Saturday, December 4, 2010

Valley of Isk Website is Live!!

I am happy to announce that the Valley of Isk now has a new web store!
Valley of Isk Miniatures

The store currently features scratch built products and examples of past custom orders.

Customers can select items to place in their cart and pay for the order securely via Paypal.

The Valley of Isk Blog has been moved over to the new site and I will be continuin to post blog entries from there. All of the content from this site (blogger) has been transferred over and I plan to shut down my blogger site in the near future; perhaps at the start of 2011.

I'll be contacting my blog followers to invite them to follow the new blog and would love to hear feedback, questions or comments about the site and Valley of Isk in general.

Thanks very much for everyone who has followed this blog and I hope to see you at the new blog site soon!

Valley of Isk is also on Facebook

Friday, November 12, 2010

Sneak Peek at the New Website!!

My web designer has been working hard to get my new site up and running, which will feature a web store!!! No more backbreaking ebay fees!!! Yaaaayyy! So here is a sneak peek at the site in progress from about 2 weeks ago; since these pics were sent to me there has been even more design work created. We hope to have the site up by... third week in November... maybe! Then it will be time to fill it up with scratch built goodies for the holiday shoppin'.

More soon!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Valley of Isk on Facebook

Valley of Isk on Facebook

Howdy to All!

A few weeks ago I created a new Facebook page for Valley of Isk Miniatures.

I have been teaching a class at the Community School of Music and Arts on "Making Scenes in Miniature", and am posting pics of the student projects as we progress. The class runs through mid November.

In other news, I have a web designer creating the new site for Valley of Isk, which is set to launch before the end of October, and will feature a web-store with scratch built items available. This will be a great expansion of my little business, and allow me to close the Ebay store (which takes a BIG bite out of one's profits).

I have had quite a bit on my schedule lately and have been unable to get in to the workshop, but hope to be back on track sometime later this week, with some pics of works in progress, so stay tuned and I will see y'all soon!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Valley of Isk Miniatures: New Ebay Store

I am starting phase one of a long term plan to expand my scenic business: an Ebay store. Phase one will consist of scratch built items, many of which are coming from my personal collection. Phase two will introduce a standardized catalog of pieces, and will begin to incorporate some cast bits in resin and plaster. Phase three will be the unveiling of a product line of cast scenic items for a variety of genres.

Here is the url for the Valley of Isk ebay Store:
Valley of Isk Miniatures on Ebay

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Badlands Set II

A new set of Badlands has ben posted to my miniatures site, check it out for more pics:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

En Route

Travellers en route to Ravenswood.

Many exciting projects are underway and many new transitions have come in to my life.

I'll be focusing intently on my comission work and other endeavors (i.e., music, writing & film) for the road that lies ahead so a brief rest will be taken from posting to the Valley of Isk. I plan to begin updates again starting in July or perhaps August, and in the meantime I'll continue to document all of the works in progress as I go.

See you all soon!


Friday, May 14, 2010

The Chasm: Complete set with the Deep Woods

Here are a few pics demonstrating the modular aspect of he Chasm pieces, combined with some massive redwood trees from my Deep Woods project.

I threw down some Beastmen and Wood Elf models from my collection to give a sense of the scale of the pieces, which are probably some of the largest pieces I have made to date.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The CHASM: Cliff Walls

The Chasm set is designed to be group of modular pieces that can form a single cliff face or a deep gorge. These two pieces are the wall sections. The front side of the walls has a beveled base, and the back surface has also been given detail in case the players need it.

These pieces would be particularly exciting with a river below and a rope bridge crossing the span... or a giant tree trunk for Kong to toss down.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

the CHASM: Cave Entrance

Part one of several blog entries on the CHASM project from November, 2009.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Making ROCK

Back In November 2009 I made a very large batch of rocky terrain features, including a chasm, some cave pieces and badlands. Due to the cold weather setting in and the large volume of pieces required for these projects, I opted to avoid using my hot wire cutting tools, as the fumes are difficult to exhaust from my basement studio. The Cave pieces were developed by reusing scraps of foam from previous projects, which gives them a nice random appearance and allowed me to clear out some scrap from the supply yard.
A few observations on gluing EPS foam: I used wood glue to adhere the layers of foam used to make the chasm, with toothpicks to reinforce and hold them together. I had to weigh these pieces down in a large stack with a stump, and even after drying for several days, the wood glue was still damp or wet in places. I have since switched to using two or three hot glue guns for large pieces, which necessitates working quickly. There are other options, such as Liquid Nails, but I have found hot glue to give the best and quickest results so far, and it is less toxic.
Another observation about EPS foam is that is not perfectly formed, or perhaps becomes warped during storage and transport. What that results in is the surfaces of two flat sides not being flush when pressed together. In the future I am looking in to finding a good source for larger, thicker blocks of EPS to make the cliffs and chasms with, so that layering will not be necessary. Any excessive gaps were filled with a vinyl spackle.
During the sculpting the foam I experimented with some new tools and techniques as a result of opting against the hot wire cutters. The chasm pieces were textured using a power drill, by running the side of a flat bore bit along the face of the cliff. The bore bits can also work for drilling or digging deep recesses with great results. Other tools used to create contour and shape were a metal sculpting rasp and a wire brush, in addition to the usual box cutters, sheet rock saws and bread knives.
PROPANE!! A propane torch was the final element in forming the rock pieces. The rough shapes required a bit of smoothing, to add a weathered, eroded look and melt off some of the debris and lighter scraps still clinging to them. I took the pieces outside and very lightly ran a propane torch over the surfaces to slightly melt and shrink the foam a bit. I used EXTREME CAUTION to avoid creating or breathing the vapor and fumes. If you are careful enough, the foam will not be burned, and very little hazardous fumes will be created. I used a filter mask in any case, and the wind was also helping to clear fumes away during this process. I would NEVER advise using the propane torch for this method indoors.
The painting process was a big production. I set up some large tables by the grill and base coated everything in a couple of days with Interior matte latex paint. This is durable and very economical, and the best solution for large quantities of terrain features.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Space Junk

Space Junk is a set of obstacles for the Flash Gordon Rocket Ship project; a pulp sci-fi space opera extravaganza!!! There are six pieces of space junk, cobbled together using the scrap materials from dozens of other projects. I am happy to minimize the amount of waste in my workshop by reusing almost all of the scrap at various times.

I first mentioned the Space Junk in October 2009, and am finally getting around to posting the pics... better late than never! Between juggling the many projects I am working on, having a laptop crash and misplacing a flash drive, I was set back a bit in processing the photos for the Valley of Isk, but now all is back on track and I hope to be catching up.

Probably the first question that will come up is "how big is this stuff?". Each piece is approximately 1' tall including the stand, and between 6"-12" wide. Here is a quick preview pic with some rockets and asteroids to give an idea of scale; the rockets are made using plastic Drink cups from Denny's.

There are more space pics on the way, of new rockets, asteroids and gas clouds, so stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Spanish Caribbean Set

I completed the Spanish Caribbean set on commission in March, 2010. They are assembled from resin kits made by Brigade Games

The Hacienda is part of a set of buildings for Spanish Caribbean miniatures gaming and would be great for games such as Gloire and Legends of the High Seas.

The scale of these are close to 25mm, and would be a bit small along side 28mm scale miniatures, but still passable. The quality of the kits are good, but I would be very very careful around the railings and posts on the Hacienda terrace. I opted to have the roof tops removable for the second floors and terrace. To do this for the terrace I installed two support posts on the wall (painted white in the photos) and used a strip of balsa on the underside of the roof as a guide rail. The roof tops are a bit thin so I reinforced them with foam core to keep them from breaking during heated battles.

The bases are MDF. Glues used are epoxy, hot glue and super glue. I filled any gaps with a vinyl spackle.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Docks: Finished!

The Docks are finally complete, and I am pretty happy with the results. I have some revised wharf pieces underway now and will be posting them soon. These are pictured here in their new home on a blue felt water mat. The next step here will be to build the stuff for the basement, including a variety of modular walls and such to make a tavern , warehouse space or dungeon or prison cells.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Killer Cacti

These vicious plants were cobbled together in about three hours for the game “Armageddon Hour” by Ganesha Games.
I used Apoxie Sculpt and toothpicks, the holes for the spikes were made with a dremel. The toothpicks were glued in with super glue.
These pics were snapped prior to finishing the highlights on the bases; there is some desert terrain behind them that is still in 2nd stage painting .
I have heard that Armageddon Hour is a brutal game that is very difficult to win; I’ll be making 3D boards for it this month so stop back for more on that…

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


Here are some pics of 15mm scale Bocage (French Hedgerows in Normandy) recently finished on commission. There are 35 pieces of Bocage in this first set. I will be making additional pieces soon with the ground at a higher level, as I feel these were just a bit on the low side. All of the fences are scratch built from bass wood. I used a low temp glue gun to attach the tree foliage, and a normal glue gun for the hedges.

These are a variation on the bocage tutorial from the D-Day Flames of War supplement. I modified the design by making them a bit wider and rounding off the ends instead of doing a straight cut (90 degree). I felt this would allow them to blend with the table better, and also discovered that corners, t-sections and such are really not necessary; with a rounded end you can but these up against each other with ease. Just make sure the hedge material comes all the way to the end of each piece.

We played a quick game of "Song of Drums and Shakos” by Ganesha Games using 15mm Napoleonics on this table and had a great time!

You may notice a few other scenic items here: vineyards, a villa, and some extra trees, a couple of fields and swamp pieces; these were made by various other terrain artists. Great looking table methinks!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Modular Riverbanks

These Riverbank sections are designed to allow players a flexible system for creating either a wide variety of layouts. Each section is made of EPS foam mounted on MDF and painted with interior matte latex paints. I have illustrated just a few of the possible layouts using these pieces, and included a 28mm scale fantasy ruin (in progress) for scale.

The panels beneath the riverbanks are 2'x4' water and grass boards.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Slums of Bogenhafen WIP (Mordheim)

Here are a few Morheim style ruined buildings I am working on to add to the Bogenhafen Layout.

I have started a few new techniques with my buildings worth noting:

1. Roof Shingles are now made from a thin wood veneer. I cut them in to strips, stack the strips and use a mini-mitre saw to produce them. This gives the shingles a meatier look, plus I can snap them on the fly if I need to fill gaps.

2. Tight Bases: I am now cutting the bases of each building to the exact contour of the footprint (or as close as possible). I noticed in a recent game that we had trouble positioning a model on a corner due to the base sticking out about 1 cm, so I am going to eliminate the excess base material.

3. Banisters / Railings: I have developed a fast technique for railings and banisters. The bottom is foam core, with toothpicks poked in to the foam edge, followed by 2 or three thin strips at the top.

The slums of Bogenhafen are the aftermath of a brutal siege by the Axebite orc tribe. Fierce combat spilled through the North wall of the city and greenskins occupied the neighborhoods on the north side of the river Bogen for nearly three weeks before reinforcements from Altdorf finally arrived to drive the orcs back to their lair in the Grey Mountains.

Efforts to rebuild these devastated areas have been slowed by the expansion of the docklands, leaving the majority of Bogenhafen’s peasantry homeless or living in squalid conditions of ruined homes. There have been numerous requests for relief aid sent to Emperor Karl Franz, but so far Altdorf has been slow to respond.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Modular Wargaming Hills

These hills are designed for maximum battlefield efficiency! Each hill is made to last, mounted on beveled MDF bases, completely textured with sand and light gravel, painted in three shades of latex matte interior paint and flocked with some green stuff.

The hills were cut from pink polystyrene using a jigsaw set at an approximate 30 degree angle, beveled mdf bases ate at 45 degrees. The hills are attached to the mdf via hot glue; I used two hot glue guns simultaneously and you have to work quickly before the glue cools.

The sand and gravel texture is applied by brushing out wood glue then sprinkling the sand over the hills. A roller was used to apply the first shade of dark brown then two lighter shades were dry brushed over the base coat. The flock is applied in the same manner as the sand; glue then sprinkle flock.

A note on angle and texture: I kept the edges of the hills at a fairly sharp angle, as a gaming compromise. Low angle / gradually sloping hills look great, but are nearly impossible to balance miniatures on. I also kept large rocks and pebbles out of my texture so that hills would lay flat on each other when stacked.

Terrain philosophy: I always balance game play with aesthetic value in my terrain pieces. What makes for a great diorama does not always make for a playable piece of terrain that minis can be placed on. I also go for durability as this stuff gets a lot of use and tends to be clunked around during transport and set up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spider Mines

These Spider Mines were built on commission inspired by those pictured on the Combat Zone Chronicles site.

Materials used: wood plug, steel wire, cylindrical shaped beads. I used a dremel tool to drill holes for the legs, eyes, and antennae, and super glue for all bonds. If you look closely you may see the black post supporting each Spider Mine from below.

Spider Mines can scale virtually any terrain feature and are ideal for infiltration missions. Their main drawback is their slow speed (max 7 mph) and the soft whirring sound of the drive shaft powering the legs, which can alert enemy troops to their impending attack…

Monday, February 22, 2010



Ahh, styrofoam packing material; it has been years since I used this stuff as inspiration for a terrain piece (the SCI FI INDUSTRIAL JUNGLE).

This is the beginning of a larger set which will include 4 building structures, 2 raised bridges and a walled courtyard.

I'll be painting this up in the style of the Desert Badlands I finished recently.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Orc Boss-Hut (WIP)


This is the first stage of the Lair of Urktash Axebite, the biggest baddest Black Orc Warboss ever to roam the Grey Mountains!!

Every morning when Urktash wakes up he stands at the door of his hut and bellows a challenge to any orc that thinks he has what it takes to be boss. This inevitably results in a bit of a mess but is great entertainment for the rest of the tribe...


Monday, February 15, 2010

Docks: project update

The Docks are coming along nicely, and I decided that a water table was needed to determine the color pallette before the docks (small ones) and piers (large ones)could be finished.

I have built three piers (and five docks so far. There are a few more designs I may try in the next wave, but these will do for now. Once they are given the x bracing below and the deck has been scratched up for weathering, I'll be able to finish the painting.I will most likely add barnacles to all of them so that they hava an ocean look, even though Bogenhafen is a river town. Ropes are another detail I plan to add as well.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Water Table Finished

I have just completed work on a two panel water table. Here are the details on how they were made:

The basic table sections are constructed with 2'x4' masonite, braced on a frame made of 1"x2" boards. They are heald together during game with two c clamps.

These table sections were recycled; that is to say the original surface was done as a grassland board, textured with cat liter. I own 5 of these panels and don't often have a need for a 10' long table so I decided to scrape two of them down with a rasp to refurbish them as water tables. The original texture of the tables was reinforced with a thin layer of fine sand, primed with gesso, given a thick coat of black latex, then the final waves were painted using matte latex interior paints. After the colors were finished, the table was then sealed with Minwax acrylic gloss varnish.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Foggy Bog

A bog piece for War in the Age of Magic

Although this Foggy Bog is made for 15mm stuff, I could not resist using the pic with one of my 28mm zombies...

I don't own any 15mm models to shoot these pics with. That is a good thing; I have more minis than a sane person needs.

Sacred Shrine

This is a shrine in 15mm for the game War in the Age of Magic.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Storm Cloud 15mm

War in the Age of Magic: STORM CLOUD

This Storm Cloud was made using a can of spray foam insulation, which is messy stuf!!! My first atempt was disastrous. I reccommend latex gloves and newspapers to help contain the mess. The foam was layered over a foam core piece, mounted on a wooden dowel. The lightning is also foam core. The cloud is painted with black matte Latex undercoat, then acrylics.

Chasm of DOOM

More terrain for the War in the Age of Magic 15mm fantasy miniatures game. This piece is the Chasm of Doom, in which unlucky troops may fall to their DOOM while atempting to cross.

Made of Pink Foam and Masonite, painted with acrylics.

Monday, February 8, 2010


These are the Illusion Markers for War in the Age of Magic, a 15mm scale Fantasy miniatures game. The controlling player places three of these on existing terrain sections to indicate that they may be an illusion.

The Illusions are a set of three, made with foamcore, pink insulation foam, MDF and painted with acrylics. The cotton is used to represent clouds over a mountain range. The illusions are not really meant to be in 15mm scale, but a flat representation of something the soldiers might see off in the distance when viewd from their point of view on the table top. My goal was to create something that did not look quite real, to give it a flat quality befitting an illusion or mirage.

Friday, February 5, 2010


The Graveyard is part of a 6 piece set I produced on commission inJanuary 2010, for the game War in the Age of Magic, a fantasy ruleset for 15mm miniatures.

This is the first series of pieces I have done in the 15mm scale, and it was alot of fun! I'll be posting pics of the rest of the set soon; it consists of the following:
1. Graveyard
2. Illusions
3. Storm Cloud
4. Chasm of Doom
5. Foggy Swamp
6. Sacred Shrine

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Docks WIP shots

Aquisition of a mini miter saw from Micro Mark has significantly accelerated production time for the docks of Bogenhafen. I have 3 piers and 5 dock sections assembled. Here are some wip pics to show the progression of the whole layout including the quay. Questions and comments are always welcome. More coming soooooon