Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reedy river

Some time ago I wrote about a method of creating savanna grass using dried pine needles. A recent find of fresh pine needles on a fallen branch got me thinking of other ways to use nature's bounty. One thing that came to mind is the presence of so many rivers in Colonial-era gaming - and the reed beds found along all of them at one point or another. So it was I came up with the idea of recreating the effect of reeds along a river bank.

I made use of 1" - 2" strips of clear plastic cut from packaging material, as this is both transparent and stiff enough to resist any warping. Cutting or twisting off varying lengths of the fresh pine needles gave me nice thin reed-like stems, and I glued these in clumps to the plastic using a low-heat hot glue gun. A little care makes sure the glue goes on the plastic while avoiding touching the plastic with the hot tip of the gun. Take enough pine needles to hold comfortably in your fingers and simply stick the cut ends into the molten glue, holding them in place as it sets. A little teasing of the stems makes them appear more like natural growth. Fresh pine needles contain enough resin that they'll remain quite supple.

Once everything is set, they're ready for use. I made about a dozen or so, and set up the scene below using a sheet of clear plastic on top of blue poster card. As you can see the transparent strips virtually vanish against the surface they stand on, with the blobs of glue resembling the motion of water around the stems as the river flows. Place even a few strips side by side and they create a nice line-of-sight block or hiding place.

A native woman makes her way down to the riverbank to fetch water in the early morning light. The river flows by, smooth and tranquil.


Bluebear Jeff said...

Well done, sir. Well done indeed. And with a "varnish surface" river, they blend in quite well, don't they.

A nice idea and well presented. Thank you.

-- Jeff

Martin said...

Hey A.J.,

Those look good, but there's no reason to restrict them to Dafest Africa; they could also stand in for the Canebreaks of Kentucky!

A J said...

Good idea, Martin! Thanks for the suggestion.


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