Thursday 3 February 2022

Russian Village Fences

Today's instalment of rustic Russian stuff consists of  some fencing I made in styles characteristic of the area from ancient times to the twentieth century. I researched them mostly from a photographic survey of rural Russia in about 1910, which is easily found online. Surprisingly, these quite early photographs are in colour. I picked out three of the more interesting and atmospheric styles they revealed for my models. 

This first type was a loose version of wicker/ wattle fence. I made the uprights of all these pieces from twigs I'd got from the flower arranging department of the craft shop sometime over the years, as they were adequately strong and rigid. They are glued into holes drilled in a strip of mounting card and then glued onto a second wider strip. When dry I went over these bases with filler and sand, producing a nicely rounded effect with a textured surface, in the same way as I base my figures. The thinner interwoven strands were made from the bristles of a yardbrush, which I have been very slowly scalping over the years. Note that this is the kind of yardbrush made of natural materials (in fact split cane and palm fibres), not the ones with plastic bristles. I like to say these fences are "made of real wicker".

The second fence variety was this interesting "sideways" approach to wattle, which I haven't seen elsewhere. I made it the same way, although it involves a middle stage of adding horizontals between the fence posts, made from thicker bristles superglued on, then with thin cord wrapped around the joints and set with more glue. The vertical sticks are then added one by one, each going the opposite way to its predecessor. I painted over the joins with thinned PVA to hold everything rigid. It was one of those laborious modelling jobs which repays you by looking rather good in the end.

When it came to painting, the materials were in fairly natural shades to start with. I washed over the fences with dark Games Workshop-type washes, then drybrushed with pale grey, finally washing a few of the sticks again in different colours for interest.

Finally here's a third style, which is similar to one type of American log fence. As you see, I added bushes growing between the strands of fence, which I think adds a pleasing touch. All these fence sections were made as "L" shapes, so that they stand up easily, with only a few short straight sections. More often I model fences as part of the perimeter of a "village unit", but in this case the aim was mainly skirmish gaming. So my plan was for these to be set up in freestanding ways while still useable surrounding a defined village area for a unit game. 


  1. Prokudin-Gorsky is great! His photographs are great visual material for those who make terrain.
    P.S. Fences were placed around the plots - they enclosed the house and outbuildings (this was called the yard -) and the garden. The village did not have a common fence. Benches were placed at the fence near the house, on which the owners sat in the evenings (outside the season of field work). And in every yard they kept at least one cow, so there was a haystack near the house.

    1. Ah yes, this is the photographer who created the wonderful archive I was referring to. Of course villages didn't have a common fence around them in Russia or anywhere else. The fences shown above can be arranged in any way required, but usually I do make "village units", mostly surrounded by fence, wall and hedge on their outer perimeter. The logic of this in wargaming terms is that if you make individual back gardens (in US usage "yards") it makes it very hard to position the multiple bases of figures we use for higher-level wargames. And thankyou for adding a a couple more details about what we might find in the Russian village environment.

  2. Lovely work on these again John...I may try replicating some of these styles for RCW tables......

  3. Great work there John and one of the advantages of gaming in the larger scales, that scratch built terrain such as this is generally easier to do than in the smaller ones.