Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Building "Fort Kalypso" - Stage 1a

Coffee stirrers make great planking in 28mm and larger!
First up, apologies for the delay in posting this installment.  My chest/throat infection matured and my generous children donated a bout of conjunctivitis for good measure.  Thus I have been feeling awful for a few days.  Symptoms persist but the severity is lessening so it's time to get this thing built!

The latest work is fairly simple stuff but well worth outlining.  I made some doors from "coffee stirrers".  The stirrers were trimmed (off-cuts saved) to a width that looked "right" and then glued to cereal box card with slight gaps between the planks.  These assemblies were pressed overnight to ensure a good bond.  I am aware that these gaps are large if "scaled-up" but you cannot escape the fact that the doors just look better with them in situ!

A quick note on stirrers.  You can buy a box of them as I did 5 years ago (catering suppliers have them at very low prices) or you can take a few (dozen) extra next time you buy coffee or a McBurger.  I greatly prefer them to balsa as they are harder and rougher in texture.  That said, if balsa is your thing - go for it!

Cheap pre-mixed filler is used to obliterate the various gaps.
Whilst these doors were drying I filled in all the gaps between the now dried oasis chunks.  This was effected with a cheap ready-mixed gypsum style filler.  I prefer the ready mixed as it dries faster than the stuff you mix yourself - from the smell, I think it contains some form of alcohol!  This was pushed into the cracks and smoothed with the wet pastry brush.

At this juncture we are NOT looking to add the final texture, we are looking to ensure the "skeleton" is sound. Obviously, had I carved the building from one giant block of oasis the filling would be unnecessary but big blocks cost a bomb and I am a father of three expensive children!  After fixing the dome in place with two-part epoxy, I applied more filler to the joint.  This was smoothed to better resemble the lines of the real thing.

A door trimmed and fitted.
Once all this has dried (overnight) I trimmed the doors to fit the apertures.  Fixed in place with a blob of PVA or hot glue, they should be a fairly tight fit.  You can see from the pencil-line that I adjusted my measurements during fitting.

Now is the time to add any window bars - if your plan calls for them.  I used the off-cuts from the door planks and gently "roughed" the edge to give them a "rustic" look.

The strongest way to add window bars.
Cut a slot (top and bottom) and then apply some filler to the window well.  Smooth this out with a brush ensuring there is minimal build up in the corners.  Then simply slot your bar in and smooth the filler into the remaining slots.  When dried, this will give you the appearance of a bar situated mid-wall but will be far stronger than simply glueing a piece of wood against the sills with a butt-joint.

When all the bars are fitted, put the structure aside for another evening.  When this is dry its time to roll with the creation of the textured surface.  The structure will then look much better and be ready for painting.


  1. It is a fragile super-absorbent foam used by florists in flower arranging.

    My method transforms this versatile medium into a durable wargaming terrain material!

  2. Interesting idea, but Is the final product not a little delicate made out of the foam?

  3. Hello Ray,

    No not all - if the foam was untreated it would be useless. Treated it becomes strong.

    See the posting with my wife dropping a hammer on it!

    Under "Terrain" or "How to" etc.


  4. Thanks Matt this is most fascinating..watch the chest..bloody infections are a pest