Bespoke architectural models with a contemporary twist

Extraordinary edifices preserved in miniature at Chisel & Mouse

A 3D maquette model of one of Walter Segal’s south London self-build houses
A 3D maquette model of one of Walter Segal’s south London self-build houses

When brothers Robert and Gavin Paisley decided to ditch their careers in IT and turn a shared interest in model making and 3D printing into a full-time career, the gamble paid off. Seven years on, their plaster and 3D-printed scale models of architectural gems – from Trellick Tower to the Temple of Artemis – can be found in the smartest design stores.

They also do brisk bespoke business (from £1,200 for façade models) – the family of property developer Gerald Hines commissioned a cityscape of one of his milestone projects as a birthday present, while this year’s projects include 3D maquette models (from £2,500) of one of Walter Segal’s self-build houses in south London and an intriguingly balanced modernist home on the south coast of Engand, furniture and all.

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“We are often asked to make models or façades of people’s homes, either as a way for the family to remember a significant house in their history when they move, or to celebrate the completion of a project,” says Gavin. “We can add some furniture to the maquettes, but we try not to do too many elements otherwise it can look a bit doll’s house-y.”

Brothers and Chisel & Mouse founders, Gavin, left, and Robert Paisley
Brothers and Chisel & Mouse founders, Gavin, left, and Robert Paisley

And doll’s houses these are not. They are remarkably faithful architectural sculptures made using a process the Paisleys describe as “a combination of an artisan’s approach with modern innovation and transformative technologies”. Or a chisel and a mouse.

Chisel & Mouse combine an artisan’s approach with modern innovation and transformative technologies to craft scale models of architectural gems
Chisel & Mouse combine an artisan’s approach with modern innovation and transformative technologies to craft scale models of architectural gems

Work begins at the hi-tech end of the process with the production of a 3D-printed model made from durable nylon. In most cases, this model is then covered in a rubber mould and cast in plaster (occasionally the scale of the model makes casting in more fragile plaster impossible). The brothers and their three craftsmen then add architectural details such as etched metal windows, doors and acrylic balconies; a process requiring dexterity, artistry and a great deal of patience. “There are a lot of man hours in our sculptures,” Gavin says. “With a bespoke project, the whole process takes around 12 weeks.” The end results certainly repay the patience of those involved. These sculptures are both accurate replicas of the buildings they honour and finely crafted objects in their own right.

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