Merry Mayhem

Alright, folks this is going to be a long one because I'm going to cram a whole table's worth of terrain in one post. I was commissioned to make 8 pieces for a Warhammer Fantasy tournament. It's a Christmas themed tournament so the client wanted a North Pole-ish table. Other than that, I was pretty much free to do as I pleased. Here's the results: a reindeer barn, Santa's workshop, post office, Xmas tree, ice skating pond, sinister snowman, ruined ice wall, and candy cane forest.

Let's start with the forest. One thing I like this piece is that it in no way needs to look real. So to start- I salvaged a bunch of electrical wire from a machine we were getting rid of at my work and used it to twist together the frame work of a tree. Then, I rolled 6-8 pieces of Sculpey oven bake clay and wrapped them around the trunk, taking one of the strips and ending it on a lower branches as I went. Surprisingly, the plastic wire casing had no problems being in the oven for the designated Sculpey time.

Then I painted them in proper candy cane fashion & gave them a semi-gloss varnish. For the foliage I took some clear plastic, attached it to the branches & smothered them with PVA (top & bottom) to hold some large flake glitter I had.

Do this a few more times & it's starting to look like a forest.

Now, for the basing I mixed baking soda & PVA until it was much like a wet Play-Doh consistency and then sculpted it around the base of the trees.

 I did this across the whole forest floor as well, leaving it higher & lower in spots to keep it looking natural. When it was dry, I brushed the ground with straight PVA & dumped on Woodland Scenics snow.

After that it was just a matter of adding random bits inbetween the large trees, such as: dried flowers, styrene rod I melted & painted to look like traditional candy canes, straight pins, a sprig of branches with 'ice chunks' that like to fall off from Hobby Lobby's Xmas section & white cord from a dog toy that is a lot like plastic sisal rope.

And while I was taking the final photos of the piece, I realized there's no good angle to shoot this at, so here's a bunch of crappy ones. Hopefully you can get the jist.

Next, I wanted to do a ginormous Xmas tree for the "town square" type of idea. I was debating the easiest way to make the skeleton of an evergreen that size & settled on buying a toilet brush & trimming it to shape. That is, until a visit to my lovely local World Market and found this stylish tree. I usually despise stores that start selling Christmas decor in October, but it came in handy this year.

I did my best to rub off most of the glitter, then spray painted it random patches of brown & black. (Cruddy photo, I know. I'm sorry)

Then I used a spray adhesive to coat all the branches & then sprinkled on random colors of static grass. I had to repeat a few layers of the spray glue & grass to get it looking full but it in the end it turned out quite nicely. Which of course, means I didn't take a picture. Razz But no worries, I have some close ups of the final piece that show this well.

So, what's a Xmas tree with out lights? Lame, that's what. What fun are lights, if you can see the batteries? No fun, that's the kind of fun. So, I ended up making a pretty big stone pedestal for the tree out of foamcore. (We'll call it a fountain in the off-season. Does the North Pole have an off season?) To make a cavity for the battery boxes, I started cutting out the foam with an X-acto blade. Then took my wood burner & unscrewed the tip and used the neck of it to clean up the edges.

Tip: A wood burner gets a lot hotter than it needs to be for foam. If you try this at home, practice on scrap foam first to get a feel for hot quickly it will melt.

Then I melted some holes through the top of the pedestal for the light strings to come through & textured the surface with a pencil eraser.

Then I drew in cracks with a pen & painted.

To act as a cover for the battery compartment, I took a piece of a plastic tube, melted & flattened one end, then drilled a hole into a CD to fit the tube.

I poked the unflattened end of the tube into the bottom of the base with some hot glue. Now the CD can swing open & close to access the light switches.


 I attached the tree to it's base, & started decorating. I used a shiny pipe cleaner for tinsel, then a lot of beads & wire for ornaments & that's about it.

Next up: the buildings.
I started by saving some fallen sticks from the lawnmower man at our local park. Stripped the bark off & hot glued 2 of them together in shape of the perimeter of each building. Then cut & attached the upper half of the walls out of foam core. Like this:

And this:

What you're looking at is a reindeer barn on the top, Santa's workshop on the right & the post office on the bottom left.

I covered the sides of the walls in spackle, then dabbed it with a wet paper towel to smooth out the tell-tale goobers. And cut the base of my roofs from cereal card.

I printed out a bunch of window panes from my computer, glued them behind pieces of plastic & stuck them to the sides of the buildings.

Then stained a bunch of skinny craft sticks and attached them in a tudor-style framing.

I put some chimneys together but cutting individual bricks from foamcore & gluing them down. Then, I bought a 3/4" hole punch from the scrapbooky section and used it to make some cutesy shingles.

As far as most shingling I've done, this was actually pretty quick & painless. Pretty soon I had this:

I couldn't tell you why, but I have a thing for awnings. So, I took this opportunity to make some for the post office. I just printed out stripes on paper, then cut it out in a shape that'll fold easily & have flaps to glue onto the side of the building

I had a couple more sets of LED string lights, so I put them on the barn & post office. Both have working hinged doors to access the battery packs. I obviously already cut the windows for the reindeer out of the barn, so to keep the batteries hidden I added a piece of black cardboard to the inside of each wall about an inch away from the windows. So you can still see in, but not through and the battery has a nice little area to hangout in, instead of sliding around the whole inside of the building.

Time for more snow. Like the forest, I used PVA & baking soda mixed to a paste to press on to the roofs & bases for the bulk of the snow. Then I brushed with PVA & dusted with snow flocking.

To make Santa's Workshop actually look like a workshop, I made a conveyer out the back to drop toys into the Santa sack. This was made from cutting a shape from cereal card & attaching chunks of bamboo skewers, then glueing strips of more cereal card to the edges.

And I made gifts, a teddy bear & the sack out of Sculpey

And that's about it for these. Here's some pictures of them completed.

Not too much to say or show about this piece. It's just clear resin cast in a hirst arts mold. The directions on your resin box and the resin tutorial at the Hirst Arts site will explan what you have to do a lot better than I ever could. I didn't have a whole lot of time to cast lots of blocks, so I did what I could: ruins. Every Warhammer table needs ruins, right? :-P

For the ice skating pond, I bought a round mirror on clearance at the craft store & lightly sprayed the edges with white primer.

Then I cut out a shape using a CD jewel case to be the ice

I used a course sandpaper on it to scratch in trails from ice skates

Then painted the under side (non-scratched side) with a stippling of white, light blue mixed with a pearlecent, and mythril silver. Using the same PVA & glue snow, I put a couple wads under the edges of the ice layer to keep it away from the mirror a little bit, then formed a slope of snow from the edge of the ice to the edge of the mirror base.

Some more random wintery foliage & a park bench and we're done.

Lastly but definitely not leastly, we have a sinister snowman.

He's 99% sculpted out of clay with arms scratched with a point metal tool, then brushed PVA on him & sprinkled him with Woodland Scenics snow.

And he wouldn't be sinister without something afraid of him, so I made some quick snow victims as well.

 Also, I don't know if any of you are familiar with Jhonen Vasquez, but in his comics & later his cartoon Invader Zim, he drew most anything that was spooky with meniacal swirls of doom.
 While, I know I didn't do Jhonen justice with this, that was what I was going for by adding shoots of fiber fill around his feet. I patted on a little PVA to help them keep their shape.

 Here's the final results

 And that is it, blogger land. Hope you enjoyed this - comments & questions are surely welcomed. So long from the North Pole :P

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