How to use this

the right-hand side

If you are looking for something specific i.e. guidance on how to use a particular material or explanation of a particular making process (and it can be defined by search word/s or phrase such as ‘polyurethane resin’ or ‘colouring silicone’) it’s probably best to use the ‘search for’ box and press ‘enter’ on your keyboard. This will search in all posts and ‘pages’ including the Vocabulary list and will present newer entries first.

If you just want to browse a general subject you can select one from the ‘subjects’ menu, but this will only include the posts (not the ‘pages’). It will also depend on how I’ve thought to categorise the posts.

The blue menu entitled ‘Materials and methods’ applies just to the ‘pages’ and is a more expanded version of the dark grey menu bar underneath the header image. These pages offer more organized and summary information focusing on materials. Unlike the posts these will be added to, perhaps starting very basic but gradually developed.


I’ve now built a ‘lexicon’ and will be steadily working on it (replacing the older ‘vocabulary’). It will provide quick definitions of terms as before, but now goes much further. My aim is for it to include in note form all the information necessary in practice  i.e for understanding materials in order to work with them, to grasp the basics of different methods. I am using it as my own quick means of adding to collected info about materials and methods as I find out more. Because I will without doubt have to refer to this continually, it will not be left unattended and will certainly grow!


30 thoughts on “How to use this

  1. On your blog you show three little shells, each with a hole in. You refer to these as having no purpose, but I remember seeing a documentary a few years ago about people living in a “natural” environment, and they used shells like these to grate a root, which they then processed in some way to make it more edible/ nutritious. The researcher commented at the time that archaeologists would probably discard shells with holes in as being pretty random if they hadn’t seen how they were used.

    • That’s interesting Penny! I read the official archaeological papers on those shells. There it was concluded that there was no evidence of possible other uses, such as the one you refer to, or the use of shells as a form of currency, or status tokens, evidenced later in the timeline. It makes sense to me that shells could be used as scrapers, but I think in the case of these particular three there was evidence that they’d been deliberately bored to be strung, and there were particles of ochre (which was thought to have decorated the ‘string’) on the inside of the shells, as I remember.

      • I was interested enough to look at the evidence. It reports “The wear in the latter case homogeneously affects the whole surface of the shells and consists of a microscopic dull smoothing associated with micropits and rare short, randomly oriented striations. The wear on the presumed strung examples is found on the perforation edge and on spots of the ventral and lateral side, and it is characterized by an intense shine associated with numerous random or consistently oriented striations ”
        Isn’t red ochre just red coloured mud? If they were used as scrapers/graters, they might well have picked up mud from the outer surface of a root. Simply putting a hole though a shell and wearing it threaded on a necklace wouldn’t have done that, whereas the striations and shine might well have been caused if they had been used as scraper/graters. Also the shells were found in an open air site, where one might prepare food, not in some precious cache in a cave. I notice that this explanation has not been put forward and rejected, rather, it had not been considered at all.

      • I think it’s common for a lot of things just not being considered. Specialists become blinkered! You don’t remember the title of the documentary do you? I’d be interested to find it .. though, to be honest, my attention is in a different place at the moment. I don’t retain things very well, so when coming back to them (which I want to with the ‘art’s origins’ theme) I have to, as it were, start from scratch again. That’s not a bad thing though, just slow.

  2. I see from your website that you have knowledge on a variety of subjects. I have a covered wagon building kit that says it is 100:300 scale. Can you tell me what that means? I am used to working with dollhouse miniatures in the 1:12 scale. How are the two scales different? Thanks for any information that you can give me.
    Martha Holt

    • Hi Martha, I’m afraid that doesn’t make any sense. It would be an odd way of writing 1:3 scale .. one third real size, which it can’t be. Have a look at my explanation ‘Working with scale’ in the ‘Methods’ section.

  3. Hi David,

    We have been having a look over your blog and can see that you have a wide range of knowledge regarding soldering and its associated products (including Fluxite).

    Solder Connection (One of the UK’s leading Solder distributors) have recently launched an e-commerce website that provides solders, fluxes and consumables to the Model engineering & hobbyist market. We are also the manufacturer of a range of legacy products including Fluxite and Bakers No.3.

    We noticed on your website you have a section called ‘Suppliers’ which highlights other providers to the industry. I wondered if this is something that we would be able to be added to?

    Our website is below for you to review.

  4. Hi, I just wanted to add my thanks for all your knowledge and insight into materials and working methods. Your website and information has been invaluable to me in my current project and my very next task is to order your book! Not to sound sycophantic but you are a godsend. The clarity and efficiency of your communication is a wonderful relief from having to wade for hours through useless bilge on the internet. Also, did you know that unhulled and hulled chia seeds mixed together look remarkably like beach shingle? (though obviously it depends on scale).
    All the best.

    • Many thanks for the thanks! No, I didn’t know about the chia seeds, though now that you mention them I can imagine. I’ll put them on the list to investigate! Related .. I’ve had fairly good results using dyed psyllium husks to represent leaves in small scale. All best!

  5. I absolutely love this site I have learned so much here!!. I am working on doll house furniture I am a serious beginner and I needed help with using templates and cutting the material. Your site has given me some great ideas and I am looking forward to learning more from you and I really wish I could attend some of your classes!! However, I live in Baltimore Maryland US but you have motivated me to find courses here. Thank you so much!

  6. I had the bright idea of making a spare key for my motorcycle in the form of a plastic credit card. when needed I could pop it free from the ‘credit card’ surrounding it and be on my way. It would only need to work once, assuming my next stop would be home where an actual metal spare would reside. I made a silicon mold, i used two part urethane resin and.. made an absolute mess. In all I made seven ‘keys’ from plastic none of which worked and only two of which actually fit into the key slot. Clearly, I underestimated the tolerances required of a functioning key and seriously overestimated my skills in mold making. I really do see a need for a spare key of this sort and want to try again. I wonder if you have ever tried to copy a key like this and which materials/process you used? I had problems with air bubbles, the edges of the key were not crisp they were ‘wispy’. I attempted to clean the edges with a razor but that just mangled them and rendered them useless. Any advice on this before I waste more time and money would be most welcome! THanks!

  7. This is great stuff…..and many of the links apply to the UK….Yippeeee!!!
    Great article, and only looked at a fraction of it so far.
    I’m hoping to have a go at making faux tortoiseshell sheet…perhaps around 0.5mm thick…for use as guitar pickguard. Had a wacky thought that I might use cling film on plate glass….could that work as a release agent? Would there be a resin ‘of choice’ for this purpose….or are the ‘much of a muchness’? Of course I need to think about adding colour too!!

    • Thanks! No it’s not really ‘muchness’ in this case. I’d imagine that pickguards may be subject to just a little flex, so I wouldn’t recommend unreinforced polyester resin. Clear epoxy on the other hand is not as brittle, I’d go for that.

  8. Just wanted to add my admiration for your site and work and also a big thank you for being able to use it as a resource with my students. I’m teaching on a very new Technical Theatre course and we have just added a dedicated unit on set model making. I’ll also make sure my library has copies of your book and recommend it to my students. It has been a long while since my model making days and your detailed writing of the materials available now and some of your techniques has been invaluable.

  9. Hello David

    Your site is great – I happened upon it rather obliquely when looking for an economical source of low viscosity Urethane casting rubber. That aside, I’m trying to write a paper on contemporary fine art practice and ‘the miniature’. It’s vast and sprawling but only at the embryonic stages of raw research and anecdote at the moment. I teach HE Fine Art and 3D Design at a provincial FE college but my studio practice is fundamentally rooted in ‘making’. It would be great to pursue some sort of dialogue.
    I’m not sure if our library has a copy of your book but I know there is money in our learning resources budget that has to be spent by the end of July so i will get the team to order a copy.

    Thanks again,

    • Many thanks Jason! Yes, I get a fraction of a percentage for every book sold and even a ghostly smear of a fraction of a percentage for every library borrowing so .. ‘every little ..’

  10. hi david i have silicone moulds from plastic moped parts from a honda moped,i want to reproduce this plastic parts threw my moulds,because honda does noet make them anymore and the people keep asking me for this honda camino pa50 plastic parts,but i have 0 expierince in this matter,have the moulds now which material Biresin G26 A/B,if i send you pics from the moulds could you write a litle manual??

  11. David,
    I bookmarked this site for “fingertip” access to your experience and guidance! I recall seeing a discussion of using eggshells for leaves on trees but can’t seem to find it again. Can you point me to that information?
    Thank you so much for sharing!


    • Yes, I refer to it at the end of ‘Working in Scale’ and ‘Creating surfaces’ both in the ‘Methods’ section. There’s not much info though .. basically eggshell needs all the inside skins removed then best crushed to preferred ‘plate size’ in mortar/pestle, and can be glued using Pva glue.

  12. Dear David- we have not met but I was a Motely-ite from year 9, way back at the Sadlers Wells/Camperdown house. I am still designing, but I also teach. I want to thank you for your book, which I purchased last year. It is great – I show it to my students all the time…thank you for everything you to do make it easier to pass on your knowledge….

    All the best,

    A thankful Shawn Kerwin

    • Many thanks Shawn! I appreciate that! The book seems a long time ago, although it hardly is in ‘historical’ terms. I have learnt a lot more since so I decided to update it by doing this
      rather than writing a second book (which the publisher wanted me to do). This has far fewer restrictions! However, I often refer back to the book and it’s nearly always surprising me with
      things I’d forgotten I knew! I think I was fairly well joined-up at the time!

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