Saturday, February 13, 2016

20160214 Roman Helmet Modification

Roman Helmet Modification

Last year I purchased a stainless steel and brass late Roman Cavalry helmet. I padded it out, and went to use it, and found that it was illegal. It needed modification around the ears, as one of our swords could still get a blow in. I didn't have a workshop, so the fix went on hold for almost a year. 

Over the last few days I have finally gotten all the bits together. It needed the throatless shears to cut the steel to the right dimensions. It needed the belt sander to smooth the steel. It needed a range of hammers and tools to place the rivets, and it needed the table space and the rivets.

All of these factors finally came together, and I was able to place the added safety bits to just under the ear. They may be hard to see, even in a photograph designed to point them out. That is excellent, as they were not there on the original helmets. 

The last step has not yet been done - I used mild steel, so to prevent rust I will paint the extras black, so they fade back even further.

The work is quite rough, as I have not done a project from scratch in almost ten years, but everything will work, and I believe it will be quite safe.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

20160210 Define Refine Accelerate

20160210 Define Refine Accelerate

Taking the basics of the designs I developed a few days ago, I then customized the display board to match each of the lists available in the back of the book for Chain of Command. This will allow customers to buy a single flames of war platoon from Aetherworks, and base and model them in order to play Chain of Command. 

A platoon and display board to allow you to play a side should come under $40, which means two sides, two display boards and the .pdf rule book from the TFL website should come in under $100.

In an age where many rule books are well over $100, this is a veritable bargain, and will hopefully accelerate the Chain of Command scene. Here's hoping!  

I am quite tired after my efforts, I might add a photo here later.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

20160209 Tuft Term Forsaken 

I have had my Coleridge moment. My insurance agent was toe pain, and my Xanadu is incomplete. I hurt my foot, and my pain stole a perfect word from me. I was placing synthetic tufts of fake grass on my miniatures, and I found an evocative phrase that rolled of the tounge beautifully. It completely explained in two concise words the artistry of placing tufts in order to tell a story. I was hoping to evoke a yearning in each artist present to go off and find the storytelling potential in the least of your details.

If a millimeter wide tuft of painted and pruned polymer can tell you a story of pain and suffering, the passing of giants, the crushing of friends so near, surely each of us can find something to tell our story, or emote the story of another. The giant talon of a steam powered monstrosity may never excite or inspire us, but a well placed, and crushed, piece of grass can say more words that we can imagine.

Tig is much better at colour than I am, so she lead me to choose the best of the tufts, and while I was placing them at the feet of my miniatures, a story and an overarching theme developed. I had a beautiful bright green to really make the red pop, and then I decided I would use a more yellowed tuft underneath the steps of the steam and magic driven engines that define this game.

Towards the front of the figure, in the direction of travel, the tufts are brighter, larger, higher and happier. The ones that have been missed by the stomping boots are still bright, but shaped away as if in fear, and the ones underneath the oppressive tread are crushed and defeat.

I had a perfect phrase to summarize this feeling, to paint a picture that even the non aficionado could draw warmth from the vision. Alas, it it is hidden alongside the lost pleasure domes, whatever may be decried or decreed.

Monday, February 8, 2016

20160208 Display Lasers Illustrator

20160208 Display Lasers Accessories

Today's creativity is about design. When we play with our miniature soldiers, there are the soldier models themselves, and many available accessories. There are storage cases, dice, rules, terrain, special measurement devices, special markers, a plethora of extra kit.

Today I was designing display boards. In this specific instance display boards are 3mm MDF boards that are designed in Adobe Illustrator. The .svg Illustrator output files are converted into a format for a computer controlled cutting laser, which produces circular bases, and a cutout that can be placed on top of the extra blank board. The miniatures are then glued to the bases, painted, and then returned to the holes from which they were cut. Since everything matches, it also strongly visually helps to locate when you have lost a figure during play.

This makes the miniatures look very orderly, they are nicely displayed, and you have a quality storage system. I base everything off the international standard of paper, A4, as you can then always get stationery accessories to hold the products.

The picture below is a mock up. These are 15mm figures that I have layed out on half an A4 sheet.

I will then simulate these shapes on Illustrator. Once I have declared my design finished, it will be emailed to my friends who run a miniatures company. I will get samples of the product to check everything. If the product pumps out a few sales, I will get store credit and some stock, if it was wildly successful I would get cash.

It is mainly a love job for friends, and as a love job I mainly design for systems I play, for armies I own, so I can use the demo stuff to store my own gear :)

In case anyone is interested, this is the shop run by my my friends:

and an example of what the laser cut board looks like.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

20160207 Belt Tape Scabbard

20160207 Belt Tape Scabbard

Today was a very quiet day creatively, I woke late and got to the workshop late. Once there I did some belt and strapping work on my armour, and re-taped some sticks.

I am a knight in my group, and we do full speed full contact medieval combat martial arts. We use rattan, which is like a solid filled bamboo. It has the useful quality of 'pulping' as it gets old and worn, so it becomes a worse weapon as time goes on, and becomes safer, as opposed to almost any other material which becomes more dangerous. Wood splinters and snaps, fibreglass buts off splinters, polymers snap with temperature changes, metals crystallize and shatter or form sharp shards.

So when I say I re-taped my swords, the outer layers are marked to show the contact edge, and over time it gets very broken up. So every few months you need to strip the stick and re-tape it.

I got a little distracted in the workshop at that point, and had an organisational spree, putting up lots of pegs and holders on convenient beams.

I did some more stitch work on the scabbard, but forgot to take my camera down.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

20160206 Belt Varnish Scabbard

Belt Varnish Scabbard


One of my projects has been making white belts for each new knight as they are given their accolade. In many cases a white belt is given that has an impressive history. The belt I was knighted with is called the Uber belt, and has it's origins from a knight who was knighted the year I was born, 1971, and has an illustrious history of about 30 knights since that time. It is called a relic, and the young knights have strict instructions to wear it once, and then hand it on to the next knight. SO: What do you wear after that once? My gift was to help them with that issue. Our game covers many years of history, roughly 600 to 1600. I make a simple belt for the later time period knights that would not seem out of place around your jeans today. For the earlier time period knights, they are a different beast. 

This on is based on designs from roughly 300 - 1000 A.D. 

Previously I had cut the thin and thick leather, and attached the buckle and tip, and painted it white. Today I made the large belt terminators from sheet brass, attached the knife scabbard attachments, sewed the thin strips to the thick ones, and finished the leather in hide sealer. Done! Maybe a final polish of the brass before good photo time.


The Khador force received it's Quickshade varnish today. Miniatures are painted with 'passes' such as assembly, undercoat, base colour, highlights, ink washes, shading, and varnishing. Quickshade is a mix of varnish and ink that lets you do a couple of steps at once. It is great for Bulk painting. Quickshade is a product made by the company "Army Painter".

Being a varnish, it means that there is a Mineral Turpentine cleanup, but it is worth even that for the time it saves. It is weather dependent, luckily today was dry, warm and still.

Setup is critical. I use a loose paint covered board, and put the Quickshade tin in a saucepan to catch any mess. I heavily 'sploosh' more than paint on the product with the miniature upside down.

I then put the brush down across the saucepan, and then grab the figure, and put my whole right hand and miniature deep  into a cardboard box and then shake any excess off the figure onto the walls of the box. 

I then set the figure to dry, which takes several hours to touch dry, and sometimes two days for a complete dry.
Glossy Wet

Close up and smile

Three hours of drying

Aerial shot freshly varnished

Back in the box, three hours later.


While Tig and I were entertaining friends who helped with many things, I did the basic cutting and part of the sewing for a VERY simple sword scabbard. It was a little awkward as the blade is a falchion, which is fatter at the base than the neck, so is a little awkward to fit to a scabbard. It was very quick, and I forgot to get a photo. Maybe next session, closer to being finished.