08 March 2010

The Accidental Martian Terrain Mat, Pt. 1

I have been busy working on a couple of terrain projects over the last week or so, and thought I would share with you my progress.

The main project began last Monday. I took a day off from work, it being the day after my birthday (38 now) and a mental health day being well overdue. My days "off" usually include a long list of projects to keep me hopping about, and this one was no exception. I did find myself at Hobby Lobby, and wandered into the fabric area. I have been wanting to make a canvas gaming mat or three for quite a while now, being slightly dissatisfied with my current felt mats. I just don't like the fuzzy factor.

So I picked out a bolt of nice cotton canvas. I also picked some liquid RIT dyes, and was looking at various tapes and glues to hold the edges of my fabric together. I asked a lady nearby her opinion, and she offered to serge and hem the edges of the cloth for me (she was a professional seamstress). So, with about $18 in the cloth (3 yards, 60" width), and another $12 for having it professionally hemmed to avoid fraying, I proceeded to color the mat.

My first mistake: I didn't wash the fabric before trying to dye it. The cloth has a sizing agent on it whe new, and this kept the dye from penetrating into the fibers properly.

My second mistake: Washing the fabric after dying it. Instead of mottled greens and browns, I ended up with a nice, uniform olive drab. Great for a WWII-era GI tent, but not so good for gaming.

So I ended up bleaching it back out, and now have a terracotta colored piece of canvas. Instant change of plans: no longer an Earthly vista, this glorious series of errors had produced the basis for a new Martian landscape!

I wonder, should I go ahead and just draw in the canal on the cloth? What do you fellows think? I smell a poll question!

1 comment:

Ruarigh said...

The poll needs an additional element: "I don't know"! A Martian canal drawn onto the cloth would look good, especially if the drawing were restricted to one side (i.e. no bleed through to the other side). That way you could turn the sheet over if you wanted a canal-free table. On the other hand, would a canal system that you lay onto the table be better? It would have more depth to it but might not look integral to the landscape as a well-drawn canal on the sheet would. Also, how well do you draw? That might have a bearing on the answer too! I would like to see both options completed and then I shall decide which is better!!!!! :-)