The Village – Buildings II

Foam board is a marvellous material for many reasons. One of these is the ability to inset details into the surface of it.

For example; these village houses I am doing have timber frames. Now I could just use very thin strip wood and apply these to the outside of the building walls. Experience shows that in time these thin strips may come away from the surface, and that they are also harder to paint without getting paint on the wall surfaces.

So I draw on where I want the timbers and cut slots through the card outer surface of the foam board. This card is then picked out using the end of my scalpel. The cut-out card is usually a smidgeon wider that the wood I shall use. Then I cut wood, in this case craft matchsticks, to the length required, apply PVA to the rear surface and press into the slots in the foam. Once in place these never come out and the tiny bit of space to either side of the match stick allows for a neat paint job.


Another trick when doing this is to paint the wall surfaces after you’ve cut out the card slots, and also paint the front and sides of the match sticks, before you put them into the slots. Leave the back of the match stick unpainted to give a good, clean surface to take the PVA.

Doors and windows, with their frames, should be prepared before adding to the building, so that you know what shape to cut in the outer layer of card.

The village buildings I am doing have a simple form of reed thatch. This is not the fulsome and often decorative thatching you see on quaint village houses in the UK. It is somewhat cruder and the Japanese often secured it using ropes, planks, sticks and even stones.


My base material is made from a £1 brush head. I abhor the teddy fur which is currently all the rage as it looks far too sleek and needs a lot of weathering to look realistic.

  • Take the brush head, isolate one clump of bristles and cut into lengths to suit your roof.
  • Cut a piece of card that will run from the peak of the roof and overlap a little bit over the sides and bottom edge.
  • Lay your cut bristles in a line, side-by-side, and then, starting at the bottom of the roof panel, brush PVA across the width of the roof.
  • Take your bristles and place on your PVA side by side in a row. Only use enough to cover the card. Allow the bristles to overhang the bottom of the roof by a few mm.
  • Allow a few minutes for the PVA to dry.
  • You should pre-measure your roof panel to ensure that the last, topmost row of bristles reaches the top of the panel exactly.
  • Then add a roof securing method as described above.

Painting such a roof is simple. Wash with a dark shade then dry brush with a lighter one. Paint it before you attach it to the building to ensure you do not splatter your walls while dry brushing.

The result should not look neat or too regular. We are talking about peasant house thatching here.

This last picture shows me making a similar peasant house from card. In this case, this is cat food sachet box card. This is thin corrugated and remarkably strong card that cuts well. The foam board houses were quite fiddly to construct so I was looking for a quicker method.


I actually cut out the entire house shape in a single piece, then scored the corners. When you bend it into shape this leaves a space at the corner that takes a matchstick perfectly.

It took me half the time to make the entire house from the card than from the foam board and it seems just a strong. I expect that once they are painted up it will be difficult to tell them apart.

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