#6822 Dec 23, 1999
Hey scenery builders:
> >I have switched from paper towel
> >hardshell to a much stronger scenery base of muslin fabric (Kelly Newton
> >and others have been using surgical gauze with good results also). If the
> >fabric is secured to the top edge of the fascia with yellow glue, it can
> >have sufficient strength to restrict movement in the masonite enough to
> >stop minor humidity-related damage. It's also far easier to fix than
> >traditional hardshell with paper towels. Once your fascia is put back
> >together, try patching the crack with a strip of fabric glued across the
> >joint and brush thin plaster on it.. If the scenery cracks again, it
> >should at least stay in one piece so it can be repaired easily.
> Bill Brown wrote
> Could you elaborate on this construction method? Has anything been published?
> Sounds interesting!
First, let me give credit where it is due. I developed my muslin fabric
idea from Kelly Newton's surgical gauze technique. Anyone interested in
trying these methods should find a copy of the Allen Keller video on Lee
Nicholas' UCW (volume 27, I think). The video contains a segment where
Kelly demonstrates the basics of how he does it.
I switched to the fabricshell method because I found it to be more
controllable and durable than traditional hardshell made from paper
towels. I still use a scenic form built from cardboard strips connected
with hot glue, but the fabric can be easily adapted to any foundation
you are comfortable using; screen wire, foam board, or whatever.
The general idea is to attach the fabric to the scenery base with a
small, cheap brush and some yellow glue. Allow the fabric to overlap
the fascia and glue it to the top edge of the hardboard. Trim it flush
with the fascia after the glue dries. After you have the entire scenic
base covered in fabric, brush on coats of very thin plaster until you
have a strong shell. Use your favorite methods for creating rock faces
and otherwise finishing the scene.
The fabricshell method makes it easy to change things later, such as
adding bridge abutments or tunnel portals. Just cut into it and add the
new item without worrying that the landscape could disintegrate. If the
shell cracks, bend it back to shape and fix it with more plaster. Don't
like the shape of that hill? Just bend it to a more satisfying contour
and re-plaster, or even add more fabric to expand the size of the hill
Modeling a heavily forested area? Forego the plaster and just stiffen
the fabric with diluted glue or even a coat of latex paint and then
cover the whole thing with trees. No plaster dust where you drill for
tree trunks. Want more convincing cuts? Extend the fabric across the
tracks and plaster the hill with its "natural" shape. Cut the
appropriate areas out of the hill and add more fabric to the excavated
area. Finish to look like eroded dirt or blasted rock.
I like muslin because it is more tightly woven that the gauze (which
prevents plaster drips), it's cheap and available in neutral colors.
Just about any fabric will do, though. (Does your significant other
have an outfit that annoys you? Do you have a scene to finish? Imagine
Rob Spangler, Northern Nevada Railway
#6874 Dec 27, 1999
When I was a teenager I used burlap on a corrugated cardboard and wood
frame for my scenery base. Applied plaster over this.
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#6879 Dec 27, 1999
In a message dated 12/26/99 9:00:54 PM Mountain Standard Time,
< burlap on a corrugated cardboard and wood >>
Perhaps just a heads up here, but as a member of the Lansing MRC back in the
late 1950s, I experienced burlap in a negative way. The club had not
finished scenery and someone decided to staple burlap bags under the layout
benchwork as a catch all safety net.
I don't remember the net every having been put to use, but one of those
little burlap fibers wandered upwards and became entangled in the pistons and
gears of my Shay to the point where the HO loco was totally locked up either
forward or in reverse. It took a great deal of time to clear the burlap from
I've always been leery of burlap since. Talk about nit picking . . .