News / pleasures of paper model making
It's been such a busy few months that I have only now come around to appreciate all the projects I've done this year already... March the 10th 2018 seems like a long time ago. On that bleak Saturday afternoon, Fionn and I, took the ferry from Cobh to Spike Island. As we approached the island, the melancholy, eerie mood, which was to stay with us during the whole visit, overcame us.
How was I ever going to create a TinyIreland model of this? The star shaped fort was hardly visible from the waterside - it is set into the island surrounded by a deep trench - and yet, it is its most remarkable feature. My initial idea was to somehow project the ruins and landscape around the fort onto its walls. So, I began by making drawings...
The views from the island of the harbour all around where breathtaking - beautiful and interesting. I fostered ideas of working this into the model as well...
It took us about 40 minutes to walk around the whole outside of the fort. We then entered through the impressive entry archway. This also needed to be featured on the model, I decided. But how could I accommodate the huge fort as well as its impressive interior buildings and architecture? If I made the whole thing to scale, the fort would be huge and the buildings absolutely tiny... and all this was to fit on an A5 card!!!!
I love the patterns the buildings form - like playing cards folded out to line the interior shape of the fort...
After trying out various ideas, I also realized that the inward slant of the fort walls were important - they could not be vertical - it just didn't look right. This made the layout of the artwork much more complicated. It had to be arranged in a curved pattern:
This formed the exterior of the fort on the base shown. But I also needed the interior. I decided to place that on the reverse side of the card, which posed the challenge of alignment during printing.
And this is what it looks like when assembled!
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.
When I first saw Bunratty Castle up close I was completely overwhelmed by it. How could I even begin to make a paper model out of this?
I normally don't bother with architectural drawings - I just photograph and draw whatever details strike me, and then create my model. But with an heritage icon like this, I felt intimidated and longed for something concrete to go by. I finally did get my hands on some basic technical drawings - but the rest all came out of my observations. Here are some of the detail drawings I made in preparation of the actual model in the Tiny Bunratty pack.
This is a very intuitive way of going about making a paper model. I'm reluctant to allow myself to get bogged down with the technicalities. I just want to capture the quirky beauty of some of the buildings I see...
Have you read "The Magic City" by Edith Nesbith yet? It is one of my favourite childrens' books. Philip, the boy in the story, builds a city out of everything he can find in his new home - he starts off with conventional wooden building blocks, but when they run out, he uses books, ornaments, cutlery, whatever he can find. Then,at moonlight the magic happens:he becomes tiny, the city becomes huge and he walks through these amazing streets he has created.
It inspired me as a child to make miniature townscapes - sometimes with whatever was available in our house, and sometimes outdoors in the forest, on the beach, in the garden. I used to make tiny little stone houses with real cement and stones. I'd build tiny fireplaces and chimneys into them and light real fires inside them and watch the smoke rise out of them. How alive it made them look! Coming home in the evenings I'd smell like someone who'd spent the whole day by a camp fire. My parents were a bit concerned that I'd started smoking - until they found out what I was doing...
Recently, I received an unusual commission: to make models of Dingle Pubs as centre pieces for tables at a wedding! What fun, I thought... what if I could light them up and make them come alive like those little huts of my childhood?
Some of my customers have asked me whether my model kit of Bunratty Castle is very difficult to make. My answer to you is: I have put a lot of thought into making this as easy to understand and assemble as possible - my focus is on fun, not tedium! So whether you're a complete newcomer to papercraft, or an experienced modeller, I think you will enjoy making this one!
I have outlined below the steps you need to take to build my great model of Bunratty Castle:
Before cutting out any of your kit, score all edges to be folded using a ruler and something pointy such as a darning needle or a very hard pencil - or, if you want to be really professional, a metal scribe.
Then start with the south facade:
Cut out and glue the turrets onto themselves and then cut out the white areas as shown. The flaps are folded inwards to receive the floors
Now move onto south facade part two:
I did try to squeeze everything into as few pages as possible to keep it nice and compact - so here is my way of building that tower wall as well as the south facade alcove all out of one piece of paper!
I think, once you've reached this stage you're flying, but do email me if you get stuck...
It only takes me 20 minutes of cleaning my house - and hey presto! - the recycling bin is full again.
Full of cardboard in different thicknesses, shapes, colours, qualities. If you start looking at this waste in a new way, you'll see it for the great craft material it really is!
I recently designed a powerpoint presentation for the LearnCraftDesign website ( published by the Design and Crafts Council of Ireland) on how to do a little papercraft project with primary school children - it's called "Design Your Own Room". Why not have a look and get inspired?
I never grow tired of making paper models: sitting in my studio, listening to a good Audio Book ( at the moment it's "Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie), while it's drizzling outside... it's one of my favourite ways to spend a rainy afternoon.
Everytime I approach a paper model, I just feel amazed and excited by the ingenius simplicity of this craft. Using a few simple tools, such as a scribe or darning needle for scoring, a scissors or craft knife and some fast drying glue, one can build the most amazing 3D structures. Whatever you can think of - make it with paper!
People ask me whether the models I have designed are too difficult for six year olds? My answer to them is: six year olds and even younger children love my models, because even if they cut them out all crooked and glue things together higgledepiggledee, they still look great! And once they've done a few, they won't want to stop: they'll start building the most amazing models of their own design.
Making a paper model is not really about the perfect thing at the end ( well for some perfectionists it is), but much more about the pleasure of making it - understanding it, seeing the miraculous transformation from 2D to 3D take place beneath our hands.
I hope my models make that miracle happen for you.