The Waving Flag: Hobby Overkill

Sunday 16 August 2020

Hobby Overkill

This morning I was perusing the list of new posts on the Lead Adventure Forum when a post piqued my interest; not because of the specific content but because of the behaviour it exemplified.

It started with a simple plea for help and advice.  These often start with "how do you ..."  or "have you had a problem with ..." or some such.  The classic subjects are glue, primer, varnish, and ground work.  We've all seen them and been amazed by the sheer breadth of options (opinions?) that resulted.

True to form what followed this particular request was a series of posts, including one from me, which each provided a sure fire recipe to address the problem.  All of them different; many of them overly convoluted and complex.  It was the latter recipes that set me thinking.

As hobbyists we spend inordinate amounts of time painting and modelling using all sorts of materials and products.  Some are specially designed for hobbyists, many are not.  Some of the latter work well, some don't.  We end up developing techniques & recipes that suit us and the materials to hand.  So far so good.

Understand Your Materials
The problems begin when we are confronted by problems that are essentially chemical in nature. For example it's difficult to stick sand to plastic or metal with PVA.  It's not impossible just difficult.  PVA is water based.  Plastic and metal both repel water.  Too much water in the PVA can lead to all sorts of problems.  Once you understand this it is an easy technique to master and convoluted multi-step techniques are really unnecessary.

Clearly, some recipes contain extra steps to compensate for the misuse of products.  For example cheap car primer, designed for ferrous metals, is frequently used to prime lead or pewter models.  Many users then go on to apply multiple coats of varnish because "otherwise the paint rubs off".  However, no amount of varnishing will compensate for a poorly performing priming coat.  Choosing the right primer will reduce the need for extra coats of varnish saving time and money.

Simplicity vs Overkill
Overall, and aside from the practical issues, what struck me was an inbuilt tendency to invest in convoluted techniques that, if we are honest with ourselves, provide nothing more that psychological reassurance.   Many don't seem to question whether all the steps are truly necessary.  The "I always use three coats of diluted PVA so it must be better protected" type of technique.

The internet is a wonderful resource but I wonder how new entrants to our wonderful hobby cope with the plethora of conflicting advice.  I fear they may choose the most complex recipe because they equate more with better.  I hope they do what what I did: learn by trial & error.

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