Monday, May 29, 2023

Homes for the humble folk and a garret for the roof of the Great House

        The build phase is winding down, I am now finishing up the homes for the average peasant. These are little more than semi-rectangular stone walls with a rough thatched roof and perhaps a tiny window or two. These buildings almost invariably faced to the east to avoid the prevailing winds and to catch the morning light (and warmth). In almost all of these tiny buildings the livestock were kept indoors at night, and not just to avoid predators (human and animal), a cow gives off a surprising amount of heat and would significantly add to the warmth (as well as aroma) of the space. I also made a smaller animal enclosure in the event that Zhodani Commando wanted to portray an attack upon a less wealthy homestead.

three huts, a mini-barmkin and some random stone walls

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Keep in mind the real reason for the holiday


Secondary Structures in the Barmkin.......and a spot of paint

        As important as the Great House is there are other building crucial to the functioning of the Bastle House community. Kitchens to prepare the food for the extended family and a stable for the Laird's prize horses. A combination of these were to be found in most prosperous locations. The kitchen was normally excluded from larger homes due to the risk of fire, the stable because horses have such trouble with ladders and stairs. Some smaller Bastle Houses had a ground-level entrance to a vaulted chamber where valuable livestock could be secured during raids with a kitchen included in the home as there was no extra staff to handle the cooking. As with all Bastle Houses, and their earlier near-cousin Pele-towers, there was no standardization of design, each was built to the whim of it's owner so any combination of features is possible.

last we saw out kitchen and stable they looked like this

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Windows and gunports on the bastle house


the odd downward-pointing spoon shaped gunports of the 1500s 

        Putting together the large parts of a building project is always the fun part. Things like stonework and shingles are tedious but require little more than patience and time. Adding detail is something that really brings a model to life and adds defining character. It also demands some research to get the period-specific items right. Between the Osprey Fortress series Strongholds of the Border Reivers and the internet it was simple enough to get a good idea of what the general appearance of a bastle house looked like. Sturdy buildings built by practical people there was little of the fancy elements you would find on a cathedral or palace. Windows were small and the gunports were practical rather that fancy, the most common element of display was the use of different colored stone in the construction of corner ashlars and the work around doors and windows.

Gaming Update Game at my place Saturday 7pm

 Like the title says Game at my place, this Saturday 27MAY23 1900hrs

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Daddy, what is a Barmkin?

the Great House with it's barmkin (and a barbican too!)

        Seven year old Billy walked up to his father and asked "Daddy, what is a barmkin?" His father set aside his copy of European Weapons and Warfare 1618-1648 and smiled at his precocious son, "Well Billy, I'm glad you asked. A barmkin is a defensive wall required under Scottish law of 1535A.D. That law states that;  "Every landed man dwelling in the inland or upon the borders having there a hundred pound land of new extent shall build a sufficient barmkin upon his heritage and lands in the most suitable place, of stone and lime, containing three score foot of the square, one ell thick and six ells high, for the protection and defence of him, his tenants and their goods in troublesome times, with a tower in the same for himself if he thinks it expedient".  Billy looked seriously at his father and asked "Whats an ell?" Pleased by his son's inquisitive mind his father replied, "About a yard", Billy nodded, doing the the math in his head, "That's a pretty big wall!" he exclaimed. His father smiled, "Yes son, a very substantial wall". Billy's furrowed brow warned his father that another question was coming, "Daddy what is a pound?" His father chuckled and replied, "A British monetary unit, like a dollar, it's worth about a dollar and twenty-five cents".  Further mental mathematics ensued and Billy asked, "But Daddy, our house is worth a LOT more than a hundred pounds, why don't we have a barmkin?" Wishing to return to his reading Billy's father skipped the effects of inflation from 1535A.D. until the present day, and the complexities of current building codes, not to mention the inapplicability of Scottish law outside of Scotland and simply patted Billy on the head and replied, "Because Daddy has an AR-15"

Monday, May 22, 2023

Stones and Shingles

        No, I'm not talking about my health problems, I am referring to the progress on my latest building project. I had a long afternoon free and decided that I would devote some of it to finishing the stone-work on the bastle house and take a stab at using insulation foam instead of the more traditional cereal packet card to make the shingles. This was a mixed blessing; the foam doesn't dry as aggressively as cereal box card does and thus allows a bit more time for fine-tuning the look but it does have a very annoying static cling that saw my hands festooned with tiny shingles every time I reached to the pile for another one to affix to the model. I managed to get the "stonework" done before dinner and spend a fair portion of the evening getting the shingles sorted out. Overall I am rather satisfied with the results. You can view my progress below.

I won't bore my gentle readers with the business of cutting tons of tiny bricks for this job,
 needless to say my faithful Proxxie made this task MUCH easier

Friday, May 19, 2023

Proxxie Goes to the Border Marches

a bastle house 

        Being that I am about 94 years behind in my painting schedule I rarely take commissions, there simply isn't enough time in the day. But, when a friend and skilled painter offers to swap his skill with a brush for my skill with insulation foam, things are different. Recently Zhodani Commando made exactly such an offer; despising painting such as I do and finding miniature architecture a happy way to spend time I agreed instantly. 

       What was requested was a set of buildings that could be used in games reflecting the troubled Border Marches between Scotland and England in the 15th-16th centuries. Fortunately I am familiar with the era and the conflict (actually I have been interested in the subject since I read "The Steel Bonnets" forty years ago) and have resources in hand to conduct some preliminary research. The centerpiece would be the Bastle House of the Laird, a stoutly-built home (some might say fortress) that was the seat of a powerful Border noble, in addition there would be some outbuildings and some rather more humble homes for the common folk. I got right to work.

Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Game At My Place, 20MAY23 1900hrs

       Apologies to everyone for not running any games recently. I have gotten myself involved in a 1:1 scale building project and it has been taking up an inordinate amount of my time and energy.  I don't have a game in mind at this moment but if anyone would like to suggest something I am open to ideas. I do have a new Great War skirmish rule-set to try out (consider that a threat or offer as you see fit).

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

A Tale of Two Islands; Updated!

These items are from Novus Design Studios, who seem to be going out of business very soon. Orders dated prior to 30APR23 will be honored, so go get some while you have a chance!
Rustoleum Flat Black Primer, a heavy drybrush of Americana Soft Black, followed by a slightly lighter drybrushing of Americana Storm Gray, once that had dried I gave it a more selective coat of Americana Boulder with as light dusting of pure white to finish it off

        It seems the R.U.P. has caught on to The Housemartin's trick of casually leaving cool stuff around my workshop with the knowledge that my gnat-like attention span will light upon it and paint it "just to see what it would look like with a dab of paint".  No, actually he asked me to take a look at a couple of resin islands that he had recently purchased (I will try to get specifics about them and include it in an update) with an eye to painting them to go with his large collection of 1/1200 scale Ships of the Line. They were well cast (no bubbles making pits on the surface) and very detailed. I have just undertaken a large terrain commission for some terrain from a friend and needed to get my mojo refreshed before diving into that. These models seemed like the perfect chance for a bit of refresher/experimentation work, I dove right in.

once the paint had dried I added a wash of GW Gulliman Flesh at the base of the mountains with a tiny bit drawn up the sides of the steeper slopes,  I then wetbrushed Americana True Brown to fill the space between the hills and the beach, this was followed by a narrow band of Americana Honey Brown, once that had all dried I painted Americana Thicket into the areas that looked like they could support vegetation, this was highlighted with Americana Hauser Light Green

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Game At Rich Uncle Pat's Place this Saturday at 6:30pm

Israel vs Egypt Jets and Greek on Greek Naval

Like the headline says, Rich Uncle Pat will be hosting this weekend's game, Saturday 6:30 pm at his place

Friday, April 7, 2023

Warlord Epic Scale ECW Cavalry Frame

        These little fellows showed up attached to my latest issue of Wargames Illustrated so I thought I would pass along to my good readers a quick look at the latest addition to Warlord's "Epic" series. These are cast in the usual firm gray plastic that Warlord has been using for years. There is no flash, but there is some noticeable mold lines on some of the figures. This is easily removed with a file or an Xacto blade. the poses are dynamic but suffer from being one-piece castings. This is particularly noticeable when viewing the cavalry figures, details get "blurry" as they approach the mold-line. That said these are wargaming figures intended for mass-battles not showpieces or skirmish minis. If I were not already in possessio of thousands of based and painted figures I might be tempted to buy these. The detail is fine for 15mm army level minis and the price will allow very large armies without breaking the bank. 

       Of course size matters when you are looking to add to your collection. These minis should blend well with the true 15mm figures such as Peter Pig, Khurusan or the old Minifigs range; rather less well with the scale-creep minis from other manufacturers that are now approaching 18mm. I took a couple of comparison shots to give an idea as to size.

cavalry sprue, side A

cavalry sprue, side B
old school Minifigs Turkish cavalry

Khurusan Scottish foot

       I don't think that I would mix these in with many other manufacturers products but I wouldn't hesitate to use units of Warlord minis next to unit from producers that have stayed true to size. If you are just getting into ECW or 30YW this new line is well worth considering.