Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
MrNutt

Questions about fancy basing techniques

Recommended Posts

For those of you who use sand/flock/static grass, how do you go about applying them to your models? I have been using superglue to stick sand to my bases before priming. I avoided pva school glue with older models because I heard the gases can cause lead rot. I tried it with some plastic gw models but I found that the glue I was using (Elmer's school glue) didn't result in a good permanent solid finish. I had to put matte sealer on top. Any tips on a good type of glue for this?

 

I am about to paint some 15mm models and I want to base them all alike. I have some coat d'arms textured earth paint coming and some static grass. My thoughts are that I will wait to apply them until after I have gloss varnished the models but before I dullcote them?

 

I do tend to bury the feet of my models a bit with my basing. The only alternative I can think of though would be investing in a jewelers saw to cut the models' feet off their bases.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use Aleen's Tacky Glue for gluing sand to my bases.  I used to use Elmer's, but Elmer's has a higher water content.

For static grass, I use a generic variety of superglue. 

 

I'd never heard that the off-gasses of PVA glues can cause lead rot.  Considering most of the off-gas is water, I'd be surprised.  But not looking up the details I won't comment further. 

 

Lately, I've varnished my models and then applied static grass.  I usually use a spray varnish, and if I spray too much the varnish will frost the grass, which makes it kinda look like there's been an overnight frost, but not what I usually want on my minis.

 

The 15mm models you're going to paint . . . I'd probably mix the pva with paint and apply it to the base, and then add flock on top of it.  Static grass on 15mm is really tall, although that might be the effect you're going for.  Dullcoat before or after, it probably won't make much difference as long as you do it lightly.

  • Like 3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I use plain old Elmer's mixed with brown or green paint (either craft or latex house paint from the mistake shelf) and brush it on the base after I've finished painting the model and applied a brush-on varnish coat to it.  I then spot glue, using Aleene's Tacky, any detail bits of grass or brush or sticks or stones that I want; then spray with Dullcote.

 

Like Doug's Workshop I have never heard of the pva releasing harmful gases. And I have minis based with various white glues that are over 20 years old and show no sign of damage.  

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Show a pic of your mini's so we can get a better idea what you're going after.

 

White glue, gesso, paint. You can also use matte medium. Usually, I'll paint or wash or whatever on top of the base material (except static grass), which helps keep it stuck to the base or even sealed.

 

Static grass: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2010/03/applying-static-grass.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It is probably worth remembering that the American Elmer's brand glue is meant for school children, and not just the **bright, clever ones.

 

One variety is water soluble after it cures and dries.

 

 

**Don't eat paste kids!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PVA glue is Polyvinyl Acetate. 

 

Despite the name, and despite it being manufactured with acetic acid (vinegar), which is the primary cause of lead rot, it is acid-neutral and not considered particularly harmful to lead or to paper.  Indeed, it is sometimes used as an archival glue by book restorers.

 

Elmer's and other brands of school glue are slightly more acidic, not quite the level of yogurt.  I don't know if that would cause more problems for lead minis.  On the whole if I need white glue I use archival PVA glue.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding lead rot, how old are your minis?

 

I understood that minis from the last 15-20 years are all essentially lead free and that tin is the main component (90+%) in white metal casting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Regarding lead rot, how old are your minis?

 

I understood that minis from the last 15-20 years are all essentially lead free and that tin is the main component (90+%) in white metal casting.

There are companies that still cast lead minis to this day.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mostly use PVA/Elmers thinned about 1:1 when attaching flock or static grass. IME, the thinned stuff actually attaches to the flock better than unthinned, possibly because of a lower surface tension. I don't much care for super glue, in part because of its outgassing, but everything's a tradeoff. Choose your issues to avoid; and mitigate the rest. You can't avoid everything.

 

On lead minis: Lead/tin alloys are pretty good about resisting lead rot. It's very uncommon to see it in any figure made in the last 30 years or so. Most US figure companies making figures intended for RPGs use very low lead-content alloys these days, which are essentially immune to the issue. Historical wargames figures and European castings are more likely to have significant lead content, but see above re: lead rot.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd never heard that the off-gasses of PVA glues can cause lead rot.  Considering most of the off-gas is water, I'd be surprised.  But not looking up the details I won't comment further. 

 

I'm not certain of the veracity, but if you do a search for "PVA Lead Rot" you can find people positing it as a possible factor.

 

Show a pic of your mini's so we can get a better idea what you're going after.

 

White glue, gesso, paint. You can also use matte medium. Usually, I'll paint or wash or whatever on top of the base material (except static grass), which helps keep it stuck to the base or even sealed.

 

Static grass: http://fromthewarp.blogspot.com/2010/03/applying-static-grass.html

 

I am thinking of putting some patchy static grass (maybe I can trim it even with a razor blade) like is shown in that link. There is a picture of the sort of thing I'm painting on this page:

http://www.15mm.co.uk/products/hot99-skeleton-eternal-guard(I placed a big order with them one week before they did a free international shipping deal, d'oh)

 

Regarding lead rot, how old are your minis?

 

I understood that minis from the last 15-20 years are all essentially lead free and that tin is the main component (90+%) in white metal casting.

 

I have been trying to collect some older miniatures from eBay. The oldest I have so far are from the 1980s. I am aiming to build a collection that represents each manufacturer. In some cases these are models where there don't even seem to be any assembled/painted examples online so if I can I want them to last forever once they are painted.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PVA probably isn't a problem, but there certainly are other glues if you prefer.

 

I have a few vintage '80s and '90s lead figures. The ones I haven't painted I have primed, on the principle that a layer of (alkaline) acrylic paint may provide a little buffering against acid.

 

I also pried a few off old wooden bases. Wood really is a serious threat for lead rot, as it naturally outgasses acetic acid.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, right. While I haven't heard of any untoward incidents, oil paints are naturally acidic. I would not use them on lead figures.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lead rot relies on several things:

1)  Exposure to acid.  Historically, this seems to have been acetic acid, but I would think formic acid would do the same thing, as formic acid is generated from decaying organic matter (like old paper from blister packs).

2) Exposure to carbon dioxide.  Which is pretty much everywhere on the planet.

3) It also appears that a humid environment is necessary. Say, for example you store your miniatures in a basement, then I would worry about lead rot.

4)  Poor lead.  Impurities in the lead will help the process along.  In fact, that seems to be the main thing that pops up.  You don't hear about this from fishermen, and it's doubtful that firearms enthusiasts are aware of it, although most ammunition is plated in copper, with a lead core (away from the environmental factors 1-3).

 

So, as a chemist, I will say that PVA glue is pretty much the last thing I'd worry about.  The "acetate" in "polyvinyl acetate" is very stable, otherwise you wouldn't want to use it as a glue.  Finally, once you prime and paint the figure, you've sealed away the lead from exposure to the first three of the items I listed.

 

Now, if you're collecting miniatures from the 80s, I'd worry about it a little more, depending on the manufacturer.  Would I worry about it beyond making sure the miniatures I bought were free of it?  Nope.  Lead rot isn't contagious, it exists only as a function of the environment. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lead rot relies on several things:

1)  Exposure to acid.  Historically, this seems to have been acetic acid, but I would think formic acid would do the same thing, as formic acid is generated from decaying organic matter (like old paper from blister packs).

2) Exposure to carbon dioxide.  Which is pretty much everywhere on the planet.

3) It also appears that a humid environment is necessary. Say, for example you store your miniatures in a basement, then I would worry about lead rot.

4)  Poor lead.  Impurities in the lead will help the process along.  In fact, that seems to be the main thing that pops up.  You don't hear about this from fishermen, and it's doubtful that firearms enthusiasts are aware of it, although most ammunition is plated in copper, with a lead core (away from the environmental factors 1-3).

 

So, as a chemist, I will say that PVA glue is pretty much the last thing I'd worry about.  The "acetate" in "polyvinyl acetate" is very stable, otherwise you wouldn't want to use it as a glue.  Finally, once you prime and paint the figure, you've sealed away the lead from exposure to the first three of the items I listed.

 

Now, if you're collecting miniatures from the 80s, I'd worry about it a little more, depending on the manufacturer.  Would I worry about it beyond making sure the miniatures I bought were free of it?  Nope.  Lead rot isn't contagious, it exists only as a function of the environment.

 

Lead rot sort of is contagious. Acetic acid (also formic acid, but this seems less common) catalyzes a reaction that creates lead carbonate (which is the white lead salt that is referred to as lead rot.) As a catalyst, at the end of the reaction it is released again, so it can spread from piece to piece within the same enclosed environment. The biggest prevention technique seems to be adequate airflow, to reduce concentrations of acetic acid vapor.

 

Full article from the Curator of Naval Ship Models:

 

http://www.navsea.navy.mil/Home/Warfare-Centers/NSWC-Carderock/Resources/Curator-of-Navy-Ship-Models/Lead-Corrosion-in-Exhibition-Ship-Models/

 

I'll note that they list PVA as a possible cause, but their list of possible causes includes a particularly long list of things including a variety of cloths, unwashed pebbles and sand, plastics of a variety of types (including acrylics), many sorts of paints, stains, and varnishes, ....

 

I've been buying miniatures since the '70s, have lived in a variety of climates, and not been meticulous in caring for my figures and have never seen a problem. This is admittedly anecdotal, so it's not my fault if you treat it as data, but I will say that I'm not especially worried.

 

ETA:

 

"Recent testing done by the NSWC Materials Laboratory for us indeed confirmed that there were minute amounts of antimony and tin and other metals in some lead ship model castings which corroded, but the amount of lead corrosion appeared in positive proportion to the purity of the lead used in the fitting. In other words, the purer the lead, the more readily the part was affected by acetic acid.(24) Contrary to our first thoughts, antimony, copper, and tin in lead castings apparently tend to retard or reduce the formation of lead carbonate."

 

This would explain why more recent materials would be more resistant to lead rot. Early figures tended to be very high lead content, while later figures used complex alloys.

 

"We have found that brushing off the corrosive byproducts and repainting the affected fittings only serve as a temporary and cosmetic repair. The parts will begin to bloom again if they remain within the same acid-laden micro-environment. A variety of paints, clear coatings, cyanoacrylate glues, and even automobile battery terminal paint have been tried with no appreciable abatement found.(25) Indeed, many of these coatings may actually contribute to the problem."

 

So painting/priming doesn't really help.

Edited by Doug Sundseth
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...