The Little World Week – Part Five – Papering Over Your Problems

dscf9453On my one and only visit to Japan I visited a gift shop in a tourist tower that had various hobby kits for sale. They were charming little things that allowed one to construct models of school classrooms, temples, television towers, castles, etc, and the most impressive thing about them was that they were all just made from sheets of paper. You got a booklet of pre-printed plans, cut carefully around the bits with scissors or a scalpel blade, and bent, curled, glued and folded until you had Osaka Castle.

I gathered that it was a characteristic Japanese hobby – and I salute their skills.

I’ve also seen any number of European-produced paper and card kits of ships, buildings, and vehicles that they have made on pre-printed stiff card. The Italian ship at the top of this column is an example that one hobbyist here in Perth likes to make. I don’t know how much his kits cost him, but given the amount of detail on them and the amount of work that he has had to do to make cardboard look so real, I think he has had value for his hobby dollar.

I, too, am starting to get value from paper. I had neglected it as a material for ages, believing it to be both too flimsy and too hard to work. I had consigned it to the HO/OO scale people as a material for English card kits of houses and pubs…and I had seen enough of them in railway layouts to convince me that they were an inferior substitute for Faller and Piko kits. I think the fact that many layouts used just standard printed kits with no additions or paint to cover the joined edges made them seem bad.

In my case I am using the material to make raised panels on foam-core board, to supply corrugated sheet, and to add trim to plain surfaces. In most cases there is a coat of paint and in some cases a lot of weathering. In some special circumstances I can pass a suitable sheet of paper through my Epson inkjet printer and get a realistic building material based upon a real surface seen as a digital image.

The new gas barbeque is one such application. If I can figure out how to impress patterns upon it after the printing I may be able to make stone walls as well. The great attraction of this is the cheerful cheapness of having my own resources to hand and the ability to make unusual surfaces. You cannot always just use Herpa or Faller materials and if you are doing large areas in 1:18 scale you cannot afford to pay hobby shop prices for raw material.

The gluing together of paper is easy…provided it is not some sort of space-age/designer/mutant material. I have found the Canadian Weldbond PVA glue to be excellent – even better than Selly’s Aquadhere, and C 23 balsa glue answers for nearly every other task. Tarzan’s Grip is traditional but hardly more than a thicker C-23 and you pay for it in drying time. Cyanoacrylic glues are not really needed for paper and it is a relief to be able to glue something with PVA without fear of becoming inadvertently stuck to the bench.

One other advantage for the paper modeller – if you ruin a piece in the making it is less of a wrench to discard it entirely and make another. You are less likely to try to ignore your errors and spoil an otherwise good model’s appearance.

Note: I still want to source the sort of cardstock that they print collector’s cards with. It is wonderful, but I do not want to have to buy Gordo Howe* cards to get it.

*Famous Canadian Baseball Star – originally from Cuba. His catch-phrase was ” Babalooo, eh? “

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