Monday, June 28, 2010

Constructing a palisade - 1

Here's a tutorial on how I'm making a palisade for my new African village.

This is a barrier designed to keep large wild animals - and hostile humans - out of the village and domestic animals in. Anyone who has spent time in a hot climate knows how enclosed spaces exposed to direct sunlight can be terrible heat traps. Gapped palisades like this are the African answer to that problem. The spacing between uprights is sufficient to form a barrier to man and beast while allowing the wind to pass through. Although not as effective a defense against archery or gunfire as a solid palisade, it still offers a good deal of cover, and a means by which defenders can shoot out of the village without exposing themselves too much.

I use the mini-dowels available from Michael's hobby stores for the stakes, and popsicle sticks from the same source for the bases. Two packs of dowels should be sufficient to enclose five of the huts I made earlier. The crossbars are bamboo kabob skewers split lengthwise.

I find using a two inch long strip of masking tape extremely useful for holding the dowels in position whilst lining them up. A popsicle stick laid along the strip acts to keep the dowels level, and the pointed end of a shortened kabob skewer serves as a tool to space them properly. Straight two inch long sections of palisade are easier to make than curved lengths, whilst still allowing the palisade to curve around the village in a natural way. I'm all for taking an easy route in modelling!

Use fifteen or sixteen dowels to make a two inch length of palisade, spacing each a sixteenth of an inch or so apart. Any irregularity in the spacing is fine; such palisades are seldom perfectly measured in real life.

All the dowels are lined up and the crossbars glued in place using ordinary craft adhesive. Tip: Put the glue on the crossbars, not the uprights, otherwise it'll dribble down between the dowels and stick them to the work surface! The strip of card to the left acts as a ruler for positioning the crossbars so they're consistent with all the palisade sections.

Finally, once the crossbars are set, glue a short length of popsicle stick to a matching strip of thin card, cutting the ends at angles to allow the palisade to curve. You can glue the palisade length to the top of the popsicle stick as shown even if it's still wet. I hold the new section upright by placing a length of kabob skewer or a popiscle stick atop it and resting on an already completed length of palisade. The three-inch length behind the new strip will form one side of a section containing the gate, which I'll make later. I've already covered the base of this with a mix of spackle and florists' sand. Once all is complete I'll post some photos of it in situ.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Mystery guns pt. 2

An update on my earlier question re. the gun shown above. My thanks to Snickering Corpses for this information.
"The gun is a Krupp 150mm K16/L40 from probably 1902. There's another one of the same type in Dayton, VA according to the fellow I spoke to. But apparently the rarest item in your photo is actually the 4-wheel unit behind that right-hand gun. It's a barrel carrier, in which the barrel of the gun was put on the carrier and the cannon moved in two separate parts before being re-assembled in position. According to the man I talked to, that barrel carrier is believed to be the only one of its kind still in existence in the US, and possibly worldwide."
So it's a rare sighting we made that day. I'd love to know the story behind this grouping of World War One ordinance. Maybe one day I'll be able to stop off at that legion post and ask.
Incidentally, I see that visits to this blog now number over 1,000! Not bad for a few weeks' of posts. My thanks to all who visit, and I hope you find something of interest here.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Upcoming project

I've been a bit busy with other non-gaming projects lately, but I've turned my hand to making a palisade for the Daftest Africa campaign I hope to run. The palisade is made of 3 and 2 inch sections of mini-dowels bought from Michael's hobby stores, and will surround the mud huts I made earlier, forming an African village. I tried to take photos of the early stages but, as is the way with digital cameras, the batteries died and need to be replaced. Ho hum. Will post pics when I can.

Another idea I'll attempt one of these days is the British army blockhouse, an example of which is shown under construction in the photo below.

Although these were a feature of the Fourth Boer War, they're too interesting an idea not to use in earlier times. Each typically housed a section, or a platoon of infantry at most, and will be ideal for use as an outpost in any colonial-era game. Watch this space.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

African mud huts

On to another project. A neighbor had thrown out a shipping tube made out of thick card. I have a modeller's eye for such things and quickly snaffled it before the garbage collectors came round. Back in England I'd made a number of mud huts for my 25mm Daftest Africa project but had to leave them behind. This excellent find enables me to begin afresh!

The tube has an external diameter of 4.5 inches, and is a sturdy .25 inch thick. It's maybe a smidge larger than I really need but beggars can't be choosers. I cut three 1.5 inch segments from it, as shown below. From here it's simply a matter of cutting a card disc 6 inches in diameter from a cereal packet using that invaluable device, the circle cutter. This will make the roof. Cut in a line to the center of the disc then form a shallow cone. An impact adhesive is the best for gluing this down.

I fitted the cone to the round, again using impact adhesive. To further strengthen the roof I added a smaller cone at the peak of the larger, as shown below. Colonel Chomleigh-Warner and District Commissioner Carstairs demonstrate the scale.

Next up, a good layer of lightweight spackle, thinned with water so it spreads easily. I stuck small pieces of tissue paper all over the roof, working from the eaves inward to the peak to give the effect of thatch. The brown area in the middle of the wall is the door. All that remains is to paint them. The paints used on this project are the cheap and effective Craft Smart acrylics from Michael's hobby stores.

And so to the final result, set in a suitably African scene via a quick spot of photoshopping. The huts serve well for any Victorian-era gaming in the Dark Continent. The Spottiswood-Gallant Steam Exploration Vehicle is making its last appearance here before being shipped off to a new home in California.

It's rather quiet, Colonel.

Yes, Carstairs. Too damned quiet...

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Mystery guns

My wife and I had the pleasure of attending the 40th anniversary of the Rendezvous at Fort de Chartres, Illinois yesterday. More on that soon over on my Hetzenberg blog. On the way we passed through the small town of Prairie du Rocher, where the American Legion post has these beasts outside their hall.

They're obviously World War One vintage, but what, exactly, are they? Any thoughts or clues?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Goods for sale!

One of the advantages our hobby has over many another is the ability to sell on painted figures and models in order to fund new ventures and periods. It's no different with me, so to cut to the chase, I've put some goodies up for sale on eBay.

Below is a pair of bookends with a Doctor Who-ish theme. With a TARDIS and a tentacled monster lurking behind the door, it's a hand-made one of a kind item.


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