|The finished mosque|
I'm going to start with a mosque. Why?
- Almost without exception, every village in rural Helmand province has a mosque (usually three or four)
- They are simple, rectangular standalone structures which look almost identical to one another.
- Compared to houses, they are very easy to make as there are no walls or add-on annexes to worry about.
So, I started hunting for reference photos - which don't exist. Afghanistan is one of the oldest urban civilisations in the world and it has some really breathtaking architecture (no exaggeration), especially in the north, and mosques tend to have the most attention paid to them with fancy blue painted walls, gold domes and pillars, etc. But I wanted to replicate one of the thousands of tiny, one-room mud-walled affairs that populate Helmand province, and they are so unassuming that there are no photos out there.
They simply consist of one room, maybe 3 meters wide by 10 long, one door in the short end, and a semicircular enclave protruding from the western side (all mosques face north, so when the mullah stands in this bit, everyone prays facing westwards - towards Mecca). Although I do consider wargames to be gloriously uncontroversial and politically/religiously neutral, with such an important religious building as a mosque I think it pays to do the research.
Anyway, RE lesson over - onto the building! The tools and process for this build are really easy. Cardboard (I'm using shoebox card as it's quite thin, but still corrugated which helps with bending and shaping), craft knife, pen and steel rule, as well as ready mixed filler for texturing.
5. After a suitable period of drying (better safe than sorry here - I left it for an hour), glue on the enclave on the blank side as in the picture. Again leave it to dry for a short while, then add the filler for texture. A butter knife will work here, but mine came with a handy little applicator. This stuff really is the best option, it's instant, effortless, and cheap (the tub you can see here cost £2 and has lasted six months so far).
And that's it! Again leave it to dry fully before moving on to painting. Lessons learned include:
- Bigger tabs on the original plan will make the final model stronger, and also reduce the amount of time it needs to dry.
- My filler dried out - you can easily resuscitate it by adding about two egg cups full of boiling water, then poking with a knife and working the water in. After about five minutes of stabbing/stirring, it's good as new.
First building built!
As for painting, these things are literally built out of dried mud mixed with straw (which becomes incredibly strong once dry), so I used the same Desert Yellow/Bleached Bone method as on my bases. I also gave the building a vigorous brush-down once dry; this got rid of any lumpy bits of filler left sticking out.
Also, check out my last post, which now has new and improved photos! Thanks for stopping by as ever.