Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Working the Fields

Farmer's Field, ready for planting.
As part of the Lead Adventure Forum 2019 Build Something Challenge, I've decided to work on some period appropriate fields and crops.  I worked on my first test piece today, a small patch of land ready for planting.  It looked a bit plain at first, but after surrounding it with fencing and trees, I like the look.

Base cut from plastic "For Sale" sign with corrugated cardboard glued on top.
Base coated with a muddy brown craft paint.
Mixture of model railway grey ballast and green flock added over wet paint.
After shaking off the excess ground cover.
A dry-brush of brown over the furrows.
Finished off with a border of finely chopped sheet moss.
Good old rocky New England soil ready to be worked.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

`Twas the Weeks After Christmas

It's been mentioned on a couple of different forums that the days after Christmas are a great time to pick up bits to make wargaming terrain.  Many decorative items for the season are discounted, and are many times the perfect scale for modeling.

In my case, I happened across some Christmas trees at 75% off.  For about $6 and a little work, I was able to add to my tiny but growing forest terrain.

Improving the Base
The first photo shows the tree as purchased, right out of the bag.  Each one is a basic bottle-brush tree with a bit of white speckle to make them look Christmassy.  The first step to moving them from decor to terrain was to add a larger base in order to keep them from toppling over.  Next, I added some air dry clay to blend the plastic tree base into the new wooden base.

Improving the Tree
In the second photo, I've given the trees a coating of brown craft paint to eliminate the white snow look.  I didn't have a rattle can of brown handy, so I used a brush, stuffing the paint into the needles.  This actually worked pretty well, as it pushed the needles different ways, roughing up the uniform cone into something a little more natural.

For the base, I added some more brown paint.  While the paint was still wet, I dipped the base into a bowl of flocking/ballast mix.  Once this was dry, I again used paint as a sort of wet glue, and added some crushed leaves and green flocking to simulate fallen pine needles.  The leaves are from a batch I made using autumn leaves from my yard a couple of years ago.  Added to a blender, then sifted into different sizes, dry leaves make a great natural ground cover.

To add the greenery, I dunked the trees into a mix of PVA glue and water, then rolled them in clump foliage.  This bit was messy, and I had to force the the foliage into the needles with my fingers.  In the end, however, I liked the look.

The final step, once everything was dry, was to dunk the entire piece in another batch of watereddown PVA.  This helped seal everything together, and make them quite a bit sturdier for wargaming.  I've had no problem picking them up, moving them, or even tossing them in a box without more than a couple of loose bits falling off.

For my first attempt at trying this sort of process, I'm happy with how they turned out.  The scale is good, and they look much less artificial than they had originally.  In fact, I liked them well enough that I returned to the store to pick up another size to add some variation to my little forest.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Year End - 2018

"Soldiers Atop The Mount" - 2018
It's sort of traditional in the blogging world to create a year-end post, especially in regards to project type things like painting. With only a couple of days left in 2018, here's where I'm at:

First, created this blog. I've blogged a few times in the past, but never consistently. So far I'm doing okay with this one, and it's helping me stay motivated with my figure painting. I'm not as prolific as some, but I haven't abandoned this one so far.

Next, reenacting. I was able to attend five events this past year. Less than I would like, but often real life gets in the way, especially with four children to tend to at home. My wife and kids are starting to attend events with me, so this may change in 2019. One of the events was a “lifestyles” event, while the other four were military in nature. I enjoy both aspects of the hobby, though I really need to get into better shape to keep up with the younger guys on the field. Count that as a goal for 2019.

Sewing projects related to reenacting included a shift, petticoat, and jacket for my wife. I'm also currently working on a pair of breeches for one of the guys in Warner's Regiment. 2019 will probably see some more sewing for my wife, and some upgrades in clothing for the kids.

Learning about the Southern Battery during "Muster at Mount Independence."
Third, history. Most of my historical pursuits this year have been driven by interest in my reenacting unit and the locations where they were stationed and fought. This past fall I was able to attend a full day event at Mount Independence in Orwell, Vermont, where I learned a little more about the fortifications that were there, and the archaeology that has been happening for the last several decades. In particular, there was a focus on the Southern Battery, where our reenacting unit had been stationed during the past summer's “Soldiers Atop The Mount” event. It was pretty neat to hang out with state archaeologists, museum curators, and historians for the day, especially those who had been involved with excavations on the site. It gave me a whole new appreciation for the area, and the artifacts on exhibit in the site's museum.

1765 Surveyor's Field Notes at Bennington Museum.
My other historical pursuit has been researching and learning about 18th century surveying techniques. One part of this involved a research trip to the Bennington Museum, in Bennington, Vermont, where I was able to read the original field notes of a surveyor from New York who was working in the area in the 1760s. Handling the original manuscript, written over 250 years ago, was a little surreal. Later, while at home, I started mapping out his field notes, and found that he had actually walked right across the property that the museum is currently located on. Pretty wild to imagine that the two of us were in the same spot, with the same book, a couple of centuries apart from each other. For 2019, I'm hoping to attend the School of Instruction in March, held by The Department of the Geographer, a group that reenacts surveyors for the Continental Army. This is a yearly event, and photos that I've seen from past years show it to be both a lot of fun, and very informative regarding colonial surveying.

Finished Miniatures for 2018, plus some old finds.
Finally, wargaming. This year I decided to put some serious effort toward painting up a set of miniatures that I've had stashed for several years. These miniatures became the 28mm version of Warner's Regiment as they may have appeared in 1777. I also completed some small terrain pieces, a few civilians, and started a set of British troops to pit against my Continentals. Within the last couple of weeks, I also found a second stash of older miniatures that I had purchased at some point, so I've added these to the “to do” box. My goal for 2019 is to finish the British regiment, repaint a cannon crew that I found, and then paint up the extra figures that I dug up (Three mounted Continentals, a few militia, and an extra sprue of Perry plastics). I'd also like to work on some more terrain pieces, including a ground mat to stage games on. Will I actually game? Who knows. I might attempt a couple of solo games if I can find the time, or perhaps wrangle some friends into a game some weekend. I'm having fun putting the armies and terrain together, so anything else would just be extra fun.

So, I think that sums up 2018 in regards to this blog's topics. On to 2019!