Here are three versions of the same of thing more or less. I had these boys knocking around for a while whilst the inner workings (of the part of my brain that actually works) did a bit of imagineering (huh?) about how to do the explosions.
Looking at paintings of troops in battle and to a lesser extent film of explosions its quite clear that when a Napoleonic howitzer shell explodes it caused a lot of noise a great deal of smoke full of bits of soil, grass and chunks of iron – most of which seemed to miss people, and really not much else. Casualties appear to be knocked down rather than blown up into the sky.
Scary – very much, a hazard to most, but deadly to only a few. The conundrum was to model something that could clearly cause death or serious injury to the soldiers on the base, but looked fleeting or ‘wil’o’the wisp’ like – soon dissipated.
I think I have got it just about right with the skills I have.
It starts as a small ball of milliput drilled to take some small pieces of white pipe cleaner. This assembly is painted yellow with bits of black and mid grey. Once stuck to the base, with the pipe cleaners pointing in various directions I took some wool. This particular wool is actually Harris Tweed wool picked up last year. It has some lovely colours in it browns blues greens and off whites. These were glues around the base of the blast and teased out until the threads were very open and you could just see the ‘yellow’ of the explosion. Above and around this I put some stuff called Kapok which is very fine open weave cotton (actually I am not actually sure it is woven as such) Its sort of like teddy bear stuffing but much less dense. It is white or off white so I coloured it greyish in patches.Once fixed in place it was further teased out.
White glue was dotted around all over and used dried tea leaves scattered liberally over. Some catch the glue others find themselves stuck in the fibres.I tried to glue some lumps of garden earth on it took but they didn’t take.
I glued scatter and flock to paper painted brown, and cut very small bits off this and glued these on to the smoke to simulate disturbed clods.