Au revoir René, Bon Voyage

For a moment, before I get onto the cutting out of René, the miniature French waiter dummy board, I shall just say a thank you to those of you who have been commenting and e mailing on PastMastery- the dummy board blog. It’s heartening to know that my little scribbles, put together over an hour or two, ( because there are so many references and pictures usually ), are giving you pleasure and are opening up a whole new world for you.

As I said in my very first post, Dummy Boards are a wonderful art form that has been truly forgotten with time. Little references here and there in documents give a little ghostly glimpse of them through history, rather like spying one of the almost real ones from the corner of your eye, and then when you have a proper look …it’s gone!

When I first started this research over twelve years ago, there were no dummy boards on the web to look at. No photos of historical ones, no one had a website devoted to newly painted ones.PastMastery was the first and only. Over those years I have badgered and lectured, pleaded and persuaded those who have them, to make them public, either the large collections or smaller more private ones.

It’s paid off!

Now there are a plethora of sites.

It’s been a pleasure and a privilege to uncover their story. And now it’s become a privilege and a pleasure to share it with you…the dummy board fancying public!

Now let’s get on with the job we started a while back. René…….

René as we left him.

A figure this small, you will remember he is only two inches tall, is impossible to cut out with the saw alone. Yes, we make the first cuts with the tiny saw and cut him roughly from his back board but most of the work is done with miniature files and with sandpaper.

Here he is cut out and smoothed with two files, a square one with a pointed end for getting into all those nooks and crannies, and a flat one to smooth the edges and bevel them.

Cut from the backboard and roughly filed.

We now begin the painstaking procedure of filing and sanding him until all the elements appear without a background.

Did I say all?

There is one part of René that we cannot cut out as it would be too fragile.

You can see on the picture right, that we aren’t able to cut out between the bottle and the arm. Quite apart from it being a distinct possibility that the neck of the bottle would be broken off in cutting or filing, that piece would always be liable to breakage when the figure is displayed. You remember we talked about certain shapes being better than others for a dummy board figure. This is one of the reasons why in the real life sized versions, bracing is often applied to the reverse of the figures.

We might think to apply a brace here but think how tiny it would have to be..?.No use really.

So we shall file down a small indentation so that the white isn’t so obvious.

René then has to be PVA’d at the edges to stop them from furring and then the back or stand has to be applied. The reverse and edges are then painted black.

The back of the figure showing the bevel.

He then goes into his box with his PastMastery seal ( he’s too tiny to wear it ) and off he goes!

The PastMastery seal... just to say this is the Real Thing!

I think from the figure on the right you can see the bevel achieved by filing with the straight flat file.

Finally here is René in his natural environment. The French Cafe.

René, the waiter at Cafe René from 'Allo 'Allo?

I hope soon, to be able to bring you a photo of René in his new environment, the Bistro cafe that my client has built to house him. Perhaps there we will be able to see, the gateau for the chateau, and the pill in the till and the drug in the jug or the candle with the handle…. ( ‘Allo ‘Allo fans will know what I am on about- but the curious amongst you may care to go to: ‘Allo ‘Allo !)

If we are very lucky we might catch a glimpse of the Fallen Madonna with the big boobies by Van Klomp!


You will all have to listen very carefully because I shall say this only once…

Au revoir!

2 Responses to “Au revoir René, Bon Voyage”

  1. Debbie Says:

    I will say this only once. Your little Rene looks fantastic. x

  2. pastmastery Says:

    Sorry Debbie I didn’t catch that?
    Tee Hee!


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