Saturday, 18 January 2014

Building using a paper model

A cube in 2D
Everybody will remember having struggled once with a pair of scissors and a pot of glue to build a palace or a castle from a paper model. Producing a 3D representation of a building from a paper model is one thing; to actually make the paper model itself is something even more complicated. A very simple example of such a paper model is that one of a cube, as shown here.

Drawing of a "simple" stair case stringer
When I was attending a school in my youth which would provide me with a diploma as a carpenter or joiner the word "paper model" was always used in conjunction with the complicated modelling of e.g. the parts of a winding staircase. Fortunately, I never had to make one. It requires a very good insight in solid geometry as well as mastering the use of a pair of compasses and a ruler, to produce a flat, measurable image of something only using plans, views and cross sections. It becomes even more complicated when one has to produce a paper model to build the constructions as shown in this blog.

Scale model of a stair case
In Romanèche-Thorins, a town close to the Beaujolais hosts a museum, the Musée départemental du compagnonnage, dedicated to a guild that used to educate young craftsmen to become master craftsmen. The apprentices did a "Tour de France", whereby the compagnons worked with a number of masters throughout the country to master their trade. Their education was completed after they had made their "master piece". This was, in the case of carpenters, often a scale model of a very complicated roof construction, a church spire or a stair case.
Making paper models ("la tradition du tracé dans la charpente française" = "the scribing tradition in French timber framing") the way this guild practised it, has been inscribed in the "UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List".

Some master pieces
The museum shows a number of master pieces and very briefly explains how these paper models of complicated structures are made.
It also emphasizes on the history and the background of the guild, and how it almost disappeared at the end of the 19th and how it revived itself during the 20th century.
Outside the museum a few young lads were demonstrating how modeling works, but the most impressive feature of the museum is the collection of the old master pieces.

Mater piece - detail
If I only imagine trying to make a paper model of a construction like those which are shown in this museum, I wonder whether there is enough paper in the world allowing me to finish it....
Romanèche-Thorins is less than an hour's drive from La Tuilerie de Chazelle.

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