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Getting the Horn Part Four: I Fort the Law

Well, as suggested yesterday, with time slipping through our fingers, this was the time for action.  I set myself the target of designing and building the fort and also painting the sea.  If nothing else, seeing stuff completed was going to be a much needed morale boost.

Fail to plan, plan to fail, or so they say.  So I started out by scribbling out some ideas for the fort in my work book.  With that done, I decided to use a paper template to ensure that the fort would fort on the table; a key consideration!

IMG_3467 That design allowed me to build a 12″ square fort with a 6″ square central yard, so plenty of room for moving figures.  I had gone with a 3″ thick Styrofoam sheet as I wanted the walls to essentially be the interior accommodation and I also wanted to allow plenty of space for deploying figures on the walls.  It is a good idea to think about how this layout works at this stage.  How do people access the buildings and the tower?  I feel that there needs to be some logic to the construction as, in reality, these buildings have a purpose which needs to be fulfilled.  So, I worked out where the Guard Room was, where the commander lives and the barracks for the men and so on.  With that done, I marked up the Styrofoam for cutting.

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At this point I was wondering why I had purchased a 4′ by 2′ sheet of foam when I was clearly only going to need just over one square foot, but I am sure the rest will come in useful at some point.  I then curt this with a normal saw.  This does leave some rough facing areas, but I wasn’t bothered about this as my plan was to plater the walls.  As we shall see.

With the cutting done, I assembled the model on the table, just to double check that it all fitted.

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Next was the initial cutting to create the parapets and the fighting platform behind it.  This was done using a boning knife from the wife’s kitchen.  As stated before, I do not waste valuable storage space buying clever tools; most of us can find what we need around the house.  Please note, knives are dangerous and this should only be attempted if you are competent and confident in their use.  Bt surely that’s bleedin’ obvious!

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So, that’s the first step done.  Now we need to start adding some detail.  First I cut out the main gate and the sally port to the rear.  With the latter I only cut part way through as this retains the strength of the foam.

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I then cut out the doors and narrow windows, not bothering about how rough and ready this was.

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Following that I used a bog-standard biro to draw on some stonework where it may be exposed beneath flaking plaster.  The issue here is not the drawing but the etching, a job the biro does well.

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With that done, I cut out a base in hardboard for the model to stand on.  I the assembled the whole thing using a hot glue gun, but NOT attaching it to the base.  I did, however, use the base to ensure that the model had a flat bottom which would adhere well when we were ready to stick it down.

I then filled any gaps with hot glue.  As you can (hopefully) see on this picture.  Look around the edges and where the two pieces join and you can see hot glue which is a bit shiny.  Naturally we want a nice flat finish to the glue here as opposed to a lumpy one.  Achieving that can be problematic.  Now, I have hear rumours of one bloke who guns the hot glue into place and then dips his finger into cold water before smoothing down the glue with that.  Clearly I could not recommend such a dangerous method as hot glue is VERY hot.  Indeed, on health and safety grounds I would strongly advise against using such a lunatic method.  How you achieve a flat finish is u to you.

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Following that, I added some doors cut from artists mounting board.  I hadn’t measured out my door sizes when cutting, this is a fort built by a crowd of dodgy slavers, not Christopher Wren, but in the event they were all, more or less, 3\4″ wide.   cut a length and then slid them into each door to mark the size, trimmed it off and stuck it in lace with hot glue.

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Following that, I added some planking to the doors, cut from a bit of cardboard of the cornflake packet variety.  These I stuck in place with PVA glue.

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Next I gate the whole structure an “undercoat” of neat PVA glue.  This really binds the building together.

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When that was dry I then gave it a second coat of PVA but this time mixed with Polyfilla and a bit of water.

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With that done, I stuck the model to the hardboard base, again using a hot glue gun.  The hot glue was then used to, once again, fill any gaps at the bottom of the wall.

Next I plastered the building using Fast Dry Polyfilla.  This comes in a big tube and is the latest love of my life.  t has a very short working time so you can only do a couple of areas before going back to “polish” them up to a smooth finish.  Regular readers of this bog will note that this is the same technique that I used when sorting out the buildings for my Imaginations project.  Dip your index finger in  pot of water and then move the finger tip in a circular fashion to smooth out the filler.  Very therapeutic.

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And here’s the finished article before I add sand to the base.

Fort Complete

After the sand was added, I painted it with a base coat of chocolate brown, ready for painting tomorrow.

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Now, as I am sure that you will have realised, there were some fairly large chunks of down-time while I waited for things to dry.  While the fort build was going on, I also ran a side project of painting the sea to complete the beach sections.

My first trip was to YouTube to do a search for “painting sea”.   watched some arty-farty bloke waffle on for a bit and then decided to try it myself.  I got a pot of Windsor & Newton Cerulean Blue Hue and some yellow and white paint.  First  used the blue with just a dab of yellow and painted a strip of that colour furthest from the beach.  I then added some more yellow and a bit of white and painted another strip.

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This process continued, adding a bit more yellow and white each time, until I reached the beach.

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I then used a small brush to add some “waves” to the whole thing with small streaks of white.  I focussed these on the areas where there was a change in colour to suggest waves rolling in from the sea.  With that done, I applied two coats of yacht varnish, making sure to take the varnish onto te apron of the beach itself to indicate wet sand where the water and sane met.

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Again a cri de coeur here.  DO NOT use rubbish water based varnish from your local DIY store.  Get the proper polyurethane based stuff to get a really nice clean finish.

One thing to be aware of here, especially if you are doing this outside.  Varnish is very sticky and any amount of small bits and bobs will stick to the boards while you wait for them to dry.  This can be reduced significantly if you apply the varnish and then bugger off for a few hours.  Human activity stirs up dust, so apply the varnish and then keep well clear.   That sad, we can always come back and add a few more waves to cover up any bits of dirt that have attached themselves.

Here’s the final effect.

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And that was that.  Not a bad day’s work.  I now just need to keep up the impetus and try to get the figures painted and the baracoon and gn position built.

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9 Responses

  1. Koen De Smedt says:

    Looks nice, Rich!

  2. Warburton says:

    You make it all look so easy! Excellent work!

  3. Chris says:

    Looking really good, Rich. I’m amazed at the level of detail you get, especially when we can see that you have huge bananas for fingers. 🙂

    Keep going, it’s looking like it’ll be another success. I think time pressure really brings out the best in you.

  4. Kevin Walker says:

    What a great resource for those of us (and I mean I here) that have thought about doing this but never gotten it together. 🙂

    Thanks Rich.

  5. Most excellent, Rich. Some great tips there on using hot glue on the styrofoam. The for looks brilliant – very West African!

  6. Big Rich says:

    Banana fingers? A musician I know once told I had fingers like a pianist.

    At least I think that was what he said…

  7. Big Rich says:

    It is easy. If it wasn’t easy I could not do it.

  8. A J says:

    A nice piece of work. The fort could be used anywhere in Africa or the Middle East. It has the classic Beau Geste look.

  1. February 2, 2017

    […] With that dry, I went through my usual plastering stage, with quick drying Polyfilla.  See my articles on building Ras Begus’s Fort to get the full SP on the technique.  You’ll find that here:  Ras’ Fort […]

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