Mall Signs V1


Over the past month I've been working on the furniture included with the 4Ground mall. There's furniture for a coffee shop, gun store, pharmacy, clothing store, sporting goods store, and a hardware store. All of this furniture is on thick, laser cut cardboard.

I don't like it.

It's finicky, and the pieces don't quite fit together like I want. Things don't seem straight enough. Or flush enough. I'm not sure which. After a month, I've got most of the coffee shop and gun store furniture together. There's also some generic shelves that (can) go in all 6 stores. There's some other shelves that may go inthe clothing store, I'm not sure.

One of my nit-picks is the pieces aren't grouped per store, but in a way to maximize used space when the laser cuts. That's fine, I understand the economics in that. My nit-pick is how pieces fall off/out over time as I shuffle pieces laser cut sheets around trying to find part AE4 when it's not with AE1-3, and all the miscellaneous parts that fall away from their identifiers that I'll have to try and match up later.

Waiting for glue to try between pieces on a 14 piece sales counter takes some waiting time, too.

While making seemingly random furniture, I've moved forward on my test for store signs. My goal was to have non-permanent signs so that I could switch out store names based on my whimsy of the moment. To work well, plus add to the cool factor, I decided to model and 3D print some kind of frame I could stick the store sign in. My first endeavor into printable 3d modelling! In preparation, I'd picked up a few modelling lessons on Udemy during a good sale and had worked my way through about half of them when I had an idea of what to put together in Fusion360. It took a handful of false starts, but I finally had a 2-piece model that should work for what I needed. I then went about fiddling with the damn printer bed leveling off and on for 2 weeks. Interesting thing I learned about my 3d printer in the garage - don't print if it's under 60 degrees. Things don't turn out well. My glass bed is ever so slightly warped up in the middle. I'm not sure if heating the bed makes this better or worse over the time of a multi-hour print, or if it makes any difference at all. As it is, I try to keep most of the printable area as close to the middle as I can, and so far that's been working.

After I printed my sign frame, I went into Paint Shop Pro and made some testing signs for size and resolution. It seems that no matter what resolution I set my images (300DPI) or printer (600DPI) I always get pixelation. Maybe it's the graphics program from 2004? Anyway, I printed/cut/glued and saw that the sign looked about right on the store front.

This was a test sign, so it was ok to mess around with - I didn't bother cleaning up the edges, as part of the test was "will just using chrome spray paint without priming work?" (yes!) One of the things I wanted to try out was to use Mod Podge Dimensional Magic to give the feeling of a glass insert on the sign. This stuff was mentioned in a Facebook post for a gaming group where they were putting this on their cardboard tokens. It helped protect the top (images get scratched sometimes) plus gave some depth to the flat cardboard.

Turns out it worked pretty good. The Mod Podge makes for a decent glass substitute, plus it helps cover up some of the pixelation on the print. The other bonus I was hoping for is that it doesn't look as much like a piece of paper stuck behind some plastic.

Next will be properly trimming up the plastic - it was printed with a skirt to help with bed adhesion, but they don't snap off as clean as one would hope. Soon I'll have signs for all the stores.

And then they'll just need some freakin' furniture.

3D Printer 4ground-mall

Last of the Foundry Minis / Monkey Time Zoom


That last of the batch of 10 Foundry Hitmen (and either Professionals or Detectives) primed in December now have a coat of paint. I've complained before about the quality of these sculpts. They're most likely not as bad as I make them out to be, they just don't jibe well with my level of painting skill. My new technique (for me) to try out this time was to finally switch brushes while painting a color/area based on need. Using a detail brush to swath the back of a coat wasn't doing the detail brush any favors toward longevity. I also tried to remember to work from the inside of the mini and out, instead of hitting everywhere the color on the brush was needed. This gave some better lines between skin tones and whatever they abutted to. For once, I did the heads last - and I'm not sure if it made a difference.

It's been long enough since the painting spreadsheet was updated it's hard to tell what's changed. Foundry, Buildings, and 6" tiles have all had progress marked since the last shown update of the spreadsheet.

Next up on the hobby table: I don't know. Mall stores need furniture. I liked having primed minis to paint for when the painting mood hit, so I may go ahead and prime another batch. There's some 3D-printing associated things I need to do (mostly mall related).

Tangentially, in today's pandemic world, I've been working from home and staying sequestered like everyone else, or at least everyone else has been encouraged. As homelife is just me, my social interactions have been a Friday trip to the chiropractor (he's not just my chiropractor, he's my buddy!), avoiding people when I go to Publix, and a couple of Zoom meetings for work. Repeat this weekly for a month. I'm ok with the day-to-day living (or maybe isolation?) as I've geared myself to live mostly this way over the past couple of years. Within that, Jer pointed out that once our pandemic is less pandemicy, I need to make sure I force myself to get out and socialize.

This made me think of when he, I, and Keith worked together at whichever job it was at the time (I alternate riding their coat tails, so it's hard for me to keep up with when things happen). We developed a tradition of taking a break at 3:00 to grab a Coke. Thanks to Google, 3:00 is also The Hour of the Monkey, even though it's 2 hours long. 3:00 became Monkey Time not long after, and calls for Monkey Time would have us grab change and head to the vending machine. Keith also referred to this as Jingle Time, as a past job had a coworker who would walk by and jingle the change in his pocket as the sign for taking a break and grabbing a beverage.

Last week, thanks to Zoom, the 3 of us had a virtual Monkey/Jingle time.

That's now a recurring meeting on our calendars. Even if you're stuck at home, take some time to virtually socialize with your friends.

Foundry gaming miniatures random

Mall Is Ready For Tenants


The final 5% of the outside of the mall ended up being 4%. The roof sections had a piece to add to cover seams. These were a little more straightforward than how I was interpreting the instructions. I can see Alabama humidity and the durability of Elmer's glue requiring some touch-up adhesion as time marches on.

There are notches at the top/bottom of the outer brick walls. I think these come into play when adding a second story - which is part of my long term plan. There are single bricks and vent covers to place over the notches, but I'm going to wait and see how the second floor attaches before going forward on that part. I'd hate to cover up a notch that's needed to keep something above in place.

For now, I'm calling the exterior of the mall done.

What does one do with an empty mall? Stock it full of store stuff! The kit came with various shelves, counters, and sellable goods. ½ the instructions are for putting all of that together. And that's what I'm going to do. Later. Next I'm going to take a mall-break and paint some more of those minis I primed in December.

4ground 4ground-mall

Entranced Mall


I'm not sure if it really took 2 weeks, but the mall now has entrances. I must admit, putting together the entrances was boring. I'm not really sure why, but I kept finding other things to do. Cutting 5 sheets of clear plastic into windows for roofs and doors may have been a bit part of it. Cutting clear plastic - not fun. Sandwiching little bits of that clear plastic between 2 pieces that make up a door - not too awfully bad. Repeating for 20 doors - back to not fun.

The basic (kit) mall is 95% done. There are some pieces that go on the roof sections that should cover up gaps. There's also some vents and little bits that go on the outer brick sides of the stores. At that point, I will have a little empty mall. There are still pieces in the kit to help fill the mall out - furniture and stuff for sale. Signage - there's signage to put up. That's where I'll have fun.

Now I'm going to take a little mall break. Not sure what I'll do for the next week or so. Probably paint a mini to 2. I don't think I'll be as productive as Christian, but just enough of a break to where I look forward to getting back to the next stage of the mall.

4ground 4ground-mall

Covered Mall


In the time of being socially distant while working from home and avoiding the plague, some more progress has been made on the 4Ground mall. The mall roof section is now done. The only hard part here was matching up the parts with the directions. There were 2 of everything, as there are 2 roof sections, and within each section there are parts that look awfully similar but are sized ever so differently.

I also managed a return to my resized map tiles. Nothing noteworthy to show graphics-wise, but my homemade vise for flattening out the tiles is working well. It's a couple of pieces of wood (shelf cut courtesy of Lord Ford) with some trigger clamps to bear down on everything. Between glue and humidity these things bow a lot, and this seems to help.

I also got the Anycubic Printer back to level and started cranking out interior clutter for mall stores - checkout stands, shelves, trash cans, etc. On Thursday I saw the spool of filament was getting low. I still had the unopened package of filament that came with the printer, but to be safe (in this age of socially distant plague) I went ahead and ordered a couple more spools as I've got a lot of printing planned.

With that said, there may now be a little printing break as I learn/figure out how to edit STL files in Fusion360. All the examples I've found so far are for earlier versions of Fusion with menu options that I don't have.

3D Printer 4ground-mall hobbies

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As always, correct spelling is optional in any blog entry. Keep in mind that any links more than a year old may not be active, especially the ones pointing back to Russellmania (I like to move things around!).

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