Saturday, December 17, 2011

Another metal casting tutorial

Best wishes to everyone for the Holidays.  I am back to my core mission - primarily - creating chaos in the kitchen with my white metal casting experiments.  This is the 28 mm knight I sculpted a while back.  Unlike my first 28mm figure, I decided to go for it and make his sword and scabbard integral to the main cast and not separate pieces.  I gave myself a very slim chance of success with this in a drop cast figure, but it worked!  This is revolutionary for Knight Craft.  I can see myself moving forward with all sorts of figures now - I still need to add the shield as a separately cast object.

You are all familiar with these steps.
I have actually started casting dolls for myself so I can start producing figures more efficiently, making multiple figures from a base cast.  This is actually a doll for a 54 mm figure.  That is why I made the mould of him in the buff. Armor, helmet, clothes and weapons all get added in different ways to this figure.  You can see I have long rectangular drop holes in the top of the mould.  I've discovered that having this large void to pour into at the top of the mould provides material that forces the white metal through the entire mould.
 This is one 54mm doll and the 28mm knight cooling after I have removed half of the mould.  If I am too impatient and try to remove the cast from the mould before it has sufficiently cooled, I end up breaking delicate features like the sword and scabbard.
Here are two dolls I've cast to use to make multiple figures at 54mm.  One is standing and one is running.
Heads, yes I sculpted and cast a number of different heads at 28mm and 54mm to swap on the dolls that I've created.

This is a 28mm doll that I will use to make multiple figures.  I decided to do this doll without a head.  The stance is intended for an archer, but I think it can be made into a few interesting figures.

Here is another image of my final cast knight coming out of the mould.  The base is a bit thick.  That wierd little bubble between his legs wasn't in the original sculpt.  I think it was from an air bubble that got stuck in the silicon when I was making the mould.  The little bubble under his arm pit pops right off, but the bulge between his legs is sort of permanent.

Thanks for dropping by.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The slip trench

Hello friends - Bigglesworth here.  Mrs. Bigglesworth decided to go with friends to spa country here in California for a weekend of mud baths, massages and facials.  What is a miniature enthusiast to do with the house to himself for a weekend?  - maybe Germans vs. Russians mayhem in 1/72 scale!

A friend who knows I love creating things in miniature asked me to create this scene for him.  It is a late war skirmish with the Germans holding a fortified position against those pesky Russians with their T34 tanks.

The Germans are holding shallow slip trenches with sandbag protection and the Russians are charging out of the tree line.  The sandbags were all made with sculpy - you all know how much I love sculpy.

The Germans have a piece of self-propelled artillery and a light tank to defend their position.  The light tank is actually a modern British tank at the wrong scale painted to match the bombardment tank - but whats a bit of anachronism among friends.

A close-up of one of the Russians.

Another view of the German trench line.

This is a process shot of the trenches being built.  I layered foam core around the trench openings and the craters were also cut out of the foam core.

The armor being painted.

A close-up shot of the German self-propelled artillery.

Over-spray on the furniture - Mrs. Bigglesworth will not be pleased - in fact, I'm toast.

The armor and infantry were all from Plastic Army - I didn't sculpt any of the figures or build any of the armor.  I know I've been distracted by my space pigs and now this scene, but I promise that I have been working on more knights and gearing up to do more casting.  Promise to get back to crafting knights soon.



Friday, May 13, 2011

Thank you Santa Cruz Warhammer

Just found out the Knight Craft Blog made the Santa Cruz Warhammer Honor Roll no. 12.  The Bigglesworths aren't used to recognition, so this is a big deal!  I am very encouraged to carry on with the sculpting and casting.  Please check out the rest of the blogs listed on this Honor Roll at

Sunday, April 24, 2011

I digress - in a big way.

Space freighters, intergalactic pig crews - not sure what was in the Kool-Aid I've been drinking, but my sculpting efforts have been way off focus from the Knight Craft mission. 

Maybe I just had to get this out of my system.  The pigs are super sculpy, about 54mm scale.  The space freighter is actually made from card board and canson paper.

Hope to be back on task with my 28mm guys soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Men of March

Bigglesworth here - amateur sculptor, mould maker and now roofer.  I am pleased to report that I executed an air-tight, and water-tight repair on our back stair and have been unmolested by the last series of rains.  I've been able to get some time in at the work bench and have three new knights to show for it.  They are uniformed in a similar fashion to the first knight I sculpted last month.  Ian asked me to post some progress shots of how I build my figures so I have posted those below.

I like to start with a sculpy dolly on a wire armature.  I know most people probably prefer to go right to the putty, but I have a thing for sculpy.  You can see that I try to build as much anatomy as possible to guide the sculpt as it develops later.

I work my way from the bottom up with the epoxy putty, dressing the legs and adding the chain mail skirt below the tunic.  I usually also add the heads at this stage.  Note about heads - I suck at them.  You can see how much I struggle.  I ended up swapping these heads out before I finished the sculpt.

I then add the tunic and layer it over the chain mail skirt.

I finish up the torso and add headgear before placing the wire for the arms.  I probably let the helmet get too larger on some of these last sculpts.

I finish the arms, add the chain mail around the neck.  Unlike my last sculpt, I decided to try integral swords and maces (what am I thinking?).  The shield will still be a separate cast for these figures.

I am pleased with the dynamic poses that came out of these sculpts.  The last figure I sculpted was a nice start, but seemed a bit flat to me.

Because these poses are more complex, I foresee more challenge in making moulds and casting these figures.  I made the swords so thin they are almost transparent - my chances of getting that to cast are not good.  The figure with the mace also has his scabbard directly behind him - very tough for making a mould.

I'll let you know how these guys take to the goo bath.  If anyone has any tips on how to improve my approach, please feel free to chime in and help me out with some pointers.  Thanks so much,

Bigglesworth out.

Monday, February 28, 2011

White Metal Madness

Can the average guy create his own mini army from scratch?  Sculpt, mould, cast and paint all in the kitchen sink?  Well ...
Sort of.   This is that 28mm knight I carved - cloned so he's got buddies, armed and painted.  There are lots of tutorials about white metal casting and mould making - and you all probably have your own techniques, but I will post mine just for the fun of it.

The first step is that I prep my figure with wooden dowels for the pour and vent holes at the base of the mould.  Then my sculpt takes the goo bath.

Some people pack one side of their original with clay and pull the clay off to get the half of the mould.  I prefer to completely cover the figure and dig it out.

The second half of the goo bath.

The first casting reproduces my original sculpt nicely.  I am guessing that most commercial mini figures are cast in centrifugal casting machines to get all the fine detail.  I was not sure if a mini figure could be home cast with regular drop casting - but this seems to work.

Not only did my first cast work out well, but every cast afterward is consistent and reproduces the original nicely.

Weapons...  what to do about weapons?  I am too much of a chicken to try to have weapons integral to my figure - so I create one sided press mould.

To my surprise, the press mould works... sort of.

My first three 28mm reproduced figures -  armed, painted up and set on bases.

You all are probably laughing at my paint job.  I will be the first to admit - painting has just not made it into my skill set.  If I start producing some nice mini figures, I think I want to commission one of you painting wizards to make my figures look presentable.

There is a serious leak coming through the rear stairs in our house that needs attention.  For my spare time activities, I need to put away my exacto knife, silicon, and melting pot and work with my skill saw and roof patch for a while.  Suffice it to say that Ms. Bigglesworth is not amused by the water pouring in.  Signing off for a while....
Mr. B.

Friday, February 18, 2011

First 28mm out of the gate

Ok, here he is - my first 28 mm sculpt.

Actually, this gruesome creature is my first 28 mm sculpt - but I was just playing around with the first pieces of green and getting a feel for what it can do - so this one really doesn't count.

Back to my knight figure, I rushed the placement of the left arm, so there is something funny about the pose.

But its not quite the disaster I was expecting.  Thanks for your encouragement.  It was a rewarding enough experience that I might try more 28 mm figures.

Monday, February 14, 2011

28mm - What am I thinking?

After frustrating myself with trying to sculpt in 54mm, I've decided to attempt 28 mm pieces as well.  I just want to say to all of you out there who do 28mm sculpts - y'all are crazy.  It has made me appreciate what a grand and vast canvass a 54mm figure is.  The photo below shows the French knights I've been working on, but the cork and sculpy dolly for the 28mm figure is in the foreground.  This gives you a good scale comparison.  The head was actually done in epoxy putty, the body is sculpy.  I've got a feeling this will be a waste of time.  The good thing about 28mm is that its hardly a waste of putty - the figure is so tiny (yes, I know, there are even smaller scales of miniatures out there.)

February Figures

These are some new figures I'm working on, based on French armor in the Hundred Years War.  These figures are mainly sculpted in super sculpy, but I have recently started using epoxy putting.  As far as getting detail on my figures, its stepped up my game a bit.  You can see the arms of the second figure in the foreground.  They are attached toward the end of sculpting.  Rather than making sockets and casting pieces separately, I am now integrating wires from the arms to act as vents for the mold making process.