Monday, April 30, 2012

100 twitter followers

Woot Woot I have hit the 100 twitter follower mark. If you are not already following this blog on twitter you should be @terrainproject. Next goal is 250!!!

New Molds OTW

So I decided to buy some new molds. I am still working on the gate project (I will post an update on that later tonight) but I also have a couple other smaller projects comming up to work on. I went with 5 molds this time to get the 10% discount. Here is what I bought:

#53 Travelers Bridge Mold
#60 Prison Tower Mold
#54 Gothic Church Mold
#200 Wall Builder
#61 Turret Mold

Hope they get here this weekend!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Interview: Patrick from Advanced Terrain

For my first interview I talked with Patrick. He is the owner operator of which is making highly durable terrain pieces based off of Hirst Arts molds.
[TP]: What inspired you to create a business building wargame terrain?

[Patrick]: It started very slowly, I made terrain for friends long after I stopped playing any miniatures games. I put a couple on eBay, and they sold well, but couldn't even come close to paying for the time that was invested in them. Then I got introduced to Hirst Arts molds, and I had great fun playing Legos with those. Then I got introduced to mold making, and I realized I could potentially mass produce what I had been building, so I thought I would give it a try. I don't really think of it as a business though, it's a self-sustaining hobby. And not even that, most of the time!

[TP]: How many Hirst Arts Molds do you have? Do you have multiples of any particular mold?

[Patrick]: I think I only have maybe 8 or so. I've given most of them away. I have a guy locally that does my builds or loose block casting for me, for a fee of course. I've also used Iain of for casts, he does good work. I don't have enough time to do all steps of production, and casting takes a lot of room and is very time consuming. And frankly, it's not a lot of fun.

[TP]: What is your preferred casting material and why?

[Patrick]: I've used a lot of materials. I prefer Hydrostone right now. Picks up great detail, cheap, widely available, decently hard. Since I'm molding my models, the initial material doesn't really matter. If I were to sell the actual Hirst model instead of a casting of it, I would go with Tufstone or Merlins. Merlins is great if you don't plan on doing a ruined look like I do. It's SO HARD that it's actually difficult to dremel through. Tufstone is basically Hydrostone plus better impact resistance with some fiber content.

[TP]: You used kickstarter to raise capital for the business. How would you guage the success of that? Were you able to quickly raise the capital you needed or did it take time?

[Patrick]: Kickstarter exceeded my expectations, and exposed the gap between my "hobby" and what I was presenting as a "business". I got so many orders I couldn't fulfill them, and had to take things to the next step by outsourcing the production. I lost money on the Kickstarter project as a whole, but it gave me the kick in the pants to think bigger, so in the end I consider it highly successful. If you are considering a Kickstarter, I could go into a lot more detail about that.

[TP]: Your vision is to fill a table with terrain to make it resemble a gothic version of the ruined city of Osgiliath. How far are you along with this vision?

[Patrick]: Hah, not too far admittedly. I have quite a few pieces in the pipeline, but it will take me two years at this rate to have even a 6x4 table nicely covered. I'm very persistent though, and good at sticking to the vision - there are lots of possible distractions. And in my defense, I already have full time job, I'm in school part time, and my wife and I spend lots of time with our three children. I keep busy!

[TP]: Do you have any other Lord of the Rings inspired terrain ideas?

[Patrick]: I have tons of ideas. Ideas are not the problem here! Execution on those ideas while keeping mass production affordable is the hard part.

[TP]: When painting and dry brushing the terrain how many layers do you do? I have seen some people just do 3 colors and others do 4. What is your method to providing realism?

[Patrick]: I think I've got the painting down to a excellent level-of-effort versus time-spent balance. That's outsourced too, so other than coming up with the initial scheme, I don't do any of the actual painting. Right now it's just 4 steps: basecoat, details, a wash, and a drybrush.

[TP]: Ever messed up a piece so bad that you had to start over? What was the mistake and any lesson you learned?

[Patrick]: Not on the builds so much... I usually dry-stack so I know what I'm getting, or I use Google Sketchup with the guy who actually does the builds so we have an agreed upon piece before he starts. I've certainly messed a lot on the molding and casting and production side. Lots of trial and error there!

[TP]: What advice would you give to someone just starting out in this business?

[Patrick]: I wouldn't think of it as a business, unless you're planning on feeding your family doing it. Which I would advise against! You are unlikely to make a lot of money, given the time spent. If you're having fun doing it, though, it doesn't matter. I've found  I enjoy the "business-y" aspects much more than I expected, almost as much as the creative bits. Things like outsourcing production, working on the website, finding cheaper or better component materials, etc. I'm just starting to look into marketing (I'm getting a big delivery of sets soon!) and that's pretty interesting as well.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I am going to be starting a little column for this blog where I interview other people who are doing this work semi proffesionally or proffesionally. The goal will be to get their take on how to make it in this hobby/business as well as learn from their mistakes. Hopefully I will be able to get out an interview each week. I do however need candidates to interview...

So if you are into 28mm terrain production and don't mind me asking you a few questions for the blog just leave me a comment and we can set something up!

New Look For Blogger...

So I know that none of you can actually see the changes unless you happen to also be using Blogger. However, I really don't like the changes they have made to the interface. I liked all the easy to find tabs. Why is it software companies always decide to drastically change there Interface??? Why I ask you! Please give me back my classic blogger UI.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Onyx Workshop: Amon Hen

I was going through the Onyx Workshop blog and found this spectacular post on a terrain board he built for a customer. It is of Amon Hen from the Fellowship of the Ring. It looks simply amazing. Check it out!!!

Wip: castle gate update 2

As you can see I have nit made a ton of progress. The weekend was way too sunny for me to start home in my shop. I plan to get more done during the week though. I added a second layer to the base if the first tower. This is to give new the height I need for the base of the bridge. I also created the main rails for the bridge and the floor and base layer for tower 2.

The first tower has some gaps in it including one bad one on the back window. After talking to some folks on the hirst arts message board I am going to use wood filler to fix the gaps before painting. The first run on the second tower went together a lot cleaner. I think this us because my casting has gotten better and my process for gluing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Andaville Defensive Walls

This keep is large and impressive!!! It appears to be cast entirely in hirst arts molds. It is a great demonstration of what can be accomplished with a little imagination and time. I don't even want to think about how long it took to cast all of these blocks...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Pine sol paint removing

If I hadn't decided to try it for myself I would think you were crazy. There is no way that pine sol can strip the paint off a minature. Had the pieces I needed to strip not been plastic, I would have used paint thinner. However paint thinner would likely have dissolved the plastic as well. Pine sol worked like a charm though.

The process is fairly straight forward. Just get a pyrex or plastic container large enough to fit the pieces you want to strip. Add pine sol so that the pieces are completly submerged. Let sit overnight. At the sink run some slightly warm water. Use an old or cheap tooth brush and gently scrub the paint off while the water runs over the piece.

I don't suggest doing this in a porcelain sink as the paint may dye the porcelain. Also you should let the pieces sit in the pine sol in the garage or some place extremely well ventilated. If you don't the house will smell like pine sol.

Friday, April 20, 2012

WIP: Castle gate update

Here is a pic of the first tower for the gate. The bottom floor is almost complete. This weekend I will start the second tower and building the bridge across. I also have enough basic blocks to start work on a wizard tower.

The casting process head gotten a lot better. Recent casts have almost no air pockets. Hopefully I can fix the vibration table this weekend and eliminate any more air pockets.

Blogging from the phone...

So I just downloaded the mobile blogger app. If this works the way I want it to then it should make it much easier for me to post about my progress. I don't like having to go get my camera to take pictures and then load them onto my computer so I can add them to my post. Fortunately my phone should be able to reduce that process down since everything can be accomplished from one device!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

More on UltraCal30

So thickening up the mix has definately helped with the overall strength of the castings. The problem I am having now is that I am having trouble getting the plaster to fill all the details and release some of the air pockets. I believe once I get the vibration table working this weekend that this will help. Also I might try thinning out the mix just a bit and seeing if it remains strong when demolding.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


So the problems I was having with the UltraCal30 seem to have been solved. I made the mix incredibly thick, a little bit thicker than pancake batter and the pieces were able to be demolded without breaking the details!!! Awesome Sauce!!! I still have some issues with air bubbles but nothing I am not also experiencing with the Merlins Magic. Also some of the pieces I cast earlier with the UltraCal30 have gotten incredibly hard. So it looks like I just need to refine the curing process to get the results I want. I am thinking about using some heat lamps in my paint booth to cure the blocks faster.

With all that said I realize that trying to do this project at my hobby desk in my home office is just not possible. So I will be cleaning up and re-organizing my shop to make this process better.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Helms Deep

A member of the hirst arts forum posted a link to a project of helms deep someone did. Since I am attempting to do Minas Tirith I figured I would blog about their Lord of the Rings inspired project as well. You can check it out at:

He has a really long list of molds listed to accomplish the project. After looking over the pictures I think you can do what he has done with just 5 molds: Wizard Tower, Octagon Tower, Prison Tower, Ruined Tower, and Gothic Bridge. That should give you all the pieces I could identify with a few exceptions such as the round pillars used. These however could easily be replace with the pillars from the ruined tower and still look good. Also you do not get the wall molds, however with a bit of effort you can cut basic blocks in half and make thinner walls out of them.

Overall the project was very well done. Makes me want to try and tackle it before I do Minas Tirith... One project at a time I guess. All spare time is going to casting blocks and learning the tricks to get good casts.


So I was doing some reading and I think that I did not have enough powder in my plaster mix when I was working with the UltraCal 30. Apparently it needs to be almost the consistancy of pancake batter for best results. I don't think I took it quite that far the last time I used it. I still have a ton left so I guess I'll do some more experimenting. It is far cheaper then the merlins magic so if I can make it workable it will definately be a win!!!

Castle Gate Update

So last night while working on my taxes I got some work done on the towers for the gate. I also created a base for the keep out of some polystyrene insulation that was a half inch thick. The base is 24" x 11" so it will have plenty of space for some trees and maybe a statue or something else on it. I will post pictures of my progress later when I have a bit more assembled.

Another note, I decided to put together the floors upside down. That way I can sand the bottoms to make it even and have a flat surface. Also to make some square floor tiles I took some standard blocks and cut them down the middle (giving me 2 usable pieces) with a small hack saw. It isn't really a hack saw but it is similar and I am not sure what the saw is actually called.

More casting to be done tonight!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yeah 300

300 page views and I haven't even had this blog up a month. That is a pretty good start. I am sure that as I get more quality content on the site I will get more click throughs! :)

Casting and Taxes

So I have to finish off my State and Federal taxes tonight... blarg... I hate doing taxes. I wonder how many casts I can get done while doing my taxes though. I did about 8 over the weekend. Far short of the 40 I need to get done. I also may need to order more merlins magic to complete the project. I think I will get a larger quantity of it this time... I do enjoy the casting. I am Also thinking about getting a few silicone cups for mixing the plaster.


So I was checking out ways to monetize this blog and make money to fund my projects. I found this site called PayPerPost which will allow bloggers to get paid by advertisers for writing blogs about their products. Sounds pretty cool. I wonder how many advertisers out there are doing this in the table top war gaming field???

Twitter Goal

So I wonder how long it will take to get 100 followers on twitter and how many impressions and click throughs I will get from that on adsense. I guess only time will tell!!!

Twitter Feed Connected

Hopefully this works. I have setup twitter feed to parse the blog and post new updates on twitter. It says it will update every 30 minutes and I figure I probably need to have something new posted. So hopefully this test works!!!


Ok so I am working on setting up this blog so that it will automatically post everything to twitter. You can follow the blog uisng @terrainproject.

Ad Sense Working

Yeah!!! As you can probably tell there are now ads on my site. My new PIN finally showed up in the mail and I was able to fill out the rest of the form to unblock it. Now to just get traffic driven to my site so I can derive more income and get more molds to cast!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Gate Foot Print

So I took a bunch of the casts I have done recently and did a quick dry fit to get the foot print of the gate checkpoint I am building. Based on this I was able to take a quick measurement to determine the base size I would need to make. The piece will be 17" x 6" so I am going to put that on a 24" x 12" base. This will leave me lots room to add trees and other details. I also plan to put 3.5 inch road between the towers. This will hopefully match up with the modular roads you can buy from

Plaster Data

So I was looking at the stats of who has been hitting my site and noticed that someone came to my site by searching for "Whats in merlins magic". Sure enough I plug that search into google and this blog is the 3rd site in the list!!! Awesome. However I don't have any information about what exactly is in Merlins Magic. So I decided to do some research.

In order to answer this question I started off with the manufacturers website. As I was browsing their site not only did I notice that Merlins Magic is no longer listed, but none of their other products have any info about what is in them. So about the only thing I know with relative certainty is that Merlins Magic is gypsum based. However what other additives it has in it to give it the strength is unlcear. I would imagine that there is some portland cement but again I don't know for certain.

However I did stumble upon a great site that did a comparision of all the plasters and gathered a ton of data to compare against.

Casting Updates

Ok so yesterday I spent a little bit of time casting with the merlins magic. I experimented to find the right slurry mix for the poors and I think I am there. I did however run into a problem with the vibration table. When I placed one of the molds on it the thing jumped around like a boucing bean. This made it impossible to pour plaster in it. I still need to figure out what is going on with it. Part of the problem is probably the missing bolt but even then I wouldn't expect the reaction I was having yesterady.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hirst Molds Wish List

I am constantly looking at the molds trying to determine which ones to get next. So far I think my list looks like this.

#203 Cracked Floor Tiles
#205 Gothic Floor Tiles
#206 Worn Floor Tiles
#235 Gothic Roof Mold
#245 Slate Shingle Roof Mold
#250 Small Brick Mold
#55 Bell Tower

As you can see that is about 20 different molds... That is a pretty penny if I were to try and get them all at once. So I definately need to break it down a bit. I was hoping to be able to get 5 at a time but I am not sure if I will be able to do that. So my thought is to break it down based on what goes together and versatility. If a single mold lets me make a cool terrain piece it gets higher priority. I want to make sure I am getting at least 2 molds at a time so here is how I think I will break them down by pairs.

#53, #60
#61, #206
#64, #200
#55, #41
#54, #235

Obviously this doesn't cover all the floor tiles and accesory molds I want however this would give me a total of 8 different hirst arts designed projects to make (including the 2 I already have) and allow me to work on a bunch of pieces for Minas Tirith. I just hope that once I make some of these projects I can sell them for a decent price to be able to afford more molds and tools.

Casting Update

So last night I finished off the vibration/shaker table for casting. Woot Woot!!! So this morning I ran down to the post office and picked up the Merlins Magic that I ordered. Post office was busy and taking forever as I figured it would. It really is no wonder why they are bankrupt! Anyway that is another topic for discussion. The first thing that I realize about the merlins magic is that it has about 1/3rd the volume that an equivelent weight bag of plaster has. I probably should have realized this sooner sinse it cures denser then standard plaster but I didn't. That means my original estimate of 7 times more expensive then plaster just sky rocketed to 20-30 times more expensive!!! This may not be workable for Minas Tirith and only cost effective on smaller projects.

On a side note, when I was assembeling the table last night I used a spray adhesive to help bond the layers of the table top. I didn't realize how close my phone was to the spray and apparently it got quite a bit of overspray on it... Now the screen is all grimey :( Fortunately I have a screen protector film on it so I should be able to just take that off and be good to go!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Vibration Table Complete

So I finished or mostly finished the vibration table. It will work the way it is now but I have some tweaks I need to make. For one the table spins slowly when vibrating. This may be because I don't have enough tension on the bolt yet. I also have to put back another bolt between the table top and the motor. I am missing the nut and locking washer though. Apparently they didn't make it into the bin I put all the rest of the parts in... go figure. ProTip: Keep track of your nuts. This is just good general life advice though!
I will be doing a full writeup later of how I built this thing.

Marble Technique

That article demonstrates how to do marbling for a terrain piece. It looks to be a fairly simply technique that produces some very dramatic effects. Once I get further along in some projects I will have to try it out.

Vibration Table Update

I managed to spend about an hour last night working on this project. I would have finished it off but ended up not having an appropriate sized bolt to mount the table. It also took me longer to mount the clipboard clips to the end of the table. I first tried to mount them without removing the brass rivets. This was a mistake and it ended up taking me a lot longer to remove the rivets then it should have because of it. I was able to correct for it so live and learn I guess. I'll have a step by step up sometime this weekend.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hump Day Planning

So it is Wednesday this means I should probably plan out what I want to accomplish by the end of the weekend. Most of the work will likely be done this weekend but I will probably try and knock out a few things tonight and tomorrow if I have time.

1) Finish Vibration Table Project (2hrs)
2) Mount organization bins to workspace (30min)
3) Move Cable Organization (45min)
4) Mount peg boards in workspace (2hrs)
5) Pickup Dental Plaster from post office (1hr)
5) Begin casting pieces (21hrs)
Note: I have calculated I will need to do at least 42 casts of the octagon tower to build the gate checkpoint. This is because of the number of floor sections I will need. Obviously this will provide me with plenty of extra bricks to do other projects. I will likely work on completing the organization tasks while the casts are drying to save time.

Looks like I have a lot to do this weekend...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Warmachine: Khador Conquest Colossal

This thing looks pretty amazing. I can't wait to encounter one on the battlefield. Heck I might get one just to paint it... who knows!!! Check it out at Privateer Press

Citadel Paints Review

I foudn this review of the new Citadel Paints on youtube. It is very informative and provides a good analysis of the new paints and comparisons with the old paints.

It has arrived...

So I just checked the tracker and apparently the merlins magic I ordered was delivered to the house yesterday. However since no one was there to accept it I now have to go down to the post office to pick it up. Oh well... I will probably do that on sunday. I still have to finish the work on the vibration table project anyway before I start casting again. Maybe I will get to that tonight.

Monday, April 9, 2012

The build begins

I started the dissambly of the vibrator/tumbler I picked up from harbor freight. I need to remove the 12" threaded shaft that the bowl attached to and replace it with a much shorter shaft to attach the new table to. In order to do this I had to disassemble then entire top of the vibration table. This was not an easy task because I seem to be missing some of the sockets and wrenches needed. I guess I have some more things to pick up from harbor freight. I did finally get the entire thing apart however. Now time to build the new top and determine the length of the rod needed. I plan to make the table with a pair of clips on either end. These clips will be used to hold down a sheet of wax paper. This should make for easy cleaning!!!

Modular Terrain

What is it? Might be a question that you ask yourself. We have all played on table tops that are either solid flocked, has some sort of felt on it, or just a roll out mat that we play our favorite wargame on. We then make small things like bunkers, hedges, fences, and other pieces of terrain to spice up the game field. This leaves you somewhat limited on what you can accomplish.

The next step up from this are the large game boards people create from some sort of foam board. This is usually done with sheets of foam insulation 2 inches thick and stacking them. This allows you to create deep crevaices, trenches, rivers, and an entire variety of other terrain features not really possible on your standard flat game table. However once you have built one of these game boards you are pretty much stuck with that layout.

Modular Terrain to the rescue!!! In order to make the terrain modular you essential take that large game board and cut it up into squares or grids. So lets take a simple battle field with a large crevice running length wise in the middle. That looks pretty cool. Now lets divide it up... We will split the crevice down the middle length wise and then make 2 more cuts width wise dividing the table into 3rds or maybe quarters depending on the table size. Now we have 6 board pieces. I can take those boards and rotate them all 180 degrees. Now instead of having a crevice in the middle of the field I have a giant plataue. Now lets make 2 more generic flat boards at the same height as the top of the crevice.

I can no take and put those 2 boards in the middle and have a plateu that runs width wise as opposed to length. I can put those normal height boards along one side and create a crevice that runs width wise. I can create a plataue and a crevice that run width wise. If I now add a couple boards that are at the lower height of the crevice I can create a ridge line that runs the width of the board with half of the ground being tall and half of it being low. Now think about the posibilities if I added bends in the cliff faces. The possibilities and combinations grow with each additional board.

Some typical board sizes are 2' x 2', 2' x 1', and 1' x 1'. This allows you to get very creative with the terrain you are creating. If you do not want to create your own, TerranScapes has some good sets that will run you about $1k. Certainly not cheap but most of the sets contain at least 18 boards to play on with countless configurations of those boards.

Warmachine: Cryx Kraken

This thing looks freaking cool. Since my army of choice for Warmachine is the Cryx, I definately want one or maybe 20. They look like they are going to be fun to paint and will cause massive destruction on the battlefield!!! Alas it will probably be sometime before I get my hands on one. Way too many projects in the pipeline that are going to take up my time...

What do you guys think? Anyone bought one yet?

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Painting a Greenskin

This isn't a how to but more of a realization. I don't think I ever painted an Orc or a Goblin when I did 40k. Eldar, Space marines, Tyranids, Undead and other stuff sure. Just never a green skin. The only reason I thought of this was because of this post on a fellow bloggers site. So what do I have to do? Paint a greenskin.

I happen to have a few sitting in a bin that came with a paint set. I decided to take about 30 minutes and see what came of it. Not my best work and I see some mistakes that I want to go back and fix but not too bad either. Need to do some weathering and highlights and maybe a little inking... But anyway here are a couple pics.


Ok, so I have been wondering why no ads have been showing up on this site. It appears that i never submitted my PIN when I setup my Adsense account several years ago. Oops... I have requested my PIN be resent to me so hopefully that will arrive soon and I can start generating some Ad revenue. I need to make some money from this so I can buy more molds!!!

40k Titans

So I was browsing youtube looking for more tips and ideas around casting Hirst Arts molds. While doing that I ran across a couple videos of titans from 40k.

Not sure if this was a scratch build or not but it looks really cool. Reminds me of a terminator crossed BORT from the day the earth stood still. Pretty cool if you ask me!!!

This one is a scratch build and not a kit from forgeworld or one of the other manufacturers. Amazing what a little creativity and vision can build.

These last 2 are definately forgeworld or some other kit build. The reason I added them is because the paint jobs are pretty amazing and the detail is awesome. I really like the flames on the titan in the last video. They look pretty cool. Almost makes me want to get back into 40k just so I can paint up a titan!!! Maybe I'll mess around with making my own versions of the titans later who knows...

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Harborf Freight

Let me start off my saying that I love this store :) I bought a bunch of tools for really, really cheap. Granted they probably won't last me forever or anything but they will last me long enough to get better tools. Here is what I got:

And Finally the main reason I went there...

The tumbler in its current form is not of much use. However I plan to take off the bowl on top and create a table that I can put 6 or more molds on for casting. This will help ensure that each cast is of high quality. Since my cost for materials just went way up this definately desirable!!! I may have an article up soon about this conversion.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Merlins Magic

So I did some more reading last night and decided that I would just order Merlins Magic online. It costs about $21 for a 10lb box of it which would make it roughly 4 times the price of the joint compound. However, since the only place to get the stuff from seems to be online I have to pay 14 dollars in shipping making the total cost 7 times that of the joint compound.... ouch.

After reading the reviews on it though it appears to be the best stuff to use for this type of casting. It is significantly harder and has less loss then other plasters while drying. Hopefully this stuff gets here this weekend, but if it doesn't I do have other projects to work on!!!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Joint Compound Problems

So as you all know I have been using a quick set Joint Compound to fill the hirst arts molds I bought. While my initial results were positive, it took the detail well and seemed to setup nicely, the more I work with it the more problems I am running in to.

The first problem is finding the right mix. I don't think there is one really. If I go with a dryer mix (more powder) the bricks turn very brittle after drying. If I go with a wetter mix the bricks don't seem to dry properly or are simply taking a REALLY long time to dry. If the dry time is just extra long I have no confidence that the bricks won't turn brittle. I had hope that any brittleness would be easily compensated for by a good layer of paint for protection. However the bricks are so brittle that they will sometimes break when I am glueing them together or glue just won't hold.

The next problem is the set time. I mentioned yesterday that I let a set of bricks dry overnight in the mold and by doing so I was able to pop out the face brick with the thin ledge without a problem. Last night I tried letting the bricks dry for over an hour before popping them out. They were still too wet to prevent the face brick from breaking. I can't wait over an hour set time for each mold or I will never be able to complete a project.

Since I am running into so many problems with the joint compound I plan to change my method and go for a new casting material. Right now I am considering the dental plaster. This seems to be the recomended material for the best casts according to the hirst site. I am going to look around at some hobby stores to see if I can buy it locally. If not I will just have to buy it online.

A couple other thoughts I have had is that I think I am going to move this production out to my shop. It is rather cold out there right now but I need the extra space for the production of the blocks plus I can be a little more messy out there without too much of a problem. The second thing is I want to try and get some heat lamps setup to allow for a faster dry time of the blocks. Maybe set them up in my paint booth. Finally I am going to build a vibration table. I have found some designs online that have given me some thoughts on how I want to build it. I might try and get to that this weekend. So stay tuned for a how to...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Other Molds

So I was doing some more reading on the webs and looking at other designs people have made when I found a couple cool sites. The first is This person has put together some good information on building minatures and has some really good pictures of models he has built. They are pretty inspiring for my own creations. While browsing his site I came upon a link to another site that creates silicon molds These guys seem to produce some detail pieces I wasn't finding in the hirst arts mold sets. Specifically I liked this mold Not only does it look cool but it is specifically designed to be the inserts for the belltower and cathedral molds! Awesome!

Importance of Dry Time

So as I mentioned yesterday I started building a couple things using the hirst arts molds on sunday. I was running into problems with the detail face pieces cracking at the top. I did some reading online and found that this will happen if you don't let things dry enough. So yesterday evening I did another cast. This time I let it dry overnight in the mold (Probably overkill but I was kind of busy with other things). When I popped the pieces out this morning I had no problems removing the detail pieces.

Another important aspect of the dry time is painting... The octagon tower I built on sunday I painted almost immediately. This seems to have trapped the residual moisture in the pieces and it now can't dry entirely. Granted this was just me being anxious to build something but it is good to know the after effects of rushing the dry time.

Monday, April 2, 2012

New Author

I would like to announce that my brother has agreed to write some articles for this blog. He is a phenominal artist and likes to paint minatures. He will be writing some articles on painting techniques. Expect to see the first article sometime this week. I know I look forward to reading it!

Next Molds

So needless to say I am impressed with the hirst arts molds. I want more of them... heck I want all of them but that will take time. Time to plan my next purchase though. I want to get a 5 mold set so I only have to pay the $7 shipping once for all 5 molds. On top of that you get a 10% discount if you order 5 molds at once!!! Score.

So here are the molds I am looking at:

1) #40 Basic Block Mold
2) #55 Bell Tower Mold
3) #54 Gothic Church Mold
4) #235 Gothic Roof Mold
5) #201 Floor Tiles

This will give me the capability to build the bell tower plan and the church plan with the roof. They will also allow me to start work on the main building of the Citadel as well as the white tower. The citadel will need a couple other molds in order to be complete. I also may start work on some of the outer wall sections.

In order to help raise money for this project and for the terrain projects in general, I have decided to setup an etsy shop and auction things on ebay. I will be taking my time on this terrain and will probably fully paint it. Some of it will likely be custom designs as well. I already have some plans in my head about making a nice center keep at about 2ftx2ft. We will see how this goes.

First Casts

So as I mentioned on saturday my molds arrived from hirst arts, so sunday morning I made a run down to home depot. I was looking for the 25lb bag of plaster of paris that I saw online but no dice on finding it. Instead I saw a 25lb bag of joint compound that was supposed to be quickset. For 8 bucks I figured what the hell I'll give it a go and see how it turns out.

Now I get home and immediately realize it is going to be way too messy trying to work with this stuff out of the bag. So I find myself an old plastic trash can that is about 8 gallons maybe less, clean it out and dump the bag of joint compound in that. Next I run downstairs and get a stack of plastic china cups (about 8oz cups) and a couple plastic forks for stirring. I also found an old carboard box and cut out a large chunk of it to put over the desk to protect the surface. I should probably put plastic down on the floor too but didn't...

Reading online I found some tips and tricks on how to do the casting. The hirst site recomends that you soak the molds in a combination of jet dry and water before each cast. This acts as a mold release. I didn't have any jet dry available however and since a mold release is not required for casting with plaster I just went right along. I rinsed out the molds and set them on my table then I half filled up a china cup with water. Grabbed a scoop of the plaster with another china cup and slowly added it to the water. I went for about a 1 to 1 ratio of plaster to water. This seemed to produce good results. I mixed the plaster gently so as to reduce generating air pockets.

Note: Air pockets are evil!!! They happened a lot... Nothing was more annoying then finding a big old air pocket right in a piece of detail that you couldn't easily hide...

I gentley poored the mixture into the molds and allow it to overflow. I then pounded the table to attempt to get out some air bubbles. Now for the waiting... I need to wait 5-10 minutes before I do a scrape of the excess on top. Once that is done it will be another 10-15 minutes before the plaster sets enough to be popped out of the mold. Now it is on to the fun part, popping the pieces out and seeing what I got. The first few bricks pop out fine and I notice a few small air pockets but nothing major. Now to pop out the trim faces... crack... the little ledge on top breaks off. Son of a... ohh well it is my first cast problems are too be expected (It ended up being the norm I only had a couple that did not break). I set the pieces to the side, clean out the molds and start my second cast.

I tried using the same china cup but the left over plaster just made it hard to mix properly. Never the less the pieces popped out without much problems. You are supposed to let the bricks dry overnight before using them but I am much to excited to start building for that. So after I start my 3rd cast I go to the hirst website and pull up the Wizard tower plans and start building. I get a little ways into the project and decide that I don't need the plans I will just wing it. I also decided to make my own little octogan tower.

I did about 16 casts for the day and overall was very happy with the molds. I will note that it is important to let them sit overnight to fully dry. There are pieces that got a little big and they cause pieces to not go together as smoothly as they should. Trying to sand them down with a file to clean them up is simply not an option until they get nice and hard, they end up getting smooshy and crumble a bit.

I am going to wait until I make a good version of the towers before writing a post on them! In the end though I learned some lessons.

1) Let the darn things dry before using them
2) Mold release will help
3) A vibration table is necessiary
4) I need more molds to cast at once!!!