Thursday, December 4, 2014

Serenity Gulch: Two Grits

With the four Arnica buildings framed up and glued to a piece of hardboard, the next step was to add some texture to the ground around them. My go-to for such requirements in the past has been good old playground sand, but with the girls no longer finding sandboxes as apealing as they once did, I had to scour the garage before I found about two pounds of it frozen in a bag.

I brought it into the house to thaw, and a few days later dispensed some into a half-liter dip container. I dug out the 4L bottle of white glue that I bought who-knows-how-many years ago, and mixed some with water in an old cold cream container.

I brushed a generous amount of thin glue onto the hardboard, but when I went to sprinkle on some sand, I watched in shock as instead, clumps splatted onto the surface, sitting there in truculent piles as opposed to obediently spreading out in a thin layer. Too much moisture had entered the bag, and now it would be ages before it would be dry enough to use. I briefly flirted with the idea of spreading some of the sand on a cookie sheet and drying it in the oven, but the combined thoughts of a) cleaning it up, and b) eating off that sheet in the future dismissed this notion as quickly as it had appeared.

Instead, I stopped off at a west-end hobby shop yesterday after work and grabbed a shaker full of medium grade model railroad ballast. It's quite a bit finer than the sandbox-sourced stuff I usually use, but not as fine as the modelling sand that Citadel produced at one time. Picturing it on the bases of the models themselves made them seem an appropriate scale and sealed the deal.

The ballast dispensed easily, stuck well to the slightly diluted white glue mixture I had laid down, and best of all, the excess was easily retrieved by picking up the newspaper and using the centerline fold to pour it right back into the container.
You can see a bit of the contrast between the two materials on the sides of the hardware store compared to the front of the boardwalk.

It took very little time to get all four surfaces textured, and then sprayed with a coat of white primer. This will not only make it easier to paint and drybrush later on, but also helps adhere the ballast to the board.
I'm not sure if I will have the time or inclination to paint any details on the interior of the buildings, although I have seen some modellers go so far as to put up patterned wallpaper. I'm considering printing out some some floor board patterns and gluing them in, but if nothing else, the primer on the floor means I can at least put some sort of neutral colour on it.

That was last night; tonight I finally got to throw a little colour onto Main Street. I am using some very basic craft acrylics we have lying around the house as opposed to my normal preference of Citadel Colour or other miniature paints, as I want to save those for the figures themselves. Well, and also because I would probably need 4-5 bottles of Snakebite Leather to cover all the ground, and at $5 apiece, I figured I can probably make do on the scenery.

So now three of the four buildings have a base coat on them at least, and it feels good to be back on the project. I want a fairly dark red for the Emporium Saloon, so a trip to Michaels is probably in order for the weekend. Once the ground dries around the hardware store, I will also know if I can continue using the Golden Brown I already have, or if I need to find something that is a closer match to the fabric I bought previously.

I don't think I used more than an eighth of the ballast, which is good, so it can be put away for now until the next round of construction. I need to be careful where I store it though, as it wouldn't do to wreck dinner some night by mistaking it for a Costco sized shaker of Montreal Chicken Spice.

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