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The kids are getting older now and are moving into that time of life when playing with toys is too… kid stuff. When they are older they will discover that playing with toys is one of the few delights a man has.

So, I found a whole bag full of wooden blocks that were ready to be tossed out, and I thought: they are a great size for my little lead men to hide behind.

Trouble is they looked like wood. Nothing against wood, of course, but it does look pretty lame on a table. Useful, but lame. Here, then, is my transformation of the blocks.

1) See the Jenga blocks, carefully labelled by little monkey hands to be Jenga blocks.

2) Taking a file I made a few gouges and score lines, just to give the surface some interest.

3) Use black and white craft paint – don’t use the good stuff. You want thick texture here. I scooped some white and a bit of black on the same fat (size 10) artist brush and dabbed on the block. Don’t mix. You want a mottled or feathered look. Don’t brush. Resist the urge to merge.

4) Use a Red Earth wash to fill in some detail, add some dimension to the thick paint, and give a pinkish – marble – tint. Again, don’t try to be even handed. Some bits are redder, some miss out. No drama.

5) Finally, dry brush white over the whole block once totally dry. This will find the edges of the score marks, and tone down the very dark or very red parts.

This could be used to build whole structures, I guess. But I don’t wish to work that hard. Hope this helps someone.