Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Bastle House project, filling in the gaps

        The building phase is over and now it's time for paint-prep. The first step is the apply a coat of wallboard compound over the stonework to mimic the appearance of mortar between the stones. I do this by painting a thin layer of vinyl wallboard compound over the styrofoam bricks that I had covered the walls with. I apply it in a criss-cross pattern (very much like grouting tile) to fill in some of the spaces and generally soften the look. This is slightly less tedious that the actual stonework but decidedly more messy.

the stuff walls are made of
I use vinyl-based compound because it has a bit of flexibility and chips less

Bastle House building phase completed

        Having gotten the last of the buildings sorted out I thought that I would commemorate the end of the building phase with a "family photo". I have the itch to build a pele tower, just as a modeling exercise, but it remains to be seen if that turns into a proper effort....

        In modeling this I have made an effort to keep things as modular as possible to ensure the greatest variety of layouts. Zhodani Commando will be playing a skirmish game with these so freedom of arrangement is crucial. Some things to note. The horizontal aspect of the Great House and the smaller bastle house have been somewhat exaggerated minis and the hands that move them cannot adapt to narrow spaces thus, to ensure play-ability, there needs to be a bit of extra space indoors. Also the definition of Bastle House, Barmkin, Tower-House, and Pele Tower were all very loosely applied in the 16th century. Researching the matter was confusing as modern authors tend to try to force a current, ultra-regulated and defined, concept of buildings onto ancient structures. Truth be told they were built by local magnates to the whim of their design, no doubt with a heavy dose of practical experience and at least one eye on the purse.

the complete collection of pieces 
a likely layout of a successful Laird's community
a less-wealthy Laird's community 
       I have had questions regarding the thatching of the humble cottages, as to why the thatch does not overhang the outer edge of the wall. To be honest that was my first impulse but in viewing pictures of Scottish Blackhouses I noticed that the thatching usually ended on top of the walling and was often weighted-down with rocks or logs. Often there was plants growing along the edge where the thatch joined the wall, see the photos below.  


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).