Monday, March 21, 2016

The Siren Song of the Gabion

It's strange how sometimes simple things can capture your imagination. A gabion is little more than a big open-ended basket full of dirt but I've always been fascinated by the look of them. And yet I've never gotten the chance to make any due to never gaming a time period where they would be appropriate. ( I suppose I could have made some to go with the cannon in my Warhammer Empire army, but they misfired and exploded so often that they would have served more as protection for the rest of my army from cannon shrapnel than anything else.)

So when I decided to do some 30 Years War the first thing I wanted to make was some gabions. There are a lot of nice resin and even plastic models out there but I decided to make mine from scratch out of wire.

My first attempt showed it was a little harder than I first thought. I salvaged some different sizes of copper wire from an old light fixture for the uprights and used some thin florists wire for the weaving. My first method was to stick the uprights into a piece of pink foam and weave the wire around them. In order to get the wire to look right you need an uneven number of support poles. Unfortunately the pink foam didn't hold them well enough and when I resorted to superglue to reinforce the structure it ate away at the foam making the situation even worse. I still ended up with two usable gabions even though they look like they were made by some drunken sappers.

My first two done. The Saxon is only for scale but looks doubtful about this being the future of warfare.  

For the third attempt I drilled holes in some scrap wood to make a jig to hold the uprights. This worked out much better although there was some difficulty extricating it once complete.

Just starting to weave the gabion on the jig.

Next step was filling them with dirt. In this case I used some pink foam to plug up most of it and then smooshed a mix of sand, paint, and matte medium into the nooks and crannies. Next time I'll probably coat the inside with the dirt mixture first so that it presses up against the inside of the wicker work and then fill the rest with foam.

As is the norm I forgot to take pictures of the rest of the intermediate steps. This is just before getting ready to paint. 

I glued my three gabions together and I embedded them into a caulk base. After that it was finished up similar to my fields. There's room for improvement in the process but I think they weren't to difficult to make so I'm going to put together a few more sections to make a redoubt.

Merlin inspects the finished work.


  1. Oh wow, now that's dedication to the cause, but they look all the better for being scratch built.

  2. Once you get them started they are actually rather relaxing to make. A bit like basket weaving. I've been trying to do the weave on one each night while watching TV.


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