Saturday, October 30, 2010

Building basic scenery at Steinle

That big hole in the lower right corner of the layout was always meant to be covered by a "mountain". I considered various alternatives, some corny (mountain with castle), some more or less practical (put a street with an off-line industry there), but I finally settled on a Black Forest farm house with a few outbuildings, and a large cow pasture by the tracks. This area is now called "Steinle" for the distinctive rock formation behind the farm house. A small service road crosses the tracks behind the farm house on a bridge and disappears into the forest at the back drop.

To build up the area, I formed a web of cardboard strips glued together with hot glue. In terms of scenic features from left to right, there will be an overgrown rock face, some trees and bushes on top of the hump, then the farm house and the cow pasture in the lower section towards the tracks.

The area in the back corner is now know as Hochwald ("high forest"). The backdrop will be painted to represent forest, and I'll try to build up a forest edge along the ridge. In my infinite wisdom I built the cardboard web over the access hole, so reaching into the far corner for scenery work is now somewhat challenging ... Getting to the track to deal with derailments is unproblematic, though.

The cardboard lattice gets covered with masking tape (Kreppband). I painted the tape with acrylics wall paint so that the plaster in the next step holds better to the underlayment. The depression in the brown hill formation at the backdrop is where the service road bridge will span the track and lead into the forest.

The Hochwaldtunnel on the right will be surrounded by rock face above the tunnel portal and on the right along the wall. I will make a cardboard template and build the wall, tunnel portal and tunnel lining off-layout, so that I can slip the finished piece in place and hopefully just need to touch up and plant the edges where it connects to the surrounding scenery.

To cover the cardboard strips and further build up the scenery I'm using a mixture of 3 parts water, 4 parts Plaster of Paris, and 4 parts Vermiculite, as well as a little bit brown paint. The vermiculite adds volume and a nice texture to the plaster, and the paint tones down the stark white of the plaster.

Of course, working in the train room with plaster is always a bit messy, so I covered the tracks with blue painter's tape. Given the rain and somewhat cold temperatures lately it took almost a week for the plaster to completely cure and dry out.

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