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Craftsman Extra Board — How-to

Realistic finishes for cast resin kits are fun and easy! Photo by George Riley

Vines can add another dimension of realism to your country structures.

Adding Realistic Vines

by George Riley/photos by the author

On a recent visit to England I visited the Pendon Museum in Oxfordshire. Pendon was founded in the 1930s by Roye England who was dedicated to recreating the English countryside in miniature as it appeared prior to the Second World War. While not large by American standards the two layouts housed in the facility are built to a standard that is unrivaled. The landscaping and structures are finished to a level that most modelers can only dream. Even more amazing is that the materials used are from a by gone era. Paper, cardstock and water colors are meticulously crafted into amazing recreations daily life in the English countryside. Plants and scrubs representing specific species have been exactingly constructed from bits of tissue, wire and hemp to cover the landscape.

Step 1

Step 1: Select branches for your armature.

Subsequent discussions with one of the docents into the techniques used at Pendon provided insight into capturing some of these details for use on my own railroading projects. The first project that I will relate is that of adding realistic flowering vines to one of my structures. The building used is the two story farm house made by American Model Builders, Inc. The model is an easy to build, all wood laser cut kit that represents houses seen in all regions of the United States. Sadly my farm house met with an accident that upon rebuilding left some misaligned and unsightly places on one end.

Rather than sideline the farm house I have added a wisteria vine to cover this misfortune. Adding a vine or two to a building or wall can be done in a matter of minutes. Beyond covering up an occasional mistake, vines and bushes tie your structures into the landscape and create a sense of permanence.

Step 2

Step 2: Use tweezers to apply foam chunks.

Step One: Begin by selecting several branches from a pack of Woodland Scenics' Fine-Leaf Foliage. Remove some of the foliage from the stems. These stems are then glued to the side of the farm house with either scenic cement or white glue and allowed to dry.

Step Two: With the 'trunks' now dry, use a pair of tweezers to pluck small amounts of foam from a piece of Woodland Scenics Foam Clusters. I use this technique since it yield bits of greenery of different sizes and configurations as apposed to the pre-ground foam that is uniform in size and shape. Glue the various bits of foliage to the vine 'trunks' with either scenic cement or white glue and allow to dry. You will probably want to make several passes with foliage until you get the desired results.

Step 3

Step 3: Add specks of white paint to represent blossoms.

Step Three: At this point the basic vine is complete and can be left as is or you can go further. I randomly added small specs of white paint applied with a fine brush to represent blossoms on the vine. The secret here is to apply the paint very lightly so just the tips of the foam foliage pick up some of the color.

Vary the size and texture of your vines, just as you would find in nature. Experiment with different sizes and colors of foam to represent different kinds of growth. Look for examples in your town, or do some research on-line. Adding a few vines here and there will certainly add some life and can also show the passage of time on your layout.

Realistic Vines

Building Scenery

Building Scenery with Paul Scoles

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