Wednesday 30 May 2018

Building a paint rack

My workspace is, as ever, a real mess, which seriously hampers any efforts to get back into hobby activity. So having recently made a storage dingus for my mini-chisel set, I started making a plywood paint-rack yesterday, and took these pics today, as I glued up. I'll probably put a back-board on it, to help keep it all plumb-square

Main components, glue in place, ready for assembly.

Glueing this lot together was messy, and quite tricky. For starters I had to buy more F-clamps, as I only had two sufficiently large for this job. As is my usual way, I made loads of mistakes. Still, if I learn from them, as I hope I do, it's all good grist to the creative mill.

Had to buy more clamps for the tricky glue-up.

In this third pic I've stood the thing upright, as it's intended to be used. There's room for 60 of those little Vallejo type acrylic paint pots, plus a modest general purpose shelf at the top, for whatever might fit in there.

In its proper vertical orientation.

I'm looking forward to this being finished and, I hope, aiding me in creating a more efficient ordered workspace. Maybe then I can finally get back into painting and gluing!?

Hardboard back-board, cut to size and painted.

By about midnight-ish, and whilst semi-watching a vintage Star Wars double-bill (Star Wars & The Empire Strikes Back), I'd got the backboard cut to size and painted in one of my many favoured shades of green. I also gave the plywood a coat of matt varnish.

Varnishing the shelves.

Now all that remains is to fix the backboard, probably with a combo of glue and panel pins. Sadly the shelves have dried, glue-wise, out of square in both directions, vertical and horizontal! This makes gluing and pinning that much harder. Hey-ho , so it goes! Still, hopefully they'll be completed very soon. I'll need to charge my drill first, and then drill pilot holes for the pins, as otherwise I'll end up splitting the plywood (one of many mistakes from previous projects I have learned from!).

Locating panel pins whilst keeping the shelves clamped square.

Ta-dah! Done, and loaded. I've not yet sorted the paints*.

And finally, it's complete. Above is a quick snap. Already fully laden (well, there are a few more paint holders). I'm pretty pleased. Also visible, my chisel rack, and at left, the normal state of chaos.

* My OCD side requires that at some point soon I sort the paints into some better more logical order. I just slapped 'em in any old how, for the sake of a pic.

Tuesday 29 May 2018

Book Review: A. Lincoln, Ronald White

Ronald White's beautifully drawn rendering of the fascinating man who frequently referred to himself as A. Lincoln begins with roots. Lincoln saw himself as descended from 'undistinguished' stock. White's fuller picture reveals the Lincoln family odyssey, from leaving England to seek religious and economic freedom, to Abe's eventual sojourn in the Executive Mansion, as the Whitehouse was then known, to be a fascinating microcosm of a much larger American experience.

Lincoln's limited rural childhood education didn't stop this ambitious autodidact from achieving a dizzying ascent. His critics often chided him for his slow progress. But, as he himself said, though he walked slowly, he never walked backwards. Lincoln's path to power, via law and politics, which remain generally obscure and cold subjects to me, is, fortunately, sufficiently interesting to maintain attention. In his legal career seeds of Lincoln's future presidential skills can be seen growing. The images White conjures, of Lincoln riding the Illinois legal circuit as a 'Prairie Lawyer', are highly evocative.

The younger pre-beard Lincoln. Still lean and craggy!

As politics takes over from law we get a portrait not just of Lincoln, but of how American politics were evolving. Initially a Whig (whatever that is*), Lincoln joins the newly emergent Republican Party. White tells the potentially dull tale of how Lincoln finally attains power - not as the nation's clear favourite, but during times of muddled, fractious sectionalism - with enough verve to make it compelling. Once in power, it may surprise some readers (it surprised me) how cautiously Lincoln initially proceeds, clearly feeling his want of education and political office-holding experience. His relations with his generals in particular being a tortuously slow and painful area of development.

Lincoln visits McClellan ('tasche, facing Abe'). They didn't see eye to eye!

Relations with Grant were better.**

White shows how, as he grows in experience, Lincoln becomes more confident of his own shrewd judgments: his inner moral compass - a pet theme of White's - already well developed, and his faith that it will win the day, takes longer to grow. Another favourite theme of White's is Lincoln's religious evolution. Occasionally feeling it may have been overstated, I was nevertheless intrigued by this aspect of the biography, despite coming at it - I'm guessing - from a really quite different perspective. Certainly it's an important aspect of the portrait, Lincoln, like so many Americans of that era being thoroughly steeped in a particular type of deeply Christian culture.

The classic bearded look.

It could probably be argued - by those who know more on the subject than I do - that White's portrait of Lincoln is perhaps overly reverential. It's clear the author loves his subject. If we're being given an over-idealised portrait this might mean we're not getting the most balanced historical view. But from the viewpoint of supplying a cracking good read, the author's passion for his subject is a clear boon.

I came to this via my interest in the American Civil War. As a prime player in that epic drama, one can't help but be drawn to Lincoln's part in it. Seeing Spielberg's Lincoln only added to my desire to know more, as did the many sonorous quotes from him, voiced by Sam Waterston, in Ken Burns' superb Civil War documentary. A slim Penguin volume collecting some of Lincoln's most famously and memorable speeches and letters was my first port of call. Good as that was, hunger for deeper knowledge of this fascinating man ultimately lead me to White's weightier tome.

The author.

And I'm glad it did. This is an excellent book, about an uncommonly inspiring man. Lincoln's facility with language and ideas is remarkable. One of his many attractive qualities, both as lawyer and politician, and that despite presiding over a terrible civil war, is his sagaciously conciliatory approach. Napoleon was said to have had mesmerising charisma. Lincoln appears to have had a great deal also. But of an entirely different character. One quickly loses count of the number of times people come to him spoiling for a fight, only to depart as humbled, mollified admirers.

I found this book fascinating, informative, occasionally thrilling, and quite often - esp. when reading Lincoln's masterfully crafted words - moving. A study of Lincoln's life and times remains salutary. I'm grateful to White for supplying us with a highly readable account of the most inspiring of America's presidents.

An evocatively blurred image, in his signature stove-pipe hat.

* One of the few quibbles I have with this book is that White doesn't define this term; whilst there are plenty of illustrations, including numerous photographic portraits of Lincoln, a glossary would've been welcome. According to the third definition in Merriam Webster's online dictionary a Whig was 'a member or supporter of an American political party formed about 1834 in opposition to the Jacksonian Democrats, associated chiefly with manufacturing, commercial, and financial interests, and succeeded about 1854 by the Republican Party.'

** It's interesting to note both the military men pictured are affecting a 'Napoleon' (the hand in the jacket/waistcoat/top, itself a faux-Roman affectation), whilst Lincoln simply stands there, rather awkwardly, like a beanpole, in his normal manner.

Saturday 19 May 2018

Salute, 2018

Nice scenic/building work.

Looks like AWI?

Sheesh kebop! It's taken me ages to get around to posting this. Just been way too preoccupied with General life/home and garden stuff.

The first thing I want to say is that I'm in two minds about Salute now. I think it's possibly grown too big for me to really enjoy. I went with a model-making buddy this year, who's not a wargamer. He said he enjoyed it, but then it was his first time. And he only bought some mags, no models/figures or ancillary stuff.

One of the traders I chatted to opened our conversation by saying 'I hate this show!' I was surprised and saddened by this unprompted and very negative ejaculation, which seemed to bubble up and out of the guy from sheer exasperation, I think due to the intensity of the scale of the event. We got there for doors open, and the first few hours are very intense, due to the volume of humanity.

Wow! I love this cornfield.

I've always been a fan of incidental detail, and love these civilians/camp followers.

I'm not a crowds person, so I tinfoil (eh? predictive goes mad... again; should've said 'find'!) it hard going. Plus I'm not that fit: I'm overweight (tho' not obese, I hasten to add!), and have medical conditions which, along with the drugs they require me to take, mean I'm pretty much tired all the time. Wearing out shoe leather traipsing round the cavernous (and soulless/ill-lit) Excel halls really wore me down. And there's simply not enough seating, meaning I had to continually perch beside trade stands or games I wasn't necessarily interested in.

Anyway, as usual, my main interest was in the book stalls. I managed exemplary restraint for the first time in aeons, and only bought one book - another addition to my Russia 1812 library (Hilaire Belloc's account, in a nice old Harper US hardback edition) - and one pack of figures. The latter were some 1/72 white metal German WWII cyclists, from Offensive Miniatures. Turns out my pal's daughter is good friends with the daughter of the guy who runs Offensive. Small world, eh!?

Fab boats on the (rather basic) river.

Didn't expect to see a WWI tank replica. Pretty cool. 

I took hardly any pics this year, as far less grabbed my eye. And of what little did, I only photographed the one game, as illustrated in the pics accompanying this post. Napoleonics, my chief and favourite period of interest were woefully underrepresented, games wise. I only found one Waterloo game, and didn't find it interesting enough to photograph. 

I think in future I'll seek out smaller shows but with more that I'm after. Derby Wargames World is usually reliable that way, and sometimes Partizan also. Any recommendations or feedback from anyone reading this would be welcome. I might even try putting out feelers locally. Not so much in search of a local show - though that would be great - but rather in terms of making local hobby connections. Despite my aversion to crowds, I'm feeling a bit lonesome/isolated in my mini-military pursuits, and figure (boom boom!) some camaraderie might help motivate me into renewed activity.

Anyhoo, I'll leave it at that for now, on the Salute 2018 show report. It's certainly a whopping great monster of a show. But I'm not sure it's right for me just now. As with the very essence of our hobby, small is - can be/ought to be? - beautiful!

Tuesday 15 May 2018

Random photos!

Apologies for the non wargaming/modelmakng post, but I need URLs for some images, and posting them here seems like the only workaround that might just allow me to actually post the pics where I really want to!

My brogue style push-sticks.

The brogues again, plus a pair of WIP shark style push-sticks.

Added teeth, in USAAF WWII style

Soon as I gave the sharks eyes, they went for my legs!

Teresa's sewing box

... and open

Added a catch...

... and some hinged lid stays.