Best of Bri­tish

Meet the broth­ers who have made plas­ter cast­ing cool

The Daily Telegraph - Telegraph Magazine - - NEWS -

An in-de­mand ar­chi­tec­tural model-maker

ROBERT AND GAVIN PAIS­LEY’ S ar­chi­tec­tural mod­els have earned a cult fol­low­ing. Lead­ing ar­chi­tect Alex Michael is of Michael is Boy downs sev­eral, as does the New York vet­eran mod­ernist Richard Meier. Each model is a pre­cise replica of a real build­ing, whether it ’s a land­mark like Bat­tersea Power Sta­tion – their best­seller – or a pri­vate home. These aren’t just for de­sign buffs, though. They pos­sess the Lil­liputian charm of a doll’s house, which holds univer­sal ap­peal, as their ris­ing pop­u­lar­ity – 70 per cent year-on-year in­crease in sales since 2014 – proves.

It was the seem­ingly lim­it­less po­ten­tial of 3D print­ing that spurred the broth­ers to swap their com­puter-pro­gram­ming busi­ness in Nut­ley, East Sus­sex, for model mak­ing in 2011. At first they ex­per­i­mented with us­ing purely dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy to cre­ate the mod­els, but they soon de­cided against it. ‘Although 3D print­ing is ex­pen­sive, the re­sults didn’t feel ex­pen­sive and the mod­els lacked that lux­ury craft touch,’ re­calls Gavin. Af­ter tak­ing a plas­ter mould-mak­ing course, they set­tled on a com­bi­na­tion of ana­logue and dig­i­tal to cre­ate the mod­els, as en­cap­su­lated by their brand name, Chisel & Mouse – chisel for the hand­crafted and mouse for the com­put­erised.

To be­gin mak­ing a new model, they draw up the build­ing from pho­to­graphs us­ing Sketchup 3D-mod­el­ling soft­ware. ‘ It ’s re­ally im­por­tant that the re­pro­duc­tions are ex­act, we’re not try­ing to do an ab­strac­tion,’ says Gavin. One of the ways he achieves this is by count­ing the bricks along­side the win­dow panes to en­sure the pro­por­tions are cor­rect.

Next, the ren­dered com­puter-based mod­els are sent off to be 3D printed (this is too costly to do in-house) and the 3D model they re­ceive is used to pro­duce a rub­ber mould. This is then checked for pre­ci­son and, af­ter cor­rect­ing any er­rors, the process is re­peated and a sec­ond rub­ber mould is cre­ated. This will be the mas­ter, used to cast the model.

Casts are made us­ing a type of plas­ter c all edj es mon i te be­cause it’ s very strong. ‘It has a lot of resin and acrylic in it, which can take a bit of bat­ter­ing,’ ex­plains Gavin. Fin­ished by hand, the mod­els re­quire light sand­ing and any sur­plus pro­tru­sions are chis­elled off. Me­tal­work for win­dows and doors is made in Scot­land and fit­ted by Robert and Gavin in their Sus­sex stu­dio.

De­vel­op­ing a new model can take a few months, but Gavin has been work­ing on his favourite Lon­don build­ing for two years. He hopes his am­bi­tious 24in-tall model of Christchurch Spi­tal­fields, an 18th-cen­tury church in east Lon­don, cut away at the back to re­veal the in­te­rior, will be fin­ished next year. chis­e­land­mouse.com

Clock­wise from top A model of the Bauhaus art school in Ger­many; tools of the trade; broth­ers Gavin and Robert Pais­ley. In­ter­view by Bethan Ry­der. Pho­to­graphs by Aloha Shaw

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