In March of this year, I was invited up to Galway by Jimmy McGuire, the owner of Tigh Neachtain. He explained to me how Tigh Neachtain had been right in the centre of Galway's history from when it first opened its doors in 1894, with many historical figures frequenting it. So extensive was the list of people to be featured on my model of it, that we decided to make a pack especially for it!
The models of the dragon and Gulliver were inspired by the Macnas street theatre productions of 1988 and 1989. All around the model, you will find people, animals and items to remind you of the rich history of Tigh Neachtain and Galway. The pack comes with a comprehensive glossary:
Here is what the assembled kit looks like:
Because the model is quite big ( approx 150mm high) it is far less fiddly to make than my smaller models. But even so, I couldn't resist the temptation to also design a kit card out of which you can make a tiny version of it!
Both the packs and the cards will be for sale at Tigh Neachtain - so go visit it, buy a kit and enjoy making it over a well deserved pint!
The first impression I got of Lismore Castle was that it had been added to over a long time - it just seems too big and complex to have been thought up all at once!
Apparently the earliest remaining part of the castle is a round tower, which dates back to the 13th century. It changed hands many times in its history and has been lovingly and extensively restored by its successive owners.
For me, the challenge was to capture the unique charm of the castle - of both its exterior and its inner courtyard, and engineer it into a kit which would fit on an A5 greeting card!
I began by drawing the circumference, taking extra care to get all the levels right. I realised that my model would have to include parts of the gardens and park in order to make it look right. So, each aspect of the model also has depth, not just facades all on the same plane.
Similarly, for the interior courtyard, the level of the ground was a challenge. Really, it should be elevated from the exterior base level, but this would have made the model quite difficult to assemble. So I decided to again include some of the yard on each facade. This actually works quite well, giving it more depth.
I used the roofs to join the courtyard to the exterior facade of the castle. I avoided making these too exact - this gives a lot of play for the person assembling. So, even if you're not a perfectionist, you'll still be able to make a great looking castle!
Finally, I decided to print the interior of the card a purplish grey because some of the surfaces were visible from both sides. White just didn't look right!
Often, it is these huge, imposing buildings which impress us most when we view a city like Dublin. A few weeks ago, I stood in front of the GPO, wondering how I could make a model kit out of this beautiful monster! So far, I've only made an A5 kit of it - the A4 kit will be available soon!
My tiny Gpo A5 kit, takes about 10 - 15 minutes to build. The completed model is 55mm tall. The most difficult bit is to cut out the little figures on top of the facade gable. I use a craft knife for this - usually before I cut out the rest, so that I have more grip.
Up to now, most of my kits have been colourful streets of shops and pubs, so this new kit of Gallarus Oratory is quite different. I visited the oratory last April and was fascinated by its beautiful shape, like an upturned boat, so smooth and regular, and yet so rugged.
I followed the pattern of the stonework very closely while painting the model. I love the way it sags in places, and how the colours vary.
The kit itself includes interior stonework as well as the grave beside the oratory and the beautiful stonewall forming a crescent shape around it. I painted a base onto which the various parts of the kit can be placed in a very realistic arrangement.I really wanted the diorama to be authentic and educational from an archeological point of view.
As with all TinyIreland kits, very clear, easy to follow instructions are included, making it the ideal gift for archeologists young and old! Click on the images to buy it now....
The gables and rear walls of buildings are often not visible or even ugly - for me they form a tiny canvas to paint my impressions of the town upon them. What is it I love most about Glengarriff? Well, walking through the forest down to the Blue Pool is a must at every visit. Taking a ferry out to Garinish island is also a memorable outing. I also love the outcrops of rocks here and there - particularly at the north end of the Blue Loo - the pub seems to be built right into the rock face.
There is a feeling that Glengarriff is the gateway to a world of adventure: the mountains, the rugged Beara peninsula, the tunnels to Kenmare, the lakes of Killarney. We leave the civilised part of West Cork behind us and head out into the wild... this is why I drew that signpost on the gable of The Maple Leaf...
Each page in my "Build your own Tiny Glengarriff" kit reveals exciting details and impressions - the essence of what inspired me.
I don't want to reveal all just yet: but here are five details which I've worked into my upcoming kit. Often, the chosen buildings have beautiful facades, but they are squeezed between two other buildings, and their backyards are inaccessible and maybe even ugly. So, I let my imagination free and invent scenes to fill the gables and rears. I draw maps and landscapes, people and animals - all inspired by the things I have seen in that town.
Can you tell which town this is?
As many of you paper crafters will remember, my original version of Tiny Killarney included a model of Killarney Bookshop, which sadly closed down a few months ago.
So, when it was time to reprint my Killarney pack for the new season, I decided it was time to include a new building: The Súgán. It's vibrant, colourful facade is just irresistable.
It is squashed between two other buildings, so I have no idea what the rear looks like ( this is often the case) - and two gables to fill with imaginary detail...
I created a new landscape out of various previous drawings: caravans in a meadow, the Slea Head drive, cows grazing in the lush green fields... some of the things we love about Kerry!
I included the multicoloured cart wheel and the old bicycle advertising "Rent a Bike" as optionals for the advanced...
Recently, I made a series of paper models for a wedding: 18 models of Dingle and Annascaul pubs. Each table had a pub on it. I cut out all window panes and inserted light to make them come alive. The feedback I got from wedding guests was that, not only were the models beautiful, but the most fascinating thing was that they were familiar places in miniature. There is something magic about seeing a place we are familiar with in miniature - something that brings us right back to those childhood experiences we had with dollshouses and miniature railway layouts...
I once visited an amazing Ship in a Bottle Museum in Holland: http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/bottle-ship-museum , where the fascination with the miniature is taken to the extreme. After months of very detailed work and preparation, the tiny ship model is finally ready to insert into the bottle. Once inside, the masts and sails are pulled into the upright position using carefully prepared strings.
My models are not as elaborate as that. I paint my facades/ gables etc as big as I want to before scanning them all into my computer where I process them into models. Thanks to modern technology, I can work in large format and the computer shrinks it down to miniature for me.
This allows me to work at ease, exactly at the size I like. Also, I can easily insert drawings of impressions and ideas I gather about the building or town.
I begin by drawing and painting on paper, but continue to create in the computer. The most exciting bit is, of course, when the model is finally printed out and I assemble a miniature 3D version of my artwork. It's magic!
Whenever I return to see the "real" versions of the buildings I have made, I feel strangely excited - I feel a very special bond between me and the building - as if we somehow know each other....
Since town houses usually have gables and backyards ( not always visible or accessible to shy people like me), I paint imaginative things onto them: sometimes trees and landscapes, sometimes boats or ships, sometimes animals or people. Here are some details you'll find when you open my Tiny Cobh gift pack: