Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Kids building houses

This is what started the scenery building bug for me, the infamous townhouse from an early White Dwarf. Using cereal packaging, a scrap of mdf pilfered from my dad's garage, some foamcard (what a revelation that stuff was to a young, enthusiastic model maker), some polyfilla (again from the garage), some balsa wood and loads of pva, I followed the plans meticulously to produce my first scratch built, scale building.

This particular building has a lot to answer for and has helped me start to create a legacy. For this is the actual one I first made, way back in the late 80's (and is one of the few things I have kept from those days) and set me on the track to creating a whole range of different terrain when a teenager and then more recently after my hiatus. But fast forward to today and this little model building just keeps on giving.
In September I formed a model making club (rather than a gaming club - a reflection of me I guess), mostly because it is a love of mine that I can share with the students at my school, but also because my school does not have a D&T department, so the construction of things does not feature massively as a part of the students education - which is a huge shame. The club is popular, initially starting at 30 kids (there's only 100 in each year group) and now down to a hardcore 18).

I provided them with my model townhouse as inspiration (and gave them the backstory) and told the kids that I'm going to teach them how to create something like this, and then shared the White Dwarf schematics and the tools necessary for success. Here are those wonderful plans again:

Now considering it's a lunchtime club (about 30 minutes) and occurs only once a week - with the usual disruptions, here are the early stages of some of the wip townhouses (the other's are awaiting gluing):

And what a wonderful experience it's been. As a teacher I'm often amazed at how old skills I learnt (the hard way - from mistakes and pre-internet) come back into your mind when teaching and this is certainly the case with model making. Some techniques which I took for granted about the processes, the students had no idea about. For example, how to cut a straight line (I assumed they would use the set squares and rulers provided, but some went freehand and made a right old ugly edge). Doing a dry run before gluing, again the students didn't all consider this - again quite messy and catastrophic as the elements didn't fit, no matter how much pva was applied! Anyway it's certainly obvious that they are learning new skills, applying them, making progress and of course having fun with it. Our hobby is pretty special in those regards.

As an aside, I'm often asked how you teach art and am given the line that it's a "natural talent and some are good at it and others not". Bollocks. It's often used for sport and music too. I hate that, it makes the teaching of these subjects sound redundant. Yes some people do have an affinity for these subjects, but boy do they have to practise and experiment to improve further. And if it's a subject someone is weaker at (perhaps because they've never been taught it due to the overwhelming focus on numeracy and literacy at primary school these days) then they can often be the students who make the most substantial progress; unrestrained by poor habits or a self-belief that they've always been told they're good at it and therefore are shit scared of trying something different in case of failure. And besides a good teacher should be able to make any individual learn new processes if there's enthusiasm on the part of the learner and thoughtfulness on the part of the teacher. As an example, in our hobby I'm constantly seeing people on blogs and Facebook make huge strides of development in their skillsets (myself included) as they lap up all the shared advice, tutorials and videos there are available to us through a quick search.

I just wish I could build a real house. I need a teacher, some time and money/resources...

I digress. Town houses. I also spent a few rainy days with my kids making some more simple houses, but using the same techniques (and a bit more hands on help from me with cutting etc.). My daughter decided to add steps to her doorway and therefore positioned the door higher in the wall (the house on the right) and my son has spent a bit more time on his and has just polyfilled/textured the walls and tiled the roof. He loved that bit as he was just using his fingers to apply the sticky pva and coarse polyfila.

Here they are hard at work. Daughter is gluing on the wooden beams (note the coffee stirrers in lieu of balsa!) whilst my son's actually painting a figure in this photo as he waits for something to dry. My oldest daughter wasn't interested in all this, she prefers the games, and therefore doesn't make the cut for the photo.

Here's the result of his endeavours, a lovely, multi-coloured dwarf! However he did listen to me by thinning his paints and holding the brush nice and low for control. He's 4! Not bad eh?

Here he is in action. My wife says I pull a similar face when concentrating on painting my toys, but I generally use both hands.

And over the past few weeks he's painted all of these; decent speed to model ratio too! Can the zombie be added to the ScaleCreep  Hero Quest Heroquest blog please?

Finally, in other news, I've also been doing a bit of hobby work myself and my ode to the sleeping orc sentry from the Warlock of Firetop Mountain is nearly complete...