30 May 2016

Sachsen-Hildburghausen Infantry Update. . .

Really beginning to come together at this point through more careful (ok, tedious) painting.  You know.  To remain within the lines.

I've spent about three hours during the last couple of days plugging away at these 19 RSM95 Prussian musketeers.  We're getting into that less than exciting multitudinous tiny detail painting territory now.  Sigh.  This means lots of straight lines: shoulder belts, bayonet scabbard, hair queues, musket stocks, musket straps, gun barrels, etc., etc., etc.  You get the idea.  

It's funny what goes through your mind as you zone out during the zen of painting, and why it has never occurred to me before now is anyone's guess.  But these items all require the careful painting of dashes and lines of various lengths and thicknesses.  Not the most exciting part of figure painting in any scale.  Still, things are coming together, and I've managed to accomplish quite a bit in short spurts of activity between cooking tasks yesterday and time, more or less, to myself today although the Young Master and I did have an extremely pleasant father-son walk around the neighborhood late this afternoon for an hour or so before supper.  

Still lots of other minute details to take care of, but my version of the Sachsen-Hildburghausen contingent that was part of the larger Ernestine Sachsen Regiment is beginning to come alive.  Visually speaking that is!

-- Stokes



 Came across this new image of the Sachsen-Hildburghausen Regiment, ca. 1753, this afternoon during a break in painting.  He looks rather different from the figure shown below on which I have based my painting.



 And here, again, is the illustration I have used as a guide in the painting of my figures.

29 May 2016

Granddaddy's North Carolina Pork BBQ. . .

 The basic ingredients.  The pepper mill (along with the matching saltshaker) sat on my maternal grandparents' dining table all of my life.  Granny gave them to me when I was in my early 30s.  To make the thin, red, Piedmont-style sauce for the later consumption of the sandwiches, mix (more or less) equal parts ketchup, sugar, and white vinegar.  I like slightly more vinegar, which keeps everything from tasting too ketchupy-sweet.  Add plenty of course-ground black pepper regardless.  Season to taste with the Lea & Reginald Perrin's.  Blend everything together well using a plain old table fork, and store in a shaker bottle, or an old clean plastic ketchup bottle.  Whip up an extra batch of the sauce to pour over the finely chopped cabbage, turning it into Red Slaw.

Nothing says 'Summer' 'round these parts better than whipping up a batch of my maternal grandather's Central North Carolina pulled pork barbecue and red slaw, which we always enjoyed throughout the summers when I was a child and teenager.  I have continued to prepare several batches for us each summer since the Grand Duchess and I set up house together in 2005.  Can you believe it?  We will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary on June 24th this year! 

Anyway, Granddaddy came from the country (in those days) just outside Lexington, North Carolina in the Piedmont part of the state, and so this is an authentic recipe handed down to me directly from him.  I learned it by watching him and good ol' Mom when I was a boy and later doing it myself rather than through a written recipe.  

Interestingly, there are regional variations on how to prepare the BBQ and the accompanying sauce throughout the American South.  For example, parts of Georgia, I have been told, prepare a mustard-based sauce for their pork barbecue.  And of course, when you get to Texas and Oklahoma, what they mean by barbecues, very often, is beef rather than pork.  The subject of BBQ is a fascinating subject all on its own, but I digress!

One important point to remember with this Piedmont North Carolina variety of pork barbecue -- the red sauce is for dribbling over your sandwiches when you sit down to eat.  Do not use it to baste the meat!  You'll make your grill all yucky and impossible to clean.  You baste the meat as it cooks, about once every 45 minutes, with a separate solution of apple vinegar and course-ground black pepper, which imparts a tangy flavor to the meat and also helps to dry it out.  A German chemist friend of ours, "Uncle Robert" to the Young Master, explained how this works in more detail to me several years ago, but I'll spare you those particular details here.  ;-)  Look for additional photographs of the pork BBQ preparation process as I work through it today.

-- Stokes



The pork shoulder only minutes after being placed on the Weber grill.  You'll note that the meat is not placed directly over the charcoal. . .  Indirect cooking.


The other important piece of the BBQ puzzle.  Matchlite, which is soaked in starter fluid, leaves the meat tasting like petroleum product.  Avoid it for this particular dish.


The Weber at work.  Allow the meat to cook for about six hours, which gets it thoroughly done and crunchy on the outside, but still pleasantly moist on the inside. 



The shoulder about one hour along just before basting with the apple vinegar and black pepper solution.



Before chopping. . .


During chopping.  There is no fast way to do this.  Blenders and food processors create more problems than they solve as far chopping the cabbage finely enough and NOT saving you time in the end.


Chopping all done.


Mixing the first batch of red sauce for the slaw.  It's a seat of the pants kind of thing. . .


The slaw is all finished!  It took about an hour to reach this point.


 The extra red sauce goes into a squeeze bottle and a cream pitcher.  We'll use up the latter first.



 Fresh of the grill!  In about two hours, I'll begin pulling the pork off the bone and into thumb-sized pieces, or slightly smaller, and then we'll eat.  In the meantime, the Grand Duchess will prepare her hushpuppies and a big pitcher of Lipton iced tea, seasoned with spearmint and sweetened with a cup of sugar.  This is how we always drank it during my formative years.  I grew up thinking that the rest of the world drank similar, but it seems like everyone else has only begun to do so during the last dozen years.  Now, you can't swing a dead cat without running into what they now call "sweet tea" although what you get in restaurants never tastes quite right.



 The pulling is all done.


 Waiting on the hushpuppies.



 
Dinner is served!  Granny always maintained that once you had fixed a meal, you weren't very hungry for it, and that was true of yours truly yesterday evening.  I was only able to eat one and a bit of the second sandwich, the slaw, and four hushpuppies.  When I was much younger, I could easily inhale three or four of the sandwiches.  Well, gluttony is never pretty, and we enjoyed our meal all the same even the Young Master, who was eager to get back to his sandbox and other backyard activities.  Leftovers this evening, and that's fine by me.
 

28 May 2016

The Yellows Are Done. . . Whew!

 Here they are, with the thinned alkyd oil yellow freshly applied.   In about eight hours, they should be dry and ready for the next step.


 The obligatory mid-distance shot, featuring some of my paints, brush soap, palette paper, and thinning medium.


And a third shot of the same.  I must admit that I am pleased with the way these have come together so far.  The 19 figures here are starting to look like something by this point.

The yellow is all done now, and I managed to plow through the job in one longer than usual sitting this (Saturday) afternoon without making any irreparable mistakes.  It does not always happen that way!  I used a very thin wash of Winsor & Newton Griffin alkyd oil London Yellow, which was mixed with three drops of runny Liquin Fine Detail solution, and applied using a #2 round with a decent point.  Next up, the white shoulder straps, drummer's various straps, and, perhaps, also the black neckstocks.  The latter are always a major headache to paint in and usually one of the last items I address, so I thought that I would tackle them now while my enthusiasm is still high.  Be sure to tune in again real soon!

-- Stokes

27 May 2016

Ready to Apply the Yellows. . .

White basecoat retouched, the troops now stand poised to receive their yellow particulars.

Another hour and a half, or so, last night enabled me to clean up the accidental "slops" in preparation for the application of yellow distinctions this evening and tomorrow (Saturday) evening.  90 minutes seem to be a good length of time in the painting chair for yours truly with, occasionally, two full hours.  That is a short enough span of time to avoid an attack by the dreaded tedium demon, yet long enough to make some visible progress on whatever I happen to be painting at the moment.  What about you?  How long do you typically like to spend in the painting chair?  At what point does additional time beyond that become counterproductive?

-- Stokes

26 May 2016

Blue Coats Done!

Here is where things now stand with the final batch of that 80-figure composite regiment.

90 minutes last night finishing up the application of thinned Prussian Blue and applying black to several previously missed cartridge pouches.  Since even a very tiny dab of alkyd oil paint becomes a larger puddle once thinned with my usual Liquin Original, I also took care of the hats and two senior officers' coats on two diferent command vignettes of Minden figures that have been sitting around in the painting queue for, oh, 12-24 months.  As usual, it was a very pleasant way to end the day, aided and abetted by the delightful faint aroma of oil paints.  You didn't realize painting could also function as aroma therapy, did you?

This evening, following the Young Master's bedtime and our reading about insects (one of his current fascinations), I'll touch up the white basecoat in a few places before starting with the application of thinned London Yellow alkyd oil paint to the breeches, waistcoats, cuffs, and turnbacks.  This might, realistically, take two painting sessions, but you never know.  Once that is all done, the back of this particular mini-project will be broken, and it will simply be a case of taking care of various small details (mustaches, muskets, crossbelts/straps, metal bits. . .  and the drummer) during the next several evenings.  Ahhhh.  The promise of leisure things yet to come (said without any hint of irony or sarcasm).

As always, once I manage to get beyond the procrastination and actually sit down in the chair, the actual painting process is quite a bit of fun as the figures take shape beneath one's brush.  Maybe more of us need to view the painting part of the miniature wargaming hobby as an enjoyable part of it rather than a high hurdle that keeps people from giving it a shot themselves?  Just a thought

-- Stokes

25 May 2016

Black and Blue. . .

The 19 RSM95 Prussian musketeers in question, awaiting their blue coats.

I managed -- almost -- to finish applying thinned alkyd oil Prussian Blue to these figures last night, but Father Time marched on rather more quickly that I was aware given the fun I had while painting.  Just after 11pm, the Grand Duchess informed me that she had chocolate milk prepared  and another episode of Inspector Lewis all cued up on Amazon.  I know, I know.  We live out there on the bloody edge here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold.  Avant garde bohemian libertines and all that.  So anyway, I had to stop and clean my brush with only three more to go.  

This evening then, I'll give the officer, musician, and company NCO their blue coats, apply a dash of thinned black to a few cartridge pouches that I somehow missed the night before last, and then touch up a few turnbacks with white before moving onto applying a thinned coat of yellow to the breeches, waistcoats, cuffs, turnbacks, and shoulder wings of the drummer.  Then, it is on to the various details during the next several evenings.  

If all goes well, this batch of figures should be done before you know it, and then I can base the entire 80-figure composite regiment.  Waiting in the wings, 10 or 12 Minden limbers, about 48 limber horses, and drivers, and I'm eager to get started with those.

-- Stokes

21 May 2016

In the Midst of a Painting Break. . .

Not 'The 300'. . . but rather 'The Final 19' (of 80) awaiting their washes of fleshtone and black followed by washes of Prussian Blue and yellow for the breeches, smallclothes, and facings before detailing takes place.

Ahhhhhh. . .  Hear that?  It's Saturday afternoon.  And the final 19 figures of that 80-figure monster battalion of  that I began in January 2015 are underway.  Today, the various and eventual black parts of the figures are getting undercoated in gray prior to the application of a wash of black alkyd oil paint.  Depending on how my time goes, I might also apply a wash of alkyd oil fleshtone to the faces and hands of said figures this evening.  Ok, break over.  Back to the painting table.  Stay tuned!

-- Stokes


 Here's what the figures will look like when finished.

07 May 2016

Oddly Quiet in Krankenstadt Palace. . .

Lord Rumpey-Pumpey, the new English ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Stollen, practices international diplomacy along the route to his new assignment in Krankenstadt.

A fairly quiet though somewhat tense Saturday in May has dawned over Krankenstadt Palace.  The Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II and his man Hives still await the arrival of the new English ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Stollen, one Algernon Sinclair Churlish-Speddington, 3rd Duke of Rumpey-Pumpey, whose entourage was due to arrive Friday afternoon.   He has been inexplicably delayed somewhere along the way however.   The household of the Grand Duke is puzzled and waits on pins and needles.  Where could Churlish-Speddington be we wonder?

-- Stokes

29 April 2016

Time to Get Serious!

How many of us would like to think about writing. . .



. . . and a more realistic vision of the process.


-- Stokes

23 April 2016

New Lightbox Photos of Old Camp Follower Favorites. . .

A few enterprising soldiers' wives have opened the 18th century equivalent of a Coke stand  by a handy roadside along which troops and non-military types pass.  The influence of hobby luminaries like Bill Gaskin, Doug Mason, and Peter Gilder, here and in the following pictures, is freely acknowledged.  30mm Willie figures stocked with Eureka and Foundry provisions along with a scratch-built tarp and table.


Sam the Smith and Friends, keeping hussar steeds in tiptop running order.  1/56 Fife & Drum figures along with another scratch-built table.


And finally, here's another old favorite, Margarete the Marketenderin on her way to set up shop opposite the ladies pictured above.  A 28mm Eureka set, but the Napoleonic vivandiere has had a headgear conversionThe three vignettes here were all painted in, I believe, 2014.  


The enterprising Wolfram the Sutler drives his wagon of goods and sundries to the front.  I think this is an Old Glory cart, with the addition of a Fife&Drum driver, painted in 2014.  The various bits and pieces comprising ol' Wolfie's cargo come from various manufacturers.

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