For the first time, I decided to try my hand at making
up a souvenir card model. The Chateau du Clos de Vougeot
in Burgundy produced by Editions
L'Ínstant Durable in 2010.
It has been sitting in the
drawer untouched since we were there in 2017.
It looks and feels lovely. The printing is crisp and bright
and detailed. The card feels to be good quality and the die
cutting of the component pieces is superb. Nothing has to
be cut out. The pieces just pop out of the single A4 sheet.
Just a handful of little stubs. Though, to be honest I did help the
process with my craft knife just a little. Some of the
stiffer stubs might have popped loose with a bit more twisting
but... better safe...
The lines which have to be scored and bent are highlighted
on the back of the sheet.
It does not quote a scale but based on the 5mm high doorways
it is around 1/400. So, quite small. It cost me 4 euros.
Which feels like a good price.
It is a slow job. Each score line has to be made and bent
before anything else can be done. Just one of the pieces has
22 score lines. They are not all that complex. Some have
only 7 or 8! There are 15 pieces altogether. I may be
some time. On with the close-up glasses. Regular reading
glasses are not enough
The instructions are minimalist. An icon says no scissors
are necessary - which is true - but the text says simply
"First prepare the folds - fold back" or forward according
to the colour of the tab. Even with a straight edge to help
I do not think the folding can be done neatly without a
light scoring cut.
My tool of choice for this
is a pair of rigid chisel edged knives that came as part of a
budget carving set from one of the big DIY chains. I say a
pair because there is one with the angled edge on the left
and one with it on the right. The chisel edged style means
that the knife has one flat face and one angled face. Which
I find better than the regular craft knife with two angled
faces. Easier to keep sharpened too.
The scoring and bending
of the tabs is complete at last
It is time to assemble the pieces. Two things are clear.
One is cosmetic - and a bit fussy. Some of the bare edges
printed pieces will be visible after assembly. I am fairly
sure it is going to be better to colour them before these
35mm high building sections are put together.
The second issue is more structural. The card may be
high quality but it is quite flimsy.
This thing certainly needs a base, and (IMHO!) really
needs some stiffening on the inside to make sure that
right angles are true and that staight lines stay straight.
With coloured edges
and a strengthening card piece glued to one of the
is on hold for now. It is not a quick job. You will gather
that I am writing this in real time as
I work. The bare card edges were coloured with a felt tip pen from
the grandchildren's craft box. The base, at least to start
with is just a sheet of cardboard. An old document envelope.
There seem to be a lot of pieces that are all going to
have to be glued together at the same time. I'm unsure
how this is going to work. My first thought was to start
by taping down a couple of pieces on the base marked with
a pre-drawn right angle. But this did not help at all.
My next effort, on assembling block 1, made use of a piece
of thicker scrap card cut to the width of
the building. I began by gluing this to one of the base
tabs as shown at the bottom of Fig.1 .
Then I folded in the end wall and went to glue the
tabs supporting the roof and the tab connecting the end
wall to the side wall. Which highlighted two things.
First how fiddly it is. My finger only just fits inside
the building to press on the joint. Having the roof and
the walls and the roof on a
single piece of card makes for complex folds and tricky
gluing. As shown in Fig.2 my scoring and folding wasn't
quite good enough and a small strip of blue construction
tab is visible between the wall and the roof.
Securing the end of the building (shown with
the number 1 on it) required 4 tabs to be glued
Secondly, and much more significantly, my
off-piste addition of strengthening card at the bottom
of the walls meant that the tab connecting the end
wall to the side wall -the blue tab at the bottom right
of Fig.1- no longer fitted. The thickness of the
strengthening card obstructs it and a small piece
(just 2 or 3mm wide) needs to be cut off.
Similar adaptations are now going to have to be made at
multiple points along the rest of the way. The price
of trying to improve on somebody else's design.
Once that was done the second wall tab could then be
glued underneath the strengthening card, both as
highlighted in Fig.2 .
The same process worked on the similar second section
but section 3 is a small tower, 11mm square. I am afraid
I simply cannot get it properly square. It has a tendency
to swivel into a diamond shape. I am coming already to a
conclusion that card (at least the printed surface card)
is not an adequate construction medium. That it needs a
sub-structure over which the fine printed surface textures
Rather than spending more time cutting and scoring
and bending a second inner layer of heavier card I am going
to go for a solid block inside it. While the outer dimmension of the
tower is 11mm (or a fraction more) the inner dimension has
of course to allow for two thicknesses of card. I did not have a little bit of wood exactly the right
size of course so I packed it out with card. Now it
assembles better to my mind.
I am less than 20% through this project and already
I am wondering if it is actually worth all the effort.
How many of these lovely little model packs actually make
it to becoming a fully finished model the buyer (or
gift recipient) wants to display? I have my doubts.
At last I can move on to putting the first three
sections together. Yet again, I am learning the lesson that
making adjustments to the model as supplied has a cost.
The yellow and blue tabs on the right hand end of section 1
(the section on the left in Fig.4) have to go inside the
walls of section 2 (the building on the right). But I have
put in a strengthening section at ground floor level. So I
cannot get my fingers or a tool into building 2 to hold
the tabs and hold the glued sections together. I'm using
Pritt Power Glue which grabs and holds pretty fast but it
still needs holding for a short while. The only solution
I could see was to bend the tabs really hard back so that they
spring themselves in the direction I want as they
are put in place.
The first three sections joined up
The first three sections joined up
But it doesn't work. The two pieces of card to be joined
have to be pressed together. The springing into place
idea is not enough. Next step, try super-glue. Which
seems to have worked. Actually it took two goes to get right.
Right enough at least. As good as I am going to get it.
It is still a little bit wonky!
No doubt the designer and manufacturer would tell me that
their kit doesn't need the extra bits I've added and that I am
just making my life unnecessarily difficult. I'm not
persuaded. As I said earlier I just do not think that a
single layer of thin card is enough to give structural
strength and the correct shape and that structure is needed
below the surface texture. I would much prefer the
walls and the roof to be separate components. Not just to
make construction easier but to allow that little overhang
of roof at the top of walls. Even in a small scale like
this model (where the overhang might scale to only 1/2
a millimetre) I think it is worth doing to get the sense
of there being an edge rather than a bend. In anything
bigger I think it is essential.
More broadly, I am quite
convinced that card, or paper, is a useful component in
model buildings. At this scale anything other than a
printed wall or roof texture is unlikely to work as well.
But it should not be the only element.
If wood for strength or plastic or metal for precision
gives a better result then use it. Vegetarianism I can
understand as a point of principle but Paperism does not
seem to me to have any moral dimension.
There are plus points though. As you might gather from
the pictures, I can make this model sitting at the dining
room table. Which is nicer and more sociable.
I do not have to go upstairs and sit alone
at my workbench. I had to do it only briefly to cut the
little wooden section to strengthen the tower.
That is all I am going to do on it for now. I may come
back to it. Or I may never bother. Partly because it is
The dormers. Oh Dear!
But the real reason is the dormer windows.
You can either leave them lying flush with the roof -
like the one nearest the tower. Which is clearly wrong
but is neat and tidy. Or you can press them out, as
the designer clearly intended as they are all pre cut.
Which looks incomplete and, to my eyes at least, frankly
silly. It is therefore never something I am going to be
proud to display in my cabinet.
There is lots to like about this model. But... I'm
sorry, Editions L'Ínstant Durable.
I think this a fatal flaw.
Reims cathedral. I'm impressed.
Afterword: I wrote this article without researching
the company or having any preconceptions about them. It turns
out they were a very serious outfit producing a wide range of
models of big subjects that ( made by the right person)look
fantastic. An image search will show you lots of amazing
pictures. But in the end it came to nothing. They went
into liquidation in 2016.