Stonewallin'

Discussion in 'The Academy' started by Casey Feedwater, Feb 17, 2003.

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  1. Casey Feedwater

    Casey Feedwater Member

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    Here are some photos of my latest project, a diorama that will eventually become part of my layout. The diorama, when completed, will be of a river landing and collection point for the tie rafts that were floated down the Osage River in the early 1900's.

    My first task has been to prepare the base. Because the whole scene is of a river landing with structures at different elevations, I needed to create different levels as well as depict an eroded shoreline. I also wanted to model a stone retaining wall and seawall.

    I used 1/2 inch pink foam and laminated it with hot melt glue. After carving it to suggest a shoreline (the plywood base will be the water level), I made plaster forms from strips of pink foam. These were attached in place with Elmer's Squeezable Caulk (it's a semi-liquid latex caulk in a squeeze bottle). I then poured plaster of Paris behind the forms. After the plaster had set for about a half hour, I pulled the forms off and scraped up the caulk with a putty knife.

    The next step was to create what would become the rock faces on the wall. I mixed a soupy batch of plaster and stippled it on the surface of the wall with a stiff-bristled brush.

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    After the plaster was nearly dry, I started carving in the stonework. Actually, all I carved were the mortar lines because the rock facings were determined by the stippled plaster. I used a "headless" T-pin in a pin vise to do the carving. Periodically, I would spray some water on the plaster to keep it damp, and I used a nylon brush to clean away plaster chips as I carved.

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    I then let everything dry completely.

    The final step was to color the rocks. For this I used Woodland Scenics' scenery pigments. I stained about 25% of the rocks individually and then washed the entire wall with several applications of WS's Burnt Umber and Stone Gray.

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    I didn't watch the clock, but I'm guessing my total time for this (excluding drying time) was about 4 hours. Now I have many hours ahead of me in building the structures and and blending the whole scene in with the surrounding layout scenery.
  2. aartwmich

    aartwmich Member

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    Hey Casey...is the WS paint latex or solvent? How did you get the 'grout' lines dark, did you use a wash and wipe??
  3. Casey Feedwater

    Casey Feedwater Member

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    The WS pigments are highly concentrated colors that you dilute with water. Different dilutions will give you different shades.

    The dark mortar lines are the result of the result of the burnt umber and stone gray washes. I wanted the mortar lines dark because that's how stone walls typically weather in this part of the country. (Around here, walls made with native limestone usually turn dark gray with near-black streaks in them as they age. And the mortar turns quite dark.)

    I have also used burnt sienna craft paint thinned with water to stain plaster. The pinkish "granite" colored stones in the photo below are an example. (The rest of the rockwork on the building was colored with the WS pigments.)

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  4. aartwmich

    aartwmich Member

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    LOL Val...really!!

    So Casey, you just washed the wall with the diluted pigment and the mortar lines 'naturally' became darker? Or did you 'wash and wipe'? Or did you really paint all those mortar lines with a little teeny tiny paint brush?? lol prolly not

    ...I guess I'm just gonna have to try it to understand (I've never 'washed' plaster). I would think that the wash would soak right into the plaster rather than 'pooling' in the lower lying mortar lines.....thinking..will have to try it..mmummblemumble
  5. Casey Feedwater

    Casey Feedwater Member

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    I used a #4 red sable flat, which I loaded freely with the dilute pigment. I let the stain flow freely across the rockwork/mortar lines. The brush was reloaded frequently. The applications were made randomly with respect to which stain color was applied.

    "Stone Gray" is already a fairly dark "slate" color (although not as dark as the pigments WS labels "Slate"). The mortar lines were unstained "raw" plaster, which made them more receptive to the washes, whereas many of the individual rock faces were already stained and less receptive to additional pigmentation.

    Finally, these are digital photos with only overhead fluorescent lighting. Depending upon how accurately your monitor displays the colors, they could appear darker or lighter than they really are.
  6. aartwmich

    aartwmich Member

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    Ahhhhh OK Casey I forgot the fact that the stone faces had been stained already, that could help. You may be right about the computer image looking darker.

    I got some lightweight hydrocal yesterday and borrowed some rubber rock molds, I used oliveoil spray (kinda like Pam) then wiped the excess out as mold release. I thought this oil on the surface might resist the pigment but it didn't seem to much. Today I might try to carve a stonewall and experiment with your method.

    Thanks for so patiently (I think..lol) answering my repeated questions :D
  7. Casey Feedwater

    Casey Feedwater Member

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    Two thoughts on this.

    First, Hydrocal - even the lightweight variety - is denser than plaster of Paris and will absorb the pigments differently. (They typically requre more coloring.) Also, because it is a dense plaster and designed to dry harder than molding plaster, it will be harder to carve than the other variety. That's why I used plaster of Paris for my wall. That's why I use it also for my rock castings. I think it's much easier to color and work with than Hydrocal.

    Second, for my own purposes, I don't spray my rock molds with any kind of "mold release." I just dunk them in a bowl of "wet" water and pour the plaster in. I very seldom have trouble peeling the molds away from the castings afterward.

    Good luck with your experiments today. ;)
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