Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Paper Model Tools and Techniques: Choosing a Model

Thomas Garbutt is Castle in the Air’s paper model builder at-large, constructing Pellerin paper models at his home in New York City and shipping his finished work for display in our gallery. Thomas has been sharing tips and techniques with us from his years of paper model building. In this installment, he offers up his thoughts on how to select which model to build.
Before Beginning
by Thomas Garbutt
Where to begin? The question itself has a daunting ring to it, especially in the world of paper model building with its wealth of available subjects, models, complexity levels, and scales. 
The most obvious consideration when selecting a model to build is your own curiosity. Choose a model that interests you. Model building can take a long time, especially when you are just starting out, and you’ll want to work on a model that can hold your attention. A common mistake beginners make is to think that they’ll be able to finish. Also think about what you’re capable of in terms of space, both workspace and display area. How big will the finished model be? An airplane with a 36-inch finished wingspan sounds impressive, obviously, but do you have room to display it? If your finished model is going to be a gift, then make sure the receiver has adequate display space as well.
After thinking about space, it’s also important to consider time. A common mistake beginners make is to think that they’ll be able to finish everything in one sitting. Paper model building can take up a lot of time, and it’s easy to underestimate how long a project will take. When I was young, my mother taught me the value of setting goals—this is a lesson that applies very well to paper model building. One of the first things you’ll learn in this hobby is the importance of learning to crawl before you walk. A photograph of a finished model can lull you into a false sense of what you can accomplish quickly. Over the years, I have found that models are really nothing more than a series of smaller assemblies (also known as “sub-assemblies”) connected together to make a whole. This is where goal-setting comes in handy. If you set yourself a realistic goal each time you work on your project, then it will eventually get done. Say to yourself, “Today I am going to cut out and sort all the pieces for my model,” or “This session is all about just gluing together the seats for my model Ferris wheel.” Such goals give your time a specific purpose, something concrete to accomplish. When you reach that goal you’ll feel good, and you’ll be more likely to want to continue working next time and ultimately finish the piece.
Another benefit of setting sub-assembly goals is that they let you tell yourself it’s okay to stop work for the day. Building paper models can become addictive—all of a sudden it’s 3am and you have no idea where the time went. Do this often enough and you’ll eventually burn yourself out. Your model will sit on the work table for several months becoming an annoyance, until one day—to relieve the guilt you feel every time you look at it—you simply throw everything away.
If you’re having trouble deciding what sort of model to construct, consider trying a building or monument, whether contemporary or historic. These work well incorporated into landscapes or other dioramas, in railroad layouts, or as part of a dollhouse setting. If you enjoy making a particular building, perhaps you’ll be encouraged to make complementary models to go alongside it and assemble a miniature scene out of them all.
Paper models are available in many scales. The word “scale” is confusing to some new builders, but all it means is how large the finished model will be compared to its real, full-sized counterpart (known as the “prototype”). Scale is represented in notation form, such as “1:8.” Such notation is understood to mean “1 inch on my model is equal to 8 inches on the prototype object.” Sometimes the scale notation isn’t used and a model is referred to as one-eighth (or 1/8) scale, or “one-eighth the size of the real thing.” All these references mean the same thing. The standard scale for a dollhouse is 1:12. Simply put, it means that 1 scale inch equals 12 inches in real life. An adult male in that scale could realistically be approximately 6 inches tall. Of course this applies to scale feet as well—a room in a dollhouse measuring 1½ scale feet across would represent an 18-foot room in the house it is modeled on. Popular scales, in order from smallest to largest, include 1:144, 1:72 (the most common), 1:48, 1:32, 1:24, 1:16, 1:8, and 1:4. 
I hope this has taken some of the mystery out of how to select which paper model to build. Once you have gathered your supplies, designated a large enough workspace, and given yourself a realistic sense of how much time the model will take, go ahead and make your selection and get started.
Previous lessons in Thomas Garbutt’s series of paper model building tips and techniques include his thoughts on gluing, cutting, and clamping. Our interview with Thomas Garbutt on his experience working with paper models can be read here.

Browse Castle in the Air’s selection of more than 300 vintage French paper model reproductions.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Night Harvest

Paintings and Drawings by Laurey Foulkes
October 4 - October 31, 2012

Pink Moon, by Laurey Foulkes, 2010
Birds held in mid-flight, a figure emerging from the earth, the solitary hand that stands tall above the grass; all appear amidst charged, surreal landscapes. In this collection of work, Laurey Foulkes explores the liminal space between the waking and dreaming mind, the self and the archetypes housed within, and her own intimate connection to the natural world. Working with oil on canvas, gouache, watercolor, and charcoal on paper; Laurey distills the language of dreams, personal history, and the remembered landscapes of youth in her mysterious pictorial space. 
Laurey grew up in Los Angeles, California, among a family full of artists, musicians, and animators. After receiving a BFA from Otis College of Art and Design, she taught art education, worked as an animator for Disney, and eventually moved to the Bay Area to start a family and continue her artistic practice. Laurey currently lives in El Cerrito, California, with her husband, daughter, cat, hamster, several fish, and lots of snails.
“A Studio for the Imagination,” Castle in the Air’s shop and classroom have ­inspired local and visiting artists since 2001. Since its opening in 2009, the ­gallery in our upstairs loft has quite literally taken the inspiration to new heights and provided a venue to showcase current and historical works.
In celebration of both Laurey’s work and Castle in the Air’s 11th birthday, we invite you to an evening of live music, cake, and champagne!

Opening reception Thursday, October 4, 6 p.m.
Gallery open 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. every day

Castle in the Air
1805 Fourth Street, Berkeley, Calif. 94710
(510) 204-9801, www.castleintheair.biz

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop

When Castle in the Air first opened its doors on Fourth Street eleven years ago, I was full of anticipation over who might cross the threshold into our fledgling fantasy world. It didn’t take long for the parade of artists, writers, and dreamers to begin, and one of the first was the wonderfully eccentric Reginald Bakeley.
A self-proclaimed “fairy hunter,” Mr. Bakeley made a beeline for the shop due to—as he put it—our “preponderance of gnomes.” Reginald specialized in tracking and bagging these forest fairies in particular, and thought that we might be a partner in his work. (I honestly think he mistook our collection of concrete garden gnomes as a set of decoys similar to those used in duck hunting.) He brought with him on his first visit a handful of booklets he’d made himself, each of them outlining specific interactions with the Fairy Kingdom. There was “On Gnoming: A Pocket Guide to the Successful Hunting and Cooking of Gnomes” and “Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop: An Instructional Pamphlet for Use in Successful Animal Husbandry.” As if to temper the violence in these first two booklets, Reginald also brought his pamphlet collecting Lewis Carroll’s rules for some variations on backyard croquet.
Even though I don’t eat gnomes myself, and find hunting to be particularly beastly, I couldn’t help but welcome Reginald and his odd little booklets into our world. Their popularity over the years helps me see that there is more than one way to step into the realm of the fairies, and that sometimes it’s advisable to bring some protection.
This idea has caught on, and in a big way, because we recently received a box of Reginald Bakeley’s latest work. It’s a full-fledged book this time, and it expands on Reginald’s message of how best to live in a world overrun by gnomes, goblins, brownies, mermaids, and other such mischief-makers. Make sure to ask for a copy if you think the fairies might be wreaking havoc in your own life (or if you have any friends with backyard chickens).
Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop and Other Practical Advice in Our Campaign Against the Fairy Kingdom, by Reginald Bakeley, foreword by Clint Marsh. 208 pages, paperback. Available at Castle in the Air or through our Online Shoppe.