Ever wondered how to paint your cattle for period accuracy in Russia? Then I might be able to help out.
Sergey Prokudin-Gorsky, a Russian photographer who was an early pioneer in colour photography, spent 1909-1915 traveling around the Russian Empire taking photos. These are available in the Library of Congress! Here is the whole collection.
Why not check out the photos from Borodino? Jonas & Shirty used them for inspiration when basing their armies. Just look at these beautiful pictures:
And then there is this church! Look at it, look at this beautiful church. It almost looks like a model. Someone needs to build it, and I'm that someone. What a perfect model for my first ever balsa wood project.
So I started building it! I started with building a floor and figuring out how to make octagons. One thing I eventually figured out was that the inside angle of an octagon 135°, is 90° + 45°. So most of my construction was made by fitting a piece cut to 45° on a straight edge. The floor was a total waste, but useful experimentation.
Since I was a balsa novice when starting out I didn't know quite how to start. But I decided to begin with a framework for the church. Once it was done I started dressing it with panels inscribed with a plank pattern. Do make sure to inscribe with the grain, not across it. The panels are quite thick, 3mm, which I think is actually a bit excessive. It has the benefit of making the church quite sturdy and allowing me to inscribe the plank pattern quite deeply (which is nice because when painting the wood can swell and fill in the inscribed grooves). But it does make for more tedious cutting.
I've only found pictures of one side of the church, but going from my understanding of church architecture I decided to add a small vestry on the side of the chancel so the priest has his own door.
ROOF ROOF! I'M A DOG
I'm quite proud of how I constructed the spire, it was much easier than expected. I had some of cut pieces left over from my initial experiments making an octagon, these actually fit together to make an octagonal frame. I fitted some internal support pieces and mounted a central rod with supports to keep it fixed in. Then using barbeque skewers placed on in the frame leaned against the central rod I got roof beams.
The beams were then covered with thin pieces of balsa, that had their lower edges cut into a 'roundish' pattern. The spire also got a skirt made from pieces like the ones covering the spire.
Ouf, that's a lot of construction work. At this point I was getting bored with the project, feeling like my initial motivation was running out with repetitive work. To stimulate myself I decided to paint some of my available parts. Doing this worked great since some parts got finished, allowing me to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The small ice cream stick roof was stained with washes of acrylic paint, it's neighbour was stained with a homemade stain made from vinegar and steel wool as an experiment which I think turned out fine.
The red roofs look almost purple I painted them with Maimeri Crimson Alizarin which is a red with a slight purple tint. To make it a bit more purple and add more variation and vibrancy I used purple, pink, and red pastel chalks to give it a sludge wash.
The spire was painted with Maimeri Turqouise Green and given a sludge wash made from turqouise, light green, and light blue pastel chalks. In the end the spire ended up getting another coat of Turqoise Green covering up most of the wash.
Finally I was done with the main construction. Before I started painting all the walls I made a test piece after researching some chipping techniques. I used this piece to try out different scrubbing methods, figuring out that once again it was important to go with the grain of the wood.
Onion dome & Cross
It's not a proper Orthodox/Russian church if it doesn't have an onion dome, it's just not optional. But how to construct it? At first I started looking for curtain rod knobs, but couldn't find any in a proper shape or at a proper price. Then I saw a flag pole! I bought quickly found the cheapest flag available and drilled a hole in the top of the knob where I fitted a nail.
On the nail I put an orthodox cross made from balsa wood. First Jonas made an attempt of airbrushing it with Vallejo Verdigris glaze but it just would not cooperate, so I took it home and airbrushed it with diluted Maimeri Turqouise Green, the same color used for the roof.
They say that our eyes are the window to our soul, well I windows are the window into a buildings soul. Without proper windows you just get gaping maws of evil trying to devour your soul. For some spice of life I took an executive decision and added a small round window on the gable end of long house. And I added a larger window in the gable end of the chancel. I'd really like to add something in this window to give the impression of stained glass but haven't found the proper thing yet. These windows where trimmed by cutting carefully cutting a 1.5mm sheet of balsa wood.
Other than the special windows there are 15 regular windows and two double windows on the church all with quite intricate trimmings. Jonas and I cut out the trimmings in pieces from 1.5mm balsa, which we then painted white. We cut a few extra pieces of each and not being to exact with the measurements as I hadn't been when cutting out the holes for the windows. Once the trimming pieces were dry we could glue them in place.
The mullions are cut from matchsticks, while I did measure the windows before cutting them those measurements were just a guide line once again since the windows were a bit un-uniform they were pre painted and also glued together. When all the mullions were dry I randomly picked one for a window and trimmed of any excess before glueing.
Whew! This was quite a project, but so is any project in the spirit of Kriget Kommer. If it's worth doing, it's worth doing to excess! I learned a lot from this build, and had quite a lot of fun. It took a long time to complete, I started in March 2018 and wasn't done until the end of July and I did work on this project for at least a few hours each week. The church is H U G E and not really suitable as terrain for gaming given its size but I must say that I'm proud of the end result and I'm proud of finishing this project. And it has seen action as the Gleboff monastery in our 1812 Russia campaign.
"Glory is fleeting,