Monday, August 12, 2013

Any Port in a Storm

Some months back I decided I was renaming the capitol of my basement Cai Lay. I've revised my thinking somewhat. Since there was a Cai Lay before I started I think New Cai Lay might be better. And thus far Cai Lay was . . . pretty industrial and rather spartan.

I don't plan to get rid of the old harbor anytime soon. After all, I have been updating it with efficient modern piers like the one below:

But somehow I want my city to have glittery edge, a little class, some glamour. Someplace for people to disembark from a beautiful ship that isn't surrounded by warehouses and refineries, someplace more like Manhattan and less like Jersey City. (Indeed, someplace across the river from my old harbor. Which means I'll need a bridge, sooner or later. Or two or three.) Of course, it also means I'll need a city.

Well, I've broken ground. The first step is grading and initial construction on the liner piers. You can see what I'm up to below:

It may not look like much, but it should make a decent foundation. I'm experimenting with what I believe is called "hard-shell" scenery. I've built a core of foam and crumpled paper, shaped it with masking tape, and layered wallboard joint compound on top of that. I've done two layers thus far. The next step will be to sand it into the rough shapes I want and perhaps add a little more to cover bare spots. The piers themselves are pieces of foam packaging that came with a screen we installed at a local college. My plan is to make the skyscrapers from blocks of foam or balsa and build them up similarly. (I can add kneadtite details, or maybe I'll try out milliput.) I'll have to cut foundations for the buildings, but hey, that's all the more real, right? Plaster carves easily enough, so long as you don't need fancy and don't mind patching. Heck, maybe I can even try casting some details for my skyscrapers. Surely the same construction companies and architectural firms have built more than one New CL building, right? And maybe they reuse elements from old plans when no one is looking too closely.

To give you a very rough idea of how all of this will scale and how I hope it will lay out I've placed some appropriately sized wood blocks on the hill and docked some liners at the still incomplete berths.

It's still rough, but I think I can make it work.


  1. A very good start! Have you considered using paper templates for the buildings instead of adding the details by hand?

  2. To be honest, it hadn't occurred to me, but you have me googling about a bit now that you've planted the idea. I certainly don't mind using cardstock as a material. Particularly since this is a side prohject making it a little quicker and easier would be a bonus. (An important side project, but a side project.) I'm looking around, but if you have any particular sources you'd suggest, I'm all ears.