Friday, August 18, 2017

Finished Romano-British Watchtower


I had a free day today, waiting on a team to make yet another house assessment (why do these various agencies need so many of the bloomin' things?) so I cracked on and finished the Romano-British watchtower.

First up, I did the groundwork around the bottom of the tower and fitted the palisade. As usual the material I used for the ground effect is liquid nails scattered with sand. The tower was stuck in place using the trusty hot glue gun.



I arranged the palisade so the door to the tower is on the opposite side to the gate. This would be a design feature to prevent an enemy from rushing the gate then gaining entry to the tower in a single bound.

After that, it was a case of waiting for the groundwork to dry, then painting it, adding some ground scatter for dead bracken and a sprig of lichen for a small tree which has sprung up in the shelter of a corner of the palisade.

And here it is, complete.


Lord Gaius Menusius, his horn blower Agrippinus and standard bearer Fred Heckmonthwaite* survey the eager (?) lads of the local militia on maneuvers.


* Long story. **





** No, really.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Romano-British Watchtower - 5


A modest bit of progress this week. I glued the tower to the circular base and made four sections of palisade to surround it.



These are three and one-eighth inch lengths of the ubiquitous tongue-depressor sticks from my stash, cut to shape and nicked with a file on one edge to represent the tops of sharpened palisade stakes. I used a couple of pieces of matchstick for the gateposts. I painted the wood brownish-grey then gave it a wash of brown once dry. The individual stakes and the gates were then picked out with pencil. The pieces will be glued down to make a square enclosure once I've done a bit of ground work around the base of the tower.

I'm hoping to finish the whole thing off sometime this weekend. House-hunting will get under way in earnest after that, so I need to be packed and ready to move.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Romano-British Watchtower - 4


Due to certain events in Charlottesville, VA this weekend I was required to don my press pass once more to cover local rallies. I'm due at another scheduled for this evening, and there have already been several threats made against the demonstration. Interesting times we live in.

Meanwhile, I made a little more progress on the watchtower, getting the first areas of paintwork done.

Timberwork in place. It looks less squat with these in place.
I'm aiming for an aged effect, because this tower is a relic of the last days of the Roman Empire in Britain and would be at least fifty years old by the time the events of Dux Britanniarum take place.


I went with a greenish hue* for the stonework, and a dingy pale yellow-white for the rest. The timber is nearly grey, representing aged woodwork which may have been replaced once or twice since the tower was built.

More stuff later as I finish the tower proper and move on to the base.

*Greenish Hugh, little-known follower of Robin Hood.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Romano-British Watchtower - 3


Camera and tablet conspired to play silly buggers this afternoon, but I managed to take some pics of the work in progress. First off, the pantile roof.


It's done using the same process as the earlier church roof - a thick-ish spread of liquid nails followed by a combing. This time it didn't come out as well as I hoped. There's a bit of warping going on, but it'll do. The tower is supposed to represent a structure that's stood for several decades since it was built by the legions before they departed Britannia's shores, so a bit of wear and tear is to be expected.

Then the base...


This is a CD from one of those ambulance-chasing law firms touting their services, sandwiched between two discs of card. It makes a slightly raised stiff base for the tower to stand on - thus...


Mini-dowels smeared with liquid nails provided the ridged tiles. The piece already has that top-heavy look these watchtowers had, and I'm glad I used the plaster blocks for the base to lower the centre of gravity.

I'll create a palisade around the base, and it'll probably be square in plan. In the meantime I'm forging on with making timber beams and rendering for the tower walls...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Romano-British Watchtower - 2


On to the next stages, the walkway and the roof...

Frankly, I bless the inventor of the hot-glue gun, one of the most useful tools in the model-maker's kit. With it I can 'spot weld' pieces in place with the hot glue whilst the conventional glues with more durability and strength dry. A case in point is the walkway around the upper story of the tower. This would've been a pig to work without hot glue.

The walkway with the upper level door.
Before attaching the railings around the walkway I used a craft knife to cut away any blobs of excess hot glue then smeared some liquid nails on the walls for a plaster render effect. The railings were then attached using craft adhesive on most of the posts with some hot glue to hold everything in place. Not visible in the photo are the short wooden corbels on which the walkway rests. The walkway itself is three inches square, the upright posts in the corners are one inch tall, and the railings half an inch tall. Once the roof is on the overall height of the tower will be four inches.

After a bit of thought I decided to make a removable roof so figures can be positioned on the walkway. This is more for the look of the thing than for any gaming purpose.

I cut a three inch square of cereal box card then glued some off-cuts of wood left over from the walkway construction in the centre of the card on what will be the underside. The four triangles will hold the roof in position.


Next, for the rafters two triangles of card set at right-angles and glued to the top of the square.


The next stage will be to cut four triangles to form the roof itself. I'm going to make a shallow pyramid-shaped roof for this as it seems to have been the commonest type used on watchtowers.
 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Romano-British Watchtower - 1


The hurry-up-and-wait part of the house sale is coming to a close at last (dea volente) and we'll begin packing stuff in earnest before long. I think I have enough time for one last project before the Man Cave goes into a small heap of boxes, so I'm making a Romano-British watchtower for Dux Britanniarum gaming.

To begin with, I cut four 3" 1/8th by 1 3/4" inch sections out of 3/6th inch foamcore. The Lego blocks are there to give a firm 90 degree angle for when I come to glue the pieces together.


I'm using a number of plaster Hirst Arts components for the field-stone base of the tower.

For the next stage I cut two 2nd floor windows (3rd floor for those in the US), the door, and revetted the edges of the foamcore. The plaster components were glued to make a square base using the Lego block angle shaper.


The tower was then assembled into the box shape, again using the Legos to get the right angle, then glued onto the plaster base. This will lower the centre of gravity to make the tower model stable.


It looks a bit rough-and-ready at the moment. I realised the Stanley knife blade had grown blunt. Foamcore may be soft, but it tends to blunt blades quite quickly.

Next up, I began constructing the walkway that'll go around the top of the tower just above the line of the windows. These are the railings which are made of strips of wood and thin cardboard. They'll be glued onto wood bases to make the platform.

Railings under construction.

The next stage will be to cut and shape the platforms themselves. I'll add wooden inserts to the tower walls for the platform to rest upon.



Monday, July 31, 2017

An Early Church - 6


On to the closing stages of the church build.

To get the effect of Roman pantiles I spread a thick layer of liquid nails over the roofs and used an old comb to create the rows. It's best to give the comb a quick, straight downward stroke to avoid any deviation, and I've more or less achieved that here. The area around the porch had to be done using a cocktail stick, but it seems to merge with the rest pretty well. The putty-like consistency of the liquid nails allows it to be worked for some time before it hardens, which is useful if things need to be corrected.

I forgot to take a photo of the roof on the rounded apse. This I had to work by hand with the cocktail stick, being careful to run the lines down from the apex so they formed elongated isosceles triangles. It took a couple of tries before I was satisfied with it.

The dried liquid nails, along with annoying fingernail-shaped speck of plastic that appeared out of nowhere.
The ridge-line is made of two lengths of mini-dowel, with a bit of liquid nails smeared along its length to glue it down and meld it with the tiling.

View from the front showing the rows.
The same treatment was given to the walls, but with a much thinner spread. When dried it looks like daub or plaster.

Once the liquid nails on the roofs dried thoroughly I gave it its first coat of paint. I used a terracotta acrylic craft paint with a drop of Future floor polish to help it flow, along with a single drop of red ink. I wanted a hotter shade than the standard terracotta, aiming to tone it down to a more realistic shade as painting progressed. I found from making previous Roman period buildings that the terracotta paint used straight out of the bottle doesn't look quite right.


A fairly thin coat of terracotta mixed with an equal amount of mid brown went on next, worked well into the grooves.

Once the roofs had dried I painted the walls. The builders of early churches followed Roman practice and either built in stone of the lightest colour or painted the walls white - there's archaeological evidence of lime or whitewash being used on church walls of the period - so they attracted the eye and stood out from the run of the mill structures around them. This enhanced the glory of the Christian religion and provided a ready landmark for pilgrims and worshipers travelling across country.

Now I could make the building all white but two things mitigate against it. One, I think given the British climate of the time (warmer and wetter) weathering would tone down the brightness. Two, I didn't want it to look too much like a Mediterranean building. I went with acrylic antique white - a parchment-like shade - with a drop of black to tone it down a little for a weathered effect.


The final touches on the roof comprised a wet-brush of terracotta with a little orange mixed in to highlight the ridges of the tiles, working along the line of the tiles rather than across since this avoids any blobs of paint building up on the sides of the ridges. I may apply a last wash of sepia ink for weathering. We'll see.

Just below the building is the beginnings of the main door. Again, archaeological evidence suggests the builders of these early churches followed Roman practice and painted the doors, possibly with different coloured insets. I'm using the rounded end of a tongue-depressor splint (I found an unused box of these in a local Goodwill charity shop!). I opted for turquoise, since fragments of wood painted this colour were found during excavation of a Romano-British church in Colchester (I think it was Colchester - brain fart/insufficient coffee!)


I also touched up the archway with white gloss enamel to make it stand out more from the background wall colour.

And for the final touch, the main door is now in place. I went with antique white panels with Pompeii red inserts. The porch door I painted a plain wood colour.

Father Superfluous and his wife Senovara take the air outside their new church.

A final grainy shot of the entire village with its new church, taken before my camera batteries died.




Saturday, July 29, 2017

An Early Church - 5


A little more progress...



The only structural addition is the Roman-style arch and columns made of Sculpey for the main doorway, and a 'stone' trim of thin card along the front and side walls level with the bottom of the windows. A layer of liquid nails adhesive smeared over the walls filled any small gaps between card components and softened the appearance overall to give the effect of plaster.

I may spread a bit more liquid nails on the walls depending on how it looks once dry, as it appears pretty thin right now. The next step beyond this will be to deal with the roofs. They'll need a thicker layer of liquid nails and careful combing to get the effect of pantiles, but it should be doable.


Friday, July 28, 2017

An Early Church - 3


Assorted embuggerances to do with selling a house took up a lot of time today, most of it wasted, but I managed to squeeze in some work on the Romano-British church.

The roofs are now on and the side porch shaped and fitted. Roman roofs had a shallower pitch than more modern styles - a souvenir of the Mediterranean climate where heavy snow isn't a factor - and I've worked to create the same angles here.


The main roof was a doddle. A couple of triangular rafters were glued in place at even intervals along the top of the walls and left to set before the roof was put in place. I used hot glue to fix it in position whilst the regular white (Aleens') adhesive set.

The semicircular apse roof was a bit tricky. The apse is an inch wide, so I drew a circle of an inch radius on cereal card and cut out one third of it.


Curling it into a half cone I applied Aleens' glue to the apse wall edge and fixed the roof in place along the main wall seams with hot glue. More Aleens' glue was smeared into the crease once the hot glue had cooled and set.

[One thing I've found about using hot glue is even card this thin will insulate fingers from the scalding hot stuff, allowing it to be held in place whilst it sets. Disclaimer: Please note I'm writing about what works for me. It goes without saying all appropriate care should be taken when working with hot glue.]

The side porch is an off cut of 3/16ths foamcore with a piece of card for the roof. Again I fixed it in place using hot glue whilst the regular adhesive set. It appears porches around main doors were something of a rarity in British churches of this period so I'm going to fashion a simple surround for it instead.

The next stage for this model will be to apply a layer of liquid nails to the walls. This is my new go-to stuff for making adobe/mud walls as it's strong, workable and doesn't warp thin cardboard. After that comes the tricky part of fashioning Roman pantiles on the roofs. At the moment I'm thinking in terms of using an old comb to create the distinctive ridge-and-furrow appearance on the main and aisle roofs, and a toothpick to work the apse roof.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

An Early Church - 2


A little more progress on the Romano-British church. First off, I cut a batch of component pieces for the walls using cereal box card...


A couple of minutes' work with the hot glue gun and the carcass is encased.


The rounded apse is fixed using Aleens' glue, with a couple of spots of hot glue to hold it until it dries.



I'm basing this model's floor plan on the excavated foundations of the Silchester church.


Artist's interpretation.

Surviving churches of this period are extremely rare and unaltered/non-updated buildings non-existent, but it appears they had few windows. Some were small and at head height; other, larger ones were located high up the walls. It would've been for security reasons, churches having valuables inside that were too tempting for a thief or Saxon raider. I opted for a row of four large windows each side (Because of their position I keep wanting to call them clerestory windows but it wouldn't be accurate). I may represent the smaller windows by painting them in.

The next step will be the roofs, and a porch on the side door like the one at Silchester. 

 

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