photo Kiln-Load-06_zps65fe14c9.jpg

As I continue to work on the tobacco kilns for St. Williams, I decided that the first kiln I build should have open loading doors on the side facing the fascia. It’s August on my layout and the first of the tobacco is being harvested and loaded into kilns for a process known as “flue curing”. This is an important step on the path from seed to cigarette, in an industry that was vital to the region of Ontario that I’m modelling.
Tying sticks photo Tobacco-Harvest-01_zps9fd58070.jpg
(Click on the image to read about the loading process)

I’ll model the tying and loading process, complete with the covered work tables and the conveyor. But those big open loading doors will provide visitors with a good look inside the kiln on my layout and I can’t have them seeing the inside of a white styrene shell. So I had to figure out how to model – or at least, represent – the sticks of tobacco hung in a mostly loaded kiln.

For that, I turned to the ancient art of facial tissue folding.

I like using fascial tissue – kleenex – for many things on a layout, from window curtains to canvas covers. (Long-time readers will recall that I used fascial tissue for the tarp over the doorway on the team track barn in Port Rowan.) So I was pretty sure I could make something that would fill the kiln and look appropriate.

I started by colouring the kleenex, using artists inks as shown here:
 photo Kiln-Load-01_zpsc3043669.jpg

I put several drops of green on the kleenex, added a few drops of yellow and a couple of brown, then balled up the kleenex and worked the colours through it until there was no white material left. I wore disposable gloves for this step, because it is messy. I then carefully un-balled the kleenex and spread it on my glass surface to dry.

While it dried, I made a rack to mount the tobacco.
 photo Kiln-Load-02_zpse482cff6.jpg

This is not a complete kiln interior. The inside of one of these structures is a real “monkey bars” of posts and beams, notched to support the sticks as they’re loaded into the kiln. This is enough interior to hide the fact that the rest of the kiln is an empty shell.

I eyeballed the measurements from photos I’ve taken of the inside of a real kiln. The critical measurement was the distance between the three verticals at the lower right of the above image, as these needed to line up with the middle of each open loading door.

With this structure assembled and tested inside the kiln, I went back to my kleenex, tore off small pieces, and artfully folded them to look something like a bundle of tobacco ready to mount on a stick. I then added some bronze wire to the top row of the framing, turned the frame upside down, and attached my kleenex scraps to the wires with CA. When the top rows were done, I glued another series of wires into the second row and repeated the process. In all, I did three levels of sticks – being careful to leave some empty spots on the second level where they’ll be behind two of the doors, so I have a place for workers to load the final sticks into this kiln.

The two photos below show the interior, ready for installation in the kiln:
 photo Kiln-Load-04_zps31516e39.jpg

 photo Kiln-Load-03_zps9def0048.jpg

Once the interior was glued in place, I added the doors. I used eyebolts and EZ Line for the cables that are used to open and secure the doors – and for variety, I propped open the third door half-way with the cable hanging loose. I’ve seen photos of both methods employed. The hinges are HO details from Tichy.

 photo Kiln-Load-05_zps6ddc5c85.jpg

There’s enough space to set a worker in the opening at the right, and have a conveyor enter the centre opening – once I build the conveyor, that is.

This kiln is almost done. It’ll need a roof and a foundation, plus a few other details. But that’s for another day…

And before you ask – no: I do not know how many bundles of tobacco I added to the kiln. I just kept adding until I was happy with the effect – and I’m glad I’m only doing one interior!

9 thoughts on “Snortigami

    • Thanks Brian!
      They really do disappear into the dark of the interior of the kiln – especially when the model is in place on the layout. That said, they convey a sense of something organic being hung inside the kiln, so I think they do the job nicely.
      I’m looking forward to finishing the kilns so I can detail the yard around them. I have lots of ideas for that…

  1. As a reminder, if you are interested in knowing more about tobacco farming in Ontario in the 1950s, there’s an excellent documentary from the National Film Board called The Back-breaking Leaf. I posted about it here, where you can watch the documentary. I’m watching it again myself, as it’ll give me some fantastic ideas for detailing my kiln scene.

  2. That interior (not to mention the exterior) looks fantastic. I’ve used the tissue technique for tarps, but never anything organic. Another huge crop from days gone by is sugar beets. Do you have any suggestions…?



    • Hi Andrew:
      Chris Abbott might have some ideas – he was building a beet loader for his S Scale Workshop module. Some kind of seed would probably work for the beets themselves, once they’re harvested. For the plants, perhaps something like the Crop Rows from Silflor might do the trick. These are the same ones I used for my potato field – but I googled “sugar beet field” and the images that turned up suggest they’d work for your purpose too.

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