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Glossing in the Grand Duchy. . .


Anticipating their first coat of acrylic gloss, the 1st Company of the Schaumburg-Lippe-Bueckeburg Infantry march toward the brush.


Well, we're finally to that point.  Making 'em shiny.  Here are the things I use to do that.  I've always wanted to try boat deck varnish, as used by the late Peter Gilder (I read that somewhere), but I suspect that the stuff would smell bad and kill billions of brain cells in the process.  At this point in life, I need to hold on to as many reasonably well functioning brain cells as possible, so acrylic varnish it is.  

I took care of the mounted colonel, officers, flag bearers, NCOs, and drummers yesterday (Saturday) and set them aside for safe keeping.  Today, I'll start on the first batch of 16 privates pictured here.

Glossing here in the Grand Duchy is always a slow and somewhat laborious process in that I apply it with a brush and a small one at that.  I have found in the past that using a really large brush to apply gloss invariably (for me at least) leaves missing spots.  Invariably.

"Ah, but Stokes," I can hear you say collectively, "Use your head, old bean.  What about a spray varnish?" 

Well, I have thought many times over the years about using spray varnish.  But I have also read, in various online fora and blogs, about occasional mishaps that produce cloudy results when all is said and done.  To me, that would be heartbreaking after all of the hours spent painting the figures, sometimes over many months, so in the end I have always stuck to the brush-on method.

Ok, then.  So, how many coats of gloss do I apply?  Well, about 2.5.  There are two main reasons for that. 

First, I like the figures to be as glossy as possible.  Two coats do that nicely.  Second, I want to protect the brushwork underneath for as long as possible.  

With that second aim in mind, what I try to do is apply a third coat to or along those raised areas more likely to be touched in handing (outer arms, shoulders, hat edges, muskets, etc.).  These raised areas tend to catch the light even more.  This third application goes quickly in comparison to the first two full coats.

My approach to gloss varnish is how I end of with figures that approximate hundred of tiny porcelain miniatures when deployed on the table.  Glossing in The Grand Duchy takes time to finish, but the end result is worth it in my book. 

At some point in the near future, I must address the actual flags carried by this particular unit, which will help set the regiment apart from the many similarly attired regiments in Prussian service.  But of that, more anon.

-- Stokes


Der Alte Fritz said…
Testors Gloss Spray Coat works like a charm. I’ve never had a problem with clouding. Humidity is the only thing that I can think of that would give adverse results to spray gloss. Give it a test try on some older painted figures.
Thank you, Fritz! I will look into that forthwith.

Best Regards,

Matt said…
As I understand it there are two reasons why the cloudy problems occur.

1. As DAF states in damp conditions moisture "attaches" itself to the sprayed varnish particles,

2. In very hot conditions the varnish literally part dries on the way to the figures and sticks on as globules.

I have used Windsor and Newton Professional sprays (gloss and Matt) as I read it does not suffer this problem and have to say in over a year I have had no such mishaps. However the fumes are possibly cell destroyers!
Thank you for the additional tip, Matt. I may need to do a comparison of the two brands.

Best Regards,

marinergrim said…
I have never liked spray varnish - the results are just too inconsistent. Unfortunately the only good, durable gloss varnish I've found tends to be oil based and need turpentine or thinners for cleaning brushes.
Marvin said…
I'm a matt varnish man, for the most part. A different vibe being created for the figures I suppose but then, seeing your lovely glossy ranks brings a pang of regret. My 'go to' for matt varnish is Daler Rowney acrylic - there's simply nothing like it for mattiest of matt finishes. Is mattiest a word?

But, returning to your glossed ranks - the extra care makes perfect sense. They are well worth protecting to the degree that you go to.
Neil said…
Your armies and units never cease to amaze me.


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