Saturday, May 23, 2009

Lott's Tudor - Village Hall

The half-timber constructions of the Lott's Tudor sets continue to call me - I've been reading about vernacular architecture in England & Germany (and a little France) with a special focus on half-timber construction (Fachwerk in German).

But call as they might, I have had trouble stirring myself to actually build, for a variety of reasons. Bad head, mostly.

But some gentle nagging (in the form of additional plan book pages arriving in my email), and some difficulties passed closer to home (eg my wife had her scheduled hand surgery and is fine), and a little few more gumptions were available.

I've been wanted to make some of the roof sizes and shapes I didn't have, but was frozen on that project. I finally managed to do that this morning, albeit as trials out of lightweight construction paper, and went ahead and chose something to build.

I'm not convinced this was the best choice to work my way back into block building, but it ties nicely to my reading and that helped with breaking the inertia.

All those tiny stones standing on end or edge as window mullions are not a good choice for the wobbly of finger. Placing the chimney in the center of a twelve inch span of light construction paper roof was not sufficiently strong. And worse the use of triangular pieces on point would have only worked out if the pints weren't blunted - I had to shim (a sin!).

But the diagonal timbers thus represented charmed me, and the chimney only tilted a bit and only collapsed (taking a portion of the building with it) after I had a few pictures - fortunately usable.

So all in all, very good block play.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Seeking the imperfect

The biggest challenge of building something in miniature is usually the choice of what to omit. It is simply not possible to build an exact replica in miniature - especially with simple construction toys. How much can you leave out and still have a satisfactory model of the original?

I can get stuck in the planning phase forever, trying to figure out how to make a model better. This is one of the reasons I mostly build from plans, not freelance. And I am always on the lookout for new plans.

This week Andy Harris's Lott's Bricks Gallery added a page on Lott's Kindergarten Blocks, which I immediately scanned for plans, zooming in on the image at right.

Now what was cool, and the impetus to my building and blogging today, is that I immediately recognized that top & center in the plan sheet is an easily recognizable model of London's Tower Bridge. Okay, I was looking at the larger versions, not the thumbnails, but still ...

The point is, at the detail level this doesn't look at all like Tower Bridge (do a Google image search), but it doesn't matter. Maybe I am more bridge oriented than most people, but I still think some of my readers will have recognized my model, and even more would agree that it is an acceptable representation after looking at the pictures.

I don't have any Lott's Kindergarten Blocks, but Ankerstein fans will recognize them as being reasonably close to the simpler Ankerstein sets (more obvious in the Lott's Set 2 at left than the Box 1 above).

So I built my Tower Bridge out of Ankerstein rather than Lott's. And out of perversity, I built it out of Ankerstein Set 4A rather than choosing a set or combination of sets more able to replicate the Lott's Box 1 contents.

My model is roughly the same size as that on the Lott's plan, but I have had to use different colors and multiple smaller blocks to represent larger blocks not in the 4A assortment.

Successfully achieving the imperfect is good block play.