Sunday, January 31, 2021

Scratching an Artistic Itch


Scratching an Artistic Itch
Maybe three of you guys know that a lifetime ago I used to work in the addiction industry. During that time my boss tricked me into attending a week-long intensive outpatient group therapy "retreat". Don't get me wrong, it was awesome....I worked through some repressed shit and made some friends I'm still in touch with (Group 4 represent!), but I thought I was going to evaluate the place in advance of my company trying to provide some specific business services.....

....anyway, as part of my therapist's recommended future "self care" I was specifically told to take up some more artistic pursuits. This is the biggest reason I started doing maps and writing some game "stuff". While I have been blogging for close to twenty years I do not consider myself an artist or writer, so working on "artistic" pursuits is a stretch for me, which was kind of the therapists point. I'm supposed to push myself and try new shit....which can be a lot harder than you might expect. I can come up with ideas, but execution....that's difficult for me. I love to gather up materials, plan things out, and try to figure out how I'm going to execute, but actually pulling the trigger.....yeah, I procrastinate like a....well, I just do. I know this is a problem for me and a barrier to my own prescribed after-care.

A couple weeks ago when I came down with the Flu (Covid?) I knew I had to do something 'cause if not I'm going to have a problem just wallowing in my sickness and doing nothing but watch TV. I needed a project....and I found one. I decided I'd make some terrain, specifically some round stone & thatch dwellings. I was inspired by this YouTube video by Landvetter's Lair

My messy workspace
While this was my inspiration, I wanted to make it my own and do some tweaks. My original idea was to work on the scale of the wattle and try a few different techniques. I actually started on doing four separate buildings. I liked the way the wattle came out, but to say it was labor intensive was an understatement. I think the wattle for each building took eight hours. In retrospect while I got the scale of the wattle how I liked, the buildings, intended to be two story, were still too tall. I don't like the enormous doorways I ended up with.

This whole endeavor took about a solid week and a half of work. At one point the walls of three of the buildings....well, I think they just sucked. I attempted to use thin foam-core and texture using a greenstuff cobblestone roller. While you could see the cobblestone, the moment you worked with it or God-forbid, try to paint it....the cobblestone pretty much disappeared. I ended up ripping the glued foam-core off and applying clay, which does hold the texturing, but had its own problems.

Four finished huts

My workspace is a mess I still need to clean up, but I did at least finish....well kind of. My goal was to finish by today's post, but I still need to coat the four models with a protective spray. I'm not sure I'm going to keep these particular models.....I'll probably send them to a gaming buddy who I know will use them at his gaming table.

One hut with figure for scale

This whole process has been a PITA, but I did enjoy trying to figure out how to do  few things, and how to fix some mistakes. I already have a couple of ideas on how to improve upon the build process, getting all of the scale how I want it, and where to spend just a little bit of money (not much in the scheme of things though) to improve the outcome. 

I think the thatch roof I did was much easier than in the video and I'm looking forward to trying it in an easier (rectangular) application.

I'm glad to be "done" with this initial project. I hope this was sufficient to scratch my art itch, at least for a while. I have other things I want to work on.....

Single hut with roof removed

Aside from the huge amount of time expended here, the actual cost comes down to maybe $3-$4 a piece for these things....seriously. The most expensive supply, use-wise, was probably the Modpodge I used generally to seal various bits and bobs. One of the huts I used plain Modpodge to see how that worked on the "wattle", and some black-ink infused Modpodge was used as a sealer for the clay and the roofs. The foamcore was from the dollar store and the clay was $10 for a HUGE box I used a tiny portion of.

I'm not looking for encouragement or even kind words about this project (I'm not an idiot, I won't turn them down), but I thought it might be nice to share a gaming-related project that I've spent some serious time on. After I seal these models and document my build-process and lessons-learned I hope to be able to revisit this style of building and eventually make a small bronze-age style village.

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