Wattle Work Now?

Hobby is a very rare commodity these days, a fact reflected in my 365 Challenge stats. You may remember that I decided to take this challenge to achieve 365 hours of hobby in the 365 days of the year. This would be time spent on assembling and painting miniatures as well as making the scenery for them to battle over.  An hour a day equivalent seems more than achievable, right? Erm no. It's clearly not. By the time I had finished everything I'm writing about here I'don't reached the giddy height of 38.5 hours on day 69.

Well I decided to get back to making some more wattle fence sections for our games of Blood Eagle and Dux Britanniarum. You may recall I had a trial run of four sections at the end of last year. You can read all about it here and here.
I must confess though. Whilst I was pleased with the result, I wasn't entirely convinced.  Sure, I had managed to create wattle that you could see through. But the wire I was using gave it a too uniform appearance. I needed to take things a step further. I had to consider changing to the much thinner gunge of garden wire I hadn't used last time.
But there is a danger in doing this sort of thing.  Changing the wire after starting with something much thicker runs the risk of changing the look so dramatically that the new pieces won't work with the others. This means you have to settle on one of the methods.  What I needed to do was to find a way of getting the look I wanted without having to cast aside the work I had already done.  Thankfully there was a simple answer staring me in the face. Use both gauges of wire in my new sections and make sure that the old ones with the thicker wire are placed among them during gaming. In this way, the ones made with the thicker wire should be hidden by the overall effect. Here's hoping, anyway!

I went about the process in the same way as the test pieces. I drew a line down the middle of the sticks and used my set square to draw in 45°angles at either end.  I then measured in 1/4" from each end and marked off 1/2" intervals along the centre line to mark where the posts would go. This invariably meant that one of the gaps was slightly smaller than the others  (by 1/8"). I missed out one of the posts on some of the sticks to make space for gates. More about these later on!

The next job was to sand around the edges of the stick. This helps to blend the pieces into the Base boards. With this done, it was time to drill out the holes for the posts. And this is where it all came unstuck. I discovered I had hardly any of my narrow bamboo skewers left. Not a problem with the volume of skewers available in the other pack. However, this meant the holes I was drilling had to be much bigger. And since there was only 1/2" between the centre of each hole, the potential for splitting the sticks went up alarmingly.  By the time I had cut my skewers into 20mm lengths and begun inserting them into the holes, this danger became a real threat to my bases as well as to my temperament.

I was so impressed with my cheap PVA glue last time that I went ahead and used it to stick my posts into the bases. This was a bad idea. It didn't stick them anywhere near as well as the proper stuff from Evo-Stick. I lost another two bases as a result. Conclusion: never skimp on the proper glue. There. You have been warned!
Then came the time to weave my wire. I started with two layers of the thick wire before moving on to the thinner stuff. I tried using the thick wire for the final layer, but actually prefer the look of finishing up with a couple of thin layers instead. There's no exact science to this. Two thick layers, then three thin followed by a single thick and two or three thin ones to finish off.

I may not have as many sections of wattle fencing as I had originally planned (and I may still go ahead and remake these at some point soon) but I am very pleased with the result.

Of course, I then had to figure out how to do the gates...! With little reference material to hand, I stepped into the realm of supposition. So what follows is best taken with a pinch of salt.
 The first thing I did was to measure each gate to see how wide my gates would need to be. I was looking for a happy medium. This however was not possible. They were all different. This was caused by the way the wires were bent round the posts. The only option was to tailor make each gate.

I decided to use the thickest gunge of wire to make the gate. I measured off five 15mm lengths and did my best to lay them alongside each other with a little gap between each one. After two failed attempts to do this by hand,  I got my tweezers and had much more success. This is of course helped immensely by judicious use of the cm squares on my cutting board! I had to get them into a space no larger than 14 mm.  I then cut three lengths to brace the uprights. These were held in my tweezers in my left hand whilst I applied some super glue to along the edge. I then used the tweezers to put the horizontal posts into place.

And then I decided I needed to add a third diagonal brace.

At which point I needed to figure out a way of attaching the gate.  My solution was electrical cable. Out came the pliers to cut a 4cm length. I used my craft knife to cut away the outer layer, revealing the blue and brown wires. I then opened up the brown wire to reveal the thin strands of copper wire. I took a number of these and twisted them together to make it look like rope. You can see the stages of wire removal in the next photo.
 Of course, all I then needed to do was thread them through the wattle and one side of the gate to make rope hinges. Be warned if you try this yourself. It's incredibly fiddly. Especially when you twist the two ends together and cut away the excess.

The final task was to take four final wires, wind them together and make the fastening for the gate. This was fastened around the gate and the top of the post. I wound the two ends together and left the ends trailing down. If this were real, it would allow the user some leverage in lifting the rope over the post.

The end result looks like this:
I'm really pleased with the result. It's fiddly. Very fiddly. But if you've a gaming budget of next to zilch like myself, it's a very rewarding and satisfying past time! Right, best get back to it as I have more to make. And cover in Base mix. And paint. And flock....!

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