Rocks, Grass and Chain Link

I have been doing so much with the mechanics of the train table, trying to fix the wiring, smooth the rails so they don’t derail in certain key places, solder feeder wires, rearrange and optimize turnouts… (Good grief, I hate turnouts. I swear every single one is determined to personally annoy me.) None of that is the stuff I really enjoy, though. So, I decided to do a little bit of scenery construction to inspire myself to keep going. I have the ‘scenic’ bits of the layout planned so that most of the detailed model construction pieces are in the center of the table, where the kids won’t be touching them. That does sort of require me to lean waaaaay out over the table to do some of the more detailed painting on the inward-facing rock wall, and thoroughly violates the “Two Foot Rule”, but my theory is that once it’s finished, I don’t actually have to touch it again, so I’ll survive.


IMG_2017I gave up on trying to find used ones and just bought some acoustic ceiling tiles at the lumber yard. I got three, but I’m pretty sure that one will be enough to do the entire table, as long as I don’t get too crazy about putting cliffs everywhere. I started breaking pieces off, arranging them and using an X-acto knife to kind of scrape away places that didn’t look quite ‘right’. There is a slope to the base layer on this section of table, so I aligned the strata with the top part, and used extra broken pieces of tile to fill in the bottom until the slope was enough to add another whole layer.  There are lots of videos on YouTube about how to do it. I watched a bunch of them, and then did my own thing.


IMG_2020Once I’d gotten the first bit installed, I couldn’t resist painting it just to see what it would look like. I used plain ole’ Apple Barrel ‘pewter’ acrylic paint and did up the first bit. It wasn’t the right color, but I didn’t want to mix a batch because I wasn’t sure how much I was going to need. The tile sucked up that paint like a champion…. It took a LOT! It looks pretty cool, but isn’t the right color for this region, which is what I’m trying to model.

Incidentally, while I was at it, I decided that the pewter was a great color for asphalt, and painted in a road crossing the tracks. When Olin saw that, he nearly took flight! “Mom! MOOOM! You gotta come see this! There’s a CROSSING!” I wonder who he thinks makes these changes…

Anyway, when I painted up the next batch, I used flat latex wall paint that I got from Wal-Mart in the gallon size, coz I figured gravel/rock-colored paint was something I’d be using a lot of. It is pretentiously labeled “Bountiful Balsam Beige”. I also went over the bits I’d painted ‘pewter’, and the effect is interesting because the too-dark base layer shows through a bit and adds character to the rock’s coloring, but it also changed the surface, and those sections of the wall look subtly different from the ones that I just used the latex. I like the two-layer base effect, though, and will probably do that again on the next sections, even though it sort of uses a ridiculous amount of paint.

Once that dried, I gave it a generous coating of black wash. I don’t measure my washes, I pretty much just get some water, add what feels like the right amount of paint, a spray of Windex (Why Windex? YouTube suggests you add either a little bit of isopropyl alcohol or a drop of dish soap to washes, and I happened to have glass cleaner sitting on the counter nearby when I started that part. ) Then, because I hadn’t done enough obsessive paint layering, I mixed up a little bit stronger white wash and touched up the protrusions on my rock wall.

While I was waiting for that to dry, I built about three feet of scale-ish chain link fence. Which apparently translates to like 300 scale yards? I was shooting for 10 foot high chain link fence and attempted to do the math for how many millimeters and how far apart the fence posts are supposed to be, and…  Holy buckets, that is quite the task. I gave up and decided to eyeball it. I’m not modeling a prototype, I’m working purely from my imagination, so if someone whines about my fence being the wrong height, they can go jump off a bridge. Except, I haven’t finished building the bridge, yet… Anyway.

chainlinkunfinishedThis picture is…. Well, it’s really freakin’ cool is what it is. You can see how I ‘planted’ my fence and some details of how I built it.  (I actually originally made the fence poles quite a lot longer and was going to drill a ton of tiny holes, but then I realized that I was insane and decided to cheat with hot glue and knowing I’ll address it again…) When that track on the siding yard is ballasted and the dirt and bushes are set in to the back part of the yard, that is going to look amazing… As long as it doesn’t get wrecked by careless use. :/

I got the idea from this guy, but I can’t solder, so I used florist wire and glue instead of brass, Mod Podge “Stiffy” to give the tulle some strength, and spray adhesive to stick it to the wires. The whole construct got sprayed with primer, and I was going to go over it with steel and rust for highlights, but I’m actually really happy with it simply flat gray.

bluffSo, back to the other side of the fence. This was meant to be an experiment, so I only did the sections immediately adjacent to the rock wall. I painted the bottom and top and a couple of flat spots in the wall with earth-tone paint, then painted over it with watered-down glue and sprinkled a bunch of blended green ground cover over the top. The trees are from a ‘variety pack’ and the bushes are bits of foam that fell off the trees, as well as “moss” that I found in the florist section of Michaels. I quit with the trees because I think it would look too ‘uniform’ to put all the same ones in one spot. It needs a conifer or two, and I need to find one of those green furnace filters so I can make some vines.



The vine crawling up the wall right now, I did with teeny weeny bits of the moss and spray adhesive. Also need to find an old wig or something else usable, to make some long grasses. The white bit hanging down towards the left side of the shot, I’m going to paint with some green or brown so it looks like a vine, too. 😀





slopeThis hill, I left bare because it’s going to be someone’s back yard and it looks like it’s not too steep to mow. I’d like to build The Sullivan’s and a garage to put on that lot, use the picket fence up against the tracks, and put a tree house (or something similar) in the back yard, because it’s close enough to the edge of the table that the kids would be able to see that detail. Actually, this house is really cool, too. Maybe they could be neighbors…


Anyway! I think that turned out very, very nicely so far! 😀

And the whole table, for perspective…




Edited to add: I didn’t realize that my images didn’t auto-link to the full resolution version. Sorry! To appease you, here’s the gallery:

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2 Responses to Rocks, Grass and Chain Link

  1. Pingback: Mini Project: Scratch Ladder (Scratch Roof Access Preface) | Paper-Tiger

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