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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Ramblings on Safer at Home and Works in Progress

The new reality of "Safer at Home" and the changes to work and family life have of course had an impact on hobby expression.  While just as busy as ever, I found myself with more flexibility for how I use my time.  Almost even more importantly, trying to cope with being home bound, led to several major home projects in an attempt to stay busy and engaged.  In terms of the hobby, that meant a major renovation of our garage space.  While not a finished basement, it is a pleasant enough space in which to have games and to do my painting.

To the left (above) you can see the outer wall of my darkroom.  That room has been sitting unused, except for storage, for the last 15 years.  I worked as a professional photographer as my first career for a dozen or more years.  I started out as the in-house photographer at Vanderbilt University but then transitioned to a freelance model and built this darkroom to facilitate work at home.

The end of an era - long overdue!  It really doesn't look like that much debris, but it was enough to fill a pick up truck!

A well deserved celebratory dinner of white bean chili and beer.  This is a fantastic vegan recipe, but as I am not vegan, I threw in some pasture raised chicken.  

Update: Had a request for the recipe so adding a link to the recipe.  It is from Americas Test Kitchen Vegan recipe book.  I simplify a lot of the steps to be honest. I didn't think it really needed to be pulverized with a food processor, so just did a light mashing with a hand potato masher. I was also out of Anaheim chilies, so just substituted a diced Serrano.  I did however have homemade vegetable broth!

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the construction debris has been removed and the space rearranged to house a games table made from the top of an old Ping Pong table.  Right now I just have a 5x6.5 foot cigar box battle mat set up, but the full size of the table is 5x9 feet.  Of course there is a bit of impassable terrain around the basement support pole!  To the right of the games table is my painting desk.  I have it set up with a BlueRay player and a monitor so that I can watch movies while I paint now.  I also have an old iPad set up on the side that I can use for uniform references as I paint.

A better view of the games table.  We have eight folding chairs down here that we purchased over the years to accommodate people at our Thanksgiving Day celebration every year.  Nice to think they will be put to use more often now.  Above the table is a Miller Lite billiard hall style light that was a gift from one of my wife's longtime colleagues when she retired.  It adds a nice bit of whimsy, and a lot of light to the space!

Finally I have to say that not every aspect of "Safer at Home" is a bad thing.  Here is a shot of my office one afternoon not too long ago, and my office colleague.

He tends to be a bit lazy though...

The painting of figures slowed considerably during this work, but I was able to finish the 92nd Gordon Highlanders, with the exception of the GMB flags, which I had hoped would show up at some point in the future.  After two months of waiting I decided to just paint my own, which reminded me why I had ordered them in the first place.  So much fiddly detail!

I used Alan Penderbury's free downloads from Napflags as my template.  The Black and white sheet above was used for scale only, for the flags I printed that same sheet out with minimal ink saturation so that the design would just barely show on the paper.  Here you can see the base colors applied.

 The flags are sized so that they are just above the crown of the head of the figures, which puts them at slightly over 6 feet high.

More fiddly details - the wreath and base colors of the central motif.  I used the Flags of War site for flag specific information, as the British flags on the Napflags site are all from the Waterloo era.


 Fold in half, apply white glue in an even layer on the back of the paper flag, fold around the staff and shape to the desired waviness.  I didn't want it too crinkled up after laboring so long on the painting!

When these are dry I will brush on clear oil-based glossy varnish and the Gordons will finally be done!

The next unit on the painting table is the Black Watch 42nd Highlanders.  I have almost finished the additional officer and NCO so these should progress quickly toward the finish line from here on out.

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In the wings are a few more additional figures to finish units that are in need of expansion.  I was able to find six original Hinton Hunt Russian Cossacks to bring the Russian Guard Cossacks up to Strength.  I will also be adding six more cuirassiers to the 13th Regiment.  I have 6 Hinton Hunt original castings thanks to Mark D, and am debating whether to split them up into 2 groups.  Three figures representing the elite company with three additional DK figures to bring them up to the nominal strength of 18 figures per regiment.  While it may be a bit before I am ready to tackle them, I just received the last of 36 figures for a full battalion of French Guard Marines, as well as a Battalion of Old Guard Grenadiers made up of Les Higgins castings.

I have been known to bad mouth the DK canons, but these French 12 pounders actually came out quite well.  The addition of the ammunition chest gives them the French look and I added drag chains for that added bit of detail.  I think they will paint up nicely.  Look for them to be served by Old Guard gunners.

 Lastly, Here are the Hinton Hunt Cossack lancers of the Imperial Guard waiting for their turn on the painting desk.  The original lances were in terrible shape, but that was no big deal, since I wanted to have them match the painted DK figures.  Hopefully I will have pretty pictures of the Gordons on parade in my next post!

Stay safe and be well!