This Thing’s Got Soul! Part 1
Cryxian Soul Mill
Tutorial Date 2/12/06
The Cryxian Soul Mill is the third and final piece Klepto asked me to build for him. Like the Cryxian Mining Rigs and the Umbral Cairn, I had to dive into the Escalation rulebook to find out more about this unusual piece. I wanted it to be very mechanical looking and to glow evilly from within. To get the glow I needed a creative way to hide the power source. The following is what I came up with…
Common Items, Greenstuff, Internal Lighting
What you need to complete this project:
Empty Gatorade bottle (needs to be transparent)
16 oz aluminum can
1/2" length of 1" diameter PVC pipe
Water bottle cap
A non-cyanoacrylate glue
A battery-powered light
An empty CD container
Thick sheet styrene
Thin sheet styrene
Bits from your morgue
Star Wars Snap-together AT-AT model
Small 30-watt light bulb
Clear Silicone Adhesive
Thin stirring straw
Flock or static grass
Step 1: Remove the label from an empty Gatorade bottle and cut the top off as shown in the graphic below. I chose this bottle because it looks like it has small interesting windows molded into the sides. This is going to be the heart of the soul mill. Everything else revolves around this piece.
Step 2: Use green watercolor to tint the inside surfaces of the windows and the bottom of the Gatorade bottle.
Step 3: Cut masks out of tape and cover the portions of the windows you want to be glass as shown in the picture below.
Step 4: Cut the top and bottom off a 16 oz aluminum can and cut it up the side as shown in the graphic on Step 1. You want the bottle in Step one to be clear in places and opaque in others so you need something that is opaque, pliable and easy to cut. I originally thought of using a regular soda pop can but it was not tall enough. A beer can may work, but don’t empty too many of them because you have a little bit of math and a lot of cutting to do yet! Check the length by rolling the aluminum sheet up and sliding it into the Gatorade bottle. If it is too long, trim the bottom to fit.
Step 5: Now that you know how tall the aluminum tube needs to be, determine the inside diameter of the Gatorade bottle to find out how wide it needs to be and add 1/4" to the width (you will see why later).
Step 6: This step is the hardest part of the entire piece, but if you can pull it off it will really help make your soul mill seem to glow from within. Cut holes in the aluminum that line up with the masked-off windows of the Gatorade bottle. It really wasn’t as difficult as it sounds. I determined the inner diameter of the Gatorade bottle (thank heavens for a public education and the fact that I was awake the day they taught about radius’ and diameters!) and divided that measurement by the number of "windows" on the Gatorade bottle. This told me how far apart the center of each hole in the aluminum needed to be.
Step 7: Cut a piece of card stock in the size and shape you want the holes in your aluminum to be and trace its shape onto the aluminum. I made mine smaller than the window on the Gatorade bottle as shown in the graphic below. Be sure that none of the holes will overlap the seam.
IMPORTANT! Don’t use the graphic below as a template. It is only to help you understand what I have done. The diameter of your bottle may be different than the one I used and will throw all of your cuts off.
Step 8: Cut the holes in the aluminum using scissors or a sharp razor blade.
Step 9: Roll the aluminum and slide into the Gatorade bottle to be sure the holes like up with the windows as shown in the photo below. When the aluminum is in place it should overlap itself by the 1/4" of material you added in Step 5 (See? Told you.). The masks are not in place on the Gatorade bottle so that you can see that the holes in the aluminum line up with the windows on the bottle. See, now that wasn’t so bad…
Step 10: To make the top of the soul mill, cut a hole in the bottle cap (I used the plastic cap from a 5-gallon bottle. I found it laying next to the water cooler at work) by placing the piece of PVC pipe on the cap and tracing the pipe’s inner diameter on the cap to show me where to cut.
Step 11: Glue the PVC and cap together.
Step 12: Mask off the bottom of the hole at the PVC/cap joint as shown in the graphic below
Step 13: Glue upper structure with a non-cyanoacrylate glue (like Liquid Plastic) to the top of the Gatorade bottle as shown below. Otherwise the chemical reaction from a cyanoacrylate glue like Superglue will permanently fog up the plastic you want to remain transparent.
Step 14: Having a terrain piece with a light source is one thing. Hiding the battery pack is another. You also want something that you can open to access the battery pack and will close tight when being used. That said, let’s make a platform for the mill to stand on that will also be a hiding place for the battery pack. Place an empty CD container over the batter pack and use a permanent marker to draw a line all the way around that is higher than the battery pack. Be sure to allow a little bit for any wires that may get in the way.
Step 15: Tape the inner surface of the container where the line is as shown in the diagram above. This will help prevent the container from shattering when you cut it.
Step 16: Attach the bottom (it will act as a support and, like the tape, will help keep it from shattering) and carefully cut along the line. I used a dremil with a cutting disk for this step. The portion on the left is the basis for the platform.
Step 17: Cut a base for the entire terrain piece out of 1/8" styrene or similar material and bevel the edge. Mine was about 10" wide.
Step 18: Cut a 5-3/4" circle out of 1/8" styrene. I used a Dremil with a rip bit to cut the hole in the center of the circle as well as the container’s base to help hold the battery pack. The dimensions need to be just big enough to fit the lights through as seen in the photo below:
Step 19: Affix the styrene disk with the hole in it to the top of the CD container with Epoxy glue. Also attach the base of the CD container to the large styrene base.
IMPORTANT!: With each step, make sure that the CD container disconnects from the base so that you can access the battery pack or else it will be forever entombed in the base.
Step 20: Fashion stairs up to the platform from thin styrene or similar material as show in the photo on Step 19. I made the uppermost step as high as the rest of the platform. Glue the steps to the base.
Step 21: On the front of the mill there is a control box. Fashion the box using thin styrene. The dimensions are 3-1/2" H x 1-1/4" W x 1-1/4" D. Instead of styrene I used a few scraps from by morgue. These particular pieces came from the cargo bay of Monogram’s 1/72 scale Space Shuttle model. I cut a piece of styrene for the front.
Step 22: I glued the control panel together and added some scrap pieces from my morgue. I’ve included the Goreshade figure to show scale.
Step 23: Create the supports around the soul mill using 1/2" plastic I-beams. They are 2" long and cut on a 30-degree angle. You will need six of them.
Step 24: Thread the lights through the hole in the platform.
Step 25: Use epoxy glue to affix the Soul Mill to the platform. Attach the supports at this time as well.
Step 26: Use greenstuff to the sculpt rivets to the soul mill and control panel and also to make the stones on the base.
IMPORTANT! Make sure that when you are sculpting the stones that you don’t hinder the CD container’s ability to open and close. The photo below shows how some of the base should not be covered to allow for the opening and closing of the base to access the battery pack.
That is the end of Part 1. Part 2 will appear in the next update.
I am willing to field any questions you may have about this and any other pieces I have done on this site. You may contact me directly at