Insider 1-25-2012

In my previous blog, I showed you a quick method for making cobblestone detail for bases. In this blog, I'll show you an easy method for making wooden planks.

First, pick your sculpting material. I'm using polymer clay again since it allows for an unlimited working time and you can fix errors easily.

Fill in the slot on the base with putty so you have a flat surface to work on, then fill the top of the base with putty and smooth it out. You can use a brass tube as a rolling pin to flatten it; just make sure you put a bit of talc powder on the tube so the putty won't stick.

Using your knife or sculpting tool, make straight parallel lines in the putty to make the boards. You can vary the distance between lines so the boards don't look too uniform.

Next make perpendicular lines connecting to the parallel lines to make the ends of the boards. Vary the spacing of each line to make different board lengths. You also don't want two boards to end at the same location.

Create nails by pressing a small tube into the putty at the end of each board. You can also square the tube to make square-headed nails if you want some variety. After making each nail, use a clay shaper to flatten the nail heads. You can also use a thin piece of wire to make a hole where a nail used to be if you want.

Make small cuts in the putty on each side of the nail with your hobby knife. This represents the wood grain splitting from the nail being hammered into the board. Vary the length and depth of each cut to make it more random and natural-looking.

At this time, you also can start making the wood grain. Take your hobby knife and make long cuts into the putty. Make the length of the cuts and the space between them fairly random. You can also "wave" your knife to make the cuts curve more like wood grain.
Make some of the wood grain meet up with the nails, as though the nail has split the wood. Don't forget to make short cuts in between the nails at the ends of each plank.

At random points along the grains, use your hobby knife to widen small areas of the grain. This will make it look like the wood has warped and split from the weather over time.

To make knots in the planks, take a tube and press it into the boards, then flatten it. At opposite sides of the knot, along the grain, make cuts of varying lengths where the wood has split from the knot. Widen the cuts where they meet the knot. Make some fine cuts in the knot as well.

Now you have to cure the putty. If you used polymer clay, you need to cure it by using heat. Obviously you cannot put a plastic base in an oven. I use a heat gun designed to strip paint with a variable temperature setting.

Hold the heat gun about 8" away from the base and heat up the clay for around a minute, then let it cool. After cooling, heat it up again. Try not to let the base get too hot or it will warp.

After a couple of passes the putty should be cured. Now it's ready to paint.