Wednesday, May 7, 2014

British site is even older than they thought...

It seems they've found the oldest settlement in Britain --- again. At Vespasian's Camp near Amesbury (famous for Stonehenge) scientists have carbon-dated auruch bones back to 8800BC. Follow the link to read the article on

(Courtesy the University of Buckingham)

Dark Age house test wall (part 4)

So last I left you I had primered test wall #2 with cheap black acrylic. It's easy to see below that it's much harder to hide the PVA under the skinnier balsa wood.

The wattle & daub dry-brushed with some greys and a white.

The wood was done with browns mixed down repeatedly with light ivory.

I still need to weather the door pull. Probably just dry-brush with silver.

Here's a comparison between the first and second test walls. It became pretty obvious the foam core has a grain to it. I'm not sure which I prefer looks-wise, but the horizontal seems less resistant to warping.

I'm very happy with the way the second wall came out. Looking forward to moving on to a corner...

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Dark Age house test wall (part 3)

It took a while for my to source some balsa, but I'm liking it better than liberated coffee stirrers for the bracing on the new test wall. It cuts more easily, it takes texture better, and it looks more true to scale. 

I bought 3" x 1/16" x 36" balsa sheets and trimmed them to size. I cut it into more manageable 12" sections as soon as I got it home. I'm a big fan of the Alumicutter ruler, but it's still harder than I thought to keep the cuts straight. Might invest in a stripper if I keep this type of work up.

Went with balsa sheets and cut to size
Basic structure in place
Didn't fancy the last carved foam door, so went with balsa
Didn't want foam showing by the door jam, so cut in some shims
Close up of the knotty door and jam
Jazzy door pull courtesy of the wife's jewelry making supplies
Close-up of the door & pull
After two coats of dilute black craft acrylic

I'm thinking I should use 1/8" balsa (2x thickness) at the corners and door jam. Basically anywhere you can see two sides of the wood. Guess we'll find out when I attach another wall to this puppy!

That's all for now. Looking forward to dry brushing this one up.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Dark Age house test wall (part 2)

Had a blast dry brushing the test wall. I think it came out pretty well. Learned a few things too.

Finished Construction

First coat of cheap craft black paint (added a second later)

Wood dry-brushed with cheap craft Burnt Umber 

Wood dry-brushed with cheap craft Spice Brown

Wood dry-brushed with cheap craft Bridgeport Grey

Wattle dry-brushed Charcoal, then Hippo Grey,
then Bridgeport Grey, then Antique White

Key takeaways:
  • Paint the wattle first - I ended up having to touch-up the wood beams quite a bit
  • Scuff up the boards well BEFORE assembly - especially the edges
  • Not happy with the plastic-coated paper business card I used for the door horizontals - it didn't take to texturing very well (or perhaps I forgot to do it!)
  • I need some different sized wood - the coffee stirrers are too thick and a pain to cut down
All in all, pleased as punch with how it turned out though. Good fun!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Dark Age house test wall (part 1)

Made some progress on the test wall this week.

It started off as a sheet of Elmer's foam core board. I peeled the paper off of one side so I could give it some texture. That was rather a pain. Maybe I will try wetting the paper with water (or Windex) next time as others suggest.

Then I used an el cheapo wire brush assortment to give a rough, vaguely swirly texture to the walls in a effort to make it look like wattle and daub. I may even try to carve in some detail of wattle poking through.

Next up was cutting up some coffee stirrers to use as wood beams. I worry these may be a bit to wide to be realistic, but that's why we do things like test walls, right?

The building I'm basing this on doesn't have a door on the end wall, but again, this being a test I might as well test doors too. This one was made by scribing the foam with a mechanical pencil. The horizontal boards on the door are cut from business card.  The door jams are an attempt to cut down the too-wide coffee stirrers. Kind of hard to control how wide they will be when cutting with the grain, but I think that adds to their Dark Age charm.

The whole door was cut out from the wall and then recessed slightly. Probably not necessary with the wood frame but again: test, test, test!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

I'm back...

Well, what started out as a little time off due to the frustrations of working in small batches (because of time and space limitations) turned into a major hiatus.

But I'm feeling the itch again and I've decided to do a mess about with some foam core buildings:

I found some very limited plans here:

Let's see how far along I can get on this project before wandering off to start something completely different...

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Building Reference

This video is a bit of a bore, but the narrator does a good bit of poking about the dark age Anglo-Saxon houses at the West Stow Anglo-Saxon village:

I stumbled across the video while exploring a local library with my daughter. Not sure I'd pay much for it, but as a freebie I thought it was worth a "viddy." 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Happy Birthday

... to me!

Some more swag. Kind of a theme happening here:

Thanks, Dad! I know the OOP "Age of Arthur" was dear. It's worth it though. I'm oogling it like it was pr0n!