Monday, May 13, 2024

Scratchbuilding 28mm Ottowa Longhouses, Part I

        As so often happens to me a request for some unusual terrain from a friend saved me from the "Curse Of Idle Hands". In this case the stimulus was provided by Zhodani Commando who asked if I could build some Native America Longhouses for use with his 28mm Ottawa figures. I took a moment to consider the basic structure (a long narrow building with a curved roof and either bluff or curved ends, barely more complex than a box) and agreed. As usual I forgot to consider the finer details, as we shall see further down the page.

notice the immense size of the longhouses and the pallisade around the village
a very nice illustration that I nicked from Researchgate 

       I consulted my photo collection (taken at various parks that I have visited) and dug through my pamphlet pile (most State and National Parks have tons of free pamphlets covering an enormous array of subjects) to get a firm idea of what I had agreed to build. A quick Google search provided some video of people actually building modern replicas of these historic structures. I was stunned to discover that they were often one hundred and twenty to two hundred feet long and as wide as fifty feet! At a 1/56th scale these simply would not fit on an average gaming table. Drastic reduction in dimension were demanded so I decided to work in the OTHER direction; assuming that the average gaming table is 6' x 4' the village probably shouldn't be more than 12" x 18" overall. Given that foot print I would be looking at models around 4-6" long and 2" wide so that there would be enough models to look like a village rather than a homestead. 

       With those dimensions in mind I began working out the mechanics of making the models. Although I COULD make the curved surface of the top half of the house with the assistance of Proxxie I decided to save time (and sanity) by buying a cylinder and splitting it lengthwise. The width of the cylinder would dictate the width of the lower part of the structure which I could cut out of stock blue-board. A quick trip to a local craft shop provided a 2" diameter cylinder that was 24" long. A few seconds with Proxxie and I had the basis of my buildings.

at first I was going to spackle the exterior and carve the texture on, but in watching the video, I was impressed with the regularity of the bark sheets that were used to cover the structure, I still needed something to give feeling of depth so I tried using 1" long strips of 3/4" masking tape on one of the little ones, the results were satisfactory so I went ahead and covered the rest in the same manner
it was a struggle to keep the depth of the surface down to a subtle level,
 the masking tape kept wanting to get flamboyant with the wrinkles
after I had the buildings covered I shot them with a rattle-can of flat white spray to give the glue something to hold onto

floral wire, left over from my "Quick ! Someone Fetch Me a Herring" post 
this is nifty stuff, a strong but flexible wire wrapped in a woven exterior

just the right size to represent the exterior saplings
just a matter of cutting to the right size and gluing in place 
I'm not a patient person 
so I rely on masking tape to hold things in place while the glue dries
now the waiting begins!
       Next episode: Painting the Longhouses and setting a palisade around the village!

1 comment:

  1. Dude, I forgot all about this. You’re a genius and master crafter. Very cool so far!