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Showing posts from August, 2007

Let the Painting Begin!

Well, despite the general business of the first two weeks of a new academic term and a slight head cold, I’ve managed to get all 80 of the 1/72 Revell Austrian grenadiers basecoated with Liquitex artists acrylic gesso and undercoated with Liquitex black acrylic paint. Both flex quite well, without any flaking or peeling when I bend muskets and officers' polearms without mercy. Exactly what we want! Besides a picture of the entire regiment, I’ve again included another of the English mercenary officer who commands this regiment – Colonel Augustus Finknottle (there are rumors afoot that suggest the ruler of Zichenau will shortly confer an honorary "von" prefix on Colonel Finknottle in return for certain favors he once provided to her). I’ve had a few nice comments from some of you on the bearing and demeanor of this fine figure. . . as are only befitting an English gentleman, you know. ;-) We have a three day weekend coming up here in the U.S.A. (The Labor Day Weeke

The Case of the Mysterious Breakfast

This morning, Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II awoke to discover a silver tray at the foot of his bed. The tray held a hot pot of dark roast coffee, a small pitcher of cream, a matching bowl of sugar, a soft boiled egg in an eggcup, two pieces of hot toast on a plate, a pot of gooseberry preserves -- the Grand Duke’s favorite -- and a place setting of the grand ducal silver arrayed around the plate along with a linen napkin, displaying the Stollenian coat of arms embroidered on one corner. The ravenously hungry Irwin Amadeus was thrilled and later thanked Hives for his prompt attention to breakfast before he set about eating it. However, Hives informed his master that he had nothing whatsoever to do with the meal, which was mysteriously prepared and left in the grand ducal chambers before the valet stirred from his bed. Hives next handed his master a note, which apparently accompanied the breakfast tray. It reads: I am so pleased that you liked the hunting dogs. Max and Mor

Recruiting and Training Continues in Electorat of Zicheanu

While various rulers around apocryphal 18 th century Europe continue to receive pairs of finely bred hunting dogs anonymously -- and apparently, these dogs consume lead -- army officers within the Electorate of Zichenau direct their attention elsewhere. They are busy recruiting and training troops with which to observe (though privately, some would say “invade”) the Grand Duchy of Stollen. So, here is the Garde Grenadiere regiment, freshly basecoated and awaiting an undercoat of black Liquitex acrylic paint. It flexes when dry – very important for plastic figures with their bendy parts. Since the weekend is here, I hope to finish this step before Sunday evening. Ah, the road to hell is paved with good intentions! At bottom is a close-up of their English colonel, Augustus Finknottle. Double drat!!! I see a moldline that I missed on Colonel Finknottle's horse. I'll have to fix that and touch up the poor nag at some point this weekend. Stay tuned. . .

Mysterious Gifts to the Grand Duke

This morning, the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II was awoken by his English valet, “Hives”, with the news that a mysterious gift awaited him in the garden of Krankenstadt Palace. Although it was passed 10 o’clock, the Grand Duke mumbled something into his pillow about the impossibly early hours of his job and that “Grizelda”, the notoriously foul-tempered palace laundress, had over-starched the grand ducal long johns yet again. Following a breakfast of English-style kidneys and toast, served with copious amounts of Earl Grey tea, the Grand Duke appeared in the palace garden, wearing his silk dressing gown (navy blue with little red-orange lobsters covering it). He was at once set upon by two friendly hunting dogs, belonging to the ancient Spanish Water Dog breed. The two dogs then proceeded to cover the Grand Duke’s hands and face with wet, slobbery kisses! Needless to say, Irwin-Amadeus was extremely pleased -- especially when he was informed by Hives that the dogs were, app

Plugging Away on the Revell Austrians. . .

Nothing earth shattering happening here at Stollen Central during the passed few days. The start of the new academic term at school has left little time for work on figures, but I’ve managed to get half of the monster-sized regiment base coated with artist’s acrylic gesso. They look pretty good this morning now that everything has dried. This evening, if all goes well, I’ll get an hour or so to move on with the third batch of 20 figures. As for school, yesterday went well, although things always start far too early in the morning for me. My students seem nice and relatively attentive for now, but we’ll see how that goes in the coming weeks. There are always a few who end up M.I.A. (missing in action) or fall through the cracks somehow. Sigh. The end of summer vacation is always a bit sad. When I was a high school and university student myself, the start of school was always an exciting time. But I suppose I’ve become a bit jaded now that I’m on the other side of the de

The Grand Duchy of Stollen Blog -- A Year in Review

The blue and orange grand ducal banners are flying from Krankenstadt Palace and all of the official buildings in the capital of the Grand Duchy of Stollen this weekend. And Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II is puffing an extra big cigar as he stands contentedly on a balcony and looks out over his small city. Why? Well, tomorrow -- August 19, 2007 – marks the first anniversary of The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog! It’s been a good year for the Grand Duchy of Stollen project. So, it seems like a nice idea to review briefly some of the more notable milestones (or perhaps millstones?) of the passed year. To begin with, let's look at the figures, undoubtedly the most important part of all. Thanks to my own efforts, and with some loving help from the Grand Duchess Sonja at certain key points along the way, I’ve made a reasonably significant inroad into assembling and painting the imaginary armies involved – just about 200 figures and counting at this point with lots more waiting in the wings.

The Military Modelling Guide to Solo Wargaming

This is a wonderful little book (from 1988) by the one and only Stuart Asquith, who recently participated in the Wargamers’ refight of Mollwitz at Partizan ’07. In 127 pages, Mr. Asquith manages to pack all kinds of general information about wargaming, as well as more specific material on doing so in a solo fashion. So, where do we start? First, the cover of the book is wonderful simply because it shows a photo of Mr. Asquith’s own mid-18 th century imaginary collection. As many of you know, this is what the Grand Duchy of Stollen project involves, and I always enjoy looking closely at examples of others’ work in this particular arena. It looks as though most or all of the figures depicted are the old plastic Spencer Smiths, both the classic “musket on left shoulder” types as well as some of the Barry Minot-designed “Connoisseur” figures, firing their muskets, in large, colorful units of about 32 figures apiece. If you look closely, there even seems to be a version of the famous E

Gearing Up for Some Serious Painting

Just a quick note before I head to school to attend a workshop on anti-discrimination and harassment. Yes, this is what we have come to in the United States . The fact that people are required to attend these kinds of sessions at so many organizations simply defies meaningful comment. At any rate, I spent a few minutes getting the ol’ painting desk straightened up and organized yesterday evening for the coming painting tasks. As someone mentioned recently on one of the many 18 th century blogs I view, one thing blogs do is to keep you honest. So, with that in mind, here are a couple of photos of my upcoming projects. At the top, you see the 80 man Zichenau Garde Grenadiere, all lined up and ready to go. I’ll base- and under coat them “en masse” and then follow with painting in roughly 20 figure batches, much like I did with Stollen’s Leib Grenadiere last May. Next, you’ll observe three RSM95 generals, who will become General Philip de Latté and staff. Since th

Revell Austrian Grenadiers on the Starting Block!!!

Recruiting has been picking up in the Electorate of Zichenau the last few evenings! The 80 figure (Von Ermland) Garde Granadiere have had their mold lines trimmed away and now await a coating of artist’s acrylic gesso, followed by a black undercoat. The 1/72 Revell SYW Austrian grenadiers were a pleasure with only light mold lines/flash on most figures. And I might possibly be getting just a bit better at working with plastic figures, because the trimming went easily and quickly this time -- I was able to get about 20 figures finished per evening. Amazing what a sharp X-acto blade will do! Organizationally, Zichenau infantry units are a bit larger than their Stollenian counterparts. The Von Ermland Grenadiers comprise four companies of nineteen figures each plus staff of four (mounted colonel, adjutant, standard bearer, and RSM) for a total of 80 figures. As I mentioned here a few days ago, I’m hoping the mainly white uniforms will mean that the painting process proceed

The Dog Days of August. . . Whew!

It’s another hot one here at Stollen Central with temperatures hovering somewhere in the low to mid-90 degree (Fahrenheit) range. And the forecast calls for more of the same at least through next weekend. Ugh! At any rate, following a 50+ mile bicycling event outside of Peoria, Illinois – The Interplanetary Ride -- with the Grand Duchess and our transplanted Australian friend “Leo” yesterday (my recently purchased hand-made Cannondale perfomed wonderfully, than you) , today has been reserved for less taxing activities in the air conditioned cool of the spare bedroom that doubles as my office, painting, and radio room – or as we like to call it, The Purple Room ! So, what has my pleasantly fatigued and slightly sunburned self been up to today? Well, a used copy of Stuart Asquith’s Guide to Solo Wargaming (1988), in very good condition, arrived in the mail yesterday afternoon. I’ve been perusing it rather closely this afternoon and will post a brief review of the book here

Stollenian Enemies Surface in Hostile Coalition

The coquettish Princess Valerie of Pillau-Zerbst The deceptive mercenary-adventurer from France -- General Phillip de Latté, one-time lover to Princess Antonia and current companion of Princess Valerie The calculating and "seasoned" Elector of Zichenau, Princess Antonia of Tauroggen-Fiebus The missing Princess Valerie of Pillau-Zerbst, who eloped with the recently deceased Prince Ruprecht VII of Zichenau last year , has surfaced in the court of Zichenau! Moreover, she has been sighted on the arm of General Phillip de Latté, who has also been strangely absent from court for the last several months. It has also come to light recently that de Latté is apparently in the service of the deceased Ruprecht’s mother -- Princess Antonia of Tauroggen-Fiebus. Princess Antonia, as you will recall, became the Elector of Zichenau and assumed the throne last month, following Ruprecht's sudden and inexplicable expiration after a late-night snack of fresh figs. These had been left in

12,000+ Visits to The Grand Duchy!!!

Hello there, men! Just a brief note to say thanks to all who have made the Grand Duchy of Stollen a part of their web routine during the last year. The Stollenian court and its ministers extend a hearty “Thank you” to one and all. The Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II (at left) is very pleased to see that tourist numbers have rounded just over 12,000. Indeed, this is seen as one of the reasons for his return to semi-normalcy. In recent weeks, his doctor and advisors report, the Grand Duke has even begun to take a greater hand in the day to day affairs of state here in Krankenstadt Palace. While those closest to the Grand Duke report that it is still difficult to coax him from the recently laundered and pressed lobster costume (his intermediary Roman senator’s toga having been discarded – at least for the time being), Irwin-Amadeus seems to have left the malaise of early summer behind. Of course, there is always hope that he might be lured back into a manner of dress more suited to