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Making a thatched roof

A thatched roof is probably the quickest and easiest way to top
off a Japanese house. Thatched roofs were used extensively among farmers and other rural communities, with clay tiles being reserved for the buildings of the wealthy and powerful even into modern times.

For a thatched roof you will need cereal box-grade cardboard,
adhesive tape, scissors and wood glue. You will also need either fake fur, a towel or similar: for this tutorial, I will use an old bath
towel. The most important thing is that you are satisfied with the
length of the fibers.

1. Cardboard mock-up

First we will make a rough shape of the roof out of cardboard, and put it together with adhesive tape. The advantage of making a thatched roof is that all this will be covered up later, so there is no reason to cry if there is a slight gap or two. In this case I have to do some trial and error measuring because I am making an L-shaped roof. Just pull the mock-up apart and cut it up with the scissors if everything does not fit in your first attempt.

2. Towel destruction

Cut a 2-3 cm wide strip of towel. Make sure that you cut across the long fibers, not along them. It can help to stroke the towel to see in which direction the fibers are

3. Attach the first strip

Put glue at the bottom edge of the cardboard roof, and attach the first strip of towel. Make sure that the fibers are leaning down towards the ground. Then soak the towel strip in plenty of watered down wood glue: this will make the thatched roof hard and durable, and it also makes it easier to properly align the fibers.

4. Around the world around the world, around the world around the world

Continue the first layer around the entire roof, and let each strip slightly cover the end of the previous strip.

5. Second layer

Let the first layer dry a bit, and then attach the second layer. This should cover the first layer, leaving no trace of the cardboard

6. Third layer and so on

Continue with these successive layers, making as many as necessary depending on the size of your roof and the width of your towel strips.

7. The other side of the roof

If the thatched roof is removable, you want to add a strip to the other side of the cardboard mock-up. This is not as important if the roof is attached, as a big reason to do this is to better keep the roof in place. However, it also makes the roof look better, so don't skip if unless you are really lazy. Cut strips, soak in glue, arrange the
fibers. You should know the drill by now. I also added some barbeque sticks to help keep the roof in place, as well as prevent the cardboard from sagging too much under the weight of the towel.

8. From the rooftops

Finally, when the strips almost reach the top, cut a strip that covers the top as well as the upper edges of the strips on both side. Then glue this on top of the roof. Japanese thatched roofs often use wood to keep everything in place, and in this case I used a simple version with crossed barbeque sticks.

9. Paint the roof

The roof is primed black. You might have to go back with a brush and watered down black paint once or twice, as there are a lot of little gaps between the fibers where the original colour of the towel might remain. Coat everything in brown, and then add successive layers of yellowish brown by heavy drybrushing.

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Did you know...

The Bushido ("Code of the warrior") was developed during the peaceful Edo period when the samurai had become mostly state administrators, writers and artists and most of them had never fought in battle.
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