For today's food and frivolity post, I'm chatting to Mike from CornishMikey Painting. I met him at last year's Armadacon, a brilliant by-fans-for-fans volunteer-run con in Plymouth. I have always been a fan of minis, so I was drawn to Mikey's stall like a bee to honey and came away with a Predalien and Hogswatch Death, which now grace the fireplace in my living room. You can check out the CornishMikey website here and Mike's Facebook page here to see other photos of his work apart from the awesome images in this post!
Mike does commissions, so I quickly arranged for him to paint a custom mini of Aamena which had been gifted to me a while ago, but which I hadn't dared touch. I have painted minis in the past (mostly skeletons, actually) but I knew that my skills were not equal to the task of making this particular figure look as awesome as she should. So...over to Mike and his magic brushes!
TN - Thanks for agreeing to be part of the Fire-Eyes blog, Mike! First, can you tell me how you got into painting miniatures? What was the first figure you ever painted?
Mike - Blimey, that's going back a few years....I was in my third year of secondary school reading Judge Dredd 2000AD when a classmate said, "Oh, you know you can get figures for that." I didn't have a clue. He brought in a leaflet the next day and we posted off the order form with a cheque written by his mum. I had Judge Death, Fear, Fire and Mortis...can't remember what he ordered, though. Judge Death was my first painted mini - poster paints and a hideous nylon brush that looked more like a chimney sweep's brush than anything useful. Interesting fact - I'm still friends with the classmate over 30 years later.
TN - How long have you been doing this?
Mike - On and off, thirty years. From school through college, a few years when I was a chef. Gave it all up - and sold all my classic metal minis, now worth a small fortune! - to try and take over the world through music. The world still isn't ready for Cornish thrash punk...
After I came to my senses, the aforementioned classmate got me back into gaming and painting. I turned professional painter just over ten years ago.
Dark Judges Fear, Fire, Death and Mortis by CornishMikey Painting (image copyright M Rothery)
TN - Do you have any particular favourites that you really enjoy working on?
Mike - Yep, female figures. As the majority of wargaming figures are male, it makes a nice change to paint up some women. There's a lot more female minis now than there was a few years back - and the quality of the sculpting has improved hugely. I can remember when a female mini was identical to a male mini, except for two improbably large footballs on her chest.
The kids from the old Dungeons and Dragons cartoon from the 80s, by CornishMikey Painting (image copyright M Rothery)
TN - What are your must-haves in terms of paints and brushes?
Mike - Vallejo paints mainly. I have got some odds and sods from other companies (freebies, tester pots and what have you), but I keep coming back to Vallejo. Rosemary and Co brushes are the best I've found, Series 33 pure kolinsky sable. For large scenery pieces, B&Q tester pots are fab and cheap brushes from B&M/Aldi/Lidl are very cost effective...you know the thing, ten brushes for £3.
Chief Judge McGruder, Judge Dredd and insane Judge Cal with Judge Fish (2000AD) by CornishMikey Painting (image copyright M Rothery)
TN - Soooooo....what has been your worst/most amusing painting disaster?
Mike - For me, the worst thing was painting an Ancient Roman army of 6mm high minis. Normally, not a problem. Painting them when I was suffering from hayfever? Yeah. On the next to last strip of figures - as they're so small, they're cast in strips of four figures, about a centimetre and a half long - I could feel a sneeze brewing. Now, a normal person would have put the minis down, sneezed, cleaned themselves up and carried on. I sneezed, heard a 'ting' as they were blasted out of my fingers, hitting the lamp, knocking over a figure of Arwen that was on my shelves, before disappearing completely. I searched for an hour and haven't seen them since. In a bit of a grump, I started on another strip, felt a sneeze coming again...and inhaled and swallowed them. Hospital trip and x-ray...they showed up beautifully! Lesson learnt there.
Mad Donna from Games Workshop's Necromunda game by CornishMikey Painting (image copyright M Rothery)
Rosie the archer from Wargamers Hot and Dangerous series by CornishMikey Painting (image copyright M Rothery)
TN - And what's the best compliment/experience you've ever had?
Mike - A while ago, I painted a Games Workshop Space Marine on a Thunderwolf. Bashed it out in half an hour and stuck it on ebay. I had around twenty messages from all over the world saying the paint job was so much better than the official Games Workshop pics. I took them all with a hefty pinch of salt, but it did get me thinking, "Hey, I could do something with this..."
TN - What advice would you give someone who is interested in taking up miniature painting?
Mike - Good paints, good brushes, decent lighting - if you're right-handed, paint with the light coming in on your left, so your hand's shadow won't get in the way. Start selling on ebay, as you're pretty much guaranteed a sale, and have fun!
TN - And what's next for CornishMikey Painting?
Mike - A holiday! Or a day off, at least...Hell, I'll take a lie-in....
Thanks so much for chatting to me, Mike, it's been a real pleasure - and thanks for sharing these fantastic images of your work. I wish you every success for the future - and I expect I'll see you at Armadacon 2018!
And finally, the big reveal - here is the superb paint job Mike has done on my mini of Aamena! I'm absolutely delighted with it and can't wait to put her in pride of place with my other CornishMikey figures.
Today's Food and Frivolity comes from beautiful Belstone on Dartmoor. A village surrounded by Dartmoor's familiar wind-sculpted trees, Belstone has recently entered into my folklore research rather by accident. There was an intriguing anecdote in one of my books which I really wanted to follow up and, as I hadn't been to Belstone for some time, I thought I'd see what foody treats the village has to offer.
In the centre of the village, not far from the old stocks, you will find the Old School Tearoom, tucked away behind the Methodist chapel. Look out for the advertising board or you might miss it! Marion has been running the tea room for just over two years now - and it has a fascinating history.
The Old School was actually the local Sunday School - the only Sunday School in the village. Marion told me that when the new vicar arrived in Belstone, the Methodist minister made it clear that he wasn't keen on a new Sunday School being started, as all the children already attended his!
Over a warming pot of tea and a fantastic vegan/dairy free/gluten free flapjack, while sitting on a comfy sofa next to a woodburning stove, Marion told me that when she initially took on the premises, it was not in a good way and needed a full renovation. And it's a wonderful space - a high ceiling making it feel light and airy, yet incredibly cosy due to the stove's flue being internal and acting as a giant radiator. The Old School was built onto the back of the chapel in 1928 (the chapel itself dates from 1891) and the adjoining wall between them has been exposed after the crumbling plaster was removed in the renovation, making a great feature wall!
All of Marion's delicious-looking cakes are home-made, so if you have any allergies, you can be 100% confident that you're eating something that is safe for you. Marion finds that her customers like familiar favourites, with one or two new varieties to try.
The flapjack was every bit as moist, flavoursome and delicious as it looked and, even though it did not contain honey, there was a real honey taste to it - slightly floral, slightly spicy - which complemented the various seeds and the oats. It was light and went down beautifully with a cup of tea. In a china cup, too.
The Old School Tearoom has a lot more on offer, however. There is a range of handmade tea cosies for sale (with or without teapot! - the little guy below was my favourite), soap, books, periodicals, cards, local art, home-made chutney, jam and marmalade, knitted accessories - and if you have just come in from the moor with wet, muddy boots, you can leave them in the porch and pop on a pair of slippers while you warm up by the fire with your tea and cake. There's also treats and towels on hand for your muddy four-legged friends, too. Sounds like home from home, doesn't it? So what are you waiting for? The Bank Holiday weekend beckons, so get yourself over to Belstone and try the Old School Tearoom's delights for yourself!
Follow the Tearoom on Twitter here
(top photo is an open source image from pixabay, the rest are my copyright.)
Who is Blogging Today?
Sometimes it will be me. At other times, you may well be treated to one of Duseena Lorafiel's herbal remedies, or perhaps Zilyana Yllayra's etiquette tips. Aamena Hinnorwen may pop in to talk about a new skill she has learned. There is always a chance that we may be graced by the presence of His Imperial Majesty the Emperor, who likes nothing better than to discuss the many benefits of the land he rules. There will be maps, sketches, photos, news, character information, guest blogs from other authors... all sorts of different ways for you to delve into the world of the Chronicles.