Passing Through - Northern Europe '42
I have a penchant for doing large dioramas... not the modest, reasonable 9 inch x 12 inch that could be easily
placed on a mantel or desk. No - I tend to think in terms of big. Kind of like TV vs. Movie Screen!
My latest work, done in one long week of vacation, measures 4 feet by 2 feet... and was a joy to build.
Several years ago, before I began scratch building, I purchased one of the nicest and most detailed of
the Verlinden plaster kits Windmill Ruin. I didn't know when I was going to build it, or where I would
use it, but it has been sitting on the shelf for many years, and with the long week of no kids nor family
commitments, I sat down Monday morning and started working. I finished in the wee hours of Thursday night,
and the result is shown below and throughout this article.
I began with a smooth laminated shelf board purchased at a local hardware store. I roughed-up the top
surface to allow for better adhesion, and then used marine foam sheets to build a contoured surface. The
concept I was going for was a stream road, a few days after a long rain. I like to use the marine foam
because it is strong, and has a fine texture that is lightweight and easy to mold and shape with the
pressure of a thumb or finger.
Once everything was laid in place and the basic shape was complete, I used Spackle paste to smooth
over the foam board. This provided not only a waterproof surface, but also allowed me the chance to
create different textures for various areas. In the streambed, I wanted a smooth muddy bottom... on the
main roadway and the turn off road, I wanted to create a rutted and lumpy surface with a lot of horse-
tracks and boot impressions. In the higher ground and "grassy" areas, I waited until the spackle was
almost dried, then used a stiff short bristle brush to "stipple" the surface. This created a wonderful
surface to dry brush, creating a more realistic grass turf than I typically find when using static grass.
Samples of all three surfaces are shown to the right: