For today’s article, you will need:
• Illustration board (you will want a slightly stiffer board)
• Peeled corrugated cardboard
• Clothes pegs
• Popsicle sticks
• Side cutters
• SHARP hobby knives
• Air drying glue (either white glue, or elmer’s clear paper glue)
• A glue stick
• A glue gun
• Super glue
• Vellum or marker paper
• A fine black permanent marker
To start off, we will be framing in the door and windows. I usually start with the sides and then add the top and bottom pieces. Simply measure the window depth, cut the pieces of wood, then glue them down. Lay down a piece top and bottom and mark off where it meets the outside edge of the shorter pieces, then cut it to size and glue it down. I find it very helpful to have some clothes pegs on hand to clamp down the pieces and prevent them from shifting. Let’s face it, your time is valuable and sitting there holding something waiting for the glue to set up and start getting tacky isn’t particularly enjoyable.
Now that we have finished framing the windows and doors, let’s fix the edge on our patio. The exposed cardboard and rough Popsicle stick edge isn’t the most attractive looking finish, so let’s add a trim with the illustration board. Measure the thickness of the patio, and trim strips of the board accordingly. I made my strips slightly taller so it would prevent miniatures from sliding off the edge in case it ever were to be bumped during game play.
Let’s turn our attention back to those open windows. A lot of Asian architecture from the period utilized paper for walls windows and doors, so we will be doing the same! Measure the dimensions to the outside edge of the window frames and draw the shape on your Vellum or marker paper. You can purchase this at most office or art supply stores.
After the shape is drawn, make grid and draw it with the permanent marker. Make sure to let the ink dry before you cut it out. Once you have your pieces cut out, simply add a very light trim of glue on the paper and lay it down inside of the walls. After this is set add more window trim the same way we did earlier. (note that I have still left the walls pinned together, as It makes working inside them MUCH easier).
Our next step is the difficult part. Using the corrugated cardboard we will be adding a layered tile to the roof pieces.
You should be able to purchase lengths of bare corrugated cardboard from your local shipping stores, but if for some reason they don’t (they have randomly stopped stocking it in my city), there is an alternative.
Realistically, any corrugated cardboard box has the same ribbed structure inside that we want to use for our tiles, and are generally much cheaper (free), than buying it by the yard from a dealer. All you have to do is peel the top layer off. In order to do this successfully without leaving behind lots of chunks of paper, it will need to be gently soaked.
I’ve discovered that diaper boxes or those with a smooth full color print are much easier to work with. This top layer tends to come off MUCH easier than those on regular boxes.
To soak the piece of cardboard, take it to a large sink or your bathtub and run the water over the side you wish to remove. Run the water along the edge of the sheet as well. This dissolves the glue that is holding the top sheet on, and you will be able to peel it back. Work slowly, and be sure to add a little water bit by bit. If you add to much water right away, either the cardboard itself is going to start coming apart, or you could pull the ribbed layer off as well. You definitely want to avoid both happening, as your cardboard simply won’t be useable in either event.
After you have peeled the top layer of the cardboard off, you will need to lay it somewhere flat and leave it to dry. It will likely need to dry at least over night. You may wish to lay something on top of it to press it while it is drying, as it may warp and curl.
After the cardboard is dry, cut it into strips. I’ve cut my pieces 1.25” wide to allow 4 layers with a 0.25” overlap.
Starting from the bottom of the roof, measure and mark off the angles that need to be trimmed off. After they are cut, cover the back with the glue gun and press it down. Keep the pieces you have cut off. You will need to double check each angle you lay down as the angle will change slightly when it is laying on top of the bottom layer.
Once you have finished your roof tiles, flip the roof and walls over and glue down some blocking to hold the roof in place. This allows the roof to be removable so you can play inside of the building.
The last detail we will be adding are some stairs for the entrance. Line up a Popsicle stick on your cutting board and mark off the angles where it will line up flush with the trim and the floor, then cut the extra wood off. Use this piece to make a copy. Using the thinner popsicle sticks add some blocking on the inside of each support every quarter inch. Glue this together with you super glue. The wood will absorb it and it will create a great hold.
For the stairs themselves, measure the width of your door and cut lengths of popsicle stick the same width. Glue this stair pieces on top of each of the blocks you added a moment ago. The blocks give the stairs something to rest on and more surface to bond to.
Once your stairs are dry, cut a small piece of illustration board the width of the inside of the stairs you have made and glue it to the patio trim, then use it as an anchor to glue your stairs on.