Monday, October 12, 2015

Knot to leave you hanging

One thing you will often see on medieval style models (especially on war machines) is rope.  While this is great if the manufacturer molded this onto the model, when doing conversions it can feel daunting.  I've seen tutorials about using greenstuff to make ropes - but many years ago I saw a cool and easy alternative at Buckeye Battles and have been using it ever since, with great results

GW Ogre Hunter.  He has the option for a spear gun, so I gave him a goblin spear chukka, with the rope for it coiled at his feet.
This easy to make model rope is simply pipe cleaners with the 'fluff' burned off.  DO NOT do this inside - when you burn off the fluff it emits a nasty toxic smoke.  I also recommend that you use something to hold the pipe cleaner with - the center is metal after all and will conduct the heat to your hand.

So this last weekend, I thought it would be a good time to make more rope (and thus this article).  I gathered my supplies and headed outside.

Enough pipe cleaners for lots of modelling projects, matches, a candle and a surgical hemostat (most recently used to hold martians while airbrushing them turquoise
To hold the pipe cleaners I have a couple of surgical hemostats in my tool kit.  These are something that I recommend every have when doing modelling - the ability to hold and clamp down on small pieces is invaluable.  I got these many years ago from a friend who was a nurse - however a quick google shows you can get them quite cheap.
Burning off the pipe cleaner fuzz in a candle flame.
The key here is to burn ALL of the fuzz off the pipe cleaner.  It will first melt around the metal core - so if it looks smooth and black - well you haven't burnt it all off.  It should flare up a bit, and leave the bare wires behind.  I like to get mine red hot - that shows that everything is burnt off cleanly.  Using the hemostat to hold the pipe cleaner also made it easy to grip and kept the heat away from my hands.

The last time I did this, I remember using a long necked lighter (for lighting barbecue grills), but I couldn't find it.  So I used a candle instead.  This works just fine, but is a bit slow.  Even more so when it is a rainy, windy day outside, and the candle keeps blowing out.

So I moved to the back yard and used the side burner on my gas grill.  This worked much faster, even under an umbrella.
Yes, I need to clean all the crap that accumulates under the lid.
When you have everything burnt off, you will have a pair of twisted wires coated in a fine ash.  Simple wash these with normal dish washing soap to clean the, scrubbing off any residue that might remain.  Then dry them with a paper towel.
Simple scrub with a dish brush to get all the ash off
At this point the rope is ready to use for your models.  You can paint it before you use it, or afterward when you paint the rest of your model.  I went ahead and painted all of these ahead of time.  As you can see, the clean strands of wire are black.
Clean wire rope, ready for paint
While I'm an adequate painter,  I've had no training beyond junior high.  So I tend to pick a color for certain objects and stick with it.  I've found I like Valejo Game Color Extra Opaque Heavy Goldbrown (72151) for my rope.  A heavy drybrush of it give it a nice color, but still leaves a bit of the black between the strands.  Ready to model.
Painted up, ready to go
My latest project has been resurrecting my unfinished skaven army as Ratkin for Kings of War.  One of the new units is rat cavalry - combined between skaven slaves (w/ repositioned spears) and Reaper Bones giant rats.  I figured they needed to control the rats a little, so drilled a small hole in the sides of their mouth and threaded the 'rope' through it, twisting it together and extending a piece to be held in the shield hand.  Lots more painting to be done here.
Troop of Ratkin Hackpaws
I did a similar technique on my Basilean Panther Lancers - this time looping the rope around their neck.  After a year of demos they need a little repair work, but the rope looks great!
Basilean Panther Lancers
So a simple but effective way to make rope for your models.

Because it is all fun and games...

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