Mason's Guild: Demo Board #2 - GenCon 50

Michael, here with another update on the Gencon 2017 Masons Demo Table. Last blog I talked about the process of gathering inspiration, planning, and beginning the build. In todays blog I will go into the detail work that went into making this display demo board.

For the town square part of the board I tile and puzzle all the cobblestone and flagstone pieces together. This involved planning a layout and some improvisation to get it all to fit properly. I used different shapes and my resin stone dividing lines to hide any repetitive patterns that may be noticed if they were just tiled together in an orderly fashion. I used a band saw to make most of my cuts. I then went in and filled any gaps between each piece with pumice gel which is an artist medium with grit mixed in. I used the Golden brand which is also great for basing miniatures. I used this as opposed too just sand because it was easier to work and it rubbed into the cracks nicely while being easy to clean up with water if needed. I did it in sections applying the pumice with my fingers using circular motions pushing it into the cracks. I would then come back with water on my fingers and remove or move any excess away.

I finish detailing the stone archway with some more cut pieces of expanded PVC board and some pillar toppers made from pink foam and PVC. For added durability and to save time I used the resin flag stone I made for the top of the archways. Adding these extra lines and details brings the archways to the next level. Even though it is a back drop these details will still show through and add to the overall feel of the finished piece. It’s always an important balancing act to spend your time on the details that will matter in the end and not get hung up on something that will only be seen from a few angles. Also included is a picture of the break down to show how the piece fits together to hide the seam. 

With the tiling complete and the stone archway done I can start on all the life-giving details that will really make this piece feel a part of a rich world. I carve a Masons symbol to be displayed in the central median/park. I use Hydrocal plaster and a printed out to scale Masons symbol to trace with a hobby knife onto the plater circle I cast. I then make a silicon mold and cast it in resin so I can reuse it on later projects. I embed it in Epoxy Sculpt and partially bury it in sand. Epoxy Sculpt is a 2-part epoxy like green or brown stuff but it is much cheaper and can be bought in large tubs. It is water soluble before it cures, which can be nice when you want smooth surfaces or need to make a slurry to fill cracks. It is peanut based so avoid if you are allergic to peanuts.

I then start work on some basswood details such as scaffolding and market stalls. I prefer bass wood to balsa wood because it is a little stronger but can still be carved easily. I did some simple concepts of market stalls and then made them using super glue and bass wood. When I am making fragile wooden pieces like this I always make sure each piece of wood has lots of contact points for glue and I try and go back in an add supports where needed. To add some variety, I used some 24-gauge copper wire to wrap around joints on one of the scaffolding. The little boxes were made using small pieces of pink foam and then strips of bass wood glued around them. Simple little boxes like these are a great way to add support where need to fragile pieces and they add to the lived-in feel of a piece.

Too add to the construction feel of the broken archway I wanted to make a crane that would be used to lift stones into place by the Masons. I made the crane out of basswood and plastic card. It had to be a pretty simple build due to time but I wanted to make sure I captured the feel of renaissance style crane which would be hand powered. I constructed the two halves of the crane and then made a base for them to slot into making it easier to glue it all together. I used a circle cutter to make the spools, gears, and guide wheels. Circle cutters a great tool to add into your tool set; they are great for making bases and adding the ability to cut circles is a real asset when making terrain for any setting. The stalls will be filled with some of the Market goods from Tabletop World, so things like vegetables crates and barrels these final details should add some nice colors to the scene making the whole thing pop. 

After Gencon I will hopefully have time to take some decent pictures of the finished piece and finish out this series of blogs with some nice pictures of the final piece painted and share some painting advice in the process. Until then Wishing you all the best in your current and future hobby projects.