J here with the ongoing drama of Hirst Arts' Castlemolds. As I discussed last time, these are silicon molds that let you make miniature castle parts. But what can we make other than chess boards and (presumably) castles? Well, I'm glad you asked.
As this isn't necessarily a step-by-step tutorial, I'll refrain from the "You Will Need" of our other projects and instead point out that I own maybe seven molds, of which I probably only used parts from four molds in either of these projects. But if you want to build a business card holder or incense burner of your own, follow along!
Business Card Holder
I've joked for a while that I'd build my friends completely sweet fantasy business card holders. I started playing with some cast bricks and started to rough out some idea of what I'd need. Business cards are 3.5" wide, so I knew I needed a 4" width to keep them from getting wedged in the holder and give them a pleasing amount of negative space around them. As the standard block width is 1/2", that meant a width of 5", overall. the base was originally a little deeper, but I consulted with A and she pointed out that it maybe shouldn't take over her entire desk, so I kept it to under 2". Your design can be a 16" by 12" crypt diorama, but the actual card space only needs 2" x 5", max.
Not like this, but more like this...
Diamond floor was eventually scrubbed due to geometry.
After playing with them like the sweet LEGO they are, I finalized my look and glued them up. I use actual LEGO forms for all my straight edge and 90-degree needs, so keep a few on hand for such. (You could also make forms from foamcore or something, but I like being able to customize my forms)
Turns out, I only needed 1-3/4" of base for my design, so I had to trim my Superblack/cardstock base to match. Between how you scrape or sand the pieces, the dimensions will likely be a bit weird at the end, so I shifted my parts to line up how I wanted and trimmed off the 1/32" overhand at the edge freehand with a large box cutter blade.
I washed the whole structure in my Future Black Wash (tm) (equal parts black acrylic and Future floor polish + 2 parts water) to darken the base color of the gray and deepen the shadows in the cracks. Then, a three part drybrush regimen of a heavy medium gray -> light gray -> light white on the top/edges. I considered color and additional whatsits (like a Sculpey mustache on the front. Seriously) but decided the Austere Gothic Badass thing worked fine on its own. Bam!
I don't know about you, but I prefer cone incense to stick. I prefer the smaller foot print of the burner and it feels like simpler cleanup all around. So, I made one of my own when the commerical options weren't suitable.
The first road I traveled down was blockier and aggressive. While it was cool, it wasn't as open as I was hoping for. The point, after all, is for air and smoke to get in and out freely and my initial design (though remarkably villainous) was not as effective for that. I'll revisit it as an evil HQ for some Battletech scenery or something.
So the next look is heavily inspired by the corner units of the chess board I built years ago. A solid base hides the cone from view, while the rest of the structure allows air access. I originally considered an almost exact copy of the chess board corner, but to hollow out that structure would have left big chunks supported only by weedy little columns. I know that can handle the weight, it's just a matter of breaking the darn thing with such a small surface area for glue. So, the inspiration became a fantasy road-side shrine to a mysterious god. I imagine the hooded figures nearly man-sized, making the whole structure 22-23' tall in scale. But for us, only 5-1/2". Much more manageable.
Attached is some comparison shots of the paint process: Black wash, medium drybrush, light drybrush is just the same. I left off the white pass to leave it darker and instead lightened the statues for an old marble look (with added khaki and grey washes for depth and age) and a red-tile roof for some contrast. The steel gates got a little shiny for my tastes, so on went a miniature application of the rust technique from the copper signs, which I've touched up in the final pics with a stipple of steel to break up the obviously-painted look in these process shots.