Mixing paint

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Like cutting parts from sprues, mixing paint may seem as straightforward as breathing but it was Jon Bius, head honcho, monkey master and leader of Llamas at The Diary Of Abernathy who made me aware of the Badger electric paint stirrer. Before that point, it was the Tamiya paint paddle you see in the foreground for me, accompanied by furious wrist action like I’d never known, although my wife greeted this declaration with her doubtful face, followed by peels of shrieking laughter…

Although the instructions didn’t specify their use, I soon ditched expendable AA batteries for rechargeables and these are by far the best from all perspectives. A pack of four means ‘two in’ and two on standby. All told, it’s a simple bit of kit and no amount of manual stirring can get close to the Badger’s ability to ruthlessly blitz within seconds, your recalcitrant paint pigment back into solution. From  Tamiya and Gunze acrylics to Humbrol enamels, the resulting base paint is just plain creamy – no lumps, bumps or ‘paint asteroids’ to clog that .35 airbrush nozzle, just smooth, sexy paint as nature intended.

35mm plastic film canisters are my standard mixing receptacles and once again, the thinned paint is shown no mercy, as the Badger ensures the best possible airbrush ready paint. The clear(ish) liquid at the right hand back of shot is cellulose thinner in a battered bottle that’s been my cleaning station for the Badger, since acquisition. Having come out of the now mixed base paint and wiped off with some clean tissue, the Badger is dipped in the cellulose and triggered for a few seconds – enough to shed any remaining colour. A further wipe clean and it’s all set to go again. It takes longer to read about than actually do it.

But like The Force, there is a ‘Dark Side’ to this perfect paint pummeller. The only defence is constant vigilance. What follows will frighten horses and terrify small children, Viewer discretion is advised.

Picture the scene. Your current project sits comfortably on the bench, a secure distance from the ‘wet area’. Just one more colour to airbrush. You blitz the freshly thinned paint and reach for the cleaning station but this time your finger, that you’ve routinely left resting on the trigger slide for months, slips forwards in transit to the lacquer cleaner. From this point, time slows down. Like the moments before a car crash; you can see what’s coming but are powerless to alter the events or consequences.

All sounds in the modelling area and outside are blanked out. There is only the low, gravid hum of the motor as the shaft momentarily reaches maximum rpm in a fatal fraction of a second, accompanied by that familiar vibration through your hand. Then three things occur simultaneously. Your reactions catch up and pull back the trigger slide. Your conscious mind registers the unthinkable. Your eyes begin a terrible journey. It begins with the concentration of paint, that begins directly under the stirring disc and leads away, away across the modelling space and out of the ‘wet area’. The orientation of the paint fling is governed by an as yet, unpublished rule of the universe. The precise wording I’ve come to understand translates into something like this – ‘the layout and design of your modelling space is immaterial; wherever you position your model, it won’t affect the outcome, your puny human intentions are rendered impotent before the power of ‘The Farce’.

So, you look towards the model. The unerring accuracy is almost beautiful. You recall gun camera footage from a diving P-47, attacking a parked Ju52 and how the line of rounds march towards, up and over before continuing on a short distance. It mirrors what you see now – a perfect line of paint droplets leading towards, up and over before…

…continuing across the front lens element of your camera you left with the cap off behind the model. Regret is only compounded by there being no protective UV filter fitted…

So, regard your Badger as a ‘best friend’ but one commensurate with a live firearm with no ‘safety’, other than your trigger finger staying firmly off the firing button. Beyond that, it’s all gravy…

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