Monday, March 21, 2016

The Siren Song of the Gabion

It's strange how sometimes simple things can capture your imagination. A gabion is little more than a big open-ended basket full of dirt but I've always been fascinated by the look of them. And yet I've never gotten the chance to make any due to never gaming a time period where they would be appropriate. ( I suppose I could have made some to go with the cannon in my Warhammer Empire army, but they misfired and exploded so often that they would have served more as protection for the rest of my army from cannon shrapnel than anything else.)

So when I decided to do some 30 Years War the first thing I wanted to make was some gabions. There are a lot of nice resin and even plastic models out there but I decided to make mine from scratch out of wire.

My first attempt showed it was a little harder than I first thought. I salvaged some different sizes of copper wire from an old light fixture for the uprights and used some thin florists wire for the weaving. My first method was to stick the uprights into a piece of pink foam and weave the wire around them. In order to get the wire to look right you need an uneven number of support poles. Unfortunately the pink foam didn't hold them well enough and when I resorted to superglue to reinforce the structure it ate away at the foam making the situation even worse. I still ended up with two usable gabions even though they look like they were made by some drunken sappers.

My first two done. The Saxon is only for scale but looks doubtful about this being the future of warfare.  

For the third attempt I drilled holes in some scrap wood to make a jig to hold the uprights. This worked out much better although there was some difficulty extricating it once complete.

Just starting to weave the gabion on the jig.

Next step was filling them with dirt. In this case I used some pink foam to plug up most of it and then smooshed a mix of sand, paint, and matte medium into the nooks and crannies. Next time I'll probably coat the inside with the dirt mixture first so that it presses up against the inside of the wicker work and then fill the rest with foam.

As is the norm I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the intermediate steps. This is just before getting ready to paint. 

I glued my three gabions together and I embedded them into a caulk base. After that it was finished up similar to my fields. There's room for improvement in the process but I think they weren't to difficult to make so I'm going to put together a few more sections to make a redoubt.

Merlin inspects the finished work.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Back into the Fields

Getting back into the swing of things I've decided to embark on a new miniatures project. I've been following along over the past year with the development of the The Pikeman's Lament at Dalauppror's blog. He has been working on a Thirty Years War version of Lion Rampant and if you have interest in the period or simply want to look at a lot of excellent miniatures across all periods you should check out his blog. Pikeman's Lament is scheduled for release in January so that gives me most of the year to get my stuff together.

While waiting for the first unit of figures to arrive I decided to make some plowed fields. These are basically the same as the one I made some time ago with a couple changes that I borrowed from a tutorial for flexible terrain on Dagger and Brush's blog.

I didn't have any plastic wrap so I used waxpaper instead. This turned out to be a mistake as its now stuck to the bottom of the piece. 
The first was using drywall joint tape as the base for the caulk. It makes it both stronger, thinner and more flexible than the felt I've used as a base before. I also glued a magnet onto one corner so I can attach individual pieces to it on the table. I'm thinking maybe a tree, wagon or other farming equipment. 

Next I spread the caulk over it. I've always had good luck with a paintable brown siliconized acrylic caulk so even though its a bit pricy that's what I used here. I used a chopstick to make some basic lines and the rest of the shaping was done with my fingers.

Next I sprinkled sand across it. The sand both adds texture and makes it less sticky when shaping.

The magnet is under the bits of grass in the upper right corner.

After that its the usual painting and flocking to finish it off. Since I don't have any miniatures painted up yet Launcelot and Merlin and are standing in for them.

I also got in the next stages for the project.

Return to the Blog

Well its been 6 months since I last posted on the blog. There isn't one cataclysmic cause but instead the usual slow creep of many small things caused me to move my focus away from hobby related pursuits. But the biggest is probably the butterfly effect. I'm not referring to Chaos theory but instead the tendency to flitter from one interest to another.

Rofous Hummingbird
The stem he is sitting on is sculpted, the slice of maple that forms the base is from a fallen tree in my backyard

I think we can all relate to butterfly effect in our hobby. Few of us have the single minded focus and willpower to work thru and complete projects before moving onto another. I tend to move around between various genre and individual projects leaving partially completed models behind in my wake. Sometimes I come back to finish them up sometimes they languish for years gathering dust.

Blue Jay bust

In this case I've been working on sculpting projects just not the usual  miniature ones. My wife and I have a side business selling bird sculptures. She does needle felting and I mostly work in polymer clay. For the past months this is where most of my creative energy has been going.

Evening Grosbeak

I know that most people following a miniatures blog probably don't share my particular interest in bird sculpture so I've only posted a couple of projects here and there in the past. But I also decided to put up a few pictures of my recent favorites.

Boreal Owl
So that's what I've been up to and in the next post it's going to be what I'm working on now.

African Penguins

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