For this clinic we will concentrate on creating the hard-shell
to which rock molds will be placed. There are many ways to create the
shell but I will cover a way that will help cut down some of the weight that is
present in scenery.
Instead of using lumber to create the vertical supports for the
mountains I use Styrofoam. It's light weight and you won't believe how
fast you can accumulate some once you start saving it. Most things that
you buy today that comes in a box has Styrofoam used as packing to protect the
product during shipping. I use this foam to mount to the rear of the bench work,
and in some cases, hot glued directly to the sky board.
You can create the side of your shell with screen wire, chick
wire, and several other variants on that theme. I don't like using wire
for a couple of reasons. First off you almost always end you cutting
yourself on it which is never fun and second...you have to buy it. I use a
weave made of strips of cardboard. Most grocery stores will give you
boxes. I go to my Sam's Club and get sheets of the stuff that comes
between layers of bulk packaged paper towels. They put a sheet between
layers as they stack them on a pallet for shipping.
Cut the cardboard to length from top to bottom first, about an
inch wide, and hot glue them to the top of the Styrofoam and the bottom of the
scenery area. I space them apart 4 to 6 inches depending on how big an
area I am working on. You also want to make the strip a little long than
is necessary. This will allow you to create a shape to you mountain by
bending the strip around in the middle. We complete our base by weaving
strips from side to side like a basket. This is hot glued on either end
and at each point where the strip touch. Use clothes pins to clamp the
strip together until the hot glue sets up. Don't hold them with your hands
because you WILL get burned. I then take pieces of newspaper and wad them
up to various sizes. This is then taped to the top of the Styrofoam.
This will create the peaks of your mountains.
Next, mix hydrocal or molding plaster into a tomato soup
thickness in a large tub. Take paper towels one at a time and dunk them
into the plaster. Take them out of the plaster and spread the towel out
over the weave of strips. Repeat this process until the weave has been
covered in plaster soaked towels. There is no way to do this step without
creating a mess so be careful. Once this has dried you have a hard shell
to which you can attach your rock molds. To see how to create rock molds
please see my clinic on 'Creating Rock Molds'.
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