The Village – Buildings III

Another week and a bit more progress.
So having churned out a load of small village houses it’s time to do the house of the village elder/headman. This worthy is better off than his neighbours and reports directly to the Samurai who oversees the Daimyo’s rice production. It is an important job and the output and the behaviour of the villagers are his personal responsibility. if he gets it wrong he could lose his head.
For this house I decided to not only make it larger, but I added a front porch and much more timber framing. This time I am using cat food pouch carton cardboard. This is quite rigid and cuts well. the shiny outer surface is on the inside of the building as I need the bare cardboard of the inner carton to take the PVA glue.

As I don’t need to inset the wooden framing into the walls as I would for a foam board house I use the thinner coffee stirrer wood. It takes a little over an hour to cut out the main shape and then add the framing. After it has dried overnight I fold it up and glue it in place in on a raised base. The porch is made from coffee stirrer wood again.

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The whole thing has a rough, rustic look to it. No need for perfect lines and frames. The last thing I do is score some of the card panels to represent timber planks.
The roof is just another scored and bent piece of carton card and will support the thatched roof.


I’ll need to cut some barbecue skewers to make support posts for the porch roof.
The next big job for the village will be to mass produce fences. I have five so far and need about 30 altogether. Then it’s onto doing a range of small outhouses.


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.

The Village – Buildings I

Here we go with the first buildings, and I have chosen to do a pair of small peasant buildings for the village. Start simple I always say.

The materials for this build shall be@

  • 5mm Foamboard [Walls],
  • Catfood Sachet carton card [Base and Roof], and
  • matchsticks and strip wood [Wooden details].


The idea is to develop a method of quickly creating good looking houses to provide cover and concealment on the battlefield. These will not be building you can take the roof off. They are too small to have any effective fighting inside so I’m assuming that the residents, seeing the impending combat, have barricaded their doors.

Having worked with foamboard before I find it to be easy to cut and very sturdy – especially if it is based.

I intend to put most of the detail on the walls and roof and paint it before I assemble the whole building. I find that flat surfaces are much easier to work on that 3D shapes.

More updates as I progress…

So it begins…

As I have said a few times now we shall be mounting three participation games at Salute 2015 and then onto a number of other shows.

We had considered just buying all the kit we need, but have decided to produce as much as we can ourselves because we are gamers and modellers and painters and hobbyists.

The idea is to have three one metre/yard square fields of play so that six players can experience Daisho simultaneously. Like its parent game – In Her Majesty’s Name! – Daisho needs plenty terrain to create a sense of immersion for the players and to provide tactical cover and concealment in play.

Well, my first pieces are being laid down today and it is something simple to warm up my craft muscles after a long hiatus spending my time writing. Medieval Japanese villages feature a lot of sturdy fencing to keep out vermin, to delineate individual property and to act as makeshift walls against raids by neighbours, bandits and ronin.

To make these I have chosen to work in wood, specifically lollipop/tongue depressors sticks, match sticks and coffee stirrers. Using thin wood like this has many advantages:

  • it is easy to cut and work
  • it is relatively cheap
  • you can use PVA adhesive, and
  • it takes stains very well.

Here are the materials I shall be working with on my work table:


The lollipop stick is to form a sturdy base upon which the fence panels can be mounted. The rounded end of the sticks will make it easy to arrange fences end to end and at corners and angles.

The coffee stirrers are cut into 20, 25 & 30mm lengths and left fairly rough. This is peasant garden fencing after all, not a Samurai garden show.

As you see below the different length of coffee stirrers are arranged side by side and then the longer match sticks are used to glue them together. Using the full actual lengths of the sticks from the craft pack I bought I find that I can cover a lollipop stick with three fence panels.




Once I have three panels I can simply glue them, in a rough line, on top of the Lollipop stick.



As you can see the different fence board heights allow figures to fight across the fence, use if for cover and fire their weapons from behind it.



All this took about 15 minutes to do one fence. With practice, I reckon I shall be able to turn out half a dozen per hour, which is good as I expect to need a few dozen.

The remaining jobs have to wait until the glue is completely dry and will include basing materials and staining the fence posts and boards. I shall post again when I have a few of these to show.

My next experiment will be building a fence with a gate in it. Watch this space.


Here is the gate I promised earlier: