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OK, I had some time to sit down and work on some of my projects tonight, and surprisingly enough I feel like I’ve made some actual progress. I put together a small one inch square push mold (hopefully more successful than my last attempt), and I made significant progress on creating a master, out of sculpey, for my brick paved streets. Updates and pictures will be posted soon, but right now I’ve got to go back downstairs and pull my street out of the oven. Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon.

Project on Hold

Sadly life has been ridiculously busy lately and as such I haven’t had much time at all to work on my miniature village or any of my other miniature projects. Maybe I’ll have something new by this weekend.

I Was Wrong

I can admit it when I’m wrong. My method for creating the “perfect” one inch block was wrong. I got so caught up in the excitement of creating a square I missed the reality that my square was about 3/32″ short of a perfect 1″ square. So, back to the drawing board? Not quite. I think I’ll still be able to use my method for creating a 29/32″ square for my sidewalks and pathways, I’ll just need to create a small gap inbetween the sidewalk tiles that I’ll fill with some product. I think in the end it will give the sidewalk more character.

On the plus side I did find some perfect one inch square tiles that I’ll be able to use as templates in the future. At Michael’s (the craft store) I found a package of 1″ square mirror tiles. These will work brilliantly as templates for future tiles. The only downside is that I’ll have to carefully avoid breaking any of them.

Also my order for Merlin’s Magic arrived in the mail last night. I haven’t had the opportunity to cast anything using it just yet, but when I do I’ll post a brief review.

In other news I did attempt a late night casting of Tiny Bricks Mold 5. It turned out alright, but not spectacular. This had less to do with the quality of the mold than it did with the softness of the product of was working with, and my own ineptitude.

Thanks for reading.

I got home from work yesterday and my wife informed me that I had a package. I immediately ripped it open to discover A & K Studios Tiny Brick Mold 5. I was excited, then I was reminded by my significant other that we had to be at someone elses house for dinner. I slowly put down the mold and stepped away. Therefore, while I do now have the mold in my possession I have not yet been able to attempt to cast anything. I would like to highly commend John Keebler and A & K Studios for their fast response times and their incredibly fast shipping and handling. Here’s a pic to tide anyone out there over until I can do a more thorough review.

In order to get my project started I created four basic types of walls for every exterior facing type: A wall with one door and one window, a wall with one door, a wall with one window, and a blank wall. Here are some pictures of my first attempts at creating master walls, molds of the masters, and some early casting attempts in the molds that I have made thus far.

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This might not seem like such a big deal, but for some reason I had issues creating a 1″ square tile. I figure if I could find a way to make the “perfect” tile, I could then use it as a push mold for sculpey in order to create more detailed tiles down the road.

I found a surprisingly simple solution. First, I searched high and low for a 1″ square cookie cutter, but to no avail. I eventually stumbled across some old legos and discovered that you could lay them out in such a pattern that they form a near perfect 1″ interior square.

I then tried several different products to pour into the mold, and got the best results from using hydrostone mixed to the consistency of putty and pushed into the mold then scraped level with the top. Although these two pictures of the mold in use show me casting with resin.

Once I created a good standard tile, I made a mold of it using mold max 30 from smooth-on. This was only the fourth mold I’ve ever created. Mold max 30 is a two part mold making RTV, and thus far I’ve had great success with it. It has been incredibly easy to use. In order to create the mold, I took my favorite tile, glued it down to some glass (provided by an unused picture frame), and built a lego mold around it. For good measure I placed non-hardening clay around the edges to stop any seapage. I discovered the hard way while attempting to cast my first project that if you don’t glue smaller objects down they will float to the top of your mold making material. I know it seems pretty self explanatory, but we’re all allowed our mistakes… right? Here are some pics of the process.

There are two molds because I had mixed up too much mold max and had an extra tile laying around that I hadn’t been overly impressed with but I decided, “what the heck might as well use it, who knows I might be able to use it somewhere.”

And that’s how I created a mold for my first batch of 1″ square tiles. Stay tuned for more information on how I plan on using the mold. Thanks for reading.

Got news from John Keebler that he has shipped my Tiny Bricks Mold 5. I also decided to try some Merlin’s Magic dental casting stone. Thus far I’ve been unimpressed with hydrostone, it hasn’t offered me as much strength as I’ve desired. I do like the texture, and it is easily mixed and poured, but some of the master molds that I’ve created have some thinner parts that need some more strength. I’ve been most impressed with casting in resin. But that has its own set of issues, not the least of which is the cost. Merlin’s Magic is a dental stone created with casting hobbies particularly in mind. You can check out usage instructions and a brief review on the Hirst Arts dental stone casting page.

I ordered Merlin’s Magic from swordsofhonor.com. They had a quick response to my order and their shipping charges were the most competitive.

I will post a review of the different casting products I have attempted to use as well as a review of Keebler Studios’ Tiny Brick Mold 5, as soon as they are received in the mail.

EDIT/UPDATE: After perusing the internet I’ve discovered that I’ve been improperly referring to A & K Studios, as “Keebler Studios.” A & K is a colaboration between Keebler and Abaroth. I apologize for not properly delineating.

Tutorials

A quick note. I will be slowly adding tutorials to my projects. These tutorials will appear as tabs near the top of the page for quick access. I wanted a place to compile the knowledge I’ve garned partially through trial and error and partially through scouring the internet for tutorials by other, much more masterful, miniature terrain artists.

One of the things that I find to be prohibitive to miniature gaming is the constant need for measuring devices. While gaming this can be time-consuming and make an already slow movement process even slower. On top of all of this you have the problem of fitting a ruler or other device into the confined spaces that usually accompany a heavily, dimensionally terrained piece. You have players attempting to reach down and measure in confined spacing. My solution to this will be to attempt to “build in” a one inch grid system to every terrain piece that I create, but to also make it to where the grid blends in with the terrain thereby making less unobtrusive. Therein lies the challenge.

I have done this in the past by using the tiles from heroscape. This was an immensely successful endeavour. I modified the terrain to make it much less “kiddy” and much more realistic. (Well, as realistic as you could make plastic hexes look.) I enjoyed the process and the end result made it well worth the effort, but while this was well suited for wild, undeveloped areas of a map, the process nor the hexes translate well into a fantasy or sci-fi interior-scape. Thus begins my current obsession. Creating a modular fantasy village scape with built-in grid lines.

Several companies have come up with solutions to this dilemma. Hirst Arts sells molds for creating miniature tiles that you can put together in a grid like fashion. (While I have drooled over Mr. Hirst’s molds for years I have yet to purchase anything from him, maybe it’s because I feel like I will be admitting defeat by not creating my own scratchbuilt tiles and terrain, though I continually swear to myself that I’ll get around to ordering eventually.) Keebler Studios is another site that I’ve recently discovered that sells molds including miniature brick tiles. (I have actually taken the plunge and ordered Tiny Bricks Mold 5 from John at Keebler Studios and I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of the mold in the mail. Once I get it I’ll post a review. Thus far I haven’t found much information on Keebler Studios outside of his own website, linked on the side, and some die-hard miniature terrain makers. Also I found the ordering experience and contact with Mr. Keebler to be straight forward, quick, and enjoyable. We shall see how the shipping process occurs.) One of the things that really sold me on ordering a tiny bricks mold from Mr. Keebler was the scale. Each individual brick is 1/4″ by 1/8″, which in my opinion is closer than any other product I could find to the 28-30mm scale that I was building in. Finally, another site that I discovered was Dwarven Forge. If you’re hardcore enough to still be reading this you’ve probably heard of them before. They sell pre-made, pre-painted, dungeon, castle, village, and sci-fi pieces that all have a built-in grid system. (I’ll post a link on the sidebar.) The major drawback to these pieces is their cost, and in my humble opinion the lack of vast variety. I have never owned any of their pieces but you can read rave reviews of them across the web.

I will take pictures tonight as I struggle through the process of creating road pieces with grids for my future miniature village. (Also I’ll work on putting together some pictures of my modified heroscape terrain pieces.)

I’m currently working on creating several different RTV molds. The idea behind this process is to create a mold that will cast a completed miniature wall section. Eventually I would like to have a plethora of walls that could be cast and could then be used interchangeably to create miniature buildings, that could be multileveled.

This is my first attempt at creating masters and molds, and quite frankly only my second attempt at creating a massive terrain project. (My first attempt was in painting, flocking, and adding much greater detail to heroscape tiles, the project came out great, but that’s another story for another time.)

I will hopefully have pictures forthcoming.