Monday, March 10, 2014

Sci-Fi Building from Paper Mache Packaging

I started this project back in November, and now finally I am finally finished. I was going to do a series of work-in-progress posts, but then decided to post it all at once. I thought I had took some pictures of my progress from the very beginning, but I can't to find their files, or maybe I thought I had took them, but didn't.

We seem to keep a lot of those paper mache packing containers. I am not sure why we do. I blame my wife, who can't seem to throw anything out. I don't really know what they are officially called, but those are the things that a lot of electronic devices are stuck into to keep them from banging around and getting damaged. The one I picked jumped out at me as a good candidate. It looked like a dwelling or research station made of some sort of earthen structure such as adobe. Maybe its a homestead on a backwater planet.

Prepping the Container
I sealed the container, both the exterior (the side that will be seen) and the interior, with Mod Podge. I suppose I could have used watered down PVC glue but I wanted to bring out my Inner Hippie. Plus, its fairly cheap and is consistent in viscosity. It never warped the paper mache, made it stronger, and sealed it up nicely for later painting.

Making a Base
I bought some cheap, thin, acrylic sheets at Lowes and cut a base. I cut it to size so it just fit the container. I then sanded it so that glue would take to it. The container was strong enough that I didn't need to fill it with water putty like I had done with the previous sci-fi dwelling I made. I glued the container to the base with some superglue gel.

Adding the Windows, Doors and Decorative Do-Dads
I used the mold for my previous sci-fi building to make more doors. The windows were made from piece of plastic embroidery mesh. This time, I used square styrene strips to frame the windows. They looked a lot nicer.

Front of building before painting
 I really wanted a skylight, but didn't want to just put another flat, framed window on the roof.  Embroidery mesh is a pretty soft plastic--a lot like 1/72 scale plastic miniatures. I cut out a piece and kept bending it to a point were it would not flex back all the way into its original flattened state. I built a frame out of styrene and fit the mesh into the frame. The natural tendency of wanting to go back to a more flat shape make it lock into the frame and was held there by adding superglue. The sides were kind of tricky. They don't look that nice, but they will do.

Close up of skylight
I then added a bunch of do-dads. I added some vents from The Source, some soda bottle caps for air conditioning units, and one or two other items to decrease the empty spaces around the structure.

Back of building
Due to the folds and crenulations on the surface of the container, some of the doors and windows had really obvious gaps between them and the walls. I filled them in using glue-soaked tissue paper.The last thing I did before painting it was to put some acrylic pumice texture gel on the small part of the base that was exposed. I thought about leaving it as is, but it was already frosted.

I primed it with gesso. I don't like using gesso on figures, but I figured it would work well on a building like this. Plus I have a huge bottle of the stuff and I don't want to waste it.

 Thinking about it, I could have left the structure unpainted in is natural color, which was a light brown, but I was not sure what color I wanted it to be. Well, I ended up painted it a light brown that pretty much matched its original color! I then washed the whole thing in my patented wash of Future floor wax (or whatever its now called) and black india ink. To reduce the shine, I then finished it with a clear flat.

 The last step was to add a little extra touch to the skylight: glass. I made the glass of the skylight using this stuff from Testors that is for gluing canopies to aircraft models.

Applying Testors glass making glue to the skylight with brush

Finished Building
Overall, I'm pretty happy with it. The front door and two of the windows look a little wonky, but its fine for gaming purposes. After I had put in a number of windows, it seemed to need two more. Being lazy, I made another mold using one of the windows that was already glued to the building. It turned out OK, but didn't have the depth that the actual embroidery mesh had. 


Right side

Left side and rear

A Grey Alien pays a call

1 comment:

  1. Looks great! I love the use of the knitting mesh for the windows.

    I've saved a bunch of those paper mache packing inserts for just such a project. Maybe one of these days I'll actually get around to doing it!