Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Himeji Castle Papercraft

Previously, the most difficult thing I'd ever made out of paper was the kotatsu cat (the cat sleeping on top of the Japanese heated table). I've just started designing my own projects in conjunction with the Endtown webcomic by Aaron Neathery, and the most elaborate thing I've done on my own is the personnel transporter (still in progress). Then, as a part of simply wanting to get a collection of papercraft site links, I visited a number of different sites and checked out what they have to offer. Canon has some of the best projects, and just out of curiosity I downloaded the patterns for Himeji Castle.

I can now safely say that Himeji is the toughest, biggest and most difficult thing I have ever attempted. It didn't come out perfectly, and there's some places in the assembly instructions where I really wish they had more detailed English explanations (such as for warning you to not do certain parts out of order, or to be careful that certain pieces may be glued in upside down. But, it still looks ok from a distance.

One problem with the kotatsu cat was that I used plain printer paper, which was too light and flimsy. This time I ended up using card stock, which was too thick and unmanageable. I should have used plain bond paper. I'd started out with scissors and a glue stick, which simply didn't work and had to switch to an x-acto knife and wood glue applied with a toothpick. (Went through a full bottle of glue, too). Some of the edge details, like the fluting on the window frames, and the ceramic fish on the roof) are just too small - you can't cut the paper that close to the fish without tearing it, and the ink flecks off the paper if you handle it too much. Some of the work requires that you put the castle upside down on the table, and that risks damaging the fish pieces. Skipping the smaller details may have been the wisest decision the designer could have taken.

Overall, though, the 4 finished sections did fit together pretty well for the final assembly, although I think that units 2 and 3 (the two outer walls with the lower buildings) should have been built as one big piece. Trying to reach all of the little glue tabs from within the buildings to glue the two sections together was a real bear. And one wall was a bit too distorted when I tried lining it up with the main castle, leaving the outline for the glue tabs exposed. My biggest complaint is that there were just too many pieces (of the 12 sheets, one had about 20 little roofing tiles on it) that required just too much folding. The total project took around 3 full days, and cutting out and folding the smaller pieces really tried my patience. Not fun. But now it's done and I can finally go outside and play again.


kyushudan said...

Fantastic job. It sounds like you had to overcome many challenges, but the end result looks pretty damn good.

I was thinking, maybe assembly would have been easier had the Shachi (the fish ornaments on the roof) been a finishing touch. I opinion can't really count though because I didn't built it, you did.

Anyway, I'm glad you persevered.

TSOTE said...

kyushudan - thanks for visiting, and thanks for the comments. You raise an excellent point. In most cases, the ornament sections are part of the roof itself, so they'd have to be removed and added back on later. There are a couple of cases where not having them on would make assembly much easier. It's an interesting thought. If I were to try one of the other Canon castle projects (which have the same ornamentation details) I'd consider putting a paper tab inside the roof top and then glue the fish back onto the tabs at the very end.

What's your favorite (real) castle so far?

kyushudan said...

Fave castle... That's tough. I've visited about 60 and like many for different reasons. I like Kumamoto & Osaka (but not their (concrete) main towers.)

Speaking of Kumamoto, I did go to the Canon site & printed it out. After about an hour of cutting I gave up. Doing papercraft isn't for me, but I do appreciate the hard work of others though.

I hope you don't mind, I tweeted this page. I doubt you'll get a flood of visitors, but hey.!/jcexplorer/status/101637530964860930

TSOTE said...

60 castles - that's one or two more than me; I've visited Himeji and Gifu... Oh yeah, and Iwakuni. Kumamoto is not that far from my current apartment (an hour from Kagoshima). If I can save up some money I might try going there. I liked Gifu best because it has the Thai squirrels in front, and they were fun to play with.

Sure you don't want to try Kumamoto just one more time? You've only got 35 more hours of work to go...

Thanks for the tweet. The more visitors, the better.