Hirst Arts terrain & projects

Hirst Arts is a fantastic product for war gaming terrain.  Remember Legos as a kid?  This is along the same lines – purchase a RTV mold from Hirst, pour in plaster to cast bricks, assemble & you have some excellent looking pieces for your table.

LOTR wall corner

Lord of the Rings style building corner.

display base copy  display base full

Army display base for tournament play. 

Ruin front split

Cities of Death – 40K – terrain

ruined castle  ruined castle 2

Field stone Castle wall

 COD 1 COD 2  COD 3

Gothic Hirst bricks with GW COD plastic windows.

Bell Tower

Bell Tower with wood stain paint job.

Small tower

Small tower – Turrent mold.

Gothic Drop Pod

Drop Pod built from using Gothic accessory molds.

The examples shown are part of the Gothic or chipped stone and the field stone product line.  Hirst also has molds in field stone, sand stone, Sci-Fi and cavern.  Best part is, because all the bricks are designed around the same scale, you can mix and match bricks across lines.

Once you choose a line (or lines) of molds, you’ll need to get your hands on some quality plaster.  Plaster of Paris (or Pop), like the kind you find at the local art store, is not the best choice.  POP does a poor job of picking up detail and it’s low PSI (pounds per square inch) rating has bricks falling apart in your hands. 

The best choices are going to be either a gypsum cement or a dental plaster. 

  • Hydrostone:  my favorite.  High PSI 10K, cheap at about $40 per 100 lb and fast setting.
  • Ultra Cal 30:  A close second.  PSI 6K, cheap at about $40 per 100 lb but a bit slow to demold.  Despite the lower PSI, I find the Ultra Cal to have a harder/smoother finish than the Hydrostone.

Unfortuantly, Hydrostone is becoming hard to find in the Chicago area.  My previous supplier, Great Lakes Clay, no longer carries the product. 

  • Merlin’s Magic:  a dental plaster designed specifically for the casting hobby.  PSI 18K, $51 per 50 lb + $17 shipping, comes pre-colored in several shades, available from Clint Sales.  Casts to a smooth hard finish.
  • Excalibur:  a dental plaster with similar qualities to Merlin’s Magic.  Available from multiple outlets.  Higher learning curve as the plaster/water ratio must be accurate.

Hints and tips

Glue- Just about any glue will work: Elmers wood glue, Aleens Tacky glue, super glue
Paint- nearly all acrilyics are suitable for use with plaster:  craft paint, acrylic house paint, model paint, wood stain, spray paint.
“wonder wash”- water/Future floor polish mix used for ink washes.  The small nooks and crannies of the Hirst blocks make washes the fastest/easiest way to paint.
Wet Water – water with Jet Dry.  Decreases surface tension of water.  Spray on the molds prior to casting to help fight air bubbles.

Gaming Terrain

If you were paying attention, you noticed that a number of the above examples all use the same two window arch design over and over again.  The reason for that is I glued together a single example of that arch design, made a RTV mold & then mass produced the 3 inch by 4 inch piece over and over again.  By doing so, it makes massed produced terrain a snap.  Instead of fiddling with 20 bricks to make a pair of windows, I slap in one wall section.  Bam – use a little pink foam to fill out the design & you can have a building done in less than a hour.

Minas Tirith

Not my project, but the effort was so cool I needed to save a pic of it.

More pics posted at VoidGamers.

  1. #1 by a guy on May 24, 2008 - 5:17 pm

    i was jsut wandering where i can buy stuff to build stone fortresses i have only builded wodden pallisade and stuff like that,

  2. #2 by chicagoterrainfactory on May 24, 2008 - 9:59 pm

    Follow the link at the top of the page to Hirst Arts – everything on this page was made using the Hirst molds.

  3. #3 by Patrick on May 6, 2011 - 10:11 am

    For the window molds, do you do them in two parts, so they are textured on both sides, or is it just the completed window, and “flat” on the back. (It looks like this is the case, based upon the 40K Cities of Death terrain)?

  4. #4 by chicagoterrainfactory on May 6, 2011 - 11:12 am

    The window molds are 1 sided. I find that the loss of detail is often hidden in the finished product. If you wanted to take the extra effort, the blank plaster can be scribed with brick patterns rather easily. Or you can do what I did, and cover it with flocking.

  5. #5 by Jane on May 8, 2011 - 12:21 pm

    would you tell me where I can find hydrostone in Chicago Area ,Milwaukee area or online? Some online, shipping fee is very expensive. thank you so much

  6. #6 by chicagoterrainfactory on May 11, 2011 - 8:28 am

    I’ve been buying Hydrostone from http://www.lancegypsum.com/ . They are on the south side of Chicago and only open until 5pm – makes it sort of hard to pick up product.

    The Hirst Arts forum has a topic on where to get plaster.
    http://hirstarts.yuku.com/topic/365/Where-to-find-plaster-resin-and-other-casting-products?page=9
    LaFarge Materials in West Allis,
    Meyer Material http://www.meyermaterial.com/ has locations in IL and WI. Be sure to call first, the local Naperville location does not carry Hydrostone.

  7. #7 by kyleward9 on January 8, 2014 - 8:02 pm

    I know this response is way late but if your still looking for materials this is a good place. I have one here in Denver. http://www.reynoldsam.com/p40/Locations-%7C-Reynolds-Advanced-Materials—Chicago,-IL/pages.html

  8. #8 by chicagoterrainfactory on January 9, 2014 - 8:46 am

    Thanks for the suggestion. I’ve been to the Reynolds in Chicago. They have an excellent selection of resins, but no plaster that I’m aware of.

  1. The Big Think » Blog Archive » Adventures in Molding

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