Friday, August 7, 2009

Task 1 - Hay Bales

So my first detailed Flames of War terrain installment will be hay bales for my eastern front farms. These are fairly simple, using only 2 materials with the exception of the sand, paint, and flocking material used to make it match your gaming table.

First I started with some simple arts and crafts clay I bought at AC Moore for about $6. Its simple non-toxic stuff, but needs to be stored in a zip-lock bag to keep from drying out.

I took a small amount of the clay and formed it into a ball slightly smaller than a golf ball. I then affixed it to a piece of tin foil, and slowly moulded it into a rough bullet shape. The tin foil could also be paper, wax paper, cardboard, or whatever else you have at hand. It serves two purposes, (1) keeps the bail from sticking to the surface you are working on and (2) allows you to easily rotate the lump of clay.

I then took a simple scuplting tool I made from a length of dowel. I just cut the end of the dowel at an angle and sanded both sides until I had a blade-like shape.

Starting radially from the top of the clay, I used the sculpting tool to create hash marks to represent the individual pieces of hay.

After I had done a complete circle, I turned the tool sideways and made an indent into the clay just at the bottom edge of the previously made hash-marks. This is to give the impression that each higher layer of hay overlaps the layer below it.

I then repeat the above two steps several times, working my way down the clay, until I reach the base. Once I got in the groove of things, it took about 5 minutes to do each bale. Like when working with green stuff, it helps to wet your tools occasionally to keep them from sticking.

About nine hay bales later, adding some irregularly-shaped cut and bevelled pieces of MDF, and voila! Hay bales for your friendly neighborhood Russian farm. Just wait 24 hours or so for them to fully dry (they are a fairly solid lump of clay, so can take a while to dry), add sand, paint, flock, and you're done.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Josh has two problems...

Last Tuesday at 3:56am, my son Rohan entered this world kicking and screaming and, according to every parent willing to give their opinion, will change my life forever. This has left me with two problems.

Problem #1 - With his (hopefully) consistent 3-hour sleep/feed/poop schedule, I am left with 1-2 hour windows of time (when I'm not catching up on sleep) to kill where I can't really go off and do something.

Problem # 2 - Below is a picture of the gaming table I built during an industrious phase when my wife and I first bought our new house about a year ago. As you can see, it is a perfectly nice gaming table. Problem is, I haven't been able to actually play games on it, as I never took the time to create any gaming terrain for it.

Thus evolved the solution to both problems. Starting the weekend before my son was born, I set out to populate this gaming table with terrain. As my latest tabletop gaming obsession is Flames of War (, and there seems to be an abundance of Normandy gaming tables out there, I chose to take the route of making a table typical of the Eastern Front. Here are the materials I set out to use

- 1 large bag of playground sand
- 2-3 2ftx4ft sheets of 1/8in thick MDF
- 1 large container of spackle
- a half dozen wire coat hangers
- a large sheet of pink insulation foam
- a gallon of dark brown paint
- a large jug of waterproof wood glue
- 3 moulded resin russian farm houses
- 1 door mat
- 1 woodland scenics tree kit
- 1 shaker woodland scenics brown static grass flock
- 1 packet of hobby clay
- 1 package of 4 2in diameter styrofoam craft balls
- 1 spool small guage wire

Now, I made some significant progress before beginning these blog entries, so the pictures below shows that point I am currently at. I plan to go back and detail my various steps for each type of terrain piece as the project evolves.

The Table with the Goods

Russian Farmhouses

Barbed Wire

Dragon's Teeth



A Plowed Field