Thursday, 20 November 2014

Toilet Paper Scenery Base:

Yes, you read correctly. Here is a story and pictures of using common old white (hypogenic of course) toilet paper as a scenery base.
In the past newspaper or similar material like paper towels soaked in four and water paste, or other glue, placed over a chicken wire or cardboard stringer frame was a common method of forming hills. This has given way to styrofoam carved hills which are then covered in a topping coat material to provide a base. 
I like the styrofoam method. It is light, easily glued together, and with a hot wire easily shaped. Good quality styrofoam also cuts well with a box cutter knife. Don't try this with the cheap packaging styrofoam or you will have small bits everywhere. On top of the styrofoam I use "Top Coat" a plasterers mixture to smooth "gyprock" walls. You can buy it ready mixed as a paste and it lasts a year or so, or in powder form to mix yourself with water.
Now back to the topic: Toilet paper. I got the idea from Rob Peterson an NMRA member and Hills Model Railroad member. They built their portable N Scale module layout using toilet paper scenery base.
In summary you place the toilet paper over the area you want and brush on 2:1 or 3:1 white glue. The end result is a stiff base to add additional scenery to or just paint as the texture shows through.
Here is how I used it.
Here is a picture of my experimental area where I had built up a rough base of styrofoam and in one section used "Top Coat" over the foam. The top coat is in the foreground and the unfinished foam at the back with some rock mould casually placed to see the effect. Note the quality roll on the left.
 Here are the ingredients in place. I tore up a piece of paper about the right size and put it in place.
 Next step was to brush on 2:1 white glue to hold the paper down. Start at the top so the paper holds and the glue flows down the paper.  I used a cheap 2 inch brush – about a $1 from the Dollar shop. The white glue was mixed in an old 500ml. white glue bottle and squirted into a milk bottle bottom I used to hold it to brush onto the paper.  The plastic milk bottle is easy and cheap – just cut it about 75mm from the base and you have a good dispenser.
Layer the paper so you end up with a few thicknesses. A single sheet is not sufficient strength unless it is on top of foam.

 Here is the section almost finished. In some sections I squashed up the paper and soaked it in position. You can do this to fill in behind the rock moulds, or the create further small hills. I am satisfied with the result. Now I will paint the rock and base of the hills, and add layers of scenery to give it a western USA feel. You can see the results in future blogs.
Where the paper spans an area I have found once dry it is a firm base but not sufficient to insert trees etc. So I still use the "Top Coat" plaster over the toilet paper base.

You will note I did not mask the track and I was running my trains as I worked. This is probably not best practice but it worked. The brush and paper method is relatively clean and accurate as long as you are not reaching a long way across the layout.
Please no puns on my efforts!!!
 Here comes Amtrak through a cutting and future tunnel which will get the same scenery treatment - soaked toilet paper or hand towels and Top Coat over the top once dry to creat a very stable and light weight scenery base. .

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