Here are some of my blog entries from the last week or so in getting ready for today. As they say pictures are worth a thousand words, well maybe a hundred or so in my case, but the blogs might be of interest even though they are by me.
OK, so there are many ways to make your scenery base and they all have their supporters and reasons for being. I personally just love the foams to work with as they are easy to work, produce less mess (OK, less permanent mess – a vacuum cleaner fixes this mess) and can be very easily modified in the future, and of course they are pretty fast to get going.
If I had to choose a hard shell method, I like the chook wire and the pre-plastered gauze – less mess and can take on any shape. But of course the downfall is future modifications are very hard and painful.
As for the foams, there are two types to play with – the Extruded Foam which is very strong and can be used as boards themselves and your track can be in some instances be laid directly onto it as it is so strong. Then there is the foam we all know, the Expanded Foam. This is the old esky style foam and what is used to pack most household purchases like TV’s and such – so it’s very cheap if not free. You can even hunt for it on house building sites and ask nicely and they may has leftovers they don’t want.
The expanded, or beaded, foam is easy to shape with a rasp, easier than the extruded version in fact. But today we will play with the Extruded foam. Gotten from Bunnings at about 20 bucks for a 600 x 1200 x 50 mm sheet and about 12 bucks for the 25 mm thick version.
The glue to use on it is Liquid Nails or the cheaper version, Maxi Nails from Parfix at just over 4 bucks a corking gun cartridge. Make sure of course you use the water based glues as they are much safer than the solvent based ones.
Working with the foam we just use box cutter knives (any of the snap off blade types are usable), rasps such as the Surform ones (loves these), Dremel moto-tool with a sanding drum and such, and of course a vacuum cleaner to suck up the foam shavings and bits you leave on the floor. The Surform of choice for me is the 150mm one from Stanley at about 20 bucks from Bunnings. I also like the small 65mm Surshape from Trojan, also from Bunnings at about 15 bucks.
OK, so you’ve done your carving and rasping of your foam. There are of course gaps and cracks that need filling – easy. Get an ice-cream bucket as a handy mixing vessel and then go grab a caulking gun of Selleys No More Gaps or the cheap Parfix version called Gap Filler. These at acrylic gap fillers and water based, so will clean up well. The Parfix version is only about 2 bucks a caulking gun load.
Add an equal amount of gap filler and water into your mixing container and mix well, then add in a squirt of acrylic kiddies poster paint to colour it. I like the Burnt Umber myself, as you end up with a close rendition of dirt colour. This is so if the top layer of scenery gets scraped off later by accident, you still have colour underneath it. Again mix well. At this stage you don’t have a hole filling mix, but you do have a mix I use to paint all over the foam when finished carving shaping and filling. This leaves a tough rubbery surface that can be easily cut later if needed.
Now for the gap filling bit. Go get a 5 litre bag of Vermiculite from Bunnings for about 9 bucks. Mix the vermiculite up carefully – ie slowly and fold it in so as to not flatten it all. We use vermiculite so that we can flatten if it needed when applying it, not while mixing it. It should end up like a freshly mixed batch of chocolate rice bubble cakes. If need be add a bit more water if it is too dry.
For large gaps just get some scraps of foam and squeeze them into the holes if need be to save on having to use too much of the above mix. When ready, apply the gap filling mix with a paint scraper or artist’s type spatula. Squeeze it into the holes and gaps and smooth down the vermiculite beads – they will compress. If it starts to dry out a bit, spritz on some water to moisten it up a tad. There are good pictures of all this in the blog links given earlier. Just go to the http://mixedpk.blogspot.com.au, you’ll see all the blog entries there.
The surface of this will start drying out in an hour or so and you can then give it a lick of the water and gap filler mix sans the vermiculite. The end result is the shape of scenery you want and ready for your dirt, grass trees and such.
The only way to learn it is to grab a few scraps of foam, glue and gap filler and play, as there are no university courses I am aware of! But the important thing is to have fun – it is a hobby, not a job.
Oh, and in some of my blogs you might be wondering who this Scooter fella I talk about is.... It’s Craig Mackie of course – unfortunately I am in the same club as him, RMCQ, and work with him… arrrgggghhhhhhhhhh!