I'm rarely seen in or near a DIY or hardware store. I'm not a very practical person and even the thought of papering a wall sends shivers down my spine. Over the years I have turned my hand to many household projects - I've decorated the whole house several times over - but that doesn't mean I enjoy it. So usually when I do wander into a DIY store its not for a home project, but because I'm looking for a product that can be turned to a more productive end; namely modeling.
Some time ago I picked up a great tip from another gamer for basing models. He said he mixed paint with plaster to make a colored basing material that could be built up between the figures on a base. The idea being that if the base were chipped or the paint covering not thorough enough then glaring white plaster would not be seen poking through.
When I got home I immediately replicated his idea using nothing more sophisticated than quick drying plaster and some dark brown paint. The results were OK but not as dark as I would have liked. I couldn't add more paint as the mixture was already getting quite sloppy and I wasn't sure it would dry properly. I've used this homemade basing mix several times and its worked just fine, but I think I've discovered an even better option.
I decided to look in my local DIY store for any colored plaster and came across a product labeled as Wood Filler. It came in three pigments ranging from a light brown to a dark walnut color. I opted for the latter and have been experimenting with it today. And I have to say I'm really surprised and pleased with the results.
The wood filler looks just like regular ready mixed plaster (except for the color of course). It has the same grainy texture and overall consistency as regular plaster. It actually looks like Chocolate Moose and when it dries the plaster retains its dark color. I applied it using a metal sculpting tool and the materials natural tackiness made it easy to apply to the base, especially if its been scored before hand.
Drying time for this product - assuming a maximum thickness of 5mm - is about two hours. The dried plaster can be sanded and painted and retains some flexibility. I found that any additional texture from sand or grit is best applied after the plaster is dry. Although it seems very tacky when wet I found that most of the sand I scattered on the surface of my test base came off once the plaster had dried.
I bought a branded wood filler so my 250g tub cost nearly £5.00 but I'm sure there are cheaper options out there. Having said that my small pot will last me a long time. I used less than a quarter of the tub on 30 flames of war Infantry bases.
I'm sure I'm not the first wargamer to discover this material but being allergic to all things DIY I never knew this particular product even existed until I stumbled upon it. Now that I have I can easily see me using this for some time to come.