About Me

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My name is Gavin McClements. I am a wargamer and family man, living in Los Gatos, which is a suburb of San Jose, CA. Building terrain is one of my favorite aspects of the wargaming hobby - in fact, lately I've become more interested in making my battlefields "pop" than in actually playing.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Building 6mm Bocage Hedgerows with popsicle sticks and clay, Part 1

I've been in a bit of a gaming slump lately - but decided to break out of my cage this weekend by creating some 6mm bocage or hedgerows (I don't play WWII or historical games - this is just to decorate roads to make them more interesting).

The most useful blog I found for how-to-do-it inspiration was this:


I also found a tutorial on how to use air-dry clay for the hedgerows, so I went to Michaels and got some. But first...

I decided I wanted to get it "right" if I was going to build some, so I did some research and stumbled upon this excellent PDF:

Ideally, I wanted these to line roads or fields, and so strips made sense. I had a collection of popcicle sticks on hand; a quick application of a grinding stone on the edges gave me this:

I found some bamboo skewers at the local Safeway grocery store for $3.00:

These I trimmed to different lengths. I wanted to use them as anchors for the clay, as seen in one of the links above. You can see the popcicle stick in the upper right for scale. I was making 20 of these lengths:

Then I got out my hot glue gun and put the skewers onto the popsicle sticks. Some I double-layered; the gaps would serve as places to put trees, or just shallower areas:

Here are the 20 stands I prepared, as well as 10 quick "manicured" taller hedges made with skinny pot scrubbers from the dollar store:

The next morning, I gathered my materials and prepared to break out the air-dry clay. I have to admit, I hate doing things that I don't know how to, so I was nervous about using the clay.


Yea, I looked it up. Yes, I felt like an idiot after reading how simple it was...

This is the clay I bought at Michaels. It was $10 USD for 2.2 lbs (1 kg). I chose it because it was black (which a) was available, and b) would allow me to be more careless with the primer in case I missed some spots...unlikely), and because of the "low shrinkage" claim. Sorry for the blur:
I went to work. It was mid-morning on a Saturday - the kids were upstairs playing Minecraft, the wife was still asleep, and the dogs were curled happily at my feet. I spent about an hour happily slapping clay onto the bases I had created.

By the way: the black clay stained my fingers quickly, but I am happy to report that when I was done, a quick soap-and-water scrub in the sink removed all evidence.
I sprinkled some coarse beach sand on the berms as I finished each. This was because I wanted some texture when I slapped the primer on; we'll find out if this was silly or not soon enough. I also added some small-scale trees I got off Ebay years ago from China.

This is the actual process I used as I put the clay on. I clamped it on over the skewer, allowing it to "grab" onto something.I also pushed some larger rocks in on some sections - these I also got at Michaels.

The process was messy, fun, and really quite simple. Once I had finished my 20 stands, I had only used, what, 20-25% of the clay pack? Needless to say, for this project, 1kg was much overkill, but I have many more ideas of things I can use it for. I put the clay in a ziplock bag and put it inside of  a tupperware-style container.

Here is the finished pre-painting result. I'm pretty excited to get these finished up.