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Monday, December 15 2014

70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in Clervaux

I just spend a very interesting weekend in Clervaux as a guest to the commemoration for the BoB anniversary. It was an honour to be there, albeit I was a bit disappointed that the veterans couldn't make it to a short visit to my dio. I was therefore occupied to tell all the very interested Clervaux citizens why a specific house of my dio was not at the place it should be. It was very amusing, as the same topics came back over and over again during the day. After hearing my explanations, all understood very well that compromises had to be made during such a project, choice and location of the structures being one of it.

But let's start at the beginning. I got great help to unload the modules from the truck. A few impressions of the setup operations, probably the last time
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Done!
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During the night, the guys from CEBA put a special guard near the dio to protect it. Armed with machine gun and Panzerfaust they awaited potential burglars.
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After a hard night, a few leftovers

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The expo day started very slow regarding the visitors, not only for me but for the whole site. More info on what happened around the castle during that special day can be read here https://www.facebook.com/CEBALuxembourg?ref=stream&fref=nf

A view at the Brahaus where I had my expo in
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A few guys from the reenactors had the opportunity to visit the dio during the morning

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After 3 pm the visitor number grew to a very good number, really making worth the whole effort for everyone

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I had a lot of interesting talks with Clervaux citizens, old and less old people, some providing me with informations I could have used to make the dio even more accurate. One man even took an envelope from his jacket and showed me some original photos from the war years, some I had seen somehow already, but also one very interesting showing German soldiers with bicycles near the cemetery . I gave the man my card in case he would like to offer the photos to the museum.

In this context a short word regarding my research ten years ago. Summarizing it, I could probably say, "Who was I in Clervaux ten years ago?" Simple answer, nobody. Imagine me knocking on all these doors ten years ago and asking those villagers about there knowledge of the town, telling them that I wanted to make a miniature version of it. I can't imagine me doing it. From another perspective, I was also novice modeller back then without any experience and never imagined that my efforts would yield in something like I did in the end. Had I know that in advance, myself would have deepened my researches a bit more.

Now of course, presenting my work, I am somewhat legitimate and people voluntarily give me more information, at a point everything is done. Unfortunately for that, but I think that the compromise now standing in Clervaux is not bad at all, a fact confirmed indeed by all visitors.

Being confined to my expo room, I missed most of the activities outside. Here a display in front of the witch tower

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My wife is on this picture. Who can spot her :-)

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Lex, during his efforts to power up the Kettenkrad and get it under shelter for the night.

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Departure of a Dodge manoeuvring through the castle gate

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I took the opportunity of this great location to make some additional pictures

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That's it for now. I left the dio in Clervaux with the promise from everyone involved that in the next months another spot inside the castle will be found, possibly the one where it will then by permanently exposed to the public.

Saturday, December 6 2014

Setting up in Clervaux

Clervaux , I am approaching!


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Just opposite the outer entrance gate is the building in which I am going to display the diorama.

I did set up this afternoon
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A nice big room, white walls, it would have been a perfect setting for the book photo sessions!

Wednesday, December 3 2014

Storage of the dio

Here is a picture of the storage room for my dio. I took it now as a souvenir as the day after tommorow, just 5 weeks after having everything carefully packed, I will take it out again for the expo in Clervaux
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You notice that parts are partly stacked one above the other and dust protected. I will keep the plastic on for the moment as a rain protection in case there would be any during the unloading of the truck.

Tuesday, December 2 2014

70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in Clervaux

I have the great honour to be invited (late but nevertheless) to show my diorama during the commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. 50 war veterans are invited to the commemoration, so I will not only have the chance to show my diorama to hopefully a couple of thousand visitors but also eventually to those veterans. I think that will be the ultimative test! What will they think about it? It is probably a bit to much peaceful for them. I hope they will find the energy to pay my dio a visit.

Come see me at the "Brauhaus", the old brewery, the house just opposide the entrance gate.

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It is the exact house the Sherman ran into during the fight and got abandoned thereafter. The same Sherman standing now in the court yard and whose complete history is told on my homepage.

Monday, December 1 2014

The Layout

The basics: I wanted to make a "Rain" dio, during the night. First ingredient to show the rain element. A kissing couple under an umbrella. Second ingredient, the lights to act as contrast for the rain. First a coupel of streetlights of course and then the lights from a car.

I choose it to be a Taxi, staying in wait to take one passenger, from the couple certainly.

The background: My first thoughts went to a "Restaurant" background, but frankly, I build enough houses for now and was happy to find a replacement. I would do a park behind the couple. I have some ideas, but am still not clear about the usefullness of it.

I would love for example to use this opportunity to play with perspectives. But do I really need to show the backdrop of the park to make my scene working? Of course, in a shadowbox, you need to find something to bar the view from the back of the box, so either I work with a lot of hedges or I go as deep back with my perspective until the darkn ess of the night hides the black painted back of the case.

For the moment it is the last solution I am working on

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The taxi, , feels a lot to big for the scene and it is not even on it's wheels. Unfortunately, the London Taxi I choose, is bigger then a normal car.

The umbrella

At some point I started working on the umbrella.

I had a little bell to use as a template. The umbrella ribs (hope It is the right word) are positioned on the bell and fixed in the plasticine.
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The bell is covered with a coat of Vaseline to avoid the tissue to stick on it. I covered it with a tissue soaked in Mod Podge. I ordered that one to try it out for my rain element of the dio. I brushed more on it and tried to get it as straight as possible

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after drying

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I then cut it down to the good part, primed it black. My original ribs got submerged by the wet tissue and essentially just assured the umbrella look of the whole thing but I had to remodel the visible ribs on the inside with 0,25 mm lead wire.

Sunday, November 30 2014

Finishing the figures

Working evey day a bit on the figures, I am now nearly done.
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One side, with some problems on the guys arms. While corrsponding exactly to the norm, both upper and lower arm looks a bit to long.

No problem, as I will probably show the couple from this side, with the ribs of the umbrella well visible.
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In the meantime I added more folds on the guys right arm and sized down a bit the hand of the girl. I will add a belt to the girls coat and give her a purse.

I started working on the Taxi driver also.

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Remember please that this is my very first face sculpt.

Sunday, November 9 2014

More on the figures

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Just the lower part of both bodies is somewhat finished and already baked. I must say that I like the couple as it is a somewhat unique combination.

I an now working with FIMO Classic and it is good working with it.

Sunday, November 2 2014

Figures for the raindio

While I am still waiting for the book to arrive and experimenting with different varnishes , glues, resins and other stuff to simulate rain, I started already on the figures.

My idea for the overall dio is to make a couple, kissing for Goodbye (under the umbrella), while the Taxi is already waiting. All this illuminated by Park lights and of course the lights from the car. In the night also, to allow for the rainy element to be better seen.

These will be my first ever complete scratch-builds (if you take exception from the 1:144 figures I put on the two towers on the bridge of the Clervaux dio), so be patient with me. I started with a typical mannequin, the size and proportions based on freely available charts on different sculpting sites.

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I made the heads from a blob of Magic Sculpt and, heavily inspired by the tutorial on Alan and Marion Balls website, started to carve the face in. This is still Work in Progress, some parts needed an addition of Magic Sculpt because my head ball was not correct and other parts still need some carving. Of course there are still no eye balls, ears and hairs. The woman will probably just wear a trench coat, so it may be enough to make a rough sculpt with somewhat correct female proportions and just put her the trench coat on later.

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It is clear that for a clerverly positioned kissing scene, not a lot of the face will be seen but that is a good occasion for me to experiment and I will try to do every feature of the face, even if it will not be seen.

Got the Revell 1:24 London Taxi also and start to build it as I will need the reference for my first mockup of the scene. Maybe I will cut away half of it later.

Friday, October 17 2014

Next project, from squaremeters to micrometers

While for the last project I had to take into account the wide of the door and rent a van to transport it, the next project requiered as one of the first steps to converse millimeters to mikrometers ( µm ) ! The size of raindrops is best calculated in that size. Yep, I will give a rain dio a try and see how far I can go with the realism.

As raindrops are as small as 100 µm, the first thing to do was to plan with a bigger scale. For now, I am thinking to make it 1:24.

I am awaiting a book about boxed diorama from Ray Anderson to educate myself as good as possible about that technique. Some experimental stuff is also on the way, more on that later. Ideas about the scene are finding their way into sketches, but the rain issue must first be resolved. No convincing rain, no need to start this diorama.

Monday, October 13 2014

Well back from SMC

After a three hour trip through pouring rain I made it safely back to Luxembourg, unloaded the truck and made another trip to drive the truck back to the renting station. It was midnight when I could finally sat down and close one of the last chapters of the Dio Clervaux story.

The show was great, simply said. Starting with the enthusiastic welcome, cheering even on the sight of the fully loaded truck, of the SMC crew who quickly unloaded the truck after having recovered.

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This time has two small transport damages. A part of the railing on the side of the house with the old men fell down, second time it deed that, the reason being more my initial soldering errors then transport vibrations. Remember, it was at that time my first soldering experience. (well, not a lot came after that) The glue keeping the fallen tree on the truck also stopped doing what it should and it slipped down on the hood, and took that one with it. I only saw that one after all was set up. With a very long 20 cm tweezers. I was able to push it back on top, just enough to be unnoticed by the visitor.

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Setting up for everyone else on the day of the show started really late, so that my usual routine of being there early to be able to see the expo myself did not bring a lot as there was hardly anything to see until after 9 p.m, except for the SMF Alley with the excellent display of the works of the club members. As other exhibitors also profit from the quiet time before the show, I was therefore already fully occupied on my stand when 10 a.m. came and the door opened for the public. It enjoyed that last hour very much. Meeting again and being greeted so cordially, sometimes after years of not seeing them, those acquaintances I made during the last decade in expositions all over Western Europe, yes, most where in Veldhoven, meeting new ones with colleagues I had only Email contact until now, was really great.

Compared to my attendance in 2010 a lot more visitors poured into the halls and this without the usual calm down around noon. It was only around 3 pm when it started to be quieter. I don't know about the last years, but I have the impression that the organizer can be satisfied with the visitor count.

Visits on my diorama stand where great, as usual I might say. Photos where taken by the thousands I suppose.

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My information display in Dutch language was really well used. Hopefully it will also help the city of Clervaux to get a few more Dutch tourists, if that is even possible after hearing from all sides the number of visits spend already in Luxembourg. I did not count the times I had to answer the question about the number of years spend on the dio or about my next project. I am happy that I can type this as my voice still does not work very well this morning. Unfortunately, the whole diorama is meanwhile so big and the viewer as to take so much in in a short time, that questions about specific parts of the dio are not asked a lot any more. Nonetheless I spend all day talking, to the "normal" visitors of the expo and to the dozens of modelling friends, some of them having made the trip from pretty far to see the complete diorama a first and probably last time. Thanks for that guys, it was an honour for me to guide you around the property. Sales of my book went really well also, so I had an overall superb expositions and I hope that the organizer was satisfied with my coming too.

So, what will I doing next? LOL Well, I started drawing some sketches for a shadow box. I want to give a rain diorama a new try. Something special needs to come out after Dio Clervaux, isn't it?

Who knows, next year I might come to Veldhoven like every other modeller, with my private car and the model loaded in the trunk!

Thanks to Robert, the whole SMC Crew and all the visitors for this excellent day.

Saturday, October 11 2014

SMC I am coming!

Here, nearly live, photo taken at 10 a.m this morning, the truck is loaded
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I counted the parts twice, 8, plus a box for the roof of the castle tower and the willow tree, I am good to go. A quick lunch now and around high noon you will see Dio Clervaux on Tour! LOL

Thursday, October 9 2014

Ready for SMC

Well, I am ready and I can't await to get on the truck. Robert is making so much advertisement for my coming that I am a bit overwhelmed, honoured of course also. Had someone told me that when I started scale modelbuilding ....

The coat of Envirotex over the river worked wonders. As I also first sanded down some of the less attracrtive traces in the resin, who happened probably due to badly mixed components, the whole river looks now as shiny as after the first day. Dust was a lot less then feared. At last I did not notice it. Hopefully the diorama is not getting more and more grey without me noticing it. Well, after SMC I will tightly pack it until the museum calls.

This evening I will check wat I will bring else. Questions about the materials I used for the dio are more easily answered with the material at hand. So a sample of my wave work, some moss or other stuff to explain the tree work will be packed for sure also. Perhaps all that is not for the specialists among you, but the normal visitors always appreciate a visual help.

There is a lot of rain over Luxembourg for now. More announced for tomorrow. Hopefully I get an hour of dry weather in the evening for loading the truck.

See you around 3 pm in Veldhoven on Saturday, where I was told a reporter will wait to see me unload my little scale model. LOL

Sunday, September 21 2014

A couple more pictures from Modul 8

That's nearly the whole Module 8, on this picture you see about 100 x 20 cm



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The tree stump, cut out of a piece of Balsa wood.

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The part I modelled after a well known area in Luxembourg called the Mullerthal. Not exactly near Clervaux, but a lot more interesting then a straight slope .

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7 firs, from 3 to 9 cm high, to fill a small space near the rocks

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the gardens, empty because of winter and war time.
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Tuesday, September 16 2014

Preparing for SMC

Having nearly completed the last modul, I can start preparing for the upcoming expo in Veldhoven on Oct.12

The last part still needs to get a nice wood panel on the side to hide a) the bare module frame and b) some of my height adaptions, bare earth or styrodur to cover some missing centimeters. The river got already cleaned up yesterday evening. I had to get rid of dust, missing shine and ugly traces in the resin, like oil traces. Therefore I first cleaned it all up with isopropanol and a clean rag before sanding those oil smears away. I suspect that those traces came from resin I did not stir enough. I brushed a coat of brand new Envirotex over the whole 2.2 meter river in the hope of getting back my orifginal view of the river. As it is that part of the dio who is really new at the SMC, I want it to be as good as possible. If successful I will wrap the dio under plastic until the museum in Clervaux calls for it.

After that, I need to check, again, for the lighting I made for the Gillen house. Still a provisorium as I have no idea where to fix the box with the battery. For this one expo I will leave it like that and wait for the museum people to choose how the will lit the dio. Maybe they will change all, who knows.

The rest of the dio will be checked only days before the expo when I will take it out of the storage room to the garage. A bit of dusting or other fine repair work may be necessary, but certainly not a lot.

I bought already some more black cloth to cover my display table. I now need some 15 meters of it to get around the dio proparly!

I promised Robert to bring my display panel I specially made for the big train expo in Utrecht. I figured at that time that for the awaited 25000 visitors it was impossible for me o explain my dio with some leaflets. I made therefore six A1 size information posters in netherland language informing a bit about history and a bit of "How to" I see a slight problem here as it was intended to a not so specialized public and the informations provided may not fullfill the expectations of the visitors of the SMC. But here again, should forgive me to not invest in other posters for this one last expo as A1 colour posters do not come cheap.

Then there is my book, of course.

I will, as I do on every expo, offer a special discount! You will have the opportunity to buy my second book, the new one, for €25 . There will also be a combo offer. Together with the first book, the package will cost you only €35. So you should not spend all your money before coming to my stand!

I will have german and french PDF's with me. The french ones still needs to be burned on CD. I still sold not one single book with the french CD, so I hope that will change.

So you see, even if I am finished, there is plenty to do before Oct.12. Big diorama, big logistics!

Modul 8 done

This module is now finally done. The work left was mainly vegetation and road work. I also adapted the height to the neighbouring Prüm module. Do do that, I crammed Modules 6,7 and 8 together I my working room in such a way that it is now impossible to correctly make pictures of all the sides. For now at least. Let's start with this picture. I did not have access to that side of the river and just placed the tripod there before making the picture half blind. The background is so multicolres that I had to roughly cut it out for you do even recognize the dio.
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a tree stumb, put in there not only to fill the space but also to give a reason to the roots I made on the lower module (not knowing at that time that I would need to make this one)
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The finished stable comes next after following the path. I put in there some rotten hay.
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The gardens and the simulation of the railings from the real street

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A view who will certainly get a lot of attention on the expo. For transport reasons I I will leave the fir removable, thus beeing unable to fully detail the lower trunk as I need one place to grab it. I added a park bench her e, recognizable on an pld picture at this very same spot) and added a railing along the Prüm gardens. It is a railroad reference and while it has a god enough height, it is so ultrathin that I can not touch it any more and being so close to tree is probably not a good idea because of the risk.

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The view alongside the Villa Prüm to the the new module.
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The diorama has now reached it's final size of 300 x 220 cm, or 6,6 square meters!

There is some vegetation left to add but that should be done in an hour or so.

Am I satisfied with this? I don't know, with the tree certainly, the rest was the best I could imagine to put in here, so probably I am satisfied. The view over the river profits from this added background and better river pictures would be possible now.

Saturday, August 23 2014

Modul 8 progressing finally

After the work on the evergreen I was finally able to follow up on the completion of the rest of Modul 8. As this Modul was forced on me, you remember that I had to widen the Villa Prüm Modul at the last moment, forcing me to this unexpected and unplanned Add-on, I never really had a complete plan and layout for it. I am basically improvising the whole thing while I am building. Only the prolongation of the road from the bridge was set. A small road parting to the left right after the bridge, a part of Clervaux called "op der Hoh", was right here and I wanted obviously to show part of it. The first thing I logically build was a stretch of some cobbled street to continue the main road and use also make the ditch of the old village road with cork pieces.
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Ideas to fill the rest with came slowly and for now I am set with the following. Two gardens beside the village road, bordered with plaster pieces simulating slate. Those gardens are historically probably not to far from the reality. A bit higher, just before the rocky part, I set a shelter (for the cows or sheep), fallen into ruins. Pictures of the houses on this part of Clervaux around the year 1920 are showing very old houses, ruin's nearly, and I pretty safe to make the animal shelter likewise.

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The rest will be filled with grass and small trees, more a hedge. The evergreen will be placed nearer to the Villa Prüm to fill the empty space in the foreground.

Tuesday, August 12 2014

Cones added to the tree

I added 200-300 cones to the tree. Cones were made with Super Sculpey (tan coloured) and backed at around 170 °C until reddish.
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I still need to replace some of the branches points, because they broke already or are completely unsatisfying, I will also replace some of the fern. On the lower branches I started with another moss, less fine, and now I do not like it any more at all. As a consequence, I will take some down and replace with finer moss.

Tuesday, July 29 2014

Building a 30cm high (1foot) Evergreen tree

I always wanted to build a high Evergreen tree, a
s high as they are normally as adults, some 10 meter high, around35 cm (or 1 foot) in 1/35 scale. As I do mostly I wanted to depart from the usual methods to do it, no synthetic stuff and also no Aspargus fern. Although the use of moss is not new, the way I choose to approach the use of it for the sake of a better detailing is not seen a lot, never until now I think. After a few months work on it, I understand why. What I used is this kind of moss
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It's freshly collected and still wet. It will thin out a lot more after drying. I did not use it with it's entire branches but cut instead all the individual side branches from the stem

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and reassemble branches for my tree with all the small bits of moss glued on one by one .

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Here is the same procedure done on the lower and longer branches. Here I used moss collected a long time ago and already yellowed.
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Once glued on the branch I airbrush the moss. That way, no further colouring is needed after assembling the tree

The tree having 30 cm and every step of the tree needs at least 5-6 branches, I estimate the whole tree having around 100 branches and probably around 5000 pieces of moss!

One of the problems I had was the presence, just meters away from my working space, from a tree in my garden. This made me permanently look for the best way to imitate the real thing

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The branches are natural too, coming from a few different plants with suiting branches. The advantage versus wire is the natural thinning out of most of them. On top of the often to smooth branch I sprinkled a very fine sand and pigment mix to imitate the bark.
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The tree is finished, with the exception of some touch ups with the branches and the replacement of missing or unsatisfying moss pieces, and the adding of a lot of 500 cones! I will cut some of the trunk when I decide on the final rest place of it, right hear near the new rock part or near the Villa Prüm to fill a big empty space. The headless figure is of course just to get the height relations.
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The tree will be part of the display in Veldhoven at the SMC, but I will probably not leave it on the dio for it's final rest place in the museum of the real castle of Clervaux. After Veldhoven I will try to make the Evergreen the center point of another diorama. The work invested warrants using it more then once.

Wednesday, May 7 2014

I am building again !

Nearly ten months after completion of Module 7 with the Villa Prüm, I am finally getting around to build again. In the meantime, as you probably know, my whole spare time was invested in my book, the various PDF offerings and last, but not least, some renovation work in 1:1 scale. The first thing on my menu is the build of that missing module part. Remember, the Villa Prüm got wider then expected and I was forced to widen the module accordingly by 20 cm. If I want to have a nicely square overall diorama, I now need to build the continuation of this along the whole river module, a piece of 140 x 20 cm. Here is the task
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The original layout here is a steep wooded hill and I wanted to recreate it somewhat. As it is along the border of the module, placing trees here would only bring transport and storage problems. So I decided to make it a stony hill, rendered a bit after one of Luxembourg's touristic highlights, the so called "Little Switzerland" of Mullerthal and his intriguing rock formations. It should not be to high as not to obstruct to much the side view on the farm house and the bike shop, but high enough to recognize it.

Until now I made the Styrofoam base and plastered it already. The small stream coming from the side does of course also need to be continued.


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This one will not take to much of my time as all is routinework now.

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