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Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon


Hirst Arts' Fieldstone DungeonPlease note that this review is a sub-section of my main review of Hirst Arts' moulds and is probably best read in conjunction with the main review.

The basic dungeon project as described in the instructions at Hirst Arts require that you cast the #260 Flagstone mould 21 times, and the #70 fieldstone mould 18 times; which sounds terribly daunting especially when you consider that's just a basic set of dungeon sections and you'll probably want to do a good many more. The good news however is that you can begin constructing dungeon sections long before you've finished casting all of the blocks and it really does help to keep your enthusiasm for casting if you're able to intersperse casting sessions with construction sessions and painting session.

I'd also acquired mould #71 Fieldstone Accessories right at the outset so I was able to add in some fancy bits at the same time. As I was building the terrain for use with EscapePath scenarios I didn't stick strictly to Mr Hirst's instructions either and very quickly got into creating my own designs.

These are the moulds I used:

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon

I found these moulds easy to cast from. The torch holder (looks like a traffic cone) on mold #70 and the door on mould #71 were the only ones that gave me any significant problem with bubbles and even these were far less problematic than the tricky pieces on the other moulds that I have (for The Tomb and The Wizards Tower). The occasional bubbles that I did get on the other pieces were, for the most part, hardly noticeable given the general texture of the pieces.

These were my first four pieces; 3 inch corridor sections built as per Hirst Arts' instructions:

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone DungeonAs can be seen from the image to the right there are some fairly obvious holes between the blocks and rather than hope that these would be filled at the painting stage I put drops of PVA onto them. I left it for a few seconds to allow it to be drawn into the holes before brushing what remained with a moist brush to make sure that none of the joint lines that are supposed to be there were filled.

There are also a couple of 'holes' made by air bubbles but I ignored these and filled them with paint at the base-coating stage.

At this point I hadn't yet decided what to use as bases and had constructed them on aluminium foil (which can be peeled off) in order to postpone that decision. Hirst Arts used cereal packet card on this project however I'd observed that in later projects they've used foam and wondered if they'd had problems with breakage. I did a test by glueing two tiles together with PVA, giving them a good 48 hours to dry, and then snapping them apart. It was quite strong and I figured that cardboard would probably be okay. I remained confident of this while constructing 3x3 tiles as above however, when I got onto creating a 5x5 piece I realised that the extra leverage was going to result in breakages.

I considered a number of options but in the end I used 10mm thick Styrofoam. Styrofoam because it occurred to me that I could draw the Fieldstone pattern onto it using a ballpoint pen. 10mm thick because I just happened to have a pile of it in stock.

Thus I glued the dungeon segments onto a sheet of foam with PVA and, when dry, cut them out using a Hot Wire Foam Factory Scroll Table. You could do the same job with a knife but hot wire cutters are fun so I'll reach for one at every available opportunity.

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon

If you do use a hot wire cutter, take care not to follow the edge of the stones took closely or you'll end up with a vertical seam line everywhere there's a joint. Better to do a straight cut and then draw the lines where you want them (as shown above right).

When it came to painting I had a few ideas that I wanted to try. The weird thing is that every time I look at the Fieldstone Dungeon at Hirst Arts' site I am surprised to see that it's painted in their Earth Tone colour scheme. In my minds eye it's grey, and that's how I wanted it. I tried various combinations of washes and drybrushings before settling on the process illustrated below.

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon

The piece to the left is base coated with Inscribe Ash Grey. The next step (middle piece) is to apply black shoe polish. Then finally (right) drybrush with more of the Ash Grey.

The shoe polish techniques is described over at Hirst Arts (click here) for less textured blocks such as those used for their Egyptian Tombs however I found it gives a nice solid black in the crevices of the fieldstone blocks.

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone DungeonAdmittedly it isn't the tidiest paint job you'll ever see however, as I intend to make dozens of these pieces, I wanted something that looked 'decent' and was relatively quick to do. The drybrushing is the crucial stage and spending a little more time at this stage can make a big difference as is illustrated by the piece in the image to the right. Obviously that is not a piece from the dungeon and is simply an experimental piece that I threw together to test the idea. It also illustrates something that I realised while painting the Wizards Tower and The Tomb, which is that additional colours help. See how much better the grey stone looks with a little greenery around it? Of course there's no greenery in the dungeon but having a few figures and accessories dotted about the place makes a world of difference to the overall effect:

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon

Note that while many of the accessory items in these images are cast from other Hirst Arts' moulds including #43 Gothic Panel Accessories, #85 Cavern Accessories, and #96 Egyptian Pyramid Accessories, other items such at the book cases are made from bits of wood and cereal packet card.

Hirst Arts' Fieldstone Dungeon

Conclusions

In the process of writing these reviews I bought several other Hirst Arts' moulds including Egyptian and Starship moulds however the Fieldstone moulds are still my favourites. They're easy to cast (very forgiving as far as bubbles are concerned), and very versatile. Have a quick search around the web and you'll get lots of ideas. In this review I've illustrated them in use in a castle/dungeon/mad scientists lair type environment and as ruins, however I've also used them in sci-fi scenarios such as my [album=97,Ork Bar].

One final comment: If you're in the market for fieldstone moulds then mould #70 and #260 are probably the most versatile. However if you can only afford one, then check out mould #74 (Fieldstone Bridge) as this has a 'a bit of everything'. If you're interested in making small ruined pieces then also take a good look at #75 (Ruined Fieldstone) because although it appears at first glance to contain nothing but ruined blocks, they have been cleverly designed to fit together so you can make whole blocks, whole flagstones, and arches.


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