hobby! Never underestimate experience! I am getting closer to the “Look” I am trying to replicate. Here are the results today. A reminder of the stone relief on the original building.

The bottom half of the chimney looks like this now. I am getting close! But not quite there. After painting and lightly weathering, it would be close, but tomorrow, I will try a couple of other things.

Got a bit more done this weekend. More stones on the chimney, cut the stone sheets to fit the entry, additional stones to come later. I also did some color experimenting. The Testor’s acryl raw umber very closely matched the brown paint that is on the window frames. I used Testors acryl Camouflage gray for the base coat of the roofing above the entry. Finally, I used Vallejo 814 burnt cadmium red for the chevron bricks. After weathering and highlighting, all three should be very close!. The awful female figure is for the viewer to judge scale. She is 1/35th. As I go along, I continue tweaking the added stone work. I found that by lightly mashing the epoxy stones with my thumb, they take on a much more realistic appearance.

Some of the components look off kilter. That is because they are not attached to each other and just sitting on or about the other components. When assembled, I will make them true in relation to the other components!

If compared to the Real house, the stone sheet applied to the entrance is very similar, but won’t take on the proper appearance until the additional stones are affixed.

A couple of days ago, I decided to light it up. I bought a lot of grain of wheat bulbs and some spotlights, so that with the curtains pulled in some rooms, they will still have a lighted effect.

OK, Got some more done. Started the open timber on the left side. I cut the stone sheet to fit the lower section of that left extension, the remainder will be either roof or open timber.

Here I skinned the front extension with the brick sheet and made the basic front and rear roof

It is slowly taking shape. I also enlarged the windows on either side of the fireplace, they looked too small. must have been a math error.

Over friday through sunday, I made some good progress! The best thing is, I believe I have captured the feel of the real building. Once that is accomplished, the details become the important facet of the build.

All the sheet stone is veneered onto the matt board. Soon, I will be taking a week or so to add the irregular protruding stones from Milliput like I did on the fireplace. It’s gonna be a little boring and certainly a no brainer, but after the painting and weathering, all that will go a long way to create the look of the real building..

I want to get the roof base cut to fit for the main gable near the front center (Below). Note the dormers on the right extension. There are also 4 large dormers on the rear center portion of the building.

I still have two more sections of open timbered gables to build. One is directly below.

The gap between the two sheets of stone will be covered with a patina brass roof over the bay window.

You will note the fireplace is off the ground. When complete, that will be underneath the paper mache’ dirt in the planter box.

A closer shot!

I have been fooling around with some things. Electrical and paint matching. Not anything major, but I will throw it up here and you can see what you think! I needed two large coachlights for the rear of the building. I found some approximately the right size and style in a Miniart kit. The problem is, I am lighting this one up and the styrene in the Miniart kit wouldn’t take the heat from the miniature grain of wheat bulbs! So, I took a Post light I picked up in a train shop, almost exactly the same size, cut the pole with a razor saw very carefully and then cut a hole in the rear of the light to run the electrical cords from. Then I used the bracket from the Miniart kit, used a dress pin as the ball on the bottom of the sconce and Viola!!

All it needs is some flat black paint!

I have been doing all the open timber gables and wanted to make sure I could match the colors involved.

I ended up using Testors 4606 acrylic Raw Umber for the chocolate brown Timbers, then I found two colors which are a dead match BTW, Humbrol matt 103 and Vallejo 976 Buff for the interior flat areas.

Onwards and upwards!!

Well, I am ready to post some new updates. I have made the basic gable cuts for the main, (center), gable. I have been installing window frames and timbered gables, and, in the process, creating the three major components. It is starting to take shape.

The cuts on the roof will be covered when the matt board and roofing sheets are laminated.

I need to trim the lower part of the roof gable about a quarter inch! I am nearing the point of spending a few days adding Milliput stones on all the surfaces. Boring and tedious, but necessary!

After that, the matt board and the roofing material. Then all the gutters and downspouts.

Just recieved notification that the porch lights will be delivered Wednesday!

am getting ready to “Wire” the mansion. It will have around 20 standard grain of wheat bulbs in the interior, plus many exterior lights and spotlights.

Gail came up with the name for this diorama. “Simpatico” it will be. That word fits everything like a glove! She’s so smart!

Here are what the exterior coachlights will look like. They are microscopic. I will be using a 12 volt DC transformer attached to the base. I will be wiring the lights both in series and in parallel, to get the proper scale lighting.

The two tiny wires from the bulb has to be inserted into the tiny holes in the white protrusion I am holding.

If you look really close, you can see the bulb in the center of my palm. The wires are there, the camera couldn’t pick them up.

This is the wall bracket, the wiring and, if you look close, the bulb. The lamp is threaded and actually screws on the bracket.

This shot is using a nine volt transformer and…..

Same lamp using 12 volt transformer

I feel like an electrician!

I managed to get a little done on this project over the weekend. This part is going slow because the “Sunroom”, a huge sunroom is the entire ground floor of the left wing of the mansion. It will be lit and visible from outside the building so it must be finished and furnished! I began by “Dry walling the interior walls, and started finishing out the window frames. Also, I had to correct the rear of this wing as I discovered there was a deck off the second floor when I drove by a couple of weeks ago. It is impossible to get a full shot of the back of the house without trespassing and I won’t do that!

Then I cut a piece of corrugated cardboard to the exact size of the floor. Then I fitted some evergreen tiles to fit that, and glued them together.

Then, made certain of the fit. The gap to the right of the screen is for the rear wall, the sides fit flush against the main building wall.

Then I gave the entire floor a coat of flat back. After drying, I gave it a cloud pattern of dark gray, here and there, at random.

I mixed up a combination of flat white enamel and gloss green acrylic paint. This is the same way I do for patinas on statues, etc. I use this because the two paints will never mix thoroughly, thus it creates the exact effect I need. Then thin it down with thinner and alcohol. I use a wide soft paint brush that I have thinned with thinning shears. Dip it into the solution and make a few practice swatches on an old piece of cardboard. If done properly, it will “Vein” when it hits the black tile I usually do several coats, letting each dry first. I hold the brush in one hand and then strike it with a finger to propel it randomly onto the tiles.

Here is an example of the patina on Napoleon’s statue in the square,

…And then, this shadowbox was made with the exact same system with slightly different shades of colors. It really is quite effective! I discovered both of these techniques while building The Winds of War, way back in the 70s.

This was the first run.

I gave this one three coats. Then allow to dry to the point of lightly sanding it to make it all blend together. Be careful to not sand too hard or use anything but a fine grit, as it will sand the base coat off.

Then after sanding, I use 1/64th inch light gray tape. Chartpak is the brand and it comes in dozens of colors and sizes. I use it like grouting in real tile. Once in that groove and stretched tight, then wrapped on both ends to the cardboard underneath, it will be there long after I am gone!

Then I gave the entire floor two coats of polyurethane clear gloss.

I placed it inside the walls of the left wing to dry overnight. I will assemble the floors and the walls tomorrow. With the seven very large windows in this wing, it will be very visible, especially in the dark with the lights on.

The last shot shows the alterations I had to do to accommodate the second floor sun deck.

Well, I finally am posting an update! My life has been a zoo lately. Must be something in the stars, we haven’t had so many visitors in years and many more to come!

Anyway, I have been working on that sunroom. Nearing finishing it except for the furniture. It has been kinda tedious with the slanted wood walls and the marble tile. This is the railing just finished. a top rail was added and then after painting, simulated glass panels were added into the rectangular spaces.

This will be the deck area on the third floor. It looks weird now but will come together later when walls and sliding glass doors are added along with railing and deck furniture.

Here you can see all three floors. The floors that meet the atrium will have railings that will match the stair railing.

This was taken through one of the windows that will enable viewing from outside when the lights are operating.

Ditto. The fireplace will include a circuit that will make the orang and yellow bulbs flash alternately. I will gather some twigs and place them on the andirons after burning them and getting all the effects right.

A shot from above with the roof removed.

Another angle.

I’m gonna have to get moving to get this finished by the December deadline!

I managed to get quite a bit done over the weekend. I am scrambling to find scale furnishings. Hardly anything in military miniatures that is usable. Had to scratch a lot and convert some 1/2 scale doll house stuff. The sunroom will have a pool table, sofa and chairs around the fireplace and a table and chairs plus a piano and guitar. All the paintings are from photos I took of real paintings I have in the house, the central piece in the sunroom above the stairs is “Lincoln” by Salvatore Dali. I just use photoshop to miniaturize them, frame them and attach to the walls.

The pool table could have easily been scratchbuilt, but I am on a deadline and converting one from a doll house item was easier. First, the legs were too long, I cut them off and added new ones, then removed the thin felt top, reworked the table itself and gave it a new coat of flesh colored base so later I can paint in the lighter color of wood to match the other woods in the room.

The very thin white styrene piece will become the “Felt” of the new table.

These are shots of the table with new legs, new finish and new felt top. I found some tiny beads to use as the balls. The ones that came with the table were about 1/20 scale and had to be replaced. Since it is a mansion, I used Photo etched brass trim to “enhance” it! Note the wood now matches the other wood in the room.

I had to make a ton of railing and make it all match. I used strip Evergreen and some Techstar tubing for the top rail. The “Glass” inserts between the rails were cut from heavy clear plastic sheet.

A little out of focus due to depth of field, but showing the railing with the glass panels on the stairs.

In focus and you can see the railing clearly.

Here are the doors, the piano, the table base, it will have a glass top, the piano bench and the guitar.

This is the circuit that controls the fireplace lighting. It has a selective impedance control that will magnify the intensity and the flash rate of the lights imbedded underneath. See below.

Again, a depth of field out of focus, but if you look closely, you will see the two lamps that will simulate the fire in the fireplace.

This is a resin Chianti bottle cut down to be a vase. It will be on the glass top table with miniature flowers. You can buy these at Michael’s or elsewhere. They are miniature flowers and will work well in the vase.

This is all the items I have acquired to use in the bedroom that will be visible from the exterior. I have used Camouflage Grey, a subdued color that is so much more effective than the glaring white.I had to use a razor saw to cut the opening in the fireplace. I will add the brick ash pit later.

Here are the converted deck chairs that I have painted black to go on the rear deck.

These are the interior walls that will back up to the deck. The continuing slanted wall motif carries onto the third floor deck.

Here you can see the railing that is consistent all the way to the third deck.

The round white/gray carpet in front of the fireplace will hold the sofa and chairs placed later.

The frontal overall shot of the sunroom.BTW, if you notice some elements aren’t true or square, that is because they are all just setting there and haven’t been affixed as yet.

This is a short post, but I have quite a bit done. First, the billiard table is finally finished. I had thought about what I would use as cue sticks, and hit a wall. Then it occurred to me, just whittle them! Yes, I said whittle them. I took round toothpicks and, using an exacto knife, whittled them down to the right taper and length! I was going to make a wall rack with many more. Sorry, that was enough whittling for me!

Then there was the problem of the billiard balls, with the solids and stripes. I described to Susan what I needed in terms of size and shape. She found some almost microscopic beads. I attached them to toothpicks, filled in the hole on top, painted them with all the classic colors, and let them dry overnight. The toothpicks served as holders for painting and drying.

Then I painted the circles and stripes. After drying, I used a very tiny brush I modified and made an attempt to paint the black numbers on them. Under extreme magnification, they are not so great, but to the human eye, they are passable.

I stained the top of the pool cues with mahogany, then the bottom with light maple. Then with that same brush, I painted in the fancy stuff, the logos, the tips, etc. Here they are on the table.

Just for reference, here is the original product I bought!

If you guys think our hobby is expensive, you should look into the doll house industry. Absolutely outrageous! This set of contemporary living room sofa and chairs retailed for $150. Yes, $150. The lady had ordered it for someone who never came to pick it up. She said that she had it for over a year and thought she would never be able to sell it. Doll house people are into traditional only. With a little horse trading, (I didn’t need the three walnut coffee and end tables as mine will be glass), I got the three pieces for $50. Yes, I could have made them, but I am in a hurry. They are handmade from genuine leather and brass rod. The color and style fit the decor perfectly!

That weird looking blob in the pics above are stacks of burnt twigs which will represent logs in the fireplace. Guess I’m gonna have to get out the good camera, some of this doesn’t photograph well with the $200. cheapo!

These last two pics are of the bedroom furniture, modified and painted. Note the box art boom box on the bedside table. That was an old Custom Dio product that I painted for the box art and found a use for it. Also, the marble tile was a 1/35th product I painted and designed years ago, so, instead of doing them from scratch………

Another update. I’ve had a lot going on for the last 3 weeks, but managed to get some detailing done. Most of this update involves the master bathroom.

My immediate problem was that I had 1930-40s bath fixtures in 1/35th scale, but I wanted modern. I checked out all the doll house stuff and it was all so out of scale and traditional that it was unacceptable. So, I decided to update and upgrade the fixtures.

Then I had to build the module. When I put rooms in my buildings, I make them as modules that simply slide in before you seal them up. It makes them much easier to make and… the electrical wiring goes much better. I use my ancient method, corrugated cardboard laminated with matt board to make the room.

Then, how to make these look 21st century???

First, I clad the walls with a product I designed back in the nineties. I used the same system as the marble floor in the sun room, then gave it to graphics who made squares from a grid in photoshop and then rearranged them to look like this.

I started with the shower. I took some castings I had from the huge department store round towers window frames from “Logistics” and cut them back. Then I used Evergreen plastic strips to make the shower frame. When it is eventually glued in place, I will true and level it at that time.

I have a large spray can of 24 ct. gold paint, I used to paint the old eagle trophies from Mastercons past. It really gave the shower frame the look I wanted.

Then, I made a sheet styrene “Box” for the tub. I gave the tub a coat of flat black enamel first, followed by a gloss coat.

I painted the “box” with a charcoal metallic enamel to simulate granite. It doesn’t show up that well here, but in the next post, it will be clear.

Excuse the photography. I promise, next time I post I will use the good camera and will take shots with no depth of field issues.

Running with the same Idea, I made a cabinet for his and hers sinks out of plastic sheet, painted the cabinet gloss black and the top with the charcoal metallic, again to simulate granite.

Next, I painted the toilet parts to match and will be placed in a tiny module off the main one. The door will be open so it will be clearly visible. Also in this picture, you can see the piano and the chairs that will eventually be part of the sun room.

Here you can see the gold mirror frames that will be on the wall behind the vanity.

Here I am test fitting the three major components of the bath.

In this pic, notice the “Feet”of the vanity. I used a 1/35th lion’s feet painted gold for that.

Here are some of the components with details added. Note the shower head and shower head control.

Here are some random shots with the components in place. the right hand wall has been attached to the outside stone wall and when the module is slid into place, it will mate up. In the second shot the lion’s feet at the base of the vanity is more clearly seen. Also note the Roman painting with the gold frame above the doors.

Here are the components waiting to be assembled. note the toilet paper roll and bracket.

Another out of subject build is this conglomeration of HO scale windows and some evergreen strips to make the bedroom Bay window, from which the B/R will be viewed when complete.

I was going to post an update and I began thinking about the tools I have bought, made, converted or acquired over all these years. Many of these I have had for 20 to 40 years. Many of them most modelers could go a lifetime and never have a need. However, maybe some of you can possibly find a use. So, I’ll start this post with weird tools that I use!

This is one I couldn’t live without. It is a miniature radius cutter. It is a little like a simple compass except it is tiny and one tip that normally has a pencil lead holder, has a sharp blade. I believe I bought this in an art store in London, and have used it in every single project I have ever built. Sometimes for the holes, sometimes for the discs. I use it similar to a punch and die set, except for discs and holes larger than possible with a punch and die set.

These aren’t a tool, but they have served me well for many, many projects. Japanese toothpicks. Think toothpicks turned on a lathe. Beautifully sculpted, I have used them in many railings from wooden ones to concrete or marble spindles. I have had this bundle since 1984, when I used them for twin balconies on the Hotel Metropole in Legacies.

I have about 50 boxes of these. They are microscope slips. Not slides. Slips are micro thin, real glass, and that little tube with a diamond phonograph needle attached at one end, will score the glass and you can then break it into any square or rectangular size you wish. For buildings, vehicles or any other project that requires sheet glass. You can make the windows in buildings, affix them in place, then shatter them exactly like the real thing for a realistic shattered appearance. If you look closely, you can see a pane leaning against the center box. I also use these in every undamaged softskin I make. They are truly scale glass and far superior to the thick plastic “glass” that comes with the kits.

Lots of drafting compasses and dividers for measuring and dividing.

I stay friends with my dentist as he gives me his old, (And sometimes new), dental tools. They are great for sculpting figures as well as filling and leveling putty and epoxies.

These things have come in handy many times. Brass tubing is nearly impossible to bend without kinks. These little tools fit snugly over the brass tubing, then you can slowly bend it to many different shapes. No kinks!

I use a lot of spatulas to apply plaster, putty, artist’s paste, and so on. Here are two.

I always keep a large supply of chisels to shape and carve plaster, epoxy putty, green stuff, etc.

Testor’s markets these little things that are excellent for mixing colors of paint, applying some adhesives, etc.

I always have a syringe to inject paints, glues and other liquids into hard to get places.

Here is a weird one that gets plenty of use at my place. Pinking shears. You can take either very thin styrene or even paper, cut a length across, it will leave two parts with a sawtooth cut. Then take a normal scissors or a ruler and exacto, cut the sharp tips away and then draw vertical lines in between each cut, leaving a really realistic row of shingles. Glue them to your roof surface, then directly above add another row staggered like brick work and you have a realistic roof surface. Note the ones I have both cut and scored on the large sheet.

I use tiny wood screws a lot, so I made this countersinking tool with a pin vise and can countersink all those tiny screws so they don’t show on the veneered surface laid on top.

I always keep two levels in both my workshops to check buildings, components, even larger vehicles when scratch-building.

I probably have a thousand clips, all the way from the little electrical ones, (Alligators) all the way up to bag clips and even the heavy duty clamps which I use for holding the larger building parts together while the adhesive dries. These are the ones I use the most on vehicles.

As I wrote this, I thought of many more tools that would have been appropriate here. Maybe later.

OK, I had two round mirrors that go over the vanity in the bathroom. Here is one.

For mirrors, I use a plastic disc cut with the aforementioned radius cutter, then using Chrome Bare metal foil, give it the mirrored finish. Then affix to the center of the gold frames and, Viola!

Then, the opposite two walls are veneered with the marble, the framed mirrors glued in place. See, I really do use those great clamps! All the windows have yet to be framed.

I cut to shape some clear plastic, thick, but flexible and carefully using superglue, attached it to the rear of the shower frame, then glued the frame in place in the corner. BTW, you can see the room with the toilet and the roll of paper. Everything you see here is now glued in place. The next step is permanently gluing the module into the building component. I have decided to put large skylights in the roof areas where the highly detailed rooms are, making it easier to view.

Well, after all the visitors, I’m finally ready to start posting on this build again! I am moving along quickly as the deadline is approaching! I will finish this on time!

Ken Jones views the components.

I got all the lighting working on the right extension of the building.

I made a typical modern bathroom light over the vanities with sheet brass folded into a rectangular box and adding 6 bulbs. A light in the toilet allows viewers to see it and another at the apex of the ceiling. Several others are placed to light up the windows that won’t have rooms. I also made a large window that will be filled with glass so the viewer will be able to see the detail of both rooms at either end of the building.

Then the windows with curtains need curtains, Right? About 30 years ago, I bought this simple device at a doll house store. I have never seen them since. All you need for curtains is a starched and ironed handkerchief. Mix some while glue and water very well, dip the material into the solution, then stretch it out, lay it on the corrugated rubber mats, slide the plastic card down each slot, set aside to dry and viola! Pleated curtains. Just cut the ragged bottoms square, then you measure each window for width and cut to size. Then glue the edges to the inside window frames with Fabric glue!

Attach the prepared window frames with glass on the exterior of the building and you have a window with curtains.

Then, the sunroom needed a dramatic ceiling light. We had a home in Lake St. Louis about 10 years ago that had this fantastic fan/light. I decided to use it as an idea for another one in this sunroom.

I first made a form, then used it to cut six fan blades.

I edged each blade with Evergreen strip, (A real pain in the butt), then put a seam down the middle. the bottom was reinforced wit Evergreen strips and then they were all painted on both sides. I needed an ace of spades general shape for the attaching brackets. Photo etched maple leaves came to mind, so, I cut the bottoms square and affixed two per blade on each side.

Then it was time for the fan frame. I used various sizes of brass tubing to create this. It had to be capable of running tiny wiring through to the light at the bottom’

Then I embellished it with plastic discs punched out of heavy sheet styrene. That would represent the twin motors on each side.

By then, the paint was dry on the blades, I attached the modified maple leaves and then attached each blade to a one third circumference position with a pre=determined angle.

And a shot of the completed fan through the viewing glass opening in the roof of the sunroom!

The front of the house has several leaded glass windows. They are made with a dark gray diamond pattern mesh
I discovered a trick many years ago on how to make leaded glass. After painting the grid, use a toothpick and some Elmer’s white glue. Dip the toothpick into the glue, then touch it to the inside of the tiny diamond pattern and it will fill it in with a white liquid. When the liquid dries, it will be crystal clear. Then I give it a coat of clear gloss polyurethane and it is a dead bang on replica for the leaded glass. I use the old Tech Star diamond patterned mesh for all the windows.

I cut the brass for the sidelights.

Then the door was very plain, and needed to be ornate. I used photo etch from the scrap box and carved a header from bass wood, added scrap PE to it and attached it above the door. I then gave it a coat of flesh acrylic paint. I used the same wood painting system I did an SBS on elsewhere in this forum.

Here it is in dark walnut.

I am making the upper deck furniture out of an old Tech Star PE Brass. I will make a patio umbrella from this cocktail umbrella.

Here is the finished bay window that will enable the viewer to see the master bedroom.

This is the interior of the portico with the Milliput stones washed and dry brushed. The “Leaded” glass windows have been stained and positioned in place.

The cast stones where the stone and the brick sections are separated on the chimney, is a very complicated shape, made even worse because the brick sections are attached at different angles. I used balsa, using various pieces of balsa arrived at the two basic dimensions. Then I started cutting and shaving.

Then, when the shape had been accomplished, all the parts were glued back together.

The brick portion were prepared along with the chimney pots. Note the v-shaped carving that had to be done on each side of both pieces of stone. Finally mounted into place for test fitting.

Next, I started making the Milliput stones.

After a batch is made, I dip one side in carpenter’s glue and mount them on the surface corresponding with the embossed plastic sheet stones. Weathering will later make them stand out.

As it moves along, I test fit the parts continually.

Here is the finished portico with a patina on the coach lights and the stained windows. I installed an amber interior light to add color. The street number is from brass and they were also given a patina. Note the stained glass side lights and windows.

Here it is not yet attached but ready to be glued and filled and retouched with the same paints.

Large numbers of windows had to be made. Some scratch, some stock, (Very few) and many converted. These were the right height for the sunroom windows, but not the width. Using two cut and combined worked well.

I needed a two story walnut paneled wall for the back of the bedroom. I used bass wood and strip styrene to make that. Then gave it a coat of flesh paint in preparation for the faux walnut paint.

It will be clearly visible through this bay window.

Okay, I’ll get on with the stones tonight!

As mentioned previously, I make them out of Milliput epoxy putty, roll the ball of mixed putty flat with a brass tube rolling pin. Once flat, I cut the strips, then the various size blocks with an Exacto knife. Then I apply one at a time with yellow carpenter’s glue, such as Elmer’s in the states.

After I completed the portico, I started on the building itself!

Then to the side extensions.

Finally all the stones were finished. I went over to the house, got Susan, two glasses and a bottle of Chianti!

Finished! Finished, do you hear me! It’s Alive! A violent lightening storm outside and mad laughter, Muhahahahahah!, echos through the castle!

I told Gail this will be a totally unique gift because there isn’t enough money to get me to do another one of these. Well, on second thought, maybe that’s a little too broad a statement.

Then I gave them a coat of paint with Vallejo acrylic Stone Gray.

Then I applied a raw umber wash to all the stones.

Although the components are not glued together as yet, (I still have some interior work to go), I took some drama shots to get an idea how I will photograph it when completed! That is why you can see gaps between the walls.

The portico and the bay window tower have had some dry brushing and that is the reason for the color difference.

I needed to “Doll up” the base. So I veneered three rows of walnut strips, 2 vertical and one horizontal on the top of the base.

I had three brass plates engraved. Simpatico is the name. Gail thought of it. As both of us loved this house from childhood, it was appropriate. Her birthday is actually today, but I will deliver this to her on the 17th which worked out in our schedules.

The finished base and trim.

I had originally planned on making this brick in a chevron pattern as the real thing. If I had unlimited time, I would have. But, instead, I used artistic license and just laid it normally. I found a sheet of 1/35th brick, then painted it gray, gave it a wash to coat the mortar, then hand painted each brick. I like the results, it looks real, at least I think so.

See what you think. Also, notice the small portico roof. That will be what the entire roofing will look like!

Now, I still had the master bedroom to make. I started with the doll house furniture, converted it fairly extensively, added some other 1/35th furniture and went for a theme. I decided on light gray/white/black/walnut. The back wall was to be a huge two story cathedral wall.

After I primed it with flesh paint. I used artists oils to create the walnut panel look.

Then because it was so tall and would dwarf the furniture, I needed a large white sculpture. All I could think of was a really big sculpture like Susan and I had in an earlier home, made by a local artist. So, I went into my PE scrap box and found a Bare branch tree set.. Using that and a strip of Evergreen plastic, I began sculpting.

Then I painted it camouflage Gray.

I had two of the coach lights left over and sprayed them with the same color. All mounted, the wall looked right!

Then all the furniture was painted the same and all the tops and trim were given the same walnut treatment as the wall.

You noticed I added a pic of Pop to go over the mantle. I want Gail to remember who built this damned thing, Know what I mean?

Then the floor.

One of the walls with fireplace, it looks nothing like the one I bought!

The sheets, pillow and bedspread were made with a handkerchief and some cloth trim I found at WalMart.

All the stonework is finished as well as the brick work. Here are some various shots. Note the short stone wall. Between that and the house will be all the evergreens and shrubs.


If you look close, everything is drawn on the base, driveway, grassy areas, exterior pole lights and so on.

This is up to this post.

Compare when I started.

I’ve been busy since I returned home from delivering Simpatico to my daughter Gail. It was her birthday present and I began it in June, in 1/35th scale, and delivered it six months later!

I’ll start where I left off. A pity but this will never be seen. There are many such things in these large dioramas but I am never sure until they are finished if all can actually be viewed. Better more details than not enough. This is the ice in the champagne bucket! It’s about the size of a pea. Note the label on the bottle. That is a miniature grain of wheat bulb beside it.

I began assembling the components of the bedroom. It will be visible only from two windows, a big bay window in the front and the smaller one above it. I took a shot of the painting of me hanging in the museum, miniaturized it in Photoshop, framed it and hung it above the fireplace.

Here are a couple of shots of each side from the window.

On this side of the wall, I framed a painting-like portrait of Gail. I thought that was appropriate.

A shot from the upper window looking down.

Without the roof.

The asphalt driveway now finished.

Then I assembled all the components of the sun/game room. The following are shots of them glued in place. The huge bamboo fan was attached to the roof and later can be seen through the large glass skylight I included for that purpose. There is another one on the other side so the viewer can view the bathroom I posted in this thread earlier.

Although it can’t be seen in this photo, the fireplace is on a flasher circuit and looks quite convincing with the dancing lights.

With all the interior rooms now sealed, I ran all the circuits to a termination box, then connected it to a lamp cord with a 12 volt transformer.

The following are shots of the diorama finished and ready to be transported to it’s new home.

Here is a shot of the bath as seen through the skylight.

I just had to throw in a before and after. Here is where it started.

And ended.

Those bricks turned out very realistic.

Here is the third floor balcony with table and chairs.

A couple of night shots with the lights on. They don’t really do it justice as I used a cheap camera. Maybe later when I am visiting her, I will get some pics with drama.

Then, the delivery!

Susan and I loaded it in the van and I drove it down. Susan didn’t go because there was only one seat that wasn’t filled, the driver’s. I arrived about 9:00 AM and set it up as quickly as I could in Gail’s study/office. She works out of her home. It will be next to the desk she spends many hours every week day. Susan had made a recipe book for her with all the handed down recipes from both our family’s. It was very elaborate and Gail is looking through it here!

Here it sets in it’s new home. It looked right at home there.

Here is Gail beside it.

It was kind of emotional for her, which made me feel like it was all worth it!

After that, we had a father/daughter day together and had a wonderful time. Her and her husband Forrest are coming up here next week to celebrate Christmas.

THE END