Thursday, 29 June 2017

Those essential basics... - Making modelling sand


Don't know about you but there are ingredients in my hobby I rarely think about but which are actually essential to it.
I usually buy a huge pot of PVA glue every 4 years or so, 10s of drill bits every year, modelling knife blades too. Basing sand is one of those, but I only think about it every 5 years or so.
Quite a while ago (in 2004 actually), I found a really nice sand on a site which I calibrated thanks to the tools at work (I'm a civil engineer). Now of course, with more than 1.5 kg of sand, I thougt I'd have enough for the rest of my life.
Only thing is that over the last few years, my painting output has been tremendously raised and therefore my sand consumption has raised accordingly. I did use 80% of the pot in 10 years.


Since I really wanted to keep the same look and feel, I had no choice but to recreate my sand from scratch.
That's where Labs come in. A particle size analysis is a very simple process, taking a few minutes and calories to shake sieves.


So I took some sands and mixed the fractions according to my sand analysis.


A few minutes afterwards (mostly thanks to the helpful and friendly technician), I had refilled my sand pot with about 4 or 5 more years worth of basing sand ! I could or should have done much more obviously but we ran out of the small fraction and it would have taken a bit more time. Honestly, 15 minutes (chatting included) to get 5 years of hobby supplies for free is a pirce I'm more than OK to pay !



So big thanks to the technician for lending me a hand and providing me the material and here's to a few more years of basing !

31 comments:

  1. And there I thought I took the hobby too seriously :) Allow me to award you this virtual medal and take my hat off to you sir. (Now I'm off to spend some time grumbling about the lack of access to these kind of lab settings copywriters have...)

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    1. As president Palmer once said, "the right thing is the only thing to do".
      At least that was the only solution I could thnk of which would soothe my anxiety about change and get me enough basing sand.

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  2. Awesome label on the lid :) Best hobby product of the year !

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    1. The chocolates were barely OK but the box and name on t wa sjust too good not to get !

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  3. Dang! That's some intense recreation - nicely done!

    I definitely agree that good basing sand ought to include varying coarseness of talus, it absolutely adds to the realism. I generally use a mix of four grades of railroad sand/ballast in a given ratio and like you I'd mixed up a bucket that I thought would last forever. Had to recreate and refill last year too. Hats off to you for scienceing the heck out of it! :D

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    1. I kind of like th eidea that the sand is the same although given the size of a base every time I dip a model it looks a bit different since it never catches the same ratio of small/middle/bigger grains... ^^
      Thanks !

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  4. Aw yeah, basing minutiae, give it to me! I have my own system which I call the porridge. Basically a mix of several grades/types of sand/shells/slate grit and pva in a sealed tub. Instantly available basing cover.

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    1. That's one step beyond, I like that. A lot.

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  5. My recipe came straight from my son's sand pit back home, which I'm getting low on atm :( I think I might have to make an emergency trip OS to restock :)

    I sympathise with you brother, once you've got your "special blend" you can't spoil the well with another type.

    Your remedy looks remarkably like the length I went to for my dipping solution. Looks like we might be peas from the same pod?

    Cheers :)

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    1. Who knows ? Just a month to figure out !

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  6. Okay cool. I'm feeling less scientific having mixed some grit up from off the driveway

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    1. Maybe you're just human an not an idiotic anal retentive creep like me !

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    2. Hey, whatever gets you a good mix of particle sizes. I just mixed sand and a couple of sizes of ballast for a much more natural look than sand by itself gives. "K.I.S.S. principle", right?

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  7. Ooooh just noticed the container... chocolate mini bites from Marks and Sparks... mmmmmm !!!!

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    1. Honestly not a fan of those but "mini bites" reads as "mini dicks" in french so that's the only reason I got the pot !

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  8. Well that is just a delightful example of hobby precision. I would get the folks at work to do the same for me, but the soil samples we have on hand are due to arsenic contamination... so maybe not.

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    1. It might be best to avoid adding that to lead poisoning I reckon !

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    2. Yes indeed! Although I could up the ante and get some heavy metals mixed in there too!

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  9. I'm envious of your lab accessibility. It's been 7 years since I worked at a place with an in-house lab, and I never thought of this application at the time!

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    1. I started back in engineering school using the lab for hobby purposes !

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  10. This is brilliant! I refill mine every year or so from a bag of sand we have lying in the shed. I dry out a trowl full at a time in the oven and then sieve it to get two different grades. This however, is next level stuff! :)

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    1. Might be hardcore but it is deeply satisfying at the same time !

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  11. I stole some from a local beach. Probably against some stupid environmental law, but my large Starbucks cup-worth has lasted a couple years so very much worth it to me. :)

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    1. You borrow from nature to make the world better by painting your models. That's how I see it.

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    2. I had to bribe a customs official when I brought some coral sand back from Kenya!

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  12. *sigh* I love you like a brother JB, but I do wish you would start taking this hobby seriously...

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  13. Ahhh sand. Anakin Skywalker's greatest pet peeve. I think I still have about 90% of the GW basing sand I got almost 7 years ago. Shows you how little basing work I'm doing. I'm sure that will change once I do some scale model tank kits as those are always screaming out for a diorama.

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    1. Honestly, sourcing sand is probably th edullest activity in our hobby so wwhen I do it I try to make it last ! ^^
      Thanks. ;)

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  14. I tend to bring back a bag of sand from whenever I go to a beach, so I've now got boxes of multiple grades from fine Kenyan coral, via Industrial mining slag from Northumberland to small pebbles from Lincolnshire. I can then mix up whatever grade I need!

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    1. I have jet black volcanic sand that looks boss bt I just can't seem to grow the balls to use it ^^

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