Friday, November 19, 2010

Whispering grass

Fall being upon us with a vengeance, I'm turning the season to advantage by using some of Nature's bounty. I decided to experiment with making a batch of elephant grass to fill up the terrain for Africa Station. The strands of grass are the tough needles from a species of pine that grows around here. As the season advances these can be gathered up by the bushel.

A clump of the grass, with some new bases to the fore awaiting spackling.

These hunters are wary as they approach the dense cover.

The foliage is treated to a long soak in Pledge/Future/Klear polish and allowed to dry. It's then stuck to card bases using a hot glue gun, before the bases are covered with thinned down spackle with a bit of PVA mixed in. I'd prefer to use something like 1/8th inch MDF or mounting board, but this is by way of a trial run. While the mix is wet, I scatter sand over the lot and leave to stand. Once all is dry, I use a plant mister to spray the lot with thinned PVA containing some yellow acrylic paint mixed into the water to get that dry look. This helps fix the sand scatter in place and further toughens the needles.

It's surprising how few of these stands are needed to block lines of sight on the table and break up the emptiness in general.

Those green plants beyond the hunters are from a plastic plant found in dollar stores. As interior decor they're pretty naff, but pull the separate plastic stems from the main trunk and you get a nice bunch of usable foliage. I follow the same method for the grass by fixing them to the bases using hot glue before layering on the spackle and so on.

The lone tree in the middle is another experiment, this time using a suitable shaped twig and some medium green Woodland Scenics tree material. I found the stuff to be crumbly and difficult to work with, so resorted to using a rough oval section of mesh cut from a used fabric softener sheet used in tumble dryers. Attaching the mesh to the top using hot glue, I covered it with thinned PVA and applied the tree material a bit at a time. It took a while to do and was rather fiddly. Eventually I got a reasonable result, but I'm not sure I want to try making many more like it.
I see from the counter that the number of visits to this blog has reached over 2,500. My thanks to all who stop by, and I hope you find something useful here.


Bluebear Jeff said...

I like the idea of that "elephant grass", AJ. I'll have to see if I can find something here to use . . . of course it is snowing outside right now . . . so, hmmmm . . . maybe the bristles of a broom might work.

This bears some thought.

-- Jeff

A J said...

Hi Jeff, I'm glad you like the idea. I have read about using broom bristles to make similar grass to good effect. I'd think natural fiber bristles would be best for the purpose, being near the right color. Not sure I'd want to cut up a new broom though.


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