The Neilson House - Saratoga NY 1777

As we have been gaming a lot of Sharp's Practice games of late, I thought I would make a building to use for our future games. I first did a minimal search for "1777" structures and found a pic of a red cabin at the Saratoga National Park, the Neilson House. I liked the design of the house, but was not so sure about the color of it, very red! But alas that seems to be historically accurate and who am I to buck history :)

I sketched out the design on some graph paper using a perry figure for scale ... while I admit it is a little larger than I anticipated, it is not nearly as "large" as these pictures make it out to be; must be the angle of the camera phone. Out came the foam board, balsa wood, rulers and cutting blades.

Most of this was simple measure and cut, but the "cut out" section proved a little harder to do than I thought it was going to be. Fortunately, I had plenty of extra scrapes to fix any of the walls that came up short. I also wanted the roof to come off but had not had much success with my previous buildings. So on this build I tried out a "new" reinforced technique which worked well and I kind of feel dumb not doing this on most of my other buildings. I just cut out foam board and stuck the roof tiles on to it, instead of two end pieces and running the roof tiles across ... doh!

The slat planking for the sides were pretty tedious to do, but do look really good. I cut lots of strips of thin cardboard (such as cereal boxes) then glued then onto each other to form each side of the building. Unfortunately I did not actually have a cereal box and started to run out as the box I used was pretty small! So I ended up combining several shorter pieces to finish every side. That said, I actually really like the look of this, as no two boards are actually the same. IMO this gives a much more realistic look than the "perfect" laser cut mdf buildings.

For the windows I started out like I normally do, gluing cut strips of balsa wood to a piece of graph paper to line them up, then glue it the side of the building (and spackle around it) ... in this case I had to cut out a section of the plank siding to get in order to fit in the window. This was not working out very well, so I decided to measure and cut the windows on the siding first, then glue the siding to the wall, and then use the cut out to "measure" the balsa wood pieces for the frame to fit inside for each window. I really should go back and add in shutters but was getting anxious to finish, so skipped them. I can always add them in at a later date anyways.

I wanted to roof to look different than the siding so made the "tiles" a little longer. Then I took a pen and drew in the "individual" tiles. Cut up the bottom of and generally scuffed each layer before gluing it down. I also paid special attention to the front porch overhang and the removable roof, as I wanted to have fairly seamless line when the roof is on. I was mostly done with the roof, when I realized I had not put on the chimney! So I just added a couple of layers of foam board and glued it straight onto the roof tile ... by far the worst looking chimney I have done and plan to redo it in the near future.

Now onto painting ... first up I wanted to try and "stiffen" up the building, so as seen on Youtube, I mixed some Mod Podge, brown paint and water; then painted the mix onto the building as a primer, as well as stiffening the build. This worked pretty well, though I need to get better at mixing the concoction, as the colored "primer" was really thin.

I next broke out the Iwata airbrush and loaded it up with some Vallejo Fire Red to paint the sides of the building. I then added some a sand color to the red and airbrushed some faded areas on it. To my surprise the red actually turned out pretty good! I next used a grey blue and sprayed the roof, but used a large brush to dry brush the edges and picking out individual tiles. I also painted the windows and the porch, though the worn wood look I was going for, did not come out like I wanted. To "fix" it, I applied some wash to it ... and was still not happy with it, so may line each plank to make them standout a little better.

For the most part I am calling this house done, it is very game usable right now and I can get to the other little things at any time. I have come across some close up views of the house and now realize that it sits atop a layer of stone ... sigh :) When I am really feeling like it, I will cut out a thin base of blue board and outline a stone base for it. Because of this I am not going to base the building right now and just use it without a floor.