1. Drink strong tea out of a Tinkerbell mug.
Cutting cardboard with sharp blades started for me when I was about 9. I have a past surrounded by tiny cardboard pieces and pools of glue. I can remember cutting and gluing buildings out of boxes with no plan or specifications. Seeing a big box still makes my heart sing!
2. Spread the glue evenly with a brush.
I found this blue rigid insulation by Dow. It was not easy getting this particular blue shade or trying to fit it in my car. The 8 foot long sheet was covered in a film of dirt after waiting centuries in some warehouse along McDowell Avenue in Phoenix. It cuts really well if you have a hot wire cutter or a box cutter with a pack of sharp blades. You need to invest in X-acto when building a smart looking model.
2. Use tape to secure the pattern before cutting.
It was a lengthy process of laminating chip board to the rigid insulation. Some of it bowed out even though I pressed it with my heavy collection of books.
3. Press the laminated pieces under your most expensive books at least for 24 hours.
If you have a outdoor table with steel slats on the top it is a perfect place to laminate. The slats will allow air to dry the pieces on both sides. Even in this dry desert climate I saw some moisture STILL after 7 hours of drying with the laminations between a travertine floor and books on top. Are you still reading this?
4. Model materials can be cut from any cardboard box lying around.
Don't be afraid to make mistakes. There are countless things that went wrong with this model but I have to keep going. You can always rip it off and do it over, it's just cardboard. Think of how the grain of the cardboard can work to your advantage. If you are cutting out window mullions, cut against the grain so your vertical mullions don't collapse. Two inch mullions at 1/2" scale is tricky to cut out. My finger muscles are mad at me right now. You know there are tons of muscles in your hand that are tensed when making a model?
5. Make sure you have plenty of sharp blades and change them out as soon as the tip cuts dull.
That blue thing I cut free form on the wire cutter. I am super proud of it. It is supposed to be this huge cotton flower to be used as signage for signage. Wire cutters are terrible for trying to cut straight lines in the rigid insulation. I ended up using my steel straight edge and the box cutter for straight lines.
6. If it is something small, go ahead and use a hot glue gun.
Hot glue guns are not recommended for laminating large pieces of board together for the simple reason that the glue dries in seconds. No time to spread it out with a toothbrush. Hot glue gun is wonderful when you want something small to stick without fussing over the details. The storefront signage was glued with hot glue gun. If only it was that easy in full scale!
7. Use only neutral colored building materials.
Paper bag brown, white, gray, white and sky blue are perfect for building models for architectural concepts. The last thing you want your client to ask is "Is that the color you were thinking for the building?" In the initial stages of design you want the client to stay conceptual with you. I think my all time favorite is cardboard since it is so readily available. You will be hard pressed to find light blue board in the last hour before your meeting.