28 May 2017

First Roof Done. . . Whew!

Finally nailed it and got the multiple pieces that comprise this roof glued into place.  Time for a break!

The angles on my first town building, featuring a type of mansard roof -- referred to in German as a 'mansardenwalmdach' -- with a couple of gables thrown in for good measure, were murder to figure out and trim correctly.  Considerable, um, trial and error (a pleasant euphemism for some blue language hissed beneath my breath) shall we say.  But I've got it now, and following roofs should come together somewhat more easily.  Two smaller roofs for a couple of modular wings a little later this afternoon, and then the University of Krankenstadt will be finished, and I can move onto the next one in the queue.

-- Stokes 

 And a short 90 minutes, or so, later, the roofs on the two wings were glued into place and more or less done.  Just chimneys to add now, but I'll come back and do those just before painting begins once the rest of the town buildings are finished.

22 May 2017

And the Municipal Buildings Are Underway!

 Unlike my previously scratch-built buildings, this time I have made a number of simple drawings and sketches of how the finished structures will look, more or less.  This followed several weeks of examining many old buildings, dating from the 17th and 18th centuries, that still exist in Denmark, across the north of Germany, Northern Poland, and into present-day Lithuania and Latvia.

The last week or so has been fairly relaxed around Totleigh-in-the-Wold in general and, more specifically, down here in Zum Stollenkeller Mk. II since my return late last Sunday evening from the big annual conference organized by The Society for the Advancement of Scandinavian Studies in Minneapolis.  So, I have had lots of free time to make headway on the latest building project.  Other than a rear wing for one, or possibly two of the planned buildings (the hospital and the university), the walls of the basic structures have all been cut out and cemented together. 

Next up, some internal reinforcements in the corners (these are all somewhat larger than most previous structures), and then the various roofs.  These should be tedious, time-consuming, and will no doubt result in my quietly filling the air with occasional blue language given the complicated angles of the planned half-hipped and mansard roofs.  You know the drill.  Measure everything, cut it out with a hobby knife, check the fit, trim where necessary, check it again, scratch your head, curse your miscalculations, throw everything away, start over again, hold your breath, turn blue in the face, and finally get it right the second or third time around.

Seriously though, channeling one's inner Ian Weekley is good fun, and a nice way to ease back into the hobby after a few months of forced inactivity due to the pressures of work and domestic life.  Still lots to do before I can paint these, of course, but the biggest step is getting off one's behind and to the workbench to start in earnest.  Procrastination is the devil, something that plagues many undergraduates each semester.  And yet so many of them (it's not just freshmen who suffer from the malady either), too many, never manage to figure it out.  But of course, they won't be told.  Sigh.  More students could achieve so much more if only they were to follow directions and (timely) procedure.

-- Stokes

And another drawing of a planned town building.

Yesterday, Sunday, the Grand Duchess and Young Master were away all day with her visiting parents, so it was time to sit down, begin cutting wall sections, and glue everything together.  The previously built barn section, from 2011 I think, is there for reference.  A few tools of the trade are also visible here, including a heavy craft knife, a metal ruler, a small metal square, four right angle mini-claps, a stack of heavy card (2.54mm thick), and two types of water soluble glue -- Elmer's Carpenter's Glue and tacky glue.  Internal ruins will be constructed with bits of balsa wood and mounted on heavy card, which will match the length and width dimensions of each structure.  Painting  and 'windowing' will be the final steps.

A close-up of two of the four mini-right angle clamps that I ordered from MicroMark -- The Small Tool Specialists a few weeks back to hold parts together more precisely while the glue dries.  They seem to work well.

This time around, I am taking greater care to get my cuts and angles right and, thus, avoid frustrating surprises (and wasted materials) when it comes time to glue pieces together.

This small square, purchased through Amazon, has proven extremely handy so far.  There are many highly interesting videos on YouTube by various model train buffs explaining tips and tricks for scratch-building layout scenery.  Ideas that are, in most instances, eminently adaptable when it comes to making one's own wargaming scenery.  Tip #1, make sure to get your cuts and angles precise, so everything fits together exactly.  The time and bit of extra care spent doing this helps to ensure nicer looking buildings once everything is finished.

Finally, here are the final results of an uninterrupted Sunday afternoon's work.  Nine new buildings in progress!  And here I thought there would only be seven.  Ah, well.  The footprints of these new structures are in the neighborhood of four to six inches long by two to three inches deep.  As mentioned in the previous post, vastly underscale, but they should still look good once painted, resemble actual buildings that might be seen in the older parts of larger towns or small cities in Northern "Yurp," and liven up the ol' gaming table.  The structure drying at the far right, by the way, is slated to become a small replica, more or less, of the main part of the old Hospital of the Holy Ghost in Luebeck, Germany (pictured in the last post).  I'll even take a stab (I hope that I'm not jinxing myself here given the sharp instruments involved) at cutting tiny towers and turrets that adorn its facade from some small heavy cardboard tubes that I've had squirreled away in a box of odds and ends for two decades! 

28 April 2017

A New Side Project. . .

 The very old Hospital of the Holy Ghost in Luebeck, Germany, which served as an old age home into the 1970s.  The Grand Duchess and I toured it in June 2009 when we stayed in Luebeck for several days.  My planned model will feature just the main steeply gabled front section, with bell tower and clockface but without the four decorative gothic spires, and an abutting rear section.

Light is at the end of the tunnel at last!  My classes for the university semester have concluded, and the term ends today.  While there is still a committee project to complete, a paper to write, and a conference to attend where I'll present it, life is returning to some small semblance of normality here at Totliegh-in-the-Wold.  By this time next month, I hope to be back up to my elbows in soldiers (finishing those replacement Minden standard bearers with new flags) and the next side project, which will involve. . .  You guessed it!  town buildings.

In connection to a planned article, I have agreed to produce a small series of six or seven underscale town buildings.  So, I have spent the few occasional spare moments in the last month or two combing the internet for photographs of suitably 17th-18th century looking town buildings to provide inspiration.  The buildings envisioned include: 1) a modest town hall (Rathaus), 2) a customs house (Zollhaus), 3) a small barracks (Kaserne), 4) a school (Lateinschule), 5) a hospital (Hospital. . .  more commonly Krankenhaus), 6) a half-timbered house (Wohnhaus), or two with interesting roof lines to masquerade as inns, taverns, or what have you.

These should be some of the most ambitious undertakings yet given the variety of half-hipped and mansard roofs with their odd angles. . .  especially since I was no good at all with geometric proofs and the like way back in high school.  I still wake up screaming in a cold sweat from time to time much to the neighbors' collective chagrin.  Naturally, I'll simplify a few things here and there to make the planned town buildings a bit less fiddly during the construction phase, and more durable once on the table, but those shown here will serve as guides for the planned scratch-built structures.  Details will be added in my usual way with a few bits and pieces of balsa wood plus some more careful painting once everything has been assembled and given a basic coat of paint.


Finally, I managed to find some small model-maker's clamps -- from Micro Mark -- The Small Tool Specialists -- designed to hold thin wall pieces tightly at precise right angles while the glue to cement the two pieces together is applied and dries.  There is also a small model maker's square coming from Amazon to help cut walls and roofs at more precise 90 degree angles.  Eager to see how both help with the forthcoming buildings.


On a different, yet related note, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus and his man Hives are currently expecting the arrival of Freiherr Woldemar-Francois de Changement, along with his wife Lady Solange, who brings diplomatic tidings from distant Franconia to discuss, among other things, a possible loan that might help fund the Grand Duke's plan to supply every Stollenian gentleman with three new pairs of English-made calfskin dress shoes, a pair each in black, brown, and oxblood.


Ok, time to take a deep breath and dive beneath the waves of work yet again.  We're not quite there yet.

-- Stokes

The old Lateinschule in Lauban, Poland.

The old Palais Podewils in the Mitte section of Berlin, Germany.

An old house in some small North German city, town, or dorf.  I forget to note those details when I saved the image into a desktop folder on my computer.

A second old half-timbered house, this time somewhere in a formerly German area of Lithuania.

 The old town hall in Tartu, Estonia.

An old barracks on the outskirts of Copenhagen, Denmark.

The main building of The University of Greifswald in -- surprise, surprise -- Greifswald, Germany.

The old town hall in nearby Rostock, Germany.

A very handsome restored house also in Rostock.

The former customs house in Ludwigshafen, Germany.

And the old customs house in Schleswig.

16 April 2017

A New National Plan for the Grand Duchy. . .

The Grand Duke's Easter guests listen with rapt attention.
The Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II holds forth, sharing his enthusiastic new plans to provide every gentleman in the Grand Duchy of Stollen with three new pairs of well-fitting, English-made dress shoes in black, brown, and oxblood.  Meanwhile, Hives considers the wisdom and practicalities of said plan from the sidelines.

-- Stokes

15 April 2017

An Easter Greeting from The Grand Duchy of Stollen. . .

Still not a lot happening on the hobby front here at Stollen Central, but this vintage Easter greeting is simply too good not to share.  Happy Easter everyone!

-- Stokes

01 April 2017

An April 1st Reprise. . .

A lovely unit of Doug Mason French Napoleonics.

In bed AGAIN this fine weekend with some kind of nasty cold and fever for the second time in as many months, no doubt picked up from some undergraduate student somewhere, who has sneezed, coughed, or slimed in my general direction (grrrrrrrr. . .).  Still, we can't let April 1st go by without some sort of more light-hearted tomfoolery, can we?  So, here is a reprise of a post made originally back on April 1st, 2013 for your reading pleasure.  Enjoy!

-- Stokes 

Several months ago, I was contacted by the attorney of a distant cousin -- "Genevieve" -- from the state of North Carolina, several times removed and much older than myself, who passed away early last year.  To make a long story short, it seemed that she had been extremely impressed by and grateful for some translation and editing work I did for her in back in 2007.  Something she never forgot and mentioned often in conversations with friends and family if and when the subject came up.  It also seems that her assets were rather more than anyone in the family suspected. 

The long and the short of it is that the Grand Duchess and I have learned that we are now rather more well off that we ever expected to be as academics.  Even after taxes.  I won't belabor the point because, after all, talking about one's finances and how much you have is, let's remember, tasteless.  Suffice to say that we have been able to invest most of it, ensure the Young Master's future education and comfort with a trust fund, and donate some to worthy charities.  Even better, there has been some money left over to play with now. 

Which brings us to the real subject of this particular post. We've been lucky enough to find and purchase an apartment in a delightfully old section of Hamburg, Germany, where the Grand Duchess spent some of her student days, and we plan to spend most of our summers there.  Our close friend "Tante Anita," from Berlin, will reside there the rest of the year and look after things for us.  Better still, we are currently negotiating a final price on a wonderful old townhouse not far from the center of Bolzano, Italy, a place I have always wanted to live.  Finally, I'll be able to practice both German and Italian!  But the best part about this particular house, in my eyes, is the attic, which a recent owner finished fully, heat included.

And I've saved the absolute VERY best part for last, so stay with me just a bit longer.  My own attorneys have also been in contact with the folks at the Wargaming Holiday Centre in the U.K., who have agreed, after much begging and cajoling on my part, to sell off their entire stock of painted 25mm Napoleonics to yours truly.  It seems they want to start from scratch again given their fairly recent relocation in Southern England, and they have a new staff of painters already hard at work doing just that.  Anyway, these figures, some of which date back to the 1970s, will be used to populate the attic of an old, though well-maintained and featuring all the mod cons, yellow townhouse, which will feature a 6'x18' table fully stocked with scenic goodies.

 It should take a little while to arrange for the shipping of everything from Britain to Northern Italy, but I'll be onsite by late July this summer to set up the attic and the rest of the house before the Grand Duchess and Young Paul arrive at the start of September.  For those of you Grand Duchy of Stollen visitors who might feel like making the journey to Bolzano to spend a few days refighting key Napoleonic battles like Borodino, Leipzig, Austerlitz, or Waterloo (with good brandy and cigars afterwards), there is a standing invitation from mid-autumn onwards.  Just contact me offline, so we can set up dates.

 In the meantime, I hope I don't have too much trouble with the Tyrolean accent since most of my time in German-speaking Europe has been spent in the north of Germany.  It should be interesting though to see how the Italian and German cultures meet and mingle in Bolzano.  Oh, and by the way. . .  April Fools.

 -- Stokes

 And some Doug Mason Napoleonic Saxons for good measure.  Nope, I don't covet these at all.  No, Sir.

25 March 2017

A Blissfully Quiet Saturday. . .

A old Fred and Lillian Funcken illustration of various German auxiliary troops that fought in the American War of Independence.  Pay special attention to the two standard bearers at the rear, proudly displaying the colors of the Hessa-Hanau Erbprinz Regiment ca. 1776.

Far too quiet here at Stollen Central here during recent weeks.  The best way to put it is that "life" has simply stepped in between me and any attempts to get into the painting chair most evenings.  

Now, some might suggest, "Stokes, old bean, why in the world don't you paint as a way to wind down following a long day?"  And that is a wonderful suggestion, yes, but one that does not always work in practice for yours truly.  

While painting helps many to forget the cares and stresses of the day, I need a fairly clear mind to do so productively, and this particular semester has been brutal with not only teaching, meetings, and some research, but life at home has been, shall we say, busier than we would like too.  Physical and, more often, mental fatigue mean that most evenings the Grand Duchess and I simply collapse into bed where we watch an episode of New Tricks on dvd before one, or both of us conk out for the night.  Sigh.  All of this means that painting has simply ground to a halt since the start of February.


Still, that does not mean that hobby activities have not been happening behind the scenes.  First, a friend in Belgium recently sold me a bunch ( and I mean a bunch) of unused, unpainted Minden Prussians and Austrians secondhand, purchased back when Frank Hammond still held the reins of the company.  My friend who goes by the sobriquet 'Musketier,'  finally concluded that he would not have time to paint them since his interests have moved on during the intervening years.  Given the number of figures, a very reasonable price for the lot was agreed upon, and I now have more that I know what to do with.

That is not really the case, of course, and there are definite plans afoot about how to organize and paint the new drafts to the Grand Duchy of Stollen and Electorate of Zichenau armies.  I have sent the last couple of weeks, when a spare few minutes or two has become available, sorting through everything and placing the various figures into the compartments of small plastic parts boxes.  After finishing everything last night, and making a few notes, I see that I have enough figures for four additional 60-strong Charge-sized regiments of line infantry (three in Prussian uniforms and one in Austrian) and two 30-strong grenadier battalions (in Prussian uniforms).  This is in addition to all of that new cavalry and Minden Austrian infantry I treated myself too around the time I turned 50 last fall plus the Christmas 2016 gift from the Grand Duchess and Young Master. 

Needless to say, the pile of unpainted lead is now rather substantial, and, in good conscience,  I should curtail future purchases for a while. . .  Except in the case of some Minden Russians when those are released since I would like to paint a unit of these as Russian marines (see the illustration below).  A gaming friend, who lives outside of Chicago, once advised me to steer the course with the 18th century and avoid deviations into other periods, and if there were ever any questions in my mind about this sage advice, those have been swept away for good and all now.  I am well and truly entrenched in the era and will "do" the mid-18th century until they carry me out of Totleigh-in-the-Wold feet first.

The result is that things will be busy, busy, busy at the painting table over the next few/several years as I work through all of the related painting.  The carrot at the end of the stick, however, will be two rather sizable fictitious forces (not huge, but sizeable) based on -- Surprise, surprise! -- the Austrian and Prussian armies of the mid-18th century.  However, there will also be the usual fair amount of whimsy to keep things interesting.  I have already taken a few minutes to develop a painting progress chart in Word to help keep things on track and moving forward once some of the current concerns stabilize, things calm down, and normal hobby activities can resume once again.


Another Funcken illustration featuring another bunch of German auxiliaries, including a group of Anspach-Beyreuth troops in the foreground (I am particularly drawn to the grenadier sporting a bearskin cap) with standards in the middle distance.

Which brings me to the final point for today.  Long-time visitors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog might recall that my sartorial and vexillogical interests lean toward to the uniforms and flags of the Reichsarmee, fascinating due to its variegated appearance.  I am, moreover, captivated by the various German mercenary forces that augmented the British war effort in Colonial-era North America during the American Revolutionary War as we call it here in the United States.  

Some of those formations carried standards that deviated markedly from the typical Prussian or Austrian patterns back in Europe.  I have included a couple of old Funcken illustrations with today's post that feature a few of these for your perusal.   Maybe not strictly accurate, and I know some have questioned the accuracy of the old Funcken guides in the past, but once painted, some of the newly acquired figures that I blather on about above will eventually have these standards awarded to them.  Since my armies are semi-fictitious though, this sort of combining, mixing, and matching to produce a rather whimsical collection of units and flags is something I can easily live with.

A late 18th century Russian marine wearing a simple though very elegant uniform.

Ok, time to stop all of this useless shilly-shallying, get serious, and take care of some work that needs to be cleared off the desk and finish a crime thriller in time for class on Monday morning.  How many weeks until the end of the current semester again??!!

-- Stokes

25 February 2017

Apropos of Nothing. . .

The Grand Duchess is away at a conference, so last (Friday) night after the Young Master's bedtime, I settled into a freshly made-up bed with a navel orange, a glass of something cold (Fruit juice, relax!), and my trusty laptop to find something to watch on Amazon.  Finally settled on The Romantic English Woman (Dir. Joseph Losey, 1975), starring Michael Caine, Glenda Jackson, and Helmut Berger.  You know me.  Living life to the fullest out here on the bloody edge.  It'll be a barbed wire tattoo around an upper thigh next, with pierced naughty bits, and maybe even a case of Hepatitis before you know it.

Anyway, not the most riveting film, but basically Caine is a writer developing a film script about a bored housewife who travels from the U.K. to France or Germany and then has a brief affair while in a fancy, old continental hotel.  Strangely, the story mirrors much of what is going on with his wife in the film, played by Jackson.

I didn't make it through the entire film because it simply was not that interesting as much as I like the actors cast.  However, just before the halfway point, a young German gigolo (Berger, actually an Austrian), with whom Jackson almost had a tryst with while in Baden-Baden early during the movie, makes his way through Heathrow or Gatwick and stops at a news stand to pick up a newspaper (remember reading those?).  Displayed prominently above his head among the other magazines for sale were, very clearly, copies of Battle!  

At that point, I sat up and replayed the snippet just to be sure I had seen correctly.  Yep.  The much missed, often still talked about, long defunct magazine for wargamers that was absorbed into Military Modelling nearly 40 years ago in 1978 or '79.  I then turned off the computer, removed my glasses, turned out the bedside lamp, and fell fast to sleep.  A happy  and contented wargaming nerd. 

Otherwise, a largely free Saturday here today, so I hope to catch up on some painting and perhaps finish the first pair of replacement standard bearers and their flags.  Stay tuned!

-- Stokes

18 February 2017

Hurrah for Saturdays!

A parade of Carl Röchling paintings this weekend!  These are as interesting as the various Knoetel illustrations in my view.  First, one of Frederick II and von Ziethen meeting again as the Battle of Torgau ended.

At last, a free weekend for some hobby-related writing and painting after a truly brutal week full of meetings and an annual review on top of the usual teaching, paper grading, reading, movie watching, and preparation activities.  Whew!

Even better, there is another small load of unwanted Minden Prussian and Austrian infantry on the way from Belgium that I have decided to give a good home.  The pile of lead will shortly rival other stalwarts in the hobby, but it should give me everything I need to finish (yes, really) the final stages of the Grand Duchy of Stollen project during the next few years.  And then I will concentrate on playing more games with my toys as I drift ever closer to my dotage. 

The plan is to increase the size of my two semi-ficticious armies to six-eight units of line infantry each.  The two armies currently stand at four line infantry units for Stollen and three slightly larger for it's enemy The Electorate of Zichenau at the moment.  I also plan to augment the respective and related cavalry forces, but for the mid-18th century, which I have discussed in previous recent posts, but there is already enough artillery and light infantry painted, thank you very much, so no additions here though I do have a single company of 15 unpainted Minden and RSM95 Croats that will eventually enter the fray simply because the potential uniforms are so, well, pretty.

All of this is just a round about way of explaining and rationalizing the increase in 30mm military spending and related build-up of forces the last few months.  Hey, when am I ever going to turn 50 again?  Of course, I place all of the blame squarely at the feet of my partner in crime Greg, who, I believe, pursued a similar course when he rounded that particular milestone.  No, this latest bout of self-indulgence is not my fault!

Returning to the matter at hand, forces slightly larger than what I have so far built up, and as I have mentioned here previously here at the GD of S blog, will enable me to fight many more of the various scenarios presented by C.S. Grant in his wargame scenario books that came out during the early 1980s.  And, of course, more of his table top teasers will also be possible with slightly larger forces.

Anyway, once these additional figures units have been organized into their respective units,  painted, and based, anything after that will be icing on the cake.  In the longer term, I have a mind to add a field bakery to the collection since Black Hussar of Germany now offer several sets of bakers and associated helpers/equipment to that end.  Can butchers and candlestick-makers be far off I wonder?  A small camp with tents, stacked arms, some crates, and barrels sprinkled here and there might also be interesting to enliven  corner of the table at some point too.  That would give my Naughty Lola and other camp follower vignettes painted during the last several years a handy place to set up shop.  What a wonderful hobby this isHappy Saturday one and all!

-- Stokes

Sunday Morning. . . 

A delightfully quiet and unseasonably warm Saturday here yesterday.  I spent the afternoon writing up a short post-playtest of some short horse and musket rules I have written (ok, plagiarized from various sources really) for the upcoming Wargamer's Notes Quarterly #2 and bounced them to Greg on the other side of the world in Australia.  By late afternoon, it was time to join the Grand Duchess and Young Master for a walk around the neighborhood.  

After the latter's bedtime (the Grand Duchess had an evening event back on our university campus), I returned here to Zum Stollenkeller, where I cut 55mm lengths of brass rod for ten flagpoles and cemented Front Rank finials and cords to them using Loctite superglue gel.  The Minden standard bearers are at the stage, barring a few final small details, where I can turn my attention now to the flags themselves, possibly managing to complete four to six during the next couple of weeks time permitting.  

Painting the flagpoles and final-cord combinations should be a fairly quick exercise.  In the interest of time and sanity, though, I'll refrain from attempting any drinking straw red, black, and gold or red and white striped spirals up the poles.  To paraphrase a line in Charge! Or How to Play Wargames by Brigadier Young and Colonel Lawford (and still my primary wargaming touchstone), that is a road that leads to madness!

Finally, I notice that the GD of S blog has picked up two or three new followers, so "Welcome!"  I hope things here are/remain to your wargaming interests and likings.  Glad to have you along for the ride.

-- Stokes 

One of my favorite Carl Röchling illustrations, a parade of captured Austrian standards following the Battle of Hohenfriedberg.  This particular picture also provides more than a small hint about some of the forthcoming flags in the coming weeks.

Here's another Röchling painting of Frederick II at work in his study kept company by his dogs.

Finally, here is a fourth painting, one I have never come across before, and also by Carl Röchling, I believe, of ol' Fred and some Potsdam schoolboys cavorting around him.


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