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Nick Wood

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About this blog

I have been invited to demonstrate scenic techniques at the Great British Model Railway Show at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon on the 9th & 10th November 2019. I have a little experience of tutoring scenic techniques as one of the Pendon Workshop team alongside Mick Bonwick and indeed it was he who suggested to the organisers that I might be their man, thanks Mick, I think.

 

With time ticking away, I got to thinking how I might approach this as the environment of an exhibition is very different from a hands on, full day workshop course. I would welcome any thoughts on the following;

 

  • Demonstrate and provide the opportunity to use a static grass applicator and layering sprays.
  • Have sample scenic materials available (proprietry and natural) and explain their use and suitability.
  • Have a number of different scenic dioramas available to discuss techniques, backed up by photos of construction stages on an ipad.
  • Have a number of examples of different plants, trees, hedges, shrubs etc in various stages of preparation.
  • Have examples of homemade scenic details, such as grass tufts.

 

This blog will document the preparation leading up to and including the exhibition weekend.

 

I have made a start on the scenic dioramas and will show the development of these as they progress.

 

Nick

Entries in this blog

Down the lane - Part 1

Down the lane - Part 1

This diorama will represent a small section of a lane with ditches both sides, one with standing water, and the other drier with a few puddles, hedgerows, trees, a meadow one side and a field with crops on the other. The meadow will also feature the access and entrance gate but I'm not sure what the crops will be yet, any suggestions appreciated.   A piece of 50mm thick insulation board was again used as the base. It is 600mm x and the topograhy was formed with a hot wire cutter. Once

nickwood

nickwood

A simple embankment diorama -part 5 adding typical flora

A simple embankment diorama -part 5 adding typical flora

There are lots of different plants, shrubs and bushes that tend to thrive on railway embankments, particularly in the years since steam ceased to operate. Embankments were managed in steam days to reduce the risk of fires, with the advent of diesel traction they were almost left to grow wild. Electrification has seen much of the wild growth being cut back presumably to give better access to install the gantries and maintain them. So taking none of this into account I decided to add a couple of v

nickwood

nickwood

A simple embankment diorama -part 4 the grassing continues

A simple embankment diorama -part 4 the grassing continues

I wanted the grass to be longer and thicker towards the bottom of the embankment. A spray over the grass with some Peco Layering Spray (other types are available) allows more grass fibres to be applied over the top. The problem with the layering sprays is that being an aerosol it is difficult to apply it exactly where you want it, it being more likely to go where you don't want it to.   In my case the track and ballast area needs to be masked with a strip of paper to prevent spray gett

nickwood

nickwood

A simple embankment diorama -part 3 Let the grassing commence

A simple embankment diorama -part 3 Let the grassing commence

The method of applying the grass fibres is exactly the same as described in my earlier blog "A rockface diorama" so I won't repeat it here. But.. because I wanted to represent rougher grass on the embankment the base layer differs somewhat.   The fibres I have used are some recovered from various 'grassing' sessions and include many different lengths and shades and the odd bits of scatter and ash. Here's a pot full of the stuff. It all goes in the Flockit just the same.  

nickwood

nickwood

A simple embankment diorama -part 2 track & ballast

A simple embankment diorama -part 2 track & ballast

Apologies for the poor photo. A dark brown mix of acrylic paint to represent aged rust has been applied to the rail sides and chairs.     A thin wash of the same colour was then applied to the sleepers before ballasting. There is nothing unusual about the method of ballasting. Ballast was applied dry and tidied with small brush. Once happy with how it looked it was wetted with water mixed with a small amount of either Isopropyl or a drop of washing up liquid added and applie

nickwood

nickwood

A simple embankment diorama - part 1 the beginning

A simple embankment diorama - part 1 the beginning

The next diorama I'm preparing is a small section of an embankment.   The base is again a piece of insulation foam approx 150mm square, shaped with a hot wire cutter and painted a brownish colour. The first photo shows the work done so far which includes a short length of Peco code 100 streamline glued into place and sprayed with Halfords grey primer. The code 100 track has been used simply because I happen to have lots of offcuts in a box and need to use them for something. The track

nickwood

nickwood

A rockface diorama - part 6 - Finishing touches

A rockface diorama - part 6 - Finishing touches

A few flower heads can be added, and I do mean a few. It is very easy to overdo. I load a small stiff bristled brush with pva and then wipe most of it off. I think touch the brush onto the tips of the longer grass fibres where I want the flower heads to be. The coloured scatter, some green can be added as well, is then sprinkled over the glue and left to dry. Once dry the excess can be vacuumed off.       To finish off, the tree is planted into one of the rock fis

nickwood

nickwood

A rockface diorama - part 5 - Adding a small tree

A rockface diorama - part 5 - Adding a small tree

I thought it would be interesting to one of those small trees that seem to cling to life on rock faces. My preferred tree making method is forming the trunk and branches from twisted wire with two or three coatings of Greenscenes flexible bark. I have a pot of this that is now at least 6 years old and is still useable. When dry the bark is painted with an acrylic grey colour (think LMS wagon grey rather than GWR). I add the finer branches with rubberised horsehair glued in place in small clumps.

nickwood

nickwood

A rockface diorama - part 4 - Creating rough grass

A rockface diorama - part 4 - Creating rough grass

After removing the excess fibres most people would leave it at that but to my eye the grass is too uniform. In the real world rain and wind flattens longer grasses and paths form where by humans and animals pass regularly. So the next stage is to replicate this.   The following needs to be carried out BEFORE the pva glue has fully set.   Using a cocktail stick or similar the fibres can be manipulated to lay down, pushed into clumps or removed to reveal the shorter fibres unde

nickwood

nickwood

A rockface diorama - part 3 - Adding the longer grass

A rockface diorama - part 3 - Adding the longer grass

With the first layer of grass fully dry the longer grass can be added using a layering spray adhesive. I've used Peco's offering but others are available. The grass fibres used are again from Greenscene and are medium length 'Straw'. The areas where the longer grass is wanted are sprayed with the layering spray. care needs to be taken as the spray does exactly that and will go everywhere, coating areas in adhesive where you may not want grass fibres to stick. The solution is to use a mask(s) of

nickwood

nickwood

A rockface diorama - part 2 - Adding ground cover

A rockface diorama - part 2 - Adding ground cover

The fun bit begins. After giving the areas I want to be grassed a generous but even coating of neat pva an initial layer of short static grass fibres is applied with a Greenscenes Flockit applicator. The fibres are Greenscenes Spring Green (short). These will be overlaid with longer fibres once dry.       As you can see in this low angle shot, there are a few longer fibres mixed in with the short ones. These were probably a result of not cleaning the applicator thorough

nickwood

nickwood

A rockface diorama - part 1 - Foundations

A rockface diorama - part 1 - Foundations

The diorama base is a piece of 50mm thick blue foam insulation board approximately 150mm square. Unfortunately I had already carved it to a rough shape and applied plaster of paris to form the basis of the rocks before I decided to do this blog and hadn't taken any photographs.   The base was first given a coat of neat pva glue and plaster of paris was mixed with water and a dark grey acrylic paint to form a stiff mix. With the glue still wet the plaster of paris was them liberally tro

nickwood

nickwood

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