Friday, October 20, 2017

Building Thresher's Mill - Addressing disparate materials and critiques

I’ve been trying to find a few minutes each day to make progress on Ben Thresher’s mill. I’ve also been posting photos of my progress on a couple of forums devoted primarily to craftsman structure kit modelers. Model railroading is really an umbrella for a number of widely divergent hobbies and interests – ranging from organizational politics (ie., the NMRA) to historians, to more traditional skill-related subsets such as electronics, carpentry, rolling stock modeling, and yes, craftsman structure building. 
I normally prefer to work in styrene, even when depicting frame structures. While I’ve certainly built wood models before I believe there's always room to improve one’s modeling and try different techniques. 
A few days ago I posted the following photo on both forums: 

and it wasn’t long before I received comments pointing out an issue. While the walls look good, those windows look newer, and freshly painted, compared to the wall. 
I could almost sense the hesitation from people posting these comments – like they didn’t want to come across as too harsh or seem to be one of those dreaded “nitpickers.” Actually, I welcome valid criticism. After all, I’d posted the photos on a forum for structure builders in order to learn and improve my techniques. 
I think the real issue is the windows looked, not like weathered painted or stained wood, but like painted plastic – which is exactly what they are. Placing them atop the weathered wood walls only accentuated the disparity in the two materials. 
I’m not at the point - yet - of scratchbuilding HO windows from stripwood. But I knew I had to do something. But what? Surely experienced craftsman structure builders have encountered this issue. How do they address it on their models? 
Luckily some folks offered not only the comment but added a path forward. One such suggestion: 

“… the windows just need a little weathering. Some A/I, or a light wash of black acrylic. You could also do a little scraping with a dull blade or a finger nail sanding stick...Overall it is looking very good.”

That’s precisely what I did – I got out of the fiberglass eraser and was a little more diligent in my scraping. I even dug a dull used Xacto blade out of the “sharps” container and used it to gently scrape a few areas of stubborn paint. Once the scraping was done, I used a small brush to carefully paint some Hunterline A/I stains in various grays and browns and allowed that to dry overnight. Last night I used a small stippling brush to rub – almost scrubbing - an assortment of red, brown, and gray Bragdon powders into the plastic windows. 
Finally, I'd received a couple of suggestions to darken the walls just a little more - so before I glue the windows in place I added another application of Hunterline Blue Grey wash to walls. This also helped the "weathering" on the walls, and the nail heads, pop. 
The result is shown below. 

Time to start assembling the clapboard onto the subwalls. 

Couple of lessons learned so far: 
1. The fact that I’d already glazed the windows made the additional weathering a little more problematic. In the future, weather the windows completely before glazing.
2. Priming the window castings in a wood tone will add one more layer of color to reveal with the scraping and buffing technique. 

1 comment:

ExNavyDoc said...


Could you elaborate a bit on the techniques you used on the walls themselves?


Mike H.