The ‘Haywain’ Project

The ‘Haywain’ Project

This was contrived as a model making project for the sixth book ‘Creating the Rural Scene’. This is my latest book in the ‘Crowood Press’ model making range.

The concept was to create a model that would depict the title of the book, but at the same time would be instantly recognisable. I also wanted to use scrap card for most of the construction to show just what could achieved at very lost cost to the pocket! John Constable’s rural masterpiece ‘The Haywain’ was the perfect choice, although, right from the start I realised that this was going to be challenging.

The first stage was research, obtaining as much information as possible from a visit to the site at Flatford Mill. This included taking photographs and estimating measurements especially of Willy Lott’s cottage. From this information scale drawings were produced working to 1: 43rd scale. This scale was purposely chosen to use commercially available kits of farm wagons, horses and the figures, all depicted in the painting.

A start was then made on the model selecting a base board the right size to set the scene. The mill pond along with the footprint for the cottage were all plotted. Once this had been completed the structural modelling started with the land form, all created using re-cycled polystyrene packaging. This was carved and shaped before being sealed on the surface with a coat of plaster. Next the foundations for the cottage were formed using strips of foam board.

The ground texturing was now added using fine grit for the beach and lane surface. Various material were then selected to create the grassland and scrub including teddy bear fur, foam flock and the nylon fibres of ‘static grass’. The old tree was added at the same time fabricated from an old tree root and flock matting.

The main scenics were completed by adding the water to the mill pond, this was obtained using three coats of clear gloss picture varnish. The far bank of the pond was edged by reeds and rushes. These were mostly replicated using the bristles from an old paint brush.

My attention was now brought to recreate ‘Willy Lott’s’ Cottage. I used strong pieces of card which were obtained from a picture framer as cut-off’s and no longer required.
With construction of all the walls completed, a skin of Das modelling clay was applied to create the texture for the render and the exposed brickwork. The structure was then painted before adding the Windows and doors, which were also modelled using scrap card, gummed labels and clear packaging for all the glazing.

The roof was fabricated next, also using card with the tiles individually cut from old greetings cards. To complete the roof lines the two chimney stacks were added and other final details, before painting and weathering was applied, matching to the photographic reference of the prototype as close as possible.

It was now down to the final dressing out of this model, starting with cottage garden, fence and gate. Next the wagon parked in the mill pond was made up from two kits with a few extra scratch built extras added. The horses came from the same supplier along with the two carters, although these also had to be modified slightly to replicate those depicted in the painting. The dog however, had to completely fabricated from scratch. This was made up from a wire skeleton with milliput added, and sculpted to shape the dog, before being painted. It was important that this made as accurate as possible, as the artist included the dog in the composition to lead the viewer to the wagon, being the centrepiece of this famous work of art.

To complete the diorama I had to change from three dimensions to two. This involved creating a back drop which was painted using oil paint on a sheet of canvas board copying the sky, distant fields, and both the far and near trees, again as close as possible to the original. Careful blending of colour was needed here to make sure the transition between the three dimensional model and the two dimensional back drop was observed.

The completed diorama model, is now a major part of my exhibition display, becoming a talking point with the visiting public. The whole project is explained in full and can be viewed in the book ‘Creating the Rural Scene- A Guide for Railway and Diorama model Makers’.

The Haywain