The following is a step-by-step guide to build a Khan's mobile Mongol ger (or yurt) in 15mm scale. These gers were made as part of my Mongol Conquest DBA army project. Although the article is specifically in 15mm scale, the concepts could easily be transferred to 28mm, or any other scale required.
Inspiration for the project. Re-creations are my favourite guides to work from.
I had seen many, many images of gers in the context of Mongolian armies. The structures themselves are used by many different cultures throughout the steppe, not only Mongols. In fact, the Turkic nomads used them as well and called them yurts, this the common name for them. What I hadn't seen was a giant ger on a mobile-home platform. Only when I started looking for camp inspiration did I come across a few fantastic illustrations. Fantastic as in it looked too much like pure fantasy for me to take seriously! However, when I saw the above re-creation, I knew I needed to make one for myself.
The basic initial steps of constriction.
Starting the conical roof was the biggest hassle for me with this project. I debated whether I should make the ger structure from shaped foam or a circle of card. In the end I went with a circle of card. I started with the conical roof because it allowed me to fit the rest of the structure to the roof, instead of trying to make a roof that fit a structure... So, take some thin card, cut it into a reasonable sized circle, cut a circle in the middle, and then cut a slot from the edge to the middle. Then make it into a cone and use all-purpose white glue to hold it together..
It looks easy, but there's a trick to it!
The key to making the assembly step work smoothly is to use the conical roof to measure out the base of the tent. The base of the tent should be made with thick card, measured by tracing the roof. Once that's done, the wall piece can be wrapped around it and glue into place with all-purpose white glue. Finally, it's simple to glue the conical roof onto the walls, since they should fit perfectly! Don't forget to put some card cross beams over the hole of the conical roof before you glue it all together!
The structure is done, now it's time to add the texture.
To approximate felt in 15mm I used old, worn flannelette. After I had it all finished, I realized that flannelette has too much of a weave pattern to approximate the felted wool (which is not woven) that gers were made from. In the future I would use new flannelette or very thin felt, since thick felt would add too much bulk. To cover the roof simply cut a circle of fabric with an appropriate size hole in the middle. Cover the roof with all-purpose white glue and simply press the fabric onto it. Don't bother trying to cut the fabric and make a cone in the way the carboard was cut, since fabric will stretch, it's possible to get a perfect fit by just pressing and smoothing it over the surface.
Preparation for adding the fabric texture to the walls of the ger.
I just cut a strip of cloth for the walls without measuring, then glued it on the same way I did the roof. Note that I trimmed the fabric around the edge of the roof first.
I used size 3 cotton crochet thread for the ropes.
Using string saturated in all-purpose white glue, I wrapped lengths around the circumference of the walls. I decided I'd do two wrapped lengths for ease. I had noticed that some miniature terrain yurts had ropes over the top of the roof as well, but I hadn't seen it on any real examples of gers, so I didn't bother.
The tent structure is done! Glue it to a base and you're finished,
or read on for the monbil-home version.
To finish off the details of the tent I glue a piece of heavy thin card to the gap in the fabric of the wall. The card is partly cut into the shape of a door and a door frame. I didn't bother actually cutting a door and frame separately because the top of the door would be covered by rolled fabric. To make the rolled fabric, roll a piece of white glue saturated fabric of the right width and glue it onto the top of the door. You can put some ropes around the roll as well, but now the ger itself is done. If you decide to stop here and simply glue the ger to a base, make sure you let the glue dry completely before you paint.
Now that the ger's done, we start on the mobile-home platform.
Using the picture of the re-creation and the ger itself, I fashioned a platform of the right size. I cut three platforms out of 1.2mm card and glue them together. This is to emmulate the layered look of the real platform. Once that was done, I used my pin vice drill to drill holes around the edge big enough for round tooth pics to fit into.
The ger isn't glued into place yet... but the posts are.
Cut approriate lengths of round tooth-picks and glue them into the holes with all-purpose white glue. It is essential that you let this while glue dry fairly well before progressing to the next step.
The wheels and string are glued into place.
Using a single piece of string, I glued it to each post with a single wrap. I put a liberal dab of glue at the top of each post, then starting at one end I wrapped the string once around each post all the way around. I also glued the wheels in place. I used two different sized wheels as in the issulstrations and re-creation. I used spoked wheels, but disk wheels would be equally as accurate, as the spoked wheels were adopted later. I didn't bother making an axle to secure the wheels in place because the platform heigh was high enough to simply glue them to the side of it. After the glue on the string dried, I glue the ger onto the platform and then built a simply ramp to the ground.
To be able to properly paint the area under the mobile-home ger,
I didn't attach the mobile ger to the base until it was finished.
After it was all built I cut out a base for it, then put on some sand and coarse ballast on the base with more white glue. I then used the model itself to clear away the surface of the base where I would glue down the model. I didn't attach the model immedietely because I wanted to paint the entire base, and the size of the mobile-home ger would have made that impossible if it was glued on.
The ger is all painted and assembled and the details are ready to be put on!
Once the base is painted, I glued the mobile-home ger onto it and blocked out all the colours. I used a couple highlights on it, applied with dry brushing for the wood and the felt/rope parts. Once that was done, I painted the door red using the highlighting method I use for miniatures. I also drilled a small hole in the base and inserted the banner, which was made with a paper clip and some paper.
The finished piece with figures for scale.
With the details complete, the camp is ready to be taken in to battle! To see completed versions from many angles of the two Mongol gers that I built when making this article, check out the 15mm DBA Terrain Gallery.