Anglo-Saxon Buildings

I came across a wonderful idea by Ed Morris over on Twitter. He's decided to set a target of 365 hours of painting miniatures for 2017. I've decided to follow suit, with the slight alteration of aiming to have 365 hours of painting and scenery making in 2017! And compared to previous years, I think it'll be great if I manage to do this. At the point of posting this, I'm currently at 5 and a half hours. And here's what I've spent the last ninety minutes on.
My Anglo-Saxon host for Blood Eagle.  The points are correct, but there doesn't seem to be that many of them, does there?
I decided it was high time I got on with making some Anglo-Saxon buildings. After all, Blood Eagle is our next system of choice. And as I knew I'd be facing off against some Vikings (which have since developed into some vicious Draugr) I decided to do the honourable thing and field a force of Anglo-Saxons who'd be on the receiving end of some serious raiding. Honestly, you kill off the Vikings and they come back as Draugr. There's just no stopping some people, is there?
I decided to start on some homes, so quickly assembled my usual gubbins to make this possible. My cutting mat to protect the dining table. My pens and knives (in my trusty cardboard box).  I keep my UHU in there as well, but it's separate just now as I had to go out and buy some more.  As always I have my rather large plastic set square to make sure my 90 degree angles are actually 90 degrees, and my yard long steel rule.  Accept no substitutes when it comes to a ruler.  It keeps the lines straight and steel rulers make sure you cut your building materials and not your ruler.  You can see I'm going to be making this building with foam core and cereal packet card.  It's a very cheap way of making quality scenery. My foam core comes from old point of sale (POS) advertising signage in a large store.  As the stuff costs a fortune for them to dispose of, I was blessed to get a regular supply both for my gaming and the props department of my youth drama group.  Sadly they now use cardboard...

It's probably worth noting the new tube of PVA glue in the photo.  I normally use Evo-Stick's PVA which I get from B&Q.  It's really good quality.  But I'm running low and I know i'll need a fair bit in these Dark Age builds.  This lot is from Poundland.  It could be good, it's probably not, and hopefully not as watery as the last time I went for a cut price PVA.  However, if it is, it won't be so bad a problem as I need to use a watered down PVA mix when I make the thatched roof.  And if nothing else, this purchase allows me to save what quality PVA I have for where it's needed most.

And the curve ball in the photo is the triple pack of face cloths I purchased from Primark for the princely sum of £1.30.  This will form my thatched roof.  More on this in a later post though, as it'll be a while before I reach that stage of the build.  

First things first, we need to draw out the homes on the foam core. I use some standard measurements for my 28mm wargaming scenery.  I assume a height of 5cm for each floor.  Doors are 2cm wide by 3.5cm tall and I use the 3.5cm height to align my windows with the doors.  Of course, these are humble Anglo-Saxon homes, so we don't need to bother with windows at all.  This is probably a good spot to point out that these buildings would be great for trying out scratch building scenery for the first time.

Single room houses have been found at West Stow measuring only 10' by 11'8".  I've gone for something as deep, but longer.  My building will have a footprint of 5cm by 10cm.  The roof will overhang this size in true Anglo-Saxon thatching style. As I want the building to withstand years of gaming, I'm making interlocking joints.  This means adding in a floor as well as the walls.  You could always simply buttress joint the pieces together and hold them in pace with some pins while you wait for the glue to dry.   If you do so, remember to measure the thickness of your foam core and adjust your measurements accordingly.  For example, I'm using 5mm thick foamcore.  If I'm going to make the sides the full 5cm, I'm going to have to measure 1cm less for the front and back to compensate for the depth.  Conversely, if I'm making the front and back the full 10cm length, then I have to reduce the width of the sides by 1cm for the height of the walls, but not for the angle of the roof.  As this is more complicated than reducing the width of the long sections, I wouldn't do it.  In fact I rather enjoy figuring out the joints.  It makes things a lot simpler.  You only need to measure the sides and fronts to the widths you want.  The joints themselves take care of the width of the foam core.  And if you're working with a decent piece of foam core, it's easy to measure and check the one piece off an other.  Here's the first one designed and ready:
As I had all the working out done, I decided to add a second house as you can see in the next photo.  This took a lot less time than when I first figured it out.  It's a big time saver if you have a deadline to work to.  
The next job was to cut out the section to make it more manageable for handling.  If you've never cut foam core before, please remember you need to make three cuts, not one.  Your first cut gos through the top layer of card.  Your second cut goes through the foam middle layer.  Your third and final cut goes through the card at the bottom.  If you try and do it in less cuts, you're probably going to go off your itended line and you'll rip out chunks of foam core.  Also, y and keep your blade as vertical as possible to get a straight rather than an angled cut.
And in the next photo you can see the joints.  The base is the top of the three long pieces.
I always like to dry fit the pieces to make sure I've not made any mistakes. (Dry fitting is putting the pieces together without any glue - not easy if you're buttress joining everything!) Everything looked good at this stage.
And now I knew that everything was okay, I went ahead and cut out the second.  Of course I couldn't resist dry fitting that one too:
I normally use my cereal packet card for making a roof.  However, we're in the Dark Ages where most buildings were covered in thatch.   This is a much thicker roof than those made of shingles, tiles or slate and need to be approached differently.  There are many ways to make a thatched roof.  Some people use DAS modelling clay.  The current preference seems to be teddy bear fur purchased from your local craft shop.  It's the material of choice for many of the MDF kit manufacturers, many of whom supply the fur with their kits.  What seems to be the consensus of opinion is to go with one style and commit yourself to doing all your buildings in the same way.

I'm going for a third way.  I'm using toweling to represent thatch.  Or more specifically, face cloths.  I'm relying on my foamcore to provide the tick base for this.  More on the thatch effect in a later post.  For now, I'm making the structure of the roof with my foam core.  For this I'm cutting four pieces (for to buildings!) that measure 5.5cm by 11cm.  With this done, I measured in 7mm from one long side and with a single pass of my knife cut through the top layer of card only.  I then took my blade, angled it between the bottom edge of the foam core and cut the point of the blade through to be between the top layer of card.  By gently cutting towards myself as you can see in my next photo, using the cut and the bottom edge of the foam core as guides, I create a mitered edge.  When you put two of these together you create a nicely joining roof.
After this, all that needs to be done is to cut a 10mm by 5mm cut in the centre of the roof across the mitred side.  This will create your dark age chimney like so!
Two Anglo-Saxon homes constructed in foam core in ninety minutes!  Next time I'll be adding the cardboard cladding and sticking them together.  So until the next time, thanks for stopping by!  I hope you find these ramblings helpful.

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