This month I have mostly been playing with sculptamold… and I quite like it!  For those who might not know, this is a mixture of plaster and mashed up bog roll. You mix it with a bit of water to ‘cottage cheese’ consistency, and apply it over the land forms to give a nice solid and fairly light top coat.

For the roughly West Highland feel of the kids’ layout, I’ve build up a ridge of hills from solid foam insulation, inset a cardboard road base, and then covered the foam in sculptamold.  The foam carves quite well with the nice new kitchen knife we got free with some pans… (fortunately I have a bench grinder to fix the knife afterwards…)


Basic landforms in insulation foam. Station will be in the foreground.

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First covering of sculptamold on the embankment behind the goods yard.  Extra foam packing behind the bridge wing walls.

The sculptamold is very easy to apply, though in my cold/damp garage it took several days to dry instead of the advertised ’30 minutes’…  Still, that gave lots of time to smooth out paths, and subtly carve in small rock faces etc.  Once dry,  it’s painted with a generic brown colour (from the ‘reduced’ shelf of B&Q!).  I may redo this step with some added earth scatter to add some micro-roughness before grassing.


The boy child gets painting…


Painted sculptamold next to the overbridge.

Overall, pretty impressed with the sculptamold.  I bought 3lbs of the stuff from Amazon for about £11 – relative expensive per unit volume, but I don’t need very much for the kids’ layout, so not worth the hassle of trying to home brew an alternative.  I think I will need about 6lbs to cover the ~5x4ft area of this little layout (with lots of hills).

Nice to feel I’m progressing with something at least, though I do also have a slowly lengthening line of wagons to go into the paint shop at some point.


Scenic practice

I’ve been doing a fair bit of work on the club layout lately. Along with making the signals (more on that later), I seem to have ended up doing the scenics too.  Given that my previous scenic ‘CV’ only extends to arranging some plastic fir trees around a papier mâché shoe-box tunnel, I thought I should perhaps practice a bit first…

So I’ve started a little diorama (60x40cm) using the same techniques as already employed on the main layout. First I butchered an old layout top to make a plywood frame for a single line cutting through a sloping hill side. The idea was to have ~half cutting and ~half embankment. I forgot the height of the track bed though, so it’s more embankment than cutting!


Basic diorama formers

I painted the frame white for some protection, and to see/fill the holes and dents in the old ply more easily. Then I added the basic land forms from chicken wire, mod-roc, and plaster skim (mixed with brown paint and PVA).  The plaster skim is also added underneath, which forms a nice hard shell.  This is the basic state the club layout is in already (plus track work of course). From here, I’m into terra incognita…


Evolution of the landscape

I’m not sure I’d use this technique again — the chicken wire is simply painful to put on, and I don’t think gives that much subtlety to the landscape. Next step is to put the track base down, then do the cess before laying and ballasting the track. The intention here is to go for a fairly well maintained single line from the 1930s…

Off on holiday next week, but a club mate has lent me this estimable tome. Looking forward to getting learnt about modern scenics 🙂


Holiday reading…