Saturday, January 11, 2014

Jungle Rivers, Part 3

28mm U.S. sailors move cautiously through the jungle alongside one of the completed river pieces
I knew going in that this would be the most time-consuming step. I'd been surprised how easy the painting of the latex river surface itself was, and pleased with how they'd turned out. The flocking of the river banks on 9 separate terrain pieces seemed like a chore, and I racked my brain to think of a way to make it go easier. When I do the ground flock for just about any of my figures or terrain piece, it begins with a 50/50 mixture of white glue and brown paint. I pour ballast on top of that as a first layer. Up till this point, I would mix up a new batch of glue and paint every time I flocked anything. When looking at approximately 16 feet of river bank to flock (8 roughly one foot long pieces, with two banks each), I said to myself, "Wait a minute! Why am I mixing this stuff up every time? I should pre-mix a huge batch and save myself time..."
The river banks of the pieces flocked with medium ballast to build up the surface
So, I took an old Elmers glue bottle that had only a tiny bit left in it and filled it up halfway from a fresh bottle. I then squirted in the brown paint I use for the ground on my bases to fill up the rest of it. This made applying the glue and paint mix much easier. I squirted as much as I thought I would need along the bank, and then spread it across all parts of the latex bank and felt base. Quickly, while it was still wet (the glue soaks into the felt quickly), I poured Woodland Scenics medium ballast across the glue. It went a lot quicker than I thought it would. Sure, it was a mess, and even though I was pouring the ballast over a bin, tiny rocks scattered everywhere. I also got paint all over my hands and had to keep cleaning them off so I wouldn't smear paint onto my carefully layered paint job on the river itself!
The river pieces with the ballast covered in a 50/50 glue and paint mix and coated with sand
I set the river pieces aside to dry overnight. The next day, I repeated the process, essentially. Except this time, I pour sand across the glue-soaked ballast. I've found that this gives a nice earth-like surface. I was a bit worried what would happen doing this one felt fabric -- as opposed to a hard surface like styrene or wood. It did not "warp" the felt edges much, and the material seemed to be laying relatively flat, much to my relief. I set the pieces aside to dry overnight once again.

The next step was to add green flock to the earth. I do this in an irregular, mottled, almost camouflage-like pattern. I did notice that tiny holes had appeared in some of the thicker parts of the sand/ballast/glue/paint buildup. I made it a point to cover these areas as much as possible with the Woodland Scenics blended green flocking. Once again, they were set aside to dry overnight.
The river pieces with the blended green flock and clump foliage added to the banks
Next, I pulled out my Woodland Scenics clump foliage in three different colors. I took straight white glue -- not the colored batch -- and squirted it here and there in a relatively irregular pattern. I alternated pressing clumps of foliage onto these glue spots in different colors to give it a more 3-dimensional look. I could probably put even more clumps on there to give an even more overgrown look. I may go back and add more if I am not 100% happy with it tomorrow.
A close up of one of the river pieces after completed -- I like the muddy greenish-brown look to the river!
The final step will be to cover the flocking in a 50/50 white glue and water mix. This is to seal it in so that it doesn't flake off or shed with use. I will probably NOT spray coat the river pieces, though. I am a bit worried what will happen if I add enamel spray sealant to a flexible piece of latex. White glue has enough "give" in it when dry, I feel. So, I think I am safe here on that. Not that I think they will get a lot of bending. One of the main reasons I cut the latex river pieces in half down to roughly a foot long was so I could store them flat.

Now that I look back over the project, would I change anything I did? Actually, yes. I think my choice of green felt as a "base" for the latex river pieces was a poor one. I should have used very thin, flexible styrene instead. It would have the advantage of NOT being porous and absorbing the glue, plus it would be less likely to warp up on the edges. I have noticed that as I add more flocking to the felt banks that some of the ends are beginning to curl up, unfortunately. Is it so bad I am going to hurl them into the trash and start over? No, of course not. However, I always like to "reflect" on my builds, and think of what I would change.  You never know...there might actually be someone out there reading this blog who may be interested in doing something similar!

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