If you’ll recall from the previous post (Part II) in this series, I had just finished putting on a coat of Woodland Scenics ‘Earth’ pigment to my plaster cloth base, and had a small berm that I had attached a few hydrocal rock castings too.
Now it’s time to move on ahead and begin to add our first layer of landscaping.
Pic 1: Masking the berm
In Pic 1, I have used some tacky, but not too sticky, blue painter’s tape to mask off areas in which I did not want landscaping turf to adhere to. First off, I masked off the sides of the diorama by placing the tape as flush as I could to the upper corners of where our surface edges meets the unpainted plaster edges. Because the plaster is a bit porous and uneven, don’t expect it to be perfect…that’s okay. Next I masked off the cork roadbed and rail that is on a diagonal. Finally, knowing that I’d be spraying my glue mixture from above , I masked off my rock castings were they protruded from the berm as well…you don’t want your freshly painted rocks covered in turf do you?
Pic 2: First pass at fine turf.
In Pic 2, you can see I’ve already went ahead and masked the other side of the roadbed and track and have made my first pass using 60/40 blend of Woodland Scenics fine green turf and fine earth cover turf. The earth cover turf helps tone down the fine green turf and make for a more natural look in my opinion. I applied this using a shaker in small sections at a time to help control both the evenness of the application and to avoid making to much of a mess. The fine turf is very light and very susceptible to static electricity and can get all over the place like sawdust or drywall dust if not careful.
Since my spray bottle was not working correctly, I actually applied the glue-like-wash with a paintbrush (pictured left). The wash is a simple mixture of about 3 parts water to 1 part white all-purpose white glue that was mixed thoroughly before hand. If you find that the wash is *too* thin, you can mix in a bit of more glue, but try not to exceed more than 1/3rd glue. I then painted the wash on in 3″ x 3″ sections, and promptly added the turf before moving on to the next section.
During cleanup, make sure you wash out your paintbrush completely of any glue and you can use the brush over and over again.
In today’s post, you’ll note that I only covered 1/3rd of my base. This is by design. I really want to work on adding the ballast to the track, and I haven’t made a commitment to where I am going to place my actual structure yet, so I’m leaving the rest of the base unmolested for now. As I continue, I will ‘paint’ on the glue wash for the remainder of the exposed base, but only for this first coat of turf. In subsequent passes, I will indeed buy a new spray bottle to ‘mist’ the areas I will be adding additional turf colors and ground cover.
Pic 3: Adding ballast (inside tracks)
In Pic 3, you can see that I have removed my mask from the roadbed, but placed two strips of blue painters tape on the edges where my cut track meet the edges. This is solely to keep the ballast from spilling over as I add it between the tracks and glue it in place (think of it as a dam).
However, before I even began to add the ballast, I decided to tone down (i.e. weather) the bright brass rails by using a solvent based paint entitled ‘mud’ made by Testor’s. I should have done this prior to hot gluing the track to the roadbed as it would have been much easier to handle, but this is one of those lessons you learn during a build that you’ll be sure to remember the next time around.
The Woodland Scenics ballast is also very fine, and a small bit goes a very long way, so be careful when pouring straight out of the bag. Using the same brush (now dry) that I painted on my glue-wash, I *slowly* brushed the ballast into place between the railroad ties an inch at a time. Again, because the ballast is very fne, very light weight, and susceptible to static take your time. I used a tweezer to move and relocate some stubborn pieces. When I was satisfied with my work, I ‘misted’ the track and ballast with a solution of ‘wet-water’.
‘Wet-water’ is basically a mixture of regular water with a drop or two of dish washing soap added in. It’s purpose is to lower the surface tension level of other water based solutions so that droplets can be administered and flow easily between cracks, nooks, and crannies.
Pic 4: Inside rail ballast.
Using an eye dropper, I then placed approx. 3 drops of my glue wash to each ballast section between the ties and allowed to set and dry. This last picture shows my progress thus far. Note that I obviously did not do the ballast on the outside of the rails. I’ll admit, I’m a bit stymied on how I am going to do to this with the 45 degree angle on the edge of the roadbed. In my mind, I know how I could do this without making it look like too much ballast, but the process will be long involving me tilting my diorama at 45 degree’s at least twice (once for each edge) and waiting it out. Another person I showed this to made the recommendation that I should sand down corner, and while this would indeed work, it will also take time (there’s not a lot of room) and be potentially messy as I will then need to clean up the cork before the ballast can be applied. Decisions…decisions. Anyone have advice?