Sunday, April 23, 2017

ECW casualties

I spent much of this morning getting the garden tidy so we can leave it in good condition when we move out. It's a little depressing, seeing all the plants we've established in the time we've spent here coming into full healthy leaf and knowing some will be left behind - especially when we suspect the person buying the house isn't a gardener. We will be taking a number of plants with us, and hopefully we'll have time enough this year to establish a garden in the new place. Fingers crossed...

So, enough of that. On with a bit of modelling stuff. Having some time off this afternoon I thought I would paint up the 10mm/N-scale ECW casualty figures I cast recently from resin. The pieces have been washed thoroughly and have had plenty of time for any remaining volatile vapours to disperse.

Top two rows, from left to right: Sir Alan Apsley's, Earl of Essex's Lifeguards, Bolle's, Montagu's, and a quartet of Parliament cavalry. The bottom four have yet to be assigned.

I painted up two figures for each of my current foot regiments, and enough for the (eventual) two regiments of Ironsides. Royalist cavalry casualties are to follow.

In the Victory Without Quarter rules, a casualty marker is placed if a unit suffers three hits from firing in a single turn: It represents a significant amount of metal tearing through the formation. Once the number of casualty markers equals the number of bases in the unit, that unit is destroyed. Since my foot regiments have three bases, any markers over two are redundant. In a similar vein my cavalry regiments have five three-figure bases, so any casualties over two are a major depletion in strength and the regiment is destroyed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Dux Britanniarum bases

I'd forgotten what a pain in the posterior house-hunting can be. It's a tiresome case of hurry-up-and-wait, with some jewels among houses to look at - and some I just wanted to close the door on right away. I'm also pretty sure I'm not the only gamer in the world who eyes up rooms and basement areas as potential gaming rooms?

After a hectic round of days spent viewing and packing I found a few minutes to spare, so i dug out the paints and finished off the first batch of the Dux Britanniarum movement bases.

The first photo shows them after a light wet brushing with an eclectic mix of Miniatures Paints and ordinary craft acrylic paint. I used a bit of chocolate brown in the cups to show where men have trodden after the casualty has been removed.

Second photo, with the bases occupied by the peasant levy. Note that I've yet to fit the shields to these since I'm waiting until the house-move malarkey is done with before buying some shield transfers.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Bases and Casualties

Our house is all but sold, and we will now need to pack in earnest. At least the weather is warm enough for me to paint, so I took the Dux Britanniarum bases and ECW casualties outside and gave them an undercoat.

I used the same dark brown Rustoleum spray paint that I undercoated the livestock pen with earlier as I find it sticks better to the resin. The coverage is patchy - the nozzle decided to clog up partway through the session, but at least they're all covered. The next step, whenever that will be, is to do the grass effect and so on for the bases, and paint the uniforms for the casualties.

I'm really not sure when I'll be able to post again, so I'll sign off for now. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Resin casting frenzy

Well, not exactly frenzied, quite leisurely in fact, but I managed to cast a lot of stuff in quite a short time.

First up, six Dux Britanniarum movement trays for my 15mm figures.

The middle one of the bases in the bottom row cracked as I got it out of the mold, but this won't pose a problem. A dab of epoxy adhesive and a base of thin card followed by a bit of flocking and it'll be good to go. I now have enough bases/trays for the main infantry component of the Romano-British army. There are four archers attached as skirmishing infantry, so what I may do is modify one of the bases so it has only four compartments. Once I get the Saxon army, I can turn out trays for that in short order whenever required. 

Next, some Zanzibari slaver casualties.

These have given me some problems, mainly due to the elderly resin I'm using. Beyond a certain age the resin turns a bit... odd (so do we all, I suppose). It has a tendency to foam up if stirred too much and this of course produces bubbles in annoying places. Another flaw is the arm on one of the figures. I didn't notice the excess silicone that needed to be cut away from that part of the mold, so the arm didn't always come out until I fixed the problem. Still, a bit of judicious patching and filling here and there followed by a forgiving layer of paint and all should be well.

Finally, the ECW casualties.

These aren't that distinctive in the photo, but they come out nice and crisp. I sculpted a trio which represents pretty much everything to be encountered on an ECW battlefield.

The weather has turned colder with a perpetual drizzle falling this afternoon. Snow is expected tomorrow - whoopee. So, I'll need to wait until things warm up again before pouring the second half of the lamppost mold. In the meantime I'll clean up all these castings, give them a soak in detergent, allow to dry then give them a dose of chocolate brown Rustoleum spray. Results to follow soon.   

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Showing moldy results

Success! The new molds came out with few problems worth the name. First up are the wargame-oriented molds. From left to right we have the Dux Britanniarum movement tray, the three 10mm ECW casualties, and the five Zanzibari slaver casualties.

The next is the 1/56 lamppost mold in its freshly-molded form showing what I call the "nougat" bar effect where the silicone met the Sculpey...

 ...then the separation of silicone mold half and Sculpey, showing the master in the mold and the lugs which will keep the two halves aligned. The next stage for this will be to clean up the Sculpey residue where it's sticking to the silicone before installing it in a new box. I'll put another plug of Sculpey in the recess at the base to form the pour funnel. After that I'll brush Vaseline over every part of the new mold half with the exception of the master. As I mentioned before, if this stage isn't done the next pouring of OOMOO30 will stick to the other half and it'll be a helluva job to cut them apart. I speak from hard-won experience...

Last up is the pair of molds which I'll use mainly for decorative items, although the doors, window and column can be used for making buildings for gaming. On the left is the new bookend base, and alongside it is the decorative piece mold.

The latter is the only one so far that has any appearance of bubbles. These lodged in the two chevron pieces on the left of the mold. They won't really be a problem since they're proud of the main surface of the piece and can be trimmed off.  You'll notice some of the OOMOO30 flowed under the diamond-pane window piece bottom-right, but this will trim off without any problem.

In fact all the molds now need to be trimmed in various ways. Silicone tends to climb up the sides of the mold box through capillary action, making the base of the mold uneven with a detrimental effect on the casts. Trimming this off even to the point of beveling the edges solves the problem. A few of the Zanzibari slaver casualties will need cleaning up as the OOMOO30 flowed under some of them. A couple of the masters also broke up when I popped the new mold off, but this is par for the course. I shouldn't need them again.

After all is clean and trim, I'll pour some plaster and/or resin. Results to come!

Monday, April 3, 2017

Going moldy

Yes, the planets finally aligned and the temperature's about right, so I went ahead and poured the silicone for the six molds made so far. I say the temperature is right - it's within the silicone's working parameters but at the lower end of the scale, which means the mix is a bit stiffer than optimum. In any case, it worked.

Top - left-right, dungeon/diorama items, Dux B. movement tray, Zanzibari slaver casualties. Bottom left-right, bookend base, 1/56 lamppost, ECW casualties.

I had to mix three batches, measuring out the two parts of the OOMOO30 in disposable cups each time, to fill all six molds. Even with this (fairly) accurate measuring system there's still a bit more of one part than the other, hence the colour variations in the photo. Really, it doesn't matter that much. Problems only arise if there's a drastic disparity between the two liquids.

It pays to vibrate the table when the stuff has been poured to force air bubbles from the various tiny nooks and crannies in the master models. If you have a vacuum chamber it's all the better - they can be made relatively easily and cheaply. I use an old electric razor since the vibrations are hard and rapid enough to do a good job.

It takes around six hours for the silicone to set. I'm going to leave them overnight and see what's what in the morning. I have another couple of molds to make, but they'll come in time. Tune in soon to see the results of today's session.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A couple of mold boxes

I had a bit of spare time this past weekend so I made up mold boxes for the ECW casualties and the lamppost.

The bottom box with the lamppost will be used vertically, so I made the lantern end slightly broader than the top so it'll stand up better during the pouring process. The photo shows half a dozen deep dents made in the Sculpey in which the lamppost master is embedded. These are so the two halves will match up perfectly and prevent slipping when in use. That bulge emerging from the brown base will eventually form the funnel-shaped pouring hole.

The next stage will be to pour the silicone. Once set I'll carefully remove it, flip it over, and build another box around it. With two-part molds, it's essential to coat the surface of the first part with Vaseline before pouring the next batch of silicone. Without it the silicone will stick to the previous layer and be impossible to separate.

While I was at it I sculpted a couple of gutter pieces both for gaming use and for diorama-style bookends. These will be molded too and match up with the cobblestone pieces I made earlier. The small square piece on the metal plate at the top is the corner for the gutter and is ready for baking. I need to trim and sand some areas of these pieces for a better fit.

I think I've now made all the pieces needed for a good mold-making session, so once the weather warms up a bit I'll have at it.

For those who may be interested, Bruce Hirst of Hirst Arts is currently designing small brick molds which will be extremely useful for buildings and sewer/dungeon systems. I suspect I'll be sending an order for them one of these days.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Leaning on a lamppost

This afternoon I took a breather from the process of clearing up my man cave to make a few more odds and sods for molding. The weather's warming up to the point where I can pour the silicone and have it cure in reasonable time.

A recent discussion on another forum about casualty figures reminded me I needed a few for my 10mm ECW collection, so I made a trio of generic Civil War types. These'll replace the poker chips now doing duty in my games, which do the job but lack visual appeal.

Alongside them is a lamppost of the traditional type, this one in 1/56 scale, which is intended for Pulp/Victorian games and also for bookends along with the cobblestones I made earlier. A more complicated piece, it'll be made into a two-part mold. I'll cover that part when I come to it.

The pole is made from the inner tube of a ballpoint pen, and the brown base is a wooden bead. The top part was constructed from four pieces of basswood cut to shape and glued along the edges, then capped by a square of basswood and a plaster component from the Hirst Arts small pipe mold. I used Puffy paint to fill any small gaps along the edges, building it up to form the frames for the 'glass.' The crossbar is a bit larger than it would be in this scale so resin can flow into it. As it is, after pouring the resin I'll need to gently squeeze the mold to persuade any air bubbles to escape.

More on the whole molding thing later when I get time.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

A load of old cobble...stones.

(Stirring music begins playing softly beneath voice-over) After a blitzkrieg of tidying, the house is now unnervingly clean and clear of clutter, ready for viewing by potential buyers. (Music rises) Only a lone outpost of clutter remains, resisting the oncoming tide of cleanliness (Music rises toward a crescendo), its lone occupant fighting to keep the hordes of neatness at bay. And that isolated outpost, that solitary fortress of clutter is - my work table! (Music ends on a crashing, discordant note followed by a duck call).

Yes, with all the stresses and strains of selling a house I have to lapse into a bit of Pythonesque silliness sometimes or I'll go Doolally-tap.


Some modeling is still going on here in limbo. I decided to make as many master models for molding purposes as I could, since OOMOO30 has something of a limited shelf-life once opened. The next little project is a batch of cobblestone pieces for gaming and making bookends.

Someone on the Hirst Arts Facebook page suggested the use of a type of scrapbooking material for making cobblestone surfaces. The photos of the results impressed me so I sought it out for myself - and came up dry. My local branch of Hobby Lobby didn't have the thin pressed foam material (called Champagne Bubbles if anyone's interested). What they did have was a hinged plastic thingy by a company called The Paper Studio. It has a lot of dimples on one side with matching studs on the other. I gather this particular whatsit is used by scrapbookers to make embossed paper. A sheet of paper is placed between the two leaves and the whole thing fed into a device like a small old-fashioned mangle/clothes wringer.

I saw it would work equally well for making cobblestone-like impressions in Sculpey so I bought one. Once on the workbench, I rolled out a blob of Sculpey onto the dimpled plastic using two pencils to guide the roller and keep the thickness constant - in this case a smidge over a quarter-inch thick. Once rolled flat enough, the Sculpey picked up the impressions and I cut it to 2 inch and 1 1/2 inch squares. These were then baked as usual.

The results of the first pressing, baked and ready for painting.
These should take molding pretty well. The 2-inch squares will be used for roads and the display area of bookends (I have a Penny Dreadful/Ripper Street theme in mind for these. Just need to make a couple of old-fashioned gas lamps). The 1 1/2 inch square has a half-inch wide by quarter inch thick part which will take Hirst Arts blocks for walls and such. These will serve for dungeon set-ups as well as wargaming. There's a slight step which will make the join stronger once glued.

I'll dig the paints out again and experiment with a few colour schemes just to see how they turn out. Painted or not, it won't affect the silicone. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Movement trays take 2 - 3

Packing up stuff for a house move is a chore and a half, but my wife and I are making progress and we'll begin looking at properties in earnest this week. I had a bit of spare time over the weekend so I worked on the molds for the Dux B movement trays and other items.

First off, for the base I used an off-cut of half-inch foamcore since this is nice and flat and rigid enough for the job. For the sake of experimentation I decided to make three molds in one fell swoop, as it might work out easier when pouring the silicone. The new mold box is on the left; each of the bays will hold different master models to be molded. The one on the right is a mold I made earlier which will be for a new type of bookends base.

One thing mold makers learn quickly - make sure the mold box is watertight. Silicone molding material is a tricky bugger and it will find the smallest gap to flow through, resulting in a gods-awful mess and a lot of pointed words from the Better Half if you get it on the carpet. Be told.

I used a hot glue gun to fix the partitions in place and to seal the ends and edges. It looked like it had done a reasonable job in sealing the boxes, but did I think it had done the trick? No. (See above comment re. silicone). I smeared a good dollop of Liquid Nails over every join and edge. Once it's dry I'll apply a good coating of Pledge polish around these as well as the master models. Do I think it'll seal everything? Possibly...

Next I glued down the objects I want to take molds from in the bays.

L-R these are: - #1 Five Zanzibar slaver casualties (which have been hanging around for well over a year waiting for me to remember to buy the OOMOO30 silicone): #2 The Dux Britanniarum movement tray, now nice and flat and showing none of the warping silliness of the earlier version: #3 Some scratch-made Hirst Arts compatible doors, diamond-paned window, and a pair of recumbent statues. The two black strips are rubber pieces I found in a parking lot. I think they had come off a car or bike. I like the chevron pattern and thought it would make good decorative columns and trim. Because silicone rubber sticks extremely well to silicone rubber I'll coat these in a layer of melted Vaseline. Everything else is made of Sculpey - useful stuff.

So, that's the lot so far. We'll be busy this next week, but hopefully I'll find some time to pour the silicone and see what happens. Watch this space...


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