Tuesday 14 May 2019

The "Silk Dress Balloon" Gazelle

Unlike the US, the Confederacy had no Access to a lot of White silk so used Coloured silk from a Dress maker supplier. Silk because it´s light and they then covered it with varnish to make it gas tight. 
Link to a pic of the fabric used to make the Gazelle. I went for a Overall colour as it´s a model, not an historical Repro.

How to
High density foam..the type used for cladding houses. Cut it into 2 blocks. Make sure the blocks are a lot bigger than the size of Balloon intended. Stick the 2 blocks together using toothpicks. 
The Basic shape is created with a sharp carpet knife. Basically hack away, removing Corners first until you´ve got the desired shape.
Always cut away from yourself as occasionally you´ll hit a toothpick which, with a bit of pressure, will cut through but  when it gives,  the blade slices through the foam behind it at Speed. Not good if any part of your anatomy is in Close proximity to the blade. 

Take both halves apart, remove the toothpicks  and hollow out the inside. This reduces the weight, not by much but better than leaving it solid. Leave about 1cm aorund the sides ..too thin and it makes it difficult to fit together
When that´s finished, glue with PVA. I used  toothpicks shoved into the sides to pin it tightly together Fill any holes with wall filler and when dry use sanddpaper to smooth any edges.
Jam something up the vent end as  holder for painting and later modelling stages. I used a thin rounded metal file..being a file it has a better grip on the styrofoam than say a pen or paintrush handle

Next bit, after the paint has dried..adding the ropes. Basically, I don´t try to  over think it. 4 Need to be roughly evenly spaced at 90° to each other for attaching to the basket  but the rest are basically added "more or less"
I´m sure that they could be added so they create an even finish but it´s for wargaming and not a Display Piece so the General effect is what´s wanted...well, at least in my case.
Looks horrible eh? The PVA dries clear and adds a bit of a "it´s been painted with varnish to make it gas tight" effect.
The basket.
How big? I´ve made mine so that it´s 1.5 cm´s high and each side is 2 cm´s across. It Looks comparitvely bigger than how the baskets look in the photos but I have to consider the bod´s base.
Basically thin Card marked out, folded and glued into shape. Acrylic paints for the design...which btw,  I´ve made up but kept it similar to the Union Version.
When painted flrist wire (0.8mm) can be added. Just lie the basket on it´s side, add two rods to the bottom two Corners using a thick sausage of PVA.
When totally dry, turn the other side face down and repeat. The two previous rods Need supporting but to do that, just push a Piece of blue foam that´s been cut to size under them.
When totally dry, I left them overnight,  bend the rods, at about 3 cm´s or so just above the basket slightly outwards. Then bend the top ends, again at about 3cm´s, at more or less a Right angle inwards. Stick the ends into the ballon at equal (or nearabouts) spacing between the hanging ropes,  into the balloon. They won´t need glueing unless they were bent too far outwards. 
Turn the balloon upside down and place it in the pot. Using florist wire, create a square and attach it where the wires bend slightly outwards (Just above the Basket)
Glue with cyonate and leave to dry before attaching the hanging ropes.
The stand. Mine is made using a cork Coaster. After creating the winding gear using a bit of sprue and some basic triangles cut from a CD case, add 3 lengths of florist wire at equal spaces...for those who want to be exact......….120° apart.
Bend 1cm  of the top of each wire  so they end up horizontal. On top of them glue a square of thin Card that´s the same size as the Bottom of the Basket.
Paint all the wires as rope.. A mix of mid Brown, black , White and yellow seems to come close to looking like rope. You Need to Experiment with the mix but who cares wether it´s too White or Brown or whatever?