Architecture Modelisme 1/1700 Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral
KIT #: 88/272
PRICE: A few Francs
REVIEWER: Jeff Simpson
NOTES: Card Model


Many years ago I visited Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, I was suitably awed, took photos of the stained glass and purchased a cute little postcard that supposedly could be cut out into a model of the cathedral. This is the story of that postcard....If you want the story of the Cathedral I would start with Wikipedia.


The postcard has brief instructions on the back in French and English which imply that a few minutes cutting along the lines with a craft knife (although a pair of scissors are depicted), a few dots of glue and you too can have a realistic scale model of the cathedral.

The card is about .3 of a millimetre thick, with a shiny printed face laminated to the card, I suppose this is pretty standard, I've never really thought about it before.


Since many of the surfaces are only a few millimetres wide cutting skills of quite a high order are called for. I thought I managed to cut round the outlines quite well, but when it came to glueing things together even a small error can and does produce a noticeable "out-of-square" appearance. If I had thought about it before starting I would have figured out that the thickness of .3mm in a tower side of 5mm is getting up to 5% potential error. Whether I would have been able to do much about it with that knowledge is a moot point. I found that in most cases it was best to thin the joining tabs, by cutting away the cardboard from behind the shiny top surface.

Belatedly I decided that it would be a good idea to reinforce the structure with a few internal walls of thick card (over 1mm thick) and also to cut out a base of thick card to act as a baseline for the four major components and to help align them when I glued them all together. Super glue worked well on the shiny front face of the card, but the thick card and the rear surface of the postcard responded better to white glue.

Even more belatedly I noticed that some tabs had dotted outlines... what was that for? I guess that some of the numbered tabs are really just to identify where the parts are to be joined and the tab is to be trimmed off for assembly.

I marked the interior of the card to show where folds are required, so to score them on the inside. I also marked them Nord and Sud (and Est and Ouest) to help make sure I was fitting everything the correct way round. To be fair the card makers have numbered all the tabs to show which are to butt up against each other.

The curved apse shape of the east end of the cathedral is suggested by the slightly tapering shape of the image of the "petals" on the card, however when it came to assembling it I have grave doubts that the model can be assembled "as drawn". In other words the you cannot make this model without a lot of customizing. I ended up trimming some of the edges of some of the petals and overlapping others, I also cut some of the segments at the cloister level so ending up with a whole lot of little bits which are basically held together by glued tabs at ground level and the tops are held in place by friction.

The space between the two towers at the front of the cathedral is only partly filled by the roof marked on the card. I didn't do anything about it, but even a flat piece of grey card glued between the towers would look better than a gaping hole.

The central spire needed to be tightly curved and, again I found that de-laminating it, leaving only the shiny top layer, allowed the curling to be tight enough.

Once I had assembled the cathedral I was disappointed with the poor alignment. I was tempted to junk the thing. The instructions on the card show the flying buttresses being lifted into place. The implication is that the shiny laminate layer is slit, detached from the card and levered up into position. I suppose some genius could make that work, I decided that I would cut 1.5mm wide strips of thin ochre coloured paper and glue them in place as rather inelegant straight representations of the real curving buttresses.



A classic case of not knowing what I was doing. The trouble with cut and fold and scoring is that there is limited ability to test fit and re-jig, so my completed model looks out of square, the roof pitch and roof line are clearly disjointed and none of the joints bear close inspection.

Jeff Simpson

May 2010

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