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:
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 came accross an interesting article recently on the history of the famous Schreiber - Bogen , a company producing amazing paper model cut-out kits since around 1880. It tells of how this company actually helped to record historic events in Germany - always coming out with new models reflecting what was happening at that very moment. For instance, when Germany was newly reunited and was building its new "Reichstag" parliament building, Schreiber had a cut-out model ready for the public to build before the real thing was opened!
I began to wonder whether Ireland had some equivalent history in paper model making, but have come across very few clues. Maybe the readers of this blog know something about this?