Hirst Arts Cathedral Update VI

Hirst Arts Cathedral work in progress Another month has been and gone, so it’s time for a Hirst Arts Cathedral update! This has been a rather hellish month for me at both work and home for various reasons, so only a moderate amount of progress has been made since the last update.

Although it’s a little hard to see in this photo I’ve built up all four sides of the first bell-tower and glued them together into two right angled pieces. Considering my reckless disregard for the assembly instructions the tower actually fits together quite well! This tower is almost ready for painting too as only the interior doorways are lacking a handful of those precious and rare 1″x1½” gothic flat tiles to finish them off.

Speaking of which I’m still laboriously casting those pieces three at a time from the two Hirst Arts molds I own that include them. I now have enough of them to build both the front and back walls of the main Cathedral hall before starting work on the second gallery. I haven’t assembled the back wall yet, but you can see the front above, with the addition of this piece I’m almost a third of the way to completing the building phase of this project.

Now that the Cathedral is starting to come together I’m beginning to wonder if I shouldn’t have ruined the towers more while building them as it’s going to be very hard to get figures in there during gaming! I’m also beginning to wonder how the heck I’m going to store this large, fragile and alarmingly heavy building once it’s completed…

Hirst Arts Cathedral Update V

Hirst Art Cathedral in progress This post continues from the previous Cathedral post and I continue to make slow progress on putting this building together. The bottleneck is still the lack of enough 1″ x 1/2″ x 1/4″ flat pieces. I guess this is what the Cathedral instructions may be hinting at when they say “certain blocks may need an additional 20 casts or so”!

The photo shows another dry fit of the various pieces I’ve finished assembling. You can tell it’s a dry fit because if you look at the exterior low wall, you can see it’s leaning out of the base a little. Everything fits together reasonably well, but that’s all. I suspect some rather heavy sanding will be required on a few of the pieces to get them to glue together well – in particular the tall vertical pieces that go between the bell tower and walls.

I’ve almost finished assembling enough pieces to complete this first gallery + bell tower, except of course for those cursed gothic flats. I’ve also laid out the pieces for the two large central end walls and most of the second gallery. Looking at the plans and it’s obvious I’m probably a little over 1/3rd of the way through assembling this ‘Cathedral of the Damned’ for Mordheim as the centre of the building is basically just empty space.

I’ve developed something of a love/hate relationship with this building. It’s starting to come together nicely, but I’m still not entirely sure the amount of effort required to build the thing will justify the final result, nor the amount of game play it’ll see since my gaming group has basically given up on Games Workshop games!

Hirst Arts Cathedral Update IV

Hirst Arts Cathedral Gallery I’ve made some progress on the side gallery of the Hirst Arts Cathedral since 2008 started, however further progress has been stymied by a distinct lack of gothic flat half-bricks. Looking back at my last Hirst Arts casting post (almost two years ago) it’s obvious I’ve still got a fair amount of casting to complete before I can do much more building.

Casting is by far the most onerous part of building the Cathedral and now I have a few walls in place I was really starting to get into the swing of things. Damn it! Time to bust out the molds and add more plaster dust to the garage floor. I wonder if Hirst Arts mold #201 produces flat gothic half inch wide bricks that match those in the Gothic Church mold? No doubt somebody on the Hirst Arts forum can tell me that.

Hirst Arts Cathedral Gallery I’m happy to see the pieces I have built fit together well and appear to be fairly straight. Everything you see in the photos is dry-fit with no glue holding anything to the Cathedral floor, before I do any gluing I’ve got to ply a few more pieces of 3mm MDF together to form a thicker base.

I also have various other components for the gallery near completion including all four walls of the first bell-tower, except for those pesky missing gothic half bricks!

Hirst Arts Cathedral Update III

Hirst Arts Cathedral Parts Now that I’ve got around to doing some basic assembly using a new glue: Liquid Nails, this post continues from the previous Cathedral post.

There are various varieties of Liquid Nails, many of which aren’t water based. I chose the water based version because it’s easy to clean up plus I can use a wet brush to smooth away any extra glue squeezed out between Hirst Art blocks. This ‘fast’ Liquid Nails starts to skin and cure in about 20 minutes but that’s not a problem as I simply squeeze out small amounts onto a scrap palette (aka pet food container lid) and apply it with a brush to the Hirst Arts blocks.

Hirst Arts Cathedral Parts It dries to a creme colour and looking at the photos it’s fairly obvious where I’ve been using it. However the whole building is going to be painted once assembled so discolouring the bricks like this isn’t an issue. Once dry it provides a very firm yet slightly flexible bond between the bricks which is just great. I found the PVA I was using wouldn’t always provide a good bond and even when it did the bond was quite brittle, so flexing the larger sections would tend to snap pieces off. You can seperate pieces glued together with Liquid Nails – which is a plus if you’ve misaligned a couple of blocks, but it certainly requires a lot more effort than the PVA glued pieces.

Regarding assembling the Cathedral itself I have to say it’s very slow going. There seem to be a million blocks involved in the building so it’s an exercise in patience gluing them together. I’m currently trying to build up the thirteen sub-pieces that go together to build the smaller removable side gallery of the Cathedral! In the photos you can see the two long interior and exterior gallery walls and various parts of the bell-tower that makes up the front of the gallery.

I’ve always been impressed by Mr Hirst’s fine molds however I have to say while building the Cathedral it’s increasingly obvious there’s some problematic pieces on the molds involved. In particular the small gothic arch pieces that make up most of the windows in the Cathedral don’t go together well. Maybe it’s because there’s definite left and right arch pieces (they certainly aren’t marked as such) but the archways always seem to be slightly too wide for their designated space in the wall, plus they don’t form a square unit when glued together. So a reasonable amount of sanding is involved with assembling each of those small gothic windows.

I’m also wondering how well the sub-parts are going to fit together to form the gallery. I suspect more sanding will be involved in getting the pieces level and well bonded to each other. Ah well, stay tuned!

Hirst Arts Cathedral Update II

Hirst Arts Cathedral Floor As the poll has ended, it’s time I showed I’ve made some progress on the Hirst Arts Cathedral: thus I give you the floor!

This is little more exciting than it sounds because it gives me a foundation to build the rest of the Cathedral on. There’s a couple of 28mm Games Workshop Mordheim figures on there for scale.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bruce Hirst’s Cathedral design, the floor is split into two parts to allow you to get inside the assembled Cathedral for detailing, painting and gaming. The split is cunningly placed, falling between the main room and one gallery of the final building. I may just build up the walls and towers for this smaller gallery first to see if the water based Selley’s Liquid Nails I picked up recently does a better job of holding the bricks together than builder’s PVA.

There are a few issues however. The first is that the join between the smaller and larger pieces isn’t quite exact and there’s a visible ~1mm seam between the floor tiles when the two parts are placed together. However hopefully that’ll be concealed once I’ve built up the walls.

The second issue is that I’ve glued the floor down on a single layer of 3mm MDF which is definitely not going to be rigid enough to support the finished Cathedral. I plan to ply 2-3 layers of 3mm MDF together with PVA and clamps to build up a set of shallow stepped levels up around the Cathedral. Hopefully that works since I’ve already glued down the floor!

Yes, I read all instructions and carefully plan all of my projects…

Hirst Arts Cathedral Update

Hirst Arts Cathedral Parts Voting on the current poll seems to be split between the 28mm Hirst Arts cathedral and a second 15mm 1930’s building facade. So I’ve been dusting both these projects off.

The last time I did any casting for the Cathedral it looks like I was pretty close to having all the required pieces! I actually started building the sub-elements of the Cathedral, but got frustrated due to problems I had getting individual bricks to bond well together into large linear columns and abandoned the project temporarily.

It turns out that temporarily meant around 18 months. Since then the cast pieces have been languishing under my steel gaming table. I fished them out from there last night and dusted them off and took the above photo.

Top right and centre right you can see the larger parts I started assembling. A few more pieces broke off those long columns centre right while I was handling them last night, so I definitely need to find a better glue.

The pieces have been drying in the garage for so long they actually feel ceramic, and almost ring when you knock them together. Hopefully the Ultracal 30 hasn’t deteriorated at all by being left unpainted for so long.

After looking at how close I was to assembling this project I am feeling inspired to complete it. But we’ll see how the voting pans out I guess!

Hirst Arts Ruined Fieldstone Mold

Hirst Arts Ruined Fieldstone Mold Hirst Arts have just added a new mold to their Fieldstone line! It’s a nifty set of ruined Fieldstone pieces that actually fit together to create whole pieces as well. I know a lot of Fieldstone mold owners have resorted to creating and molding their own ruined pieces but it’s nice to finally have a mold created by the master.

It’s a good mold too with a mix of broken bricks, floor tiles and a couple of ruined arches. It also adds some new Fieldstone columns which will be useful for a lot of people. It definitely goes straight to the top of my Hirst Arts ‘wish list’. In fact I wish it had been available when I started building my Fieldstone Mordheim table because it would have made my life a lot easier!

No doubt it’ll be a good seller for Mr Hirst too because I’ll wager anybody that owns even a couple of Fieldstone molds will find it an attractive purchase.

Hirst Arts Cathedral: Casting II

Hirst Arts Cathedral Pieces I’m still casting slowly for the Hirst Arts Cathedral but have made some progress compared to my last post. I certainly have enough pieces to start assembling the major parts. However two sticking points remain: I still have to make about 20 casts of the Gothic Belltower and I need to sort out a base for the whole piece as I’d like to sort out the floorplan first before assembling walls and bell towers.

It’s going to be a real challenge to keep everything straight and level. I have a bit of room for errors however since I do intend to build a partially ruined cathedral without a complete roof. For painting I plan to use the same scheme as the recently finished 40k CD terrain as I think that’ll look good for Mordheim and 40k.

For detailing I am considering embedding rare earth magnets in the statuary alcoves and try putting together two sets of ruined statues. One themed to 40k – so lots of old Space Marines and some Guardsmen, and the other themed to Mordheim/Warhammer Fantasy – so lots of armored Knights and some Flagellants painted like stone. I also wonder if I can put together a suitable set of iconography with a large Imperial Eagle or a Sigmarite Hammer over the entrance. Hmmm well see how much of that actually gets achieved!

Hirst Arts Cathedral: Casting

Hirst Arts Cathedral Casting I’m still slowly casting up for the Hirst Arts Cathedral while trying to finish other projects. This chart of required pieces comes from Bruce Hirst’s PDF plans. The green pieces are those I have finished casting and the blue numbers are my cast counts for the unfinished pieces. Most of the casting left to do is from the Bell Tower mold.

I’ve made a few changes to the plans, dropping the original floor in favour of one made from the Gothic Floor mold – which is why all of the plan floor pieces have been ignored. I’ve also decided not to include the decorative 1/4″ squares on the buttresses and towers and will instead use the plain 1/4″ gothic square – simply because I think the decorative pieces are too floral for 40k.

I’m not overly concerned with how many roof sections I’ve cast either because at most my Cathedral will have a ruined roof, and at least just exposed balsa wood beam-work. I figure most weapons in 40k are sufficiently explosive to remove the cathedral roof and blow out all the windows (hence little or no stained glass work either). At least that’s my rationale for not bothering to build the entire roof!

Paper Terrain Roundup

28mm Paper Dungeon Much as I prefer foam card and ultracal terrain there is some very nice paper terrain available on the web.

I am vaguely considering creating an ‘undercity’ for my Mordheim table and investing less than $20 for a set of printable paper terrain could serve as a good gaming prototype before taking the time to create an entire Hirst Arts dungeon set.

Here’s the online paper terrain I’ve discovered so far:


World Works Games have probably the most extensive range of fantasy, sci fi, modern and pirate printable paper models I’ve seen. They’re all richly detailed and vibrantly coloured and quite reasonably priced considering once you purchase the PDF you can print copies to your heart’s content. They’re also in the process of creating models for an entire fantasy city which should be of interest to any Mordheim gamers already using the GW cardstock buildings.

Stone Edges have a range of fantasy dungeons and sci-fi space station interiors paper models and also have a few nice free samples for you to try. While their range is smaller than World Works, it is definitely comparable in quality imho.

Miniature Scenery are an Australian company that make a range of pre-cut MDF buildings – which while not paper are still quite interesting looking, particularly for 40k or City Fight.


www.paperterrain.com do a nice range of 15mm scale European buildings and villages. Their terrain is interesting because they use a kind of ‘slip cover’ model where a complete building can be converted to a ruined building simply by slipping the top off to reveal the ruins underneath.

MAGs Papiermodelle has some free 1:250 scale paper models with a distinctly European flavour. While they’re not 15mm scale they are so richly detailed I believe you could scale them up without any problems.

Please don’t hesitate to recommend any further paper terrain resources if you know of any! Also I’m curious to hear how this terrain stands up to regular gaming. Any visitors using paper terrain care to comment?