Sunday, 27 July 2014

Hirst Arts Terrain

Hirst Arts, if you have not heard of them before, sell high quality latex molds for various scenic purposes. I recently purchased three of these and have begun an extensive production in my kitchen.

The online store is rather archaic by modern standards but still does everything that it needs to. Naturally, when my bank saw I was spending a reasonable amount of money in the US, immediately halted the transaction and informed me of a potentially fraudulent attempt to purchase latex molds.... Sometimes my banks fraud department remind me of a puppy who brings you your shoes. They sit there in front of you all proud and happy, slobbering over your expensive footwear. Objects which you have recently put in the cupboard and have no intention of using any time soon.

Fortunately, Bruce Hirst was very helpful and emailed me swiftly to inquire about the transactions halt. I contacted the bank, he put the transaction through again and we were in business. The parcel was sent through US mail, was traceable so I could keep my eye on it and see just how long customs decided to sit on it for.

Eventually my molds arrived and I set about casting up as much stuff as I could.

This is the first time I have attempted anything like this and I am not going to lie, there is a bit of a learning curve. The Hirst Arts website has quite a bit of useful information on it which I recommend a read of and Bruce enclosed a letter with my parcel providing a few hints and tips for latex care. Our first batch came out looking a bit bubbly.... we did some research on the internet and found a great video by Famous Gaming explaining how to make a budget vibrating table. While we didn't have a hot glue gun ( I need to get one of those) or four identical sized small sponges, we did have two car sponges and a bit of hardboard. Armed with our scrounged resources, we mocked up a very crude version of the device seen in the video.

It made a huge difference, bubbly fail was reduced by a good 90%, OK, we still got a bit of bubblage but for improvised equipment I was very happy with the result.

The box of casts so far. The huge disks come from the bottom of our mixing bowl and will be used as Helipads, frizbees or maybe thundercat symbols.
As mentioned above we have acquired three molds, my favorite of which being that makes a rather cool looking bridge. To get all the required pieces, we will need to cast the mold 16 times, which is quite a lot. So far, we have done 4 and used maybe a quarter of the 1kg of plaster we have. The others were piped and industrial flooring and one that makes up an extensive plumbing system. All of these will hopefully make some great terrain for Necromunda/Rogue Trader or 40k.

Floor tiles are possibly the easiest to cast as they are, rather obviously, relatively flat. The bridge pieces came out quite easily too but the pipe sections were an absolute bugger. We have been really struggling to get them out of the molds without damaging them, especially the very thin rims. This may well be down to the plaster that we are using. Without wanting to order huge bags of plaster online, I went to a local hobby store and picked up whatever they had. It is described as being hard, good for models and takes paint easily but maybe it is quite a bit weaker than the more traditional dental plaster.

Anyway, the project is in full sing and we are both having a great time casting all the bits up. I cannot wait to actually build something!

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