Blackbird Cottage

One of the first unplanned things that I have made and painted during Twixmas and New Year is this 3D wooden puzzle cottage, a welcome Christmas gift.

Two of these kits came via mail order from Alice in Scandiland, a Nordic design inspired interiors shop that I have visited in the interesting Cornish town of Lostwithiel.

There are two of these wooden house designs available, one with entrance ramp and the one I received with gate. Other house examples in the series can be found online.

The four houses available made by – no idea if all 4 are the same scale / size

Anyway the two cottage kits soon arrived by post from Lostwithiel. This interesting town with many antique and collectable shops sits inland centres around the bridge on the river Fowey, below the ruins of Restormel Castle high up on the hill. The area was the site of an important West Country bocage skirmish, the Battle of Lostwithiel of 1644 during the English Civil War. It also has a corrugated iron cadet hall.

Back to Blackbird Cottage …

Looking at the instructions, I saw an interesting black walled, light window colour scheme.

This colour scheme reminded me strongly of the tarred shacks of the southern states of America such as seen on one of my favourite photo blogs / Facebook page of Forgotten Georgia.

I spent a happy hour trawling back through several years of photo posts on Forgotten Georgia, looking at these old vernacular American buildings. These gave me colour scheme ideas for both of my cottage models.

The cottage kit also reminded me of the colourful wood and corrugated iron buildings of the Falkland Islands.

The third and strongest influence was the tin roof and black as pitch tarred walls and yellow windows of Derek Jarman’s fisherman’s cottage, Prospect Cottage and its famous shingle garden on the beach at Dungeness in Kent.

If you look online, you can see find some rare shots of Prospect Cottage’s wooden walls and floor.

Some Lemax Christmas village 54mm+ snowballing children and lead cowboy for size comparison


I found both kits easy and quick to make, following the A4 sized panel of instruction graphics. Much like many modern laser cut MDF models, this is a push out and clip together puzzle wooden model, no glue or craft knife is required. A tiny black square of sandpaper is helpfully included.

Lead 54mm cowboy alongside door panel for scale / size comparison.

Construction Tip 1: Parts on sheets A to C on the wooden push out are not numbered, although there is a labelled plan of them on the instructions. To be on the safe side I pencilled the letter and number onto each part


Thus equipped, having easily made up both cottage kits, I painted the first cottage using Acrylics (Revell Aquacolor Acrylics from local hobby and craft shops or Hobbycraft (online / instore).

I find that these acrylic paints require two coats to get a really rich covering or colour.

Construction Tip 2: Paint the panels first before construction (or disassemble the model after a dry run) to do this.

Painting the first cottage was made harder by painting them after construction. Getting into nooks and crannies inside the building even with roof panels off.

Toy soldier style – I wanted to keep these as much as possible toy houses, for toys and toy soldiers, to suit a wide range of 19th and 20th century scenarios or settings, in the style of H.G. Wells’ Little Wars. I have written in a previous post about the charming 1930s wood toy buildings by Hugar.

Colour choices: Revell Aquacolor Acrylics (Matt)

Tar Black (appropriately!) for the wall

Rust for the roof panel

Dark Earth for the floor and walls

Lufthansa Yellow for the window frames

White for the fence

Sand for the surrounding base


Painting the suggestion of a corrugated iron or tin tabernacle roof was an interesting challenge. I used Revell Aquacolor Acrylic Rust colour (Matt) as the base colour.

Using the same Rust paint mixed with a little Tar Black, I painted narrow stripes down each roof loose / freehand using another paint brush as a guide line. No precision here, just a suggestion of planking or rusty tin roof.

It oddly captures the rough planking feel on my now vanished childhood cowboy fort (along with the sand base colour).

I wanted to be able to place figures inside, so have kept the roof sections removable.

In hindsight, I would have liked to try this tin / plank roof paint technique on the floor sections as well but it would have meant dismantling the whole house.

In the next cottage I will use the same paint brush technique to suggest floor planking, all painted before final (re)construction.

I used some of the small push out wooden ‘bits and bobs’ to reinforce the chimney and also cover wall / floor holes.

Furniture and Fittings

Further detailing could be added – shutters, window sills etc – but I wanted to keep that simple toy fort feel.

In keeping with those tin litho American barrack buildings, I will look out for or make a few non-specific pictures, framed maps or noticeboards for the wall.

Similarly some rough furniture, which I might have to make, as most 54mm toy soldier sacks furniture in the UK is usually from expensive scale model railway ranges or too ornate for the period and setting.

That is only a problem on this side of the Atlantic as BMC do some interesting furniture sets in the USA but shipping to UK is expensive. They sadly don’t seem to have a UK dealer.

Anyway I want to keep these buildings flexible and uncluttered.

The Coast Watch hut with its Britain’s Ltd naval guard, my Prince August homecast Special Naval Reserve officer and Boy Scout messenger (original boyhood Marx Plastic) c. 1910 to 1914


And in keeping with its Blackbird colours, below here is the closest I have to a tiny Derek Jarman in his shingle beach gardening overalls.

The washed up old fishing net is from Christmas chocolate gold coins.

I enjoyed Derek Jarman’s strange films and his books / memoirs in the early 1990s, as well as the photographs of his found object beachcomber garden taken by Howard Sooley before Derek’s early death in 1994, having struggled like many gay men of his generation to fight off HIV / AIDS infection.

And finally …

A gentleman of the road (or spy?) strolls past the Coast Watch Station … hollowcast Britain’s and other 54mm figures.

What next?

Next stop is to paint the other cottage which may have white external walls and colourful window frames or dark earth (plank) wall, and again the suggestion of tin roof / planking.

One of the sadly decaying Forgotten Georgia blog photo posts showed a plain old wooden shack which was falling apart enough to reveal an unexpected painted light eggshell Blue wall inside (wallpaper or paint?) A reminder that these buildings were once someone’s proud home …

Blog post by Mark Man Of TIN (roof), 7th January 2023.

B.P.S. Blog Post Script

My Bird House Railway Halt Building conversion


13 thoughts on “Blackbird Cottage”

  1. Nice looking model Mark – goes well with the old Toy Soldiers/Sailors. I like the chap with the telescope!


    1. Thanks – it was relaxing and enjoyable Twixmas craft. Yes inexpensive for 1:32 / 54mm buildings. I have seen them (or similar) for sale online, at The Range (online) as well as from Alice in Scandiland.


  2. This is a lovely building which has come up really well indeed. The colour scheme really complements it. I too am most taken with the fellow with the telescope. The running sailors are just the thing too.


  3. P.S l was taken by the BMC furniture pack, ‘tis a pity they don’t post over here.
    I have always been fascinated by hobbies similar to ours such as model railways and dolls house collectors. There is such a crossover of skills and interests , the desire to create our own miniature world and populate the way we want be it , be it from a real prototype or our imaginations.
    I was very taken with this-
    which would make a lovely home for a hobbit
    I wonder if this 1/48 scale furniture from the same company might work for you-
    It is reasonably priced and a few choice items might work well..


    1. As you say, great pity that BMC aren’t so widely available in the UK and that shipping sounds expensive on Jeff Imel’s note on the website.
      The crossover world of Miniatures and Small Worlds is a fascinating one from Slinkachu to railways and dolls houses. It would make for very interesting crossover exhibitions!
      I watched a bake off style series on making Dolls House rooms and furniture (hosted by a miniaturised Sandi Toksvig) but it was too much the usual rush and stress to learn much from. Likewise the botched Bake Off style model railways by teams one a year or two ago. Stress stress stress, not the calm and challenge of making things well and slowly.
      I am quite intrigued by Book Nooks and book nook kits but inevitably would end up tinkering and make them differently
      The Petite Properties Company is an interesting website, the hobbit house kit made of loo rolls and pringles is pretty amazing. Who would have thought? Great for RPG?
      The furniture links is very interesting, it gives me some ideas for scratchbuilding and if that doesn’t work, I can buy the professionally made ones ….


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