The shirtsNow the main idea of the diorama is still that there are actually some shirts drying on a piece of string set between a mast and a funnel. I think the genesis of the idea may come from a totally surrealistic picture I saw of the Cesarevicth battleship after one battle against the Japanese fleet, with her funnels holed by shellfire, and yet the sailors let their clothes dry near the shell holes.
The problem was – what material should I create those shirts? I wiped out from my head the idea of doing them out of magic Sculp as those would appear too thick, and then, very naturally, I ended up doing them out of cigarette paper.
I was indeed a smoker during most of my youth. Throughout the years I got to be an expert at rolling fags with 2 or 3 different sheets at a time, or rolling them with one hand etc. I was naturally using the material a lot at the time because of its unexpected qualities for the modeller.
First it’s very thin and it doesn’t break so easily which are the 2 qualities you need if you want to create some books or newspapers in scale. Of course you have to seal the whole thing which is very easy using superglue. All my early dioramas are littered with objects done out of cigarette paper.
But I’ve never tried cloths. So here I was, turning into a tailor.
The first step is to create a kind of jerkin without the sleeves. I cut one piece which should be long enough to do both sides of the shirt. I glued it together (the joint being of course the tiniest possible and inside the shirt) both on the side and on the top with some kind of kids paper glue that I apply with some sort of pencil. I let dry overnight while inserting some matches between the 2 sides to be sure that the 2 sides don’t glue together. I then proceeded to cut out openings for the collar and the sleeves. I prepared the sleeves using more or less the same technique before gluing them through the hole of the shirt again using matches so that neither of the 2 sides of the shirt glue together. The thing is always to remember using very little glue, but applying it evenly on the whole contact surface. Then I cut out the front opening of the shirt and added various lapels on the sleeves, collars and on the place where you close the shirt.
If you worked with a minimum of care and followed the right proportions you should have a perfect flat shirt, straight from the dry cleaner but then nothing too dynamic.
This is where the smoker’s experience pops through as the trick for success is to carefully roll the shirt between the fingers so that you basically break the paper’s structure and especially the folds you have been creating either on the jerkin or the lapels of the sleeves. When the job is done you should have a paper shirt which has got the feeling of a very thin cloth.
Now just shape it the way you want and on with the last part of the method.
Just put some superglue on a surface and proceed to paint the shirt with a small modelling knife dipped into it.
You have to be really very careful when doing this because if you touch anything while the superglue isn’t set, you will have just ripped of the shirt and destroy the job.
The best way to avoid permanent damage is to hold the paper with one hand, “paint” what you can without gluing your fingers, then stay with the shirt in hand for the glue to set, and when it does dry, just paint the rest while holding the shirt. When the shirt is done and the glue set, you can drop the shirt on the working surface and it will do a ''ting'' king of sound, just like it’s a bit of plastic. (pic 25-26-27-28-29-30)
What’s pretty cool with this method is that I doubt any aftermarket leech will ever propose this kind of stuff.
Copyright ©2020 by Jean-Bernard André. _OPINIONS Model Shipwrights, KitMaker Network, or Silver Star Enterrpises. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of Model Shipwrights. All rights reserved. Originally published on: 2008-02-16 00:00:00. Unique Reads: 56581