Return of the Hut: the Jungle Build Continues

Well, the big plan to undercoat the jungle didn’t happen.  It was wet and horrible, or possibly I was just too lazy to go outside when a warm fire and a good book were on hand…  Anyway, the day was not wasted as I made a return to the huts in order to do some more roofing.
The key here was one magic ingredient, this:

Corrugated Iron, or more correctly Corrugated Galvanised Iron, was invented in the 1820s in London and as much as anything else was a symbol of British expansion around the globe.  Wherever the sun never set buildings would be made from this lightweight easily transportable material and this can be seen today.  In Australia and New Zealand it remains very much part of the architectural look and I well recall Africa in the 1970’s almost all Rhodesian houses had corrugated roofs.  As a result corrugated iron would be perfectly normal in the Far East.  It is also a look which can look great when heavily weathered with rust.  As a result I took two buildings and used a hot glue gun to add the Wills sheets.  No photos as this is simple stuff, but things to remember when using this material.  Use a sharp knife to trim the edges so that they are irregular in places, giving a more weathered loom to the finished model, and you also need to cut off some rather odd edging mould lines, as can be seen above on the right hand side of the sheet.  This material is very easy to work with,.  A sharp knife goes through it like butter and it can be cut with a decent pair of scissors. Clearly the usual warnings MUST be stated here about the dangers of sharp knives and scissors, so remember, NEVER use these yourself, but hire in a fully trained knife and scissor operator with the relevant certification and don’t forget to wear high visibility clothing if standing within 800 yards of such work.
My preferred tool for the job in hand today is a surgical scalpel as it is easy to handle, but do be aware that these things are bloody sharp and I picked up three cuts yesterday which are starting to look like I should be going for a tetanus booster. How I suffer for my art…
Anyway.  Thatch.  I often say on these build projects “I know nothing about this, I am making it up as I go”.  That isn’t true of thatch.  Some years ago I scratch built some buildings for Dux Britanniarum, our rather spiffing and much under-played Dark Age rules.  The buildings were made of heavy duty card with thatched roofs.  At the time I had coveted some really nice resin buildings that would have almost demanded I remortgage my own property in order to fund them.  Instead I took every opportunity to study them at shows to try to work out how they were done so I could make them myself.  And in the end they were rather smashing and surprisingly easy to do. So, with that knowledge, I jumped in again.
Making thatch is much easier when you do it in strips. I roll out a sausage shape of green stuff then squish it into place before tapping it with a knife to get the look of thatch.  These snaps are pretty close up so the detail may look a bit blobby, but do notice how, as the layers build up, I return to add more detail to each.  The key technique at this stage is to just tap with the blade edge of the knife to create lines.  Don’t try to do anything more at this stage.

Now, one key bit of detail is important here on this leading edge.  You need to represent the edge of the thatch where it overhands the structure.  Below you can see it better on a slightly out of focus shot.  Use a cocktail stick or pointy object to jab in along the edge to get a representation of all the irregular and uneven stalks finishing off at that point.  This is actually very easy and only needs to be done on this edge, the side edges are just lines like the top.

I know what you are thinking:  “This is bleedin’ difficult!”, it isn’t, it is actually dead easy and doesn’t take long.  Watch and bare with me.
Here’s the second sausage in place and being tapped down.  I roll the sausage a ting bit thicker than a cigarette, put it in place and then squash it down with my forefinger before tapping the knife across it.

As can be seen on this image, when I squash it flat I make it conform to the wiggly line on the previous layer.  If your lines of thatch are going too wobbly you can adjust them at this point but pushing more green stuff to one area than another.  Again, this is simple stuff.  It needs to be if I am doing it…

“At last: I hear you cry, here’s a snap of a sausage being laid out.  “Why didn’t you show us this earlier in the process?”  I have no idea.  Just be grateful for small mercies.

And here’s that sausage being tapped into place with a knife.

With that done, the next step was to add some fine detail, as can be seen on the finished model.  Now, holding the scalpel like a pencil, I went over the whole surface making an action as though flicking a pencil line towards me.  Just short flicks as though you were drawing a shaggy dog.  That breaks the regularity of of the lines and allows some of the thatch to look a bit more unruly.  You don’t want to completely trash what had been done before, just break up the regularity of it.  You can also see that the local who lives in this house has repaired his tin roof with some thatch, just to break up the regular look of the model.

A quick point worth noting here is that where the roof is removable, keep putting it in place to make sure that the thatch does not interfere with that.  It’s obvious, but easily forgotten when you are immersed in the job.  So, the big question, how long did that take.  Not long.  30 to 45 minutes.  I think the time spent was well worth it as it takes a 2D MDF model and enhances it.  It also makes it unique.  
Here’s the second building I did.  Same process but with some variation.  As you can see, the roof is removable but I have tried to disguise the point where the thatch over the stoep ends and the roof begins.  Natural products like thatch do not do straight lines, so I wanted to achieve a blend between one bit and the other without limiting the fact that the roof can come off.

Here’s a final snap.

Thoughts:  I keep saying “I don’t really like MDF buildings” and then I keep coming back to build another.  Indeed, yesterday I picked up another half a dozen buildings from the Sarissa range from my usual supplier, Arcane scenery and, for almost the first time, from Sarissa Precisions own web site.  I have traditionally used Arcane as I like to support small businesses and the service I get from them is absolutely first class.  You’ll find them here:  Arcane
Unintentionally, Sarissa Precision have become one of my building suppliers of preference.  Whilst I will ALWAYS do something extra to tart up these models to give them something extra, their basic kits are really very good and well thought out.  You can find them here Sarsissa Precision
Somehow, like Topsy, this project continues to grow but it also keeps getting more interesting.  Today I hope to get cracking with the jungle and also get started on getting the buildings ready for painting. We shall see how far I get.


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