Thursday, September 15, 2011

1:144 scale Noah's Ark

      I had been working with a client on various scale miniature projects, all wonderful challenging ideas, so when she suggested Noah's Ark in 1:144 scale I was intrigued. After much research, I arbitrarily decided on 4" for the ark. All the animals are 1:144 scale.
Using a scale rule, I first designed my pattern on paper. 
Then I transfer my pattern to a small block of wood (Jelutong) with the grain running vertical.
 The next step is to rough it out by cutting around the side view. I use an x-acto knife with disposable #11 blade. If the animal is large enough, 1/2" or larger, it can be roughed out on the scroll saw.  Then the fun begins!
With my x-acto knife, I carve and detail the animal. This includes carved eyes,  paws, inside ears etc. 
Next comes the sanding. I have to be very careful not to sand off the detail. I like to use approximately 220 grit sandpaper, but instead of progressing to finer grits for details,  I like to use pieces of the same sandpaper that are more and more worn out. Not  only does the grit become finer, but the backing paper is very soft and well broken in. It is essential for such tiny work. I am constantly aware of where I am putting pressure when carving or sanding. Sometimes I am so immersed in the carving or sanding and not aware of how I am grasping the piece and it breaks, and I have to start over. The last step is painting the animal. I use a good artist- grade acrylic paint.
 When all the animals were finished, I needed to construct the diorama. I started with a base of boxes glued together. I used some actual rocks from my road, then cut some foam wall insulation to create tiers. Then I spackled the gaps, painted everything green, and covered with scale model landscaping, building up layers to look realistic. I made the tiny trees from bits of root that the pigs on the farm where I worked were rutting up. My miniature eye saw thousands of tiny trees, and I brought home a box full! I could not use a real photo of Mount Arrarat for the background as no doubt it would be copyrighted, so I went through my neighbor's vacation pictures and found a nice shot of The Badlands. Finally the moment came where everything was done and I got to set it all up. What fun!
Following are some close-ups:


  1. OMG! I just noticed this is in 1: 144 scale. It is really beautiful!!! I can't imagine being able to carve like that. :-)))

  2. Hey Catherine- thanks---coming from you, well, I'm totally honored!

  3. Amazingly gorgeous! Your carvings are wonderful no matter what scale but 144 adds a whole new dimension.

  4. Thanks! It is so much fun to carve in this scale---

  5. Thank you for the tutorial, but you are so talented. The dog in the next post is so sweet, I cann't believe.
    Hugs from Craftland

  6. Magnifique et en plus à cette échelle.

  7. Hi there...
    I'm totally amazed by your work.
    May I ask, what tools do you usually use for jobs like these?

    Greetings from Brazil :)

  8. I'm amazed!!!
    This is so incredible.
    I would love to know what types of tools you use to carve and paint.
    I know you use jelutong, but do you use carving knifes? Any particular brand or special quality or detail that I should look for?

    Greetings from Brazil.