Thursday, 19 July 2012

Sow plus four piglets, Hovels Ltd & Pig Pen

After fancying another complete change from the usual project work I had recently completed this little vignette. This came about more by circumstance than plan, being a culmination of several bits and pieces I had scattered about the desktop.

I had bought these lovely little miniature animals (C8 - Sow plus four piglets, Hovels Ltd Link) at a show several years ago. Like so many of my other projects they patiently sat on the work desk waiting their turn. I had more recently purchased a bag of the wattle fencing by Renedra with no definite ideas of how or when I would use them. Taking two of each of the long (124mm) and short (60mm) sections I tried placing them onto random off-cut pieces of red (fireproof - in case you were wondering) MDF board from work. Eventually finding an idea piece (167 x 108mm) I then went about trying to work out how to put the set together.

I wanted to give the impression that the pigs had burrowed into the ground so using my brand new hand-held hot wire cutter (hours of fun - yep, I do need to get out more) I cut the banks of the pigpen from scrap pieces of expanded polystyrene (used as packing) to the required angle. It is certainly easier and quicker to use than a sharp knife and slightly less dangerous. 

Once happy with the shape I fixed them and the fences into position using PVA (wood)glue. Then the area outside of the fence was then covered in PVA glue, covered in fine sand and left to dry.

The shelter was made from the barbecue sticks for the uprights and the ubiquitous wooden coffee stirrers for the roof, painted various shades of grey to represent weathered wood. Once dry I marked its eventual position on the base along with the positions of the pigs. The next stage involved cutting recesses into the base board where the pigs would stand so the models would sit flush with the ground rather than above. Then using ready mixed plaster I made the mud interior of the pigpen and sparingly sprinkled a bit more fine sand to give the mud a bit of texture but ensuring there would still be smooth flat areas.

I had initially planned to poke holes into the wet plaster with a cocktail stick to create the numerous trotter prints in the wet mud. In reality I left the piece too long under my table lamp and then had to use a small hand drill to make the holes.

Once dry I painted the 'mud' with various shades of dark brown but with very few highlights.


I wanted to represent a genuine old breed of pig and remember seeing these handsome chaps that live on the farm at Kentwell Hall, a Tudor moated mansion near Long Melford, Suffolk. So I opted for the Gloucester Old Spot as I think these are the most visually interesting type. Tamworth pigs are another appealing option (I've always had a soft spot for redheads). Using Google 'All Hail' Images I had enough references to paint a fairly decent representation of the little porkers. These models are very easy to paint up.


Once happy with the piggy paint work they were then glued into position on the base. Any gaps were filled with plaster and touched up with the appropriate paint. Then the model was given the normal layers of varnish, using a high gloss varnish to represent liquid mud. The final stage was the addition of the usual grass, tufts and foliage.

This little model make an attractive addition to the table. As Winston Churchill once said,
"I am fond of pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

"Looks like bacon for breakfast lads"