Cheater Klobasniks

From time to time I will indulge my heritage and make kolaches and klobasniks. For the uninitiated, kolaches are sweet, klobasniks are meat. There is also a cabbage variant but we do not speak of that one. When I bake kolaches I use a scratch dough based on recipes usually found in church recipe pamphlets with barely decipherable annotations in the margins. This dough can also be used with klobasniks as well but making this dough is an all day affair. When all I want are sausage klobasniks I will usually fall back on my “cheater” dough, frozen dinner rolls. Caveat: spellings of klobasnik vary from Czech to Polish to Slovak and even from region to region. I spell the way I want but feel free to mentally substitute your own version. However if you call them pigs in a blanket please keep it to yourself. While I will not judge you publicly, I will be judging you seven ways to Sunday privately. 🙂

I use Rhodes frozen dinner rolls usually found in a 36 count package.

These are small rounds of frozen dough. Do not use the frozen rolls that are already baked. While those are good for sliders they are terrible for klobasniks. They should look like these:

I will lay these out on a piece of parchment paper on a sturdy baking tray, one dozen per sheet. Let rise for 2.5 to 3 hours. Cover the rising dough with a cloth. Depending on the weather you may want to spray dough lightly with a nonstick cooking spray. Guard cat is optional.

For filling you can have your choice of meats. I usually prefer a Polish Kielbasa which has a nice garlic/black pepper flavor. Basically any type of sausage will do. Jalapeño, cheese, beef, pork, whatever suits your taste buds. My Dallas kid likes an Eckridge brand so that is what is pictured here. I still add garlic and black pepper cuz what does he know. Whether you cut your links in half or use them whole depends on your preference to meat to dough ratio.

Start by stretching the dough ball into a flat circle about the size of your palm.

Place your sausage in the middle and tuck the sides over, giving it a good squeeze to seal. It helps to have the sausage at room temperature and try to keep your finger tips free of grease. Place the sealed roll seam side down on the parchment paper.

Coat each roll with margarine/butter.

Bake at 350 degrees until a nice golden color is achieved. Baking times ranges from 20 to 30 minutes based on your oven, the weather, and your elevation. My oven usually takes 29 minutes, my Moose Lake son’s takes barely over 20.

When done brush immediately with margarine or butter.

Remove to a platter to cool.

I will bag but not seal the klobasniks when cool. I leave them out the first night, moving them to the fridge the next day for longer term storage.

I have tried making kolaches with this dough and failed miserably. The dough continues to rise in the oven and the fruit filling slides right off. Sometime in the near future I will document my made from scratch dough for doing the fruit filled ones.

Fitting square pegs into round holes

One of the problems I encounter in using the 1/72 soft plastics is the presence of figures which just don’t fit the theme or an overabundance of figures of marginal value. That is the case with my Successors project. I have way too many light infantry/skirmishers than I need. Also some of the cavalry are shall we say, less than useful (I only need one Alexander model, not 10). The saving grace in these however is the ease of customization and conversion that plastics afford. Below are some of the conversions I am doing, some easy, some pushing the boundaries of practicality.

Staff Slingers and Javelin men to Slings and City Militia/Tribal warriors

This is an easy one. For some reason the manufacturer of these figures was enamored with staff slings. They also provided a metric crap ton of javelins. I snipped the sling part off the staff and the javelin from the throwing hand of the javelin and glue the sling in its place. Not wanting to waste the staff slinger figure I trim out the staff and replace it with a spear being held at a low angle. This gives me several options. I add a pelte and get a Thracian lowlander. I add a small round shield and he can serve as a poorly armed city militia. If I cut off the base he can also fit into a howdah as a pike for an elephant.

Sword to lance conversion

The second conversion is even more simple. The cavalry provided is split evenly between spears/lances and swords. While ranks of identical lances look cool on the battlefield, a unit of identical word wielding troopers does not. So in this case I simply clip off the sword and replace it with a wire spear. The figure on the right is the original.

Horse Archer to lancer

This one is more complex. Between the various boxes of figures I have about a dozen horse archers dressed in tunic, Greek helmet and bow. For my purposes any horse archers will be dressed in a more Skythian/Persian style. The pose of the archer is very difficult to simply modify. As most plastics the figure is in a flat pose. In this case the bow is held perpendicular to the horse with the left arm outstretched and the right pulling back on an imaginary bow string. If I just replace the bow with a spear I will have a lancer holding his weapon at a 90 degree angle, both impractical in combat and in ranking up figures on a base. So in this case I had to cut the torso just above the sword on the figures side. I then repositioned it so the left arm is pointing just to the left side of the horse. When I glue in the spear it comes close to approximating the look of a kontos being held overhand, stabbing downward. I also trimmed down the helmet to make it look more like the Phrygian helmets in use at the time. The figure does not have much in the way of armor but it will serve as line cavalry well enough.

Alexander: there can be only one.

Every box of the cavalry contained an Alexander figure in his classic pose astride a rearing horse, leopard horse blanket and spear held underarm. Well you only need one of those in an army, not a whole unit of Alex clones. Once again the surfeit of javelins comes in handy. One pose has the Greek helmet they are fond of so a simple head swap is in order. A trim of the helmet crest and an armored cavalryman is produced along with a bare headed, good looking, raggedy ass skirmisher.

I am sure there will be more conversions as I go along. The nice thing about these is that it breaks up the monotony of painting. Next up DIY shields.

My logisticians are a humorless lot … they know if my campaign fails, they are the first ones I will slay. — Alexander the Great

Alexander and his Successors are the the inspiration for my latest project. After conducting an inventory of my miniatures, and succumbing to a too good to pass us deal, I find myself with over 1000 unpainted 1/72 plastic miniatures and a couple of hundred painted in the same scale all dealing with Macedon and its successor states. I decided to tackle this accumulation head on with the following objectives:

  • Paint the unpainted
  • Convert the abundant spares to units more useful
  • Replace wherever possible the plastic spears with wire ones
  • Upgrade old decals made out of true type fonts with more eye catching ones
  • Rebase the already painted miniatures to 60mm wide bases used in Mortem et Gloriam
  • Base the new additions to the same standard.

The fun aspect of this project is that I will be using lots of different techniques to accomplish the above. It is not just sitting and painting endless figures. I will be fashioning my own wire spears, printing my own decals, refinishing some existing painted figures and doing more details on the the bases than a simple flocking.

Today marks the end of week one. I started with washing the new purchases in the dishwasher and gathering together the already primed or painted minis.

The existing miniatures were individually based on either 20x20mm or 25x50mm bases for Warhammer Ancients. With Mortem et Gloriam I had the choice of either basing them like 15mm figures on 40mm wide bases or going to the 25mm scale on 60mm wide. After playing with position I opted to go for the larger scale to provide more room for the cavalry and more opportunity for terraining. Bases are from Litko, and are all 60mm wide and 30, 40 or 60mm deep depending on the troop type.

The shield decals I am using are various images I find on the web and modified in Paint and printed out in a Word document. You can see my previous blog entry for more details. Below is a sample of what I am using.

The wire spears are inspired by a Youtube video I ran across. The key was to use florist wire instead of the stronger piano wire used in more commercial products. It is a bit more bendy but given the number I will be needing and the current costs it is a trade off well worth it.

So far progress is good. I am starting to look at the possible conversions I will need and will detail those in a future blog entry.

And yes my spears have already tasted blood…..

DIY Decals and Greek Hoplons

One of the projects I started recently is a 28mm Spartan army based up for Mortem et Gloriam. I had a stash of Black Tree Designs Spartans primed and mounted on craft sticks ready to go. As I finished each unit I turned to what to do with the shields. While plain bronze or a simple black outline lamda would have been historically accurate I could not help but try to bring a little style to what is a largely plain Spartan appearance (pun intended).

From time to time I have dabbled with printing my own decals on an inkjet printer so I decided to spruce up some lamdas to make the units more eye catching. This entry will outline my process and in particular how I deal with those pesky hoplon shields and their sexy curves.

The process of DIY decals is pretty straightforward:

  • Find or create your image
  • Paste it into a document
  • Print out on decal paper using an inkjet
  • After the ink is dry give it several light coatings of a clear gloss sealer
  • When totally dry cut, trim, soak and apply, usually using some combination of decal softener and setting solution.

My process started with image searching “Spartan shield designs”. For the record I avoid using the images of commercial decals which I find. I quickly came up with several good candidates.

In particular the black and white image is fun. Using Paint I am able to change the colors of the different parts to create different shields. If you find the Paint fill tool only changes the color of a single dot rather than an entire section you might have a grey scale rather than monochrome image. In that case it is best to save the image as a monochrome bmp image which reduces the colors to just black and white. Then save that image as a 256 bit color image. This then should allow you to change the color of an entire area at once. Note I am a complete duffer when it comes to the graphic arts. If you are experienced you will probably be using Photoshop or Gimp and vector graphics. For me Paint and bmps and pngs are good enough.

After editing and saving the shields I import them into a Word document where I can resize and duplicate the images and prepare the print. The end product is something like this:

After printing and sealing the decal sheet it was time to start applying the decals and this is where the shape of the hoplon will give you trouble. The shields are painted white and then given a coat of clear acrylic (Future floor wax) to provide a smooth surface. The curved shape of the shield makes it difficult for the decal to lie flat on the surface. Instead it crimps and sticks up in various random locations. To alleviate this I cut small snips around the edges to help them fold down. After experimenting I found 5 snips to be sufficient to achieve a relatively smooth application.

It was then I noticed a new problem. The decal solution seemed to keep making the edges flip up like the brim of a baseball rally cap. No matter what I did they edge refused to lay down. I tried painting some white glue under the edge of the decal and that seemed to mostly solve the problem but required me to keep applying pressure to the edge while the glue set.

I stepped back and rethought the process. Instead of decal solution I painted the shields with a little dilute white glue.

I then proceeded to soak and apply the decals to the shields.

At this point they are still bumpy. I then place a piece of foam over the decals and put a weight on top of the sponge.

That works to provide pressure on the edges while keeping the decal centered on the shield. After a bit the weight and foam is removed.

The edge is then painted to get rid of the white and the back is painted bronze. A couple of coats of clear acrylic help to seal the deal.

All that remains is supergluing the shields to the figures. To do this I place a drop of glue on the figure’s arm and a drop of accelerant to the inside of the shield. Then bring the two together and hold for 5-7 seconds.

These two units will be joining the army with units equipped with hand painted shields. Although my hand painting isn’t too bad, after painting almost 100 shields it is somewhat of a relief to work with the decals.

And with the next project being a 20mm Successor army with shields like these I will definitely be cranking out the decals.

The Blog that will not die

It seems I am averaging a post once every two years. Well I resolve to start doing better. A lot has changed in the past two years. I have created a mancave out of the garage and undertaken a pretty large reorganization of my hobbies. I am dabbling in 3d printing using Prusa FDM printers and boy what a rabbit hole that is. But probably the biggest change in my life is my retirement. Back in the early spring I started seeing all the crap coming down the pike with COVID. Coupled with upcoming changes at my job I decided to chuck the 100 mile a day commute and become a house hubby as my wife continues to work toward her own retirement.

After spending several months working around the house and taking a vacation to Moose Lake, MN to visit my son and his wife and kids, I am turning to doing more with my hobbies. I hope to pick up several long dormant projects as well as indulge in some new madness. I hope to use this blog to chronicle my misadventures as well as serving as a motivation tool.

So come along, hang tight and hopefully be amused.