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Showing posts from December, 2011

New Year's Eve at the Painting Table. . .

Here is where things stand with the 6th (Luebecker Musketeers) Infantry, as of mid-afternoon, on December 31, 2011.
And here are the remaining figures that make up the balance of the unit.  New Year's Day will see me starting work on the final ten musketeer figures, leaving the colonel, two company officers, and the two drummers until last.  The January 16th painting challenge deadline looms just over two weeks away!

Painting Like a Madman. . .

Wrapping up Christmas Week (get it?) with a final image of Father Christmas.  Here is another one of F.C. making his rounds through an English village.
No time for blogging yesterday since I was flying at the painting table on the current batch of ten figures, which are almost finished, and which will raise the total of painted figures to 46.  Look for a photo update or two right here later today/tonight!

Wet Snow Falls in the Grand Duchy. . .

He's not done yet. . .   Here's another Victorian, or Edwardian image of Father Christmas in keeping with the season.  The overflowing sack of fruit and other treats in his left hand is a nice touch.
About an inch of wet snow arrived during the night here at Stollen Central (our first snow was a dusting on December 9th).  Not really enough to do anything with, and given the warm temperatures so far this season, it will probably melt away as the morning progresses, but it is beautiful outside our windows at the moment.  Here's to the small pleasures in life.
The current batch of ten RSM figures is just about finished.  Touch-ups will be applied this afternoon, following Young Master Paul's lunch and going down for his afternoon quiet time.  Actual naps no longer seem to be on his daily agenda.  Anyway, the next ten figures were glued onto their temporary bases during yesterday evening's painting session, and tonight after supper, they will receive the usual treatment …

Es ist der Zweiterweihnachtstag!

Here is yet another version of Santa Claus/St. Nicholaus, in purple robes with fur trim, another pleasing combination of colors.  Understated and simple, but sometimes that is just as pretty as more intricate designs.
It's the second day of Christmas!  For those of you who observe, I hope Christmas Day was filled with fun, happiness, and friends/family. . .  and, perhaps, a few moments of quiet contemplation.  Here's to a jolly Christmas Week of continued celebration, delicious leftovers, sugary goodies, and eager daydreaming ahead to 2012, wargaming-related or otherwise.
Christmas Day here at Stollen Central was all about Young Master Paul, and it was fascinating to note the difference in his level of curiosity and involvement this time around versus last year.  We even managed to get all of his gifts opened in one session instead of two or three as was the case with Christmas 2010.  Another lovely afternoon and dinner for the three of us followed, neat gifts, and some goodies …

Merry Christmas from the Grand Duchy of Stollen!

Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and their children gather around the Christmas tree.

A Busy Christmas Eve for the Grand Duke. . .

Christmas Eve begins early at Krankenstadt Palace in the far off Grand Duchy of Stollen, east of the sun and west of the moon.
Following a large English breakfast with copious amounts of thick cut orange marmalade, prepared personally by the faithful Hives, the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II dresses.  Since today is the start of Christmas festivities at Krankenstadt Palace, he puts together a particularly colorful ensemble.  Much to the chagrin of the long suffering Hives, who is heard to mutter something about those blasted macaronis.
Meanwhile, the empty ballroom is about to become the scene of much preparatory activity by the palace staff with Hives at the helm.
In the palace kitchen, Frau Goetterfunken oversees the roasting of the Christmas boar along with a goose or two and all the trimmings.
In an attempt to escape the attention of his three aunts, Agatha, Irmgard, and Waltraud, who are guests at Krankenstadt Palace for the Christmas period, and all of whom are vociferous in their opin…

It's Almost Christmas in the Grand Duchy of Stollen. . .

The ground is white with fresh snow east of the sun and west of the moon in the Grand Duchy of Stollen. Billowing, silvery drifts are piled throughout the country. The rivers and lakes are frozen solid. The woods are still but for the distant jingle of sleigh bells in the bracing air. The sky is slate grey, and heavy coal smoke hangs over the villages and towns. It is almost Christmas here in the far-off Grand Duchy of Stollen, somewhere to the northeast of Frederick’s Prussia.

Citizens bustle to and fro through snow-covered streets in the small capital city of Krankenstadt, running last minute errands before the Christmas festival begins in earnest. The red brick North German Gothic storefronts feature special Christmas items and treats, and the happy faces of children peek in through the frosty windows at the cheerful seasonal displays. Street vendors peddle their wares in the town square, shouting loudly above the din of shoppers, their voices forming puffs of st…

Red Coats Completed. . .

They still don't look like much, but steps 4a (Humbrol Orange glaze) and 4b (Cadmium Red glaze) are finished on the current batch of Luebecker Musketeers.  I find it's the smaller details and brown, or black lining that pull figures together and help to make them look more like finished pieces instead of sloppy works in progress.

The elves are shifting operations into high gear in the Grand Duchy of Stollen!

This is, I think, my favorite image of Santa Claus/ Father Christmas this season due to the wonderful red-brown robes and the fact that he is on skis.  Some of you Stollen regulars my recall, while I am by no means an expert Nordic/Cross-Country skier, and I have more than my share of face-plants each time we have been lucky enough to get out on skis, I am an enthusiastic participant.  Now, if Mother Nature would just send about 6"+ of the white stuff to our neck of the American Midwest!
Things are clicking into high gear fairly smoothly here at Stollen Central this early afternoon.  The Grand Duchess is off to have lunch with a friend from school and then to the supermarket to shop for Christmas Dinner.  Meanwhile, yours truly has been busy folding and stowing clean laundry and ironing a few things to wear on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I am nothing if not a thoroughly domesticated male.  Thank good ol' Mom, who once told me while demonstrating how to wash clothes and t…

It's the first day of winter. . . Happy Solstice!

Yet another Victorian-era image of Santa Claus/ Father Christmas, this time in red with a sprig of holly, one of spruce, and a pack of toys and assorted goodies for the little ones on his back.  
Little of great consequence to report today.  Finished the black bits on those current ten figures lats night.  This afternoon and evening it's the two-part process on the coats.  During breakfast today, I introduced Young Master Paul to a slice of his mother's stollen, which he quickly consumed and then asked for more.  Good boy.  Can the requisite mug of fresh, strong coffee be far behind?  Not, I fear, if we want the Young Master to sleep again before 2020!

Later, I ran a couple of final errands to assist Santa Claus midday and returned in time for a pre-Christmas walk around the neighborhood with the Grand Duchess and the Young Master, who insisted on climbing the stars to the second floor by himself this morning.  It's amazing how quickly language development and various mot…

I'll make some coffee, and let's have a few slices of Stollen!

Today's Victorian postcard image shows another green-robed Santa Claus/Father Christmas atop a small sleigh drawn by two rather more realistic reindeer. . .  in size at any rate.
We took Young Master Paul to visit Santa Claus late this morning, and he did very well.  Hopped right up in Santa's lap, babbled some toddler language for a few minutes, smiled, hopped down, and thanked Santa in English and then German before taking my hand and leading me away to his mother.  All in all, it was a very pleasant exchange. And I must commend Santa on his genuine white beard and deep, resonant voice, which is what you would expect from the Big Man after all.
As for the next batch of ten RSM's. . .  The fleshtone has been applied.  And I am pleased with the way I am gradually learning to use the brush to wipe off excess paint on the raised areas of each face (cheeks, chin, and bridge of the noses), providing an instant highlight when using a white basecoat.  After supper and Young Master…

Behind the Stollen, or "Hump? What hump?" The Story of the Grand Duchy. . .

Not Mel Brooks's Young Frankenstein (1974), but a scene from the 1931 version of Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, I believe, as The Monster.  

As mentioned in a post earlier this month, the Grand Duchy of Stollen was born on a chilly day in early December 2005 when we lived a few blocks away in our old apartment.  Classes were over for the term, final grades had been submitted, and the Grand Duchess was across the hall from my office, the old Purple Room, busily kneading dough for a couple of Dresdner Stollens.  
Meanwhile, I was ensconced at my desk, bored out of my skull by painting corp-sized 15mm Napoleonic Waterloo-era forces and daydreaming about a new, no, THE new wargaming venture on which I was about about to embark. The only possible alternative.  A mid-18th Century BIG battalion project in the spirit of Charge! by Brigadier Young and Colonel Lawford, something I had intended to do since purchasing and reading that charming and fascinating work in the summer of…

December 19th is Stollen Day in the Grand Duchy. . . Hurrah!!!!

Another seasonal image. . .  This morning, it is another photograph of, you guessed it, a Dresdner Stollen!
Nothing more to say except that the Grand Duchess is planning to bake a couple of her authentic Dresdner Stollen today.  I cannot wait, and it is difficult to decide whether the aroma that fills the house is nicer than that first slice of warm stollen, or if it's the other way around.  What a holiday conundrum!

Here is a blue Santa Claus/ Father Christmas, wearing an interesting cap, not the usual tasseled variety or a bishop's mitre, along with a vase of holly.  Holly is something you don't see too much anymore in the United States, at least to the best of my knowledge, at this time of year.  When I was a small boy in the early 1970s, quite a few families we knew in Missouri and Pennsylvania still used holly to dress up their houses for the Christmas season.  It's a shame that seems less common now because the leaves and berries of holly are extremely pretty, espe…

Full Steam Ahead!

Finished the next five musketeers a little while ago before supper, the rearmost rank in the background of the photograph above, bringing the total of fully uniformed and kitted 6th (Luebecker Musketeers) Infantry to 26!
No time to rest on my laurels though!  With slightly less than a month to go until the January 16th painting challenge deadline, I've got just over half of this unit to paint.  So, I plowed ahead with the next ten figures after supper and K.P. duty, applying the second coat of white acrylic to the basecoat and then a wash of  green to the figures' bases.  Tomorrow, a glaze of fleshtone and black on the hats, shoes/gaiters, and cartridge pouches.

One Week to Go. . .

Yet another seasonal image of Saint Nick, once again in Green robes, strolling across a wintry landscape with a couple of presumably well-behaved children.
Where does the time go?  Yesterday was a little on the busy side, so I wasn't able to make an entry here.  However, the Grand Duchess and I did manage to escape for a couple of hours to have coffee and non-child centered conversation at one of our local cafes thanks to the good graces of one of our three regular babysitters.  Young Master Paul and his friend Miss B. went to the Nearby Children's Museum just up the street from the cafe, where there are all kinds of interactive exhibits that appeal to toddlers and primary grade aged children.  I'd almost forgotten what conversation about other things was like, and it was a nice way to kill a couple of hours.
We met them at the appointed time, picked up the Young Master and brought him home for lunch and his nap, during which time I was shamed by the Grand Duchess into takin…

A Stollen 60 Minutes. . .

I just stole a delightful 60 minutes, to apply an orange glaze to the current batch of five figures.  A later glaze of Cadmium Red alkyd oil will follow, and then the final details and touch-ups can commence.  Ok, now I can proceed to the day's activities with a clear conscience.
The four basic stages of the process, from start to finish.  Not museum pieces, but I'm satisfied with the good, solid wargaming standard.
Painting the old school way with Humbrols and oils over a white basecoat. . .  It gets no better than that!  Why, I haven't had this much fun painting figures since those Holger Eriksson dragoons a year ago.

Nutcrackers and No Days. . .

Finally!  A couple of nutcrackers in three-cornered hats, most fitting for the Grand Duchy of Stollen, courtesy of some giftshop or other in Williamsburg, Virginia, which embraces and celebrates its colonial history.
Humph!  Time for another one of those "no days" that I was going on about a few days ago.  Lots going on today here at Stollen Central, including getting the Christmas trees, which we'll decorate tomorrow, and the final date of the year for my band The Indras this evening.  Oh, and some final grades to tally and submit for one of my courses.  Rats!  It doesn't look good for getting to the painting table today. . .   unless I feel particularly driven tonight once I am home again.  There is, I suppose, always tomorrow morning and afternoon before we decorate the trees and living room in the evening.  Oh, wait.  The Grand Duchess and I have a childless date for some coffee at a local cafe tomorrow morning, and she's already arranged a babysitter for a co…

Cruisin'. . .

I am really becoming a fan of Santa Claus/ Father Christmas in purple robes.  They give him an almost regal bearing.
As the title of today's post suggests (perhaps?), I am cruising on the current batch of five RSM95 musketeers.  Maybe it is just that have completed enough of them at this point that the slightly revised painting process has become more automatic, requiring less thought as I go through the various steps, and thus speeding up appreciably.  Good!  Things don't always go so smoothly at the painting table.
I tried to shoot a couple of close-ups last night, to show how nicely the thinned fleshtone oils had settled into the surprisingly well-detailed faces of the RSM figures, but the battery on the camera was dead.  Blast!  So, that will need to wait a few hours until I have applied the orange undercoat and the Cadmium Red glaze the the five coats.  And, sadly, today is kind of busy, since I have a meeting after lunch and some late grading to take care of before I submi…

A Pre-Christmas Baking Calm Settles over the Grand Duchy. . .

Here's the finished product just out of the oven.  Time to make some fresh coffee and indulge.  And the house still smells amazing this morning!
The Grand Duchess and I decided to try our hands at making some Swedish lussekatter (saffron buns) in honor of Santa Lucia Day yesterday evening.  The verdict?  A resounding success.  About two hours of preparation time, including two rounds of letting the dough rise, but it goes pretty quickly with two people working together.  Dare I suggest that it's a fun culinary activity for partners and spouses to undertake in the run up to Christmas?
Here is an earlier photograph of the Grand Duchess brushing eggwhite glaze over the dough before it went into the oven for about 15 minutes.
Now rest easy.  The piece-de-resistance should be along shortly when the Grand Duchess bakes her authentic Dresdner Stollen in the next few days.  And I'm really looking forward to that.  Some of you long-time visitors to the GD of S blog might recall that …

The Next Batch of Five. . .

The drum hoops and flag took a little while. . .  The understatement of the month? 


 Blurry, yes, but it shows where I am in the latest saga of painting 60-figure infantry regiments.
Onwards and upwards. . .   The next round of four musketeers awaits!