Tutorial: Making a Grassland Gaming Mat from an Ikea Rug
While wandering around Ikea, I spotted a mound of bright green, square, shaggy rugs and decided to use one as a grasslands mat. The rug is called Hampen in Ikea's naming system. It is 80cm (~31.5 in.) square, so will be slightly small but suitable for Song of Blades and Heroes, Bushido, or many other small skirmish games.
First, I used heavy scissors to roughly cut down the deep pile of carpet. The individual strings start off being too long and too even for my purposes. This is the hardest and most time consuming part of this project. It probably took about an hour and a half or maybe two hours in total, split over a few sessions. I also got a large bag full of scrap bits from this, they range from very short pieces of weird green rope to little clumps of fluff and I'm thinking they might come in handy for some future project.
Next, I went over the rug with a wire brush attachment on a drill. This broke up the twisted carpet fibers into a more overall woolly texture. It only took a few minutes and I think it makes a world of difference. If you don't happen to have a drill and wire brush attachment, a handheld wire brush used in a circular motion also works.
Finally, I went over the whole thing with a dry brush of various yellows, oranges, light browns, and greens. I did this in two separate passes, to give a bit more visual texture to the piece.
Overall, this project only took a few hours. It could be completed in an afternoon or long evening, but I spread it out over a week.
I have played a few games on the mat and so far I enjoy it. Top heavy figures can tend to fall over easily, but I don't know if there is much I can do about that.