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John Jenkins Future Releases #1 - June 2021


Welcome to the Tuesday / Wednesday Update. This will be Parts 2 and 3, showing a step-by-step process to making a Fur Trading Post.

The images shown are Prototype images of the sculpted work, prior to master painting.

We hope you enjoy!

Mike & Myszka and all at the Sierra Toy Soldier Company

After a local customer visited the workshop and saw me working, I was encouraged to produce something a bit different this week.

This will be a 5 Part news update, showing a step-by-step process to making a Fur Trading Post.

A "Fur Trading Post", has been on my list to produce for a long time. It will be an ideal addition to the Fur Trade series, as well as a suitable piece for the earlier French and Indian War.

For nearly 250 years, from the early 17th to the mid-19th centuries, the fur trade was a vast commercial enterprise across north America.

A trading post, or trading station was an establishment or settlement where goods and services could be traded.

The location of the trading post would allow people from one geographical area to trade in goods produced in another area. These were to become an integral part of native American lives. Items exchanged were woven rugs, jewelry, baskets, wool, and other necessities.

Trading Posts near waterways were popular, as they allowed for easier movement of goods and furs.

This will also be an ideal backdrop to add alongside the recently previewed Keelboat.

My research led me to a reconstructed trade post operated by the Minnesota Historical Society near Pine City, at the site of an original post built by the North West Company on the Snake River in 1804.

The Snake River Fur Post is a reconstructed fur trade trading post on the Snake River west of Pine City.

The Post was established in the Autumn of 1804 by John Sayer, a partner in the North West Company, and built by his crew of voyageurs.

The North West Company was formed in Montreal in mid 1780's from a partnership of British merchants. The company established a large post at Grand Portage and built several other forts to house wintering voyageurs.

The typical fort would include a dwelling for the clerk, a storehouse and a bunkhouse for the 10-20 voyageurs who would spend the winter there.

The Snake River Post has been reconstructed and furnished to represent the period from 1804-05.

The Minnesota Historical Society reconstructed the site in 1968 and opened the site as a historic site in 1970. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The museum is open in the summer, and costumed guides help interpret the site. The visitor center features exhibits about the post's history, a great room, fireplace and retail store.

My other choice for researching a fur trading post, was based on "Fort Whoop up".

Fort Whoop-Up was an American whiskey trader post, which was first established as Fort Hamilton in 1869, near present day Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

It was established by the American whiskey traders Alfred B. Hamilton and John J. Healy in 1869. The original fort was a simple collection of log cabins and not adequate for the trade that was to develop. These original buildings were burned down in a fire, and a larger more secure fort was built. The new fort was well built with a high palisade and two bastions on opposing corners. The post was built with squared logs and took two years to complete. It became known as Fort Whoop-Up.

Furs and hides were traded for trade goods, and the whiskey was expected to be provided at the end of the trade as a mandatory sweetener for the deal.

A confluence of events and actions forced the formation of the North West Mounted Police in 1873.

In 1874 the newly formed NWMP marched west from Winnipeg, split into three major columns and descended onto the three biggest trouble spots.

The column headed by Colonel James F. Macleod headed for Fort Whoop-Up with the intention to halt the whiskey trade and remove the flag flying over the post.

Macleod and his command arrived in October 1874 but found no whiskey. Fort Macleod was then established about 30 miles further west.

The NWMP established an outpost at Fort Whoop-Up in 1875 by renting a building from Healey and Hamilton.

In 1876 Dave Akers acquired the fort property, and as trade declined as the Buffalo became extinct, the fort was used as a ranch. The ranch was lost in 1892 to creditors, and the last remains were washed away in a 1915 flood.

Now the research has been completed I have in my mind what I'm going to make. I decided that a Fur Trading Fort, based on the Snake River Post, was what I was going to make.

Using scrap cardboard, of which there is plenty lying around the workshop, I produced a "mock up" of the model, helping me to determine proportions of the overall fort, and the size of how each piece will break down.

At this stage I can also work out how many pieces I need to make.

I calculate that I only need to make a Gateway, Bastion, Straight wall, and corner wall. As well as the log cabin/storehouse.

Once the mock up has determined the dimensions of the fort, it's time to get started on the construction of the pieces.

PART 2 of this 5-part series will continue tomorrow Tuesday 1st JUNE, and throughout the rest of this week.


Having worked on producing the rough "mock up", this has helped establish the basic dimensions of each individual piece.

In 2012 I had produced an eastern Woodlands Indian village encampment. I wanted to make the Fur Trade post walls in a similar way so that they could both be used together.

I felt it important that I reproduce the same process for making the timber stockade.

We had about a dozen old "pink" wire coat hangers in the workshop lockers, which were rounded up.

Its important to find the older wire hangers with the softer cheaper metal, as they are easier to cut up and bend to shape.

It also doesn't matter if they are coated in plastic.( or pink)

Lengths of the wire are cut up, varying each length slightly and adding a slight bend here and there.

I next added some strips of masking tape around each piece of wire. This is done so that the texture paste and paint, which is added next, adhere to the wire/plastic better.

Its best to roll the masking tape vertically along the length of the wire, as any irregularities in the folds of the tape help simulate the bark of the tree, where if the strips are wound around horizontally it takes more texture work to eliminate the horizontal lines.

I also managed to pick up a few hangers which were of a slightly narrower gauge, and mixed a few pieces of this into the cutting list to add some variety to the size of the stockade pieces.

Please note: Check with the wife if you are raiding your own wardrobe.

My excuse is that Wooden hangers are always preferable for hanging clothes, as the wire ones tend to be too thin and cause the fabric to distort.

Its important for consistency to complete each stage, before moving on to the next stage. Now all the wire pieces have been cut and covered, to make all the diorama pieces. I always make extra as they will be useful.

At this stage it is a good idea to trim the ends of the wire and cut off the excess masking tape.


Once all the wire pieces have been textured and the paste has dried, we can move on to the assembly of the stockade walls.

I have already cut bases for the Stockade sections from 0.8mm Styrene.

Styrene is a special type of thermoplastic commonly used to build prototypes. It is strong and flexible and easy to cut, and sand. It can be bonded with certain solvents, which melt the plastic together to create a very strong bond. It can be purchased in sheets or thin strips, and is available from most good model and craft stores.

I now glue the wire pieces together and to the styrene base. Any "superglue" adhesive can be used. I use a small square to check that the wire stockade pieces are lined up correctly. The main difficulty is making sure that the end pieces are square and fit the base size perfectly.

I check that the straight stockade fence and Corner stockade fence line up and fit correctly as planned.

The Straight Stockade and Corner Stockade sections are now assembled. The Bastion and Gateway, are a little bit more complicated.

I used some scrap 1/4" square balsa wood as the internal frame for the gateway, and made the base solid all the way across the entrance, as at this stage it will help keep all the construction square, and make it easier to fit the gateway doors later.

The bastion was assembled on its styrene base, and an internal styrene floor was added, which was scored to look like wooden planks. I added a wooden ladder from the Roman Fort sets.

I now add the texture for the bases, using a two-part modeller's filler.

This is an easily obtained product called Milliput. I also then add some "Coarse Texture Gel" to break up the surface. This is readily available from most art and craft stores. Now the Stockade pieces are almost done.

At this point, I decided to cut away the base between the gateway opening. This makes the production a little bit more difficult, but is more friendly for collectors in how they can display the figures.

Wooden stockade gates were made using 1.2mm thick styrene. The wooden planking was scored into the styrene using a blunt knife. Hinges were made in a similar style to previous gateways and doors.

Final touches to fill any large gaps, and to tidy up the ends of the stockade timber pieces are done with Milliput.