Friday 24 March 2023

And Fir Trees

 Work In Progress

I've been a bit slow to post, once again, but can honestly claim this is because I've been busy making historical buildings. Not just busy, flat out in fact. What I am working on is the components of Franco Prussian War villages. As I might have mentioned before, the FPW was fought across most of Northern France and the style of buildings was very different in each province. Hence there is no such thing as "generic French" vernacular architecture! You have to choose one area and go for it. I've plumped for Lorraine, as will be explained later, and am busy with the buildings, to be followed by village bases and surrounding walls. To do what I want in terms of quite big battles I reckon I need some twenty new structures, so mass production is under way. The research and planning are done, I've made masters for local types of window, chimney, etc, made moulds and cast almost 400 resin components. Eleven houses are nearly complete at this point. I'm finding it quite a satisfying process, and will get some "WIP" shots when I next take photographs.   

Plans for 2023

Generally I find it's a bad idea to come out with big plans and then fall distinctly short. So most of my goals for 2023 consist of things that were planned but didn't get done in 2022. There's five objectives:

  1. Lorraine villages. Umm, will need some basic railway lines to go with this environment.
  2. Prussian and French staff groups, as mentioned before. Quite a lot of mounted figures, mostly major conversions.
  3. A playing table which looks decent and enables us to set up any configuration of hills and valleys. This will have three elements. Firstly a system of blue foam hill underlays, which I did  actually complete in the New Year. Then a set of boards covered in blue foam sheet which the hills can be pinned to. And finally a good cloth (teddy fur probably) which will cover the whole.
  4. When the Perrys plastic FPW French finally come out I won't be able to resist doing at least a couple of units, though must withstand any thought of replacing huge existing armies of Foundry FPW figures!
  5. The third chateau of the planned trio: less eleborate than the baroque affair, but based on a former medieval castle. Such a chateau featured on several FPW battlefields, and was the prime focus of the Battle of Villepion.
If, if, if I can get this lot done, then I want to move on to a new wargames period in 2024. And have real go at modelling rivers maybe.

The Fir Trees

Finally the pretext for these ramblings, the fir trees which I made along with the previously-seen pines in about 2012. These were mostly made by the "bottle brush" method and then set into short sections of twig for the trunks, the leaves/ needles being static grass. I experimented with one or two different approaches, but they all ended up looking similar. Once again some trees are based and some on pins. 

As individual models I wouldn't say these trees are my finest-ever productions, but they group together into woods which look the part. There's a couple of details in the photos below. A pair of trees which appear to grow into one, which seems to be a thing with fir trees. And an eleborate base with a rotting, ivy-covered log and mushrooms! The latter are just the tops of pins, so a tiny detail that's easy to make.

Overall I've got about 40 freestanding pine and fir trees, which go together on flexible wood bases. Because coniferous woods, even more than deciduous ones, are very often on the slopes of hills. It was making these which got me started with using felt for games terrain. I'll photograph the overall effect for the next post.


  1. They may be slightly below your own very high standards, John, but these are fantastic work, as is aberything you showcase on your blog. Looking forward to following this years projects!

  2. Too me they look perfectly fine John. These days I try to leave my 'modelmaking hat' off when it comes to my wargames terrain, figures etc, so that I can attempt to increase my output but whilst maintaining a decent standard, or at least I hope I do!

  3. Very nice - the mushrooms are a nice touch and overall the trees look great, especially as a group.

    Looking forward to seeing your 2023 projects develop. Interested to see the table, I've had thoughts of doing a table using foam hills under a flexible surface, so interested to see how you pull that off and I can copy it.

    Also looking forward to seeing the village in due course!

  4. Thanks guys, although you weren't supposed to *agree* with me when I said these trees weren't my best results!! Only kidding, I am a great believer in the power of self-criticism and hope you will be equally frank in your comments so that I can continue to develop my techniques.

    If I was making fir trees now, I think the structure and shape of these trees is OK, but the flock/ foliage could be improved. It wants a more consistent coverage, using darker and shorter static grass. And using a powered grass applicator would make the grass fibres stand out more convincingly.

    Anyway, next post is the completed woods, and then you will be seeing both the Lorraine villages and the blue foam hill system.

  5. John cannot wait to see your progress with your Lorraine village . I am holding off my own efforts and waiting to see how you go about this so I can copy your creations.
    The trees look terrific by the way and are fit to grace the finest wargames table. I was looking to convert some figures to make up a Prussian command set and by accident stumbled across some spare Egyptian commanders from the Perry Sudan range whilst they are not perfect they are a good starting point as the jacket length etc look about right.

  6. Looking forward to seeing the Lorraine houses John. I went through Gravelotte, Vionville, Rezonville and Mars La Tour a few years ago and was surprised how little had changed when compared with the photos of old.

  7. Thanks, Mark and Anon. I have now built ( though not painted) a total of seventeen Lorraine houses, so just churches, tavern, etc to go. My plan was to photograph and post the completed Bohemian woods next, but I am so focussed on the Lorraine stuff that I think I'll do a "WIP" post next instead.

  8. Yes please John love to see the buildings as a WIP , 17 buildings is super impressive well done.

  9. Well I think the tress look better than the bought ones I have.