Sunday, December 12, 2010

Mushroom Buildings!

OK, so they are not really mushroom buildings, but they are made from mushroom containers...

For me, one of the most fun elements of building scenery is finding common, everyday items that can be turned into scenery and models.  This is one of those instances.

I was grocery shopping with my wife a few weeks back, and while perusing the 'fresh produce' isle I happened across a container of mushrooms.   I was struck by the unusual shape of their little plastic container, which when turned upside down reminded me of a building or bunker with structural supports along the walls.  So I purchased the mushrooms, and several salads later I was ready to turn their container into a Star Wars Tatooine-style building!

The problem with these containers is that they are made of very lightweight plastic, which would not hold up well to the abuses of most gamers, myself included.  However, since these are just vaccu-formed shapes, they can be easily used as molds for something more durable, like plaster.  I cut a slightly smaller shape out of styrofoam, so that the building would be lighter, put the shape into the container leaving about half an inch between the shape and the interior walls of the container, and then poured the plaster in.  The styrofoam floats on top the wet plaster, so I weighted the top down with some heavy books (wrapped in plastic, of course) and left it to dry.  An hour later the mold is done, and viola -- instant shape!  While the basic shape was still fresh from the mold, I cut the windows into the side (plaster is very easy to cut with a scalpel for a few hours after it comes out of the mold.)

(This photo shows the blue foam suspended in the plaster, for lightness.)
Next, I put a dome onto the top (half of a plastic Christmas ornament), and added an archway and door (I made made mine from putty, plasticard, and parts from my bits box, but there are LOTS of manufacturers who make similar sci-fi doors which would work great -- Armorcast, Scotia-Grendel, and Antenocitis Workshop all make some).  Once all these were put onto the basic shape, I filled in any gaps with some filler putty, and then textured the entire building with Herb Gundt's famous "Sandstorm Technique".  The chimney was a little part out of my bits box.  The whole thing was then mounted onto a piece of particle board and then painted and weathered.  Easy!

This was such an easy project, a welcome break after the long ordeal of Spaceport Speeders!  I've since discovered several other similar shapes at the same grocery store, all in the mushroom section (a slightly bigger container for the 'stuffing mushrooms', and a thinner, longer container that had the 'organic mushrooms'.  I'll be making a few more similar buildings with these in the future, once I get a little free time.  I've included a photo of some of the different shapes.

(some of the different shapes I found...)

Oh yeah, the grocery store is called Meijer, I think it is a chain all across the midwest.

Here are a couple more shots of different angles:

Front View

Rear view.
Overhead view.


  1. That's really inspired. Not sure if I understand the styrofoam part. You just put it in before the plaster, as a space filler? I'd love to see a pic of that if possible on your next building. Very well done.

  2. Yes, the styrofoam is to make the casting effectively hollow, and therefore much lighter. (A solid plaster casting would be very heavy and much more expensive.) I used a hot-wire cutter to cut a blue-foam piece that fit nicely inside the container, with about 1/2 inch on all sides. Once the plaster is poured in, the foam will float to the top, which means it will effectively be on the bottom of the finished casting, since the piece will be turned over.

    I'll take a photo of one of the other pieces I have in progress and upload it in a day or so.

  3. Chris that is great and I want to do something like it myself (just another thing on the list). Can you explain the Sandstorm technique you talk about?

  4. iv bought a load of the star wars minis in order to something like this. i like your biuldings and will try the techniques out. keep postin'!

    are you repainting the minis?

  5. Very good - thanks for posting the tip.

    And so much better than being kept in the dark and fed on...........


  6. OK, I added a picture of a plaster casting, with the blue-foam spacer inside. Hope this helps!

  7. Thank you very much! Consider this idea officially swiped...LOL.

  8. so whats with the sand storming you just toss sand onto it?

  9. Brilliant, I totally love it. Inspired, simple and (I suspect) extremely satisfying in both creatve terms and the feeling that you've saved yourself a few bucks.

    Nice work Chris, that's my favourite blog read of the weekend so far.

    Would you mind if I added a couple of your pics to my gallery blog to show my readers what you've done ? (

    Keep on sharing and inspiring us.

    All the best,

    my WFB blog
    my Battle Reports

  10. Hey Sigmar,

    please feel free to use some pictures, but please include a link and back here.