Sunday, February 12, 2012

SomethiNg differeNt. For oNce.

Hooray for my very first non-I'm-a-Giant-post! I was digging around some older posts at Modernminihouses, and be still my beating heart, she has more than few posts about N-gauge (1:148) structures. Which immediately makes me want to talk about mine. I didn't even realize that these are the perfect size to be a dollhouse for my dollhouse until she suggested it. N gauge has a special place in my heart as my first mini-obsession.

So yeah, I know I told you I originally did the dollhouse when I was 12 or 13ish. I don't consider that to be any real miniature work. I just glued up paper on the walls, and popsicle sticks on the floors. Not that I didn't thoroughly enjoy it, it just didn't take a lot of skill/experience to make it happen.

So fast forward a bit to junior year of high school (I was about 16 or 17 years old, for any international folks). I started dating a sweet, reserved senior boy who was also a railroad enthusiast. I already wasn't that cool, so this wasn't exactly social suicide. He had an N-gauge train layout in his basement and he loved working on it. I liked helping out, but didn't know anything. For his birthday I decided I'd build him a building. I bought a laserkit at the local railroad hobby store and spent about 12 hours on it. (Lesson number one: paint before building. Cuts your build-time nearly in half.) It came out decent, and I was hooked. I don't know how many structures I built in total, but at least half of the laserkit N gauge line (they're well planned, inexpensive, and they assemble pretty easily). And probably a half-dozen others. I kept a few when we broke up. Here's the problem: none of mine are cute little houses. That means I'll likely be building another soon (which for me, is sometime in the next year). I don't know if I'll do a whole kit, kit-bash, or design and build from scratch. But when the time comes, you know I'll be talking about it here.

So, for fun, here's what I have collecting dust on a bookshelf in my craft room. Some are unfinished, possibly permanently. (I tried to dust 'em off with a stiff paintbrush to the best of my ability. But they're incredibly delicate, and I didn't want to destroy them, so leave your white gloves at home.)

Let's start with pictures of things I made, but don't have anymore. Break-ups can be so messy. And apologies for the picture quality, these were taken before there were digital cameras. You know, back when Napoleon was just a cadet.

So here's that first birthday-building that I did. It's a schoolhouse in Boston&Maine colors (or as close as I could get). The roof's too light, but that's his problem now.

A storage shed/garage. Unknown brand. It doesn't look like it was a laserkit. Probably Bar Mills, or NE Scale Models by the looks of it.

Warehouse (Laserkit #601 General service building)
More B&M colors, that's the line he liked to model, since it's local and all.

(Laserkit #645 Nine Mile House and Tavern)

This could've been a tavern/general store I never put any signs on it.

(Laserkit #602 Interlocking tower)

Another warehouse.

Laserkit #629 One story section house.
Laserkit #623 Corydon general store and post office.

So here's what I still have, albeit, none of it useful to me in any way. Purely decorative and sentimental.
We'll start with the unfinished stuff and work our way up to my favorites/best work.

 Here's a sweet little New England style bed and breakfast/hotel. It's so unfinished. I still have what I need to finish all of these up, except for time and motivation (which, unfortunately, are crucial). I think this was the Idaho Hotel kit by Bar Mills. Checked the website, and it doesn't look like it's available in N gauge anymore.

 This church is unfinished because this was when I was still afraid of electricity. I wanted to put a light inside to show that I had stained-glassed the windows. They come clear with the kit, I added some glass paint, and shazam. Super cute.
Laserkit #691 Crossroads church.

 Bet you've never seen an adorable outhouse. Glad I could fix that for ya.
 I can't be sure, but I think this may have been part of the hotel kit. It was over a decade ago and my mind is like a steel sieve.
It even has the corrugated aluminum roof. Awwww....

Here's a scratch build I did using balsa and scraps/leftovers from other kits. I call it 'cabin in the woods'.

Laserkit #604 Transfer building.

 This is a really big structure. A train can be driven all the way through with doors on both ends.

Oops. Clumsy man hands strike again. I'll have to fix the trim on that front corner. Balls.

Laserkit #608 One bay engine house

 This one's adorable. I have a little fire engine that can go inside, but I haven't built it yet.
Laserkit # 647 Hillview volunteer fire company

The doors are on paper hinges.

OK. We're down to the last two. Both are completed. I can't decide which is my favorite, I guess it's a tie.

 This is the Northeastern Scale Models 'Tenement Row' kit.
 All of the windows have 'glass', some are left open at varying heights for realism. Also, this was my first experiment in weathering. I wanted this to look like the crowded, dilapidated, low-income housing that it is.
 The 'end units' have more windows on the sides than the walls that abut an adjacent building.

If I recall correctly, these came only with rolled roofing, but I thought a tar roof would look cool with the parapet walls. So I made a concoction from scratch, I can't remember what I used. I know there's glue in it.

And last but not least, the Dari King.
(Blair Line #082 Dari King drive-in kit)

 I don't think this could have come out any cuter if I tried.
 The rolled roofing is peeling up a bit in the back, but that's an easy fix.

 I even put signs inside, so you could see them in the windows.

That sign looks huge in this pic.

So anyways, I hope you've enjoyed this departure from my usual mumbo-jumbo. I know I have. It's always fun to rediscover memories, and appreciate what you have. Even if you can't use it. I might contact the ex-high school sweetheart and see if he wants to trade a couple of structures, we still keep it friendly. I'm pretty sure he has the farmhouse/barn combo, and I want it. I have no use for the engine houses. Always worth a try. I ain't too proud to beg.

I'm off to work on my modfire. Check you on the flip.


  1. Holy crap! These are awesome and awesomely tiny! I can't wait to see the modfire.

  2. I too am part of the big hands club, but mine are super clumsy and knock everything down when I'm decorating my house. I cannot wrap my head around how you make something so small. Totally impressive.

    1. Tweezers. Lots of tweezers. These hands are gargantuan, but at least they're steady (depending on the wine consumption, naturally).

  3. The outhouse looks like it should go with the little cabin to me. My favorites are the tenements with all the little people. I keep seeing some tiny laundry hanging on tiny clothes lines on those porches. And piles of old newspapers and other tiny stuff. I never made anything so tiny!