After last week when we had fun with jungle, I thought that for this week’s Charlie Don’t Surf playtest I’d try to knock up some clumps of dense bamboo. I’d been reading some US Army AARs and the thing that jumped out was the way that the terrain could be broken up by dense clumps of this stuff, especially in and around hamlets. I was impressed with the use of astro-turf matting for ground cover, but I wanted something that looked a bit sexier on the table for my bamboo, and I had a few ideas that I wanted to try out.
First catch your hare, as they say, so here’s the list of stuff I assembled for this relatively quick project.
1. A broom head with coarse natural fibre bristles.
2. Some MDF, ideally 2mm, but 3mm will do.
3. A hot glue gun
4. Basing material
5. Gardening secateurs
After my fish tank jungle success my first stop should have risked another visit to the local branch of Wilkos for the broom head but, in a pathetic attempt to avoid a trip to the dark side, I made the mistake of going to an out of town DIY superstore first and all they had was a scrubbing brush for £3.50. I bought this, but realised pretty quickly that this would not cover much area, so I went to Wilkinsons and got the larger broom head in picture 1 for less than two quid. Fortunately it’s the wife’s birthday in a couple of months so the scrubbing brush won’t be wasted!
Cutting the bases to the right size is the first task. As this was a first outing I thought that I’d put together some small clumps to test the ideas out, so I marked up the right sizes I wanted and then cut them out with a jig-saw before sanding down the edges. I went for uneven shapes as I felt that this looked best. Were I to be covering large areas I’d cut the bases out in shapes that inter-connected so as to allow them to be used in one mass or slightly apart to create paths between them.
My initial plan was then to snip clumps of broom fibre with my scissors and then stick them in hot glue on the bases, however in the end the garden secateurs were needed as the fibre is VERY tough indeed. With a number of bases on the go I could put a half inch blob of glue on one base, stick in the clump and the hold that in place for about thirty seconds before moving on to the next base. I just then rotated through the bases adding a bit at a time until they were full. Throughout this stage you look at the semi-complete bases and consider hurling them into the bin, as they look absolutely rubbish and the process is extremely tedious, but do stick with it.
Once your bases are covered with broom fibre you’ll need the scissors to trim things up. Remember that these things will grow relatively irregularly in the wild, so no ornate topiary here, but this does make things look a bit better.
My next stage was painting. This was very hit and miss. The basic fibre is a dark brown, so I went with a khaki dry-brush first, but that looked a bit dull, so I went with a Yellow green colour that also failed to really do it for me. In the end I added a fair bit of yellow to this, brushed that over then added lots of white and highlighted the top. Once this was dry I gave the bottom half of the bamboo stalks a wash with a light green. In the end this rather anarchic attempt to find the right colour left me with a quite irregular look that I was quite please with.
After this the final stage is to add your choice of basing material, and you are done. I think that the completed article looks pretty good. However I’ll add a caveat here. I would not use this method for large area, it is too slow. For clumps to scatter across your game table it is ideal.
This method would also be ideal for the cane breaks that we came across in our AWI supplement, This Land Divided, or for general scrub in 28mm games.
Total time taken for the half a dozen pieces that are shown here was less than one hour.
Okay, a brief update today as we have a big game, photoshoot and impromptu Eisteddfod today, with the Welsh Wizard himself, Sir Michael “It’s Not Unusual” Hobbs, bringing his War of 1812 toys. Indeed, as I type this he is speeding towards Lard Island in the Druidmobile so I need to be quick as he’ll