Q: The most frequently asked question I get is how long does it take to build one of the castles I have designed.
A: The answer is that it depends on the castle and on you. Over the years of teaching many classes on castle building, I’ve found that Blarney Castle (the Free Download paper castle on my site) can be built during one class period (about 50 minutes). I’ve cut out dozens of Dragonhead Castle, Llanstephan Castle, and the Norman Keep, each of which was used as the basis of a castle-building class at some time in the past. Once the wood pieces have been cut out, each castle can be assembled in about 4-6 hours. I’ve never timed the cutting out of one castle, because I normally cut 25-30 at a time, I would guess it would take about 4-6 hours to cut one out. On the other end, it took me 40 hours just to hand paint all the stones on my Moorland Keep (I kept track!).
Q: The second most common question is where do we get the figures to go with the castles.
A: I have added a place on the site where soldiers are discussed and some links to sources are provided.
Q: I am always asked how I got in to castle building.
A: It began when I was in the sixth grade, many years ago. I have always been fascinated by castle, knights, and dragons. "The Adventures of Robin Hood" was my favorite book growing up. My sixth grade teacher told us that we were going to do a castle in class next week. I could hardly wait for the weekend to end so we could get back to school and start building the castle. When Monday finally came and it was time to work on the castle, the teacher pulled out a cardboard box and a couple pairs of scissors. We were to cut crenels along the top of the box, and that was to be the castle. I was very disappointed. I vowed that when I grew up, I would make a good model castle. While I was in graduate school at the University of Pennsylvania, I had the chance to attend the International Limb Development meetings in Scotland in 1976. I took the opportunity while there to tour Edinburgh Castle. That only heightened my interest in castles and castle building. A few years later, when my first son was five years old, I built him a castle for Christmas. That was my first castle and it remains my favorite. It’s also the favorite of most other people who see it. It was roughly modeled after Edinburgh Castle. I have not yet drawn up the plans for it but plan to some time in the next year. That one castle, however, didn’t satisfy my need to build toy and model castles, and I’ve been building them ever since.
Q: How many castles have I built?
A: If you count all the castles I’ve cut out and supervised their construction during the many classes I’ve taught over the years, I’ve built over three hundred castles. I design several new castles each year, and every Christmas I design a new sugar-cube, cookie, ginger bread, or candy castle. As yet I’ve only drawn up the plans for one of those Christmas Castles (the plan is in my book, The Castle Builder’s Handbook).
Q: What do I do for a living?
A: I am a university professor. I teach anatomy and embryology at Idaho State University and conduct research on the development of the limb and birth defects affecting the limbs. My research involves the mechanism of action of the drug thalidomide, which caused an epidemic of severe birth defects of the arms and legs in the early 1960’s. I also write books. I have published over 85 books and scientific papers, including a book on the history of thalidomide, Dark Remedy, and, one of my favorite books, The Castle Builder’s Handbook.
Q: How long have I been teaching castle building?
A: For about fifteen years I have been hauling eight or ten castles around to several of the sixth grade classes in southeastern Idaho and teaching students about castle building in England. I have also offered several classes through Idaho State University, to both children and adults, on castle construction, where we actually build the castles for which I have developed plans. I have taught half a dozen such classes or more over the years. I also have taught about the same number of sand castle classes, where all of us kids go to a big sand pile and spend the day building castles, walls, and houses. A few times I have taken my slides of castles in France, England, and Wales to High Schools and taught them about the wonders of the real castles.