a fair pair of ponds!

So these little critters have taken on a life of their own and should really have their own blog post. I love water features and always babble on to myself about getting round to making some ponds.. I have a bottle of resin watery stuff laying around itching to be used so it was about time I followed through and made something useful that I could use it on.

With the impending arrival of Guild Ball miniatures (yes they’re really on their way) I figured it was time to make some generic scenery that wouldn’t clutter the board too badly but still provide an interesting feature to game around.

So, ponds it was then…

To summarise the steps in the photos below:

1. Cut a base to size from your preferred material, make sure it’s a little larger than you want the final piece to be (to account for the outer edge, bevelling, etc.) – I use a jigsaw for this and set the cutting angle quite extreme to get a headstart on bevelling the edges. The bases for these were cut from 3mm MDF. Once the base is cut out, out comes the hand sander and I smooth out the edges.

2. Using the base as a template, cut out a sheet of thin styrofoam (I used a 5mm thick sheet) Mark out the inside area and cut this out of the styrofoam (don’t throw it away! you can use offcuts in other projects) Slap some PVA glue on the base and place your styrofoam onto the base in place, leave a heavy book on top of it and go get a cup of tea and play on your xbox for a while. Ideally leave it overnight for the PVA to fully set.

3. Grab a sharp modelling knife and start whittling the edges down, pay attention to the bevelling of the base and try to avoid leaving overhangs of styrofoam around the outer edge. This is the quickest step, I did these two ponds in a matter of minutes. Once trimmed down, you can take some sand paper to the styrofoam to smooth it out, but if you’re an impatient git and/or you did a good job of cutting it back you’ll probably just want to jump straight into the plastering.

4. Plaster! I use a pot of cheap ready mixed filler for this, I literally grab a bit of it with my bare hands and slap it on. Make sure you smooth out all the joins where the styrofoam meets the base. Once the filler is in place, you can use a damp rag to smooth it out. Let that cure overnight and if needed you can grab your sandpaper again and smooth out any areas that you missed previously. At this point I like to sand the bare section of base to make sure no filler got in there without me realising it.

5. I glued in some debris to add some visual clutter. For this I used a mix of cork ‘boulders’, cat litter, some miscellaneous fine gravel and sand. Pick a spot and lay some glue down, begin with the big stuff first and position these however you wish (don’t simply chuck them on, I’ve had cat litter ending up standing on end before now because I just threw it on the glue, make sure you push it down!) Once you’ve added the big bits, throw a fistful of the gravel over the area and then finally add sand. I say ‘throw’ and I should really say ‘grab a pinch and sprinkle’ – you don’t want to go up to the edges of your glue.

6. I let that lot dry overnight (mostly because it was late and I had other things to do) but the next step was to cover the lot in sand. I mix in some black paint with my PVA so it’s a little more obvious where I have and haven’t managed to add glue yet, simply cover every area you want sand and then cover it in sand!

7. Again, letting that cure overnight (there’s a lot of that in this terrain building lark isn’t there?) make sure the glue is properly set before the next step else you’ll risk ruining all your hard work. Mix up some PVA, water and future floor polish (or ‘klear’.. it goes by a lot of different names, a few drops is all you need so a bottle of it will last you a lifetime – at a pinch, you can use a few drops of fairy liquid – this breaks the surface tension in the mix you’re making and lots it sink into cracks and crevices better) – getting the right consistency is hard to describe and it may take a bit of practice, but the basic idea here is to seal the sand down. When done right, it makes the piece practically indestructable (ok that’s a lie but it does make the sand pretty impervious to rough handling!) Slather that mix on (taking care around the cat litter, that stuff needs to be sealed down, if you brush too heavily it’ll come right off!) and.. yep you guessed it.. let it cure overnight.

That takes us as far as I’ve gotten so far! The next step is to undercoat and begin painting, for that I need to pick up some craft paints. Beyond that, adding some reeds and other details and then finally laying the water!

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