Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The O-Gauge Zen Garden Gets Greener

It's been a while since I've done anything major to my O-gauge Zen garden. And that's OK. The layout's operational, and there's no timeline for any project. But I finally decided to do something about that bare mountain top. Painting the plaster surface with green, brown, and gray to represent grass, dirt, and rock respectively was fine -- for a while. (click on images to enlarge)

It's plain to see this is too plain.

So I did a simple two-stage improvement. There's more I could do, but this works for now.

The greening of the green

The first thing I did was improve the grassy knolls by laying down a more realistic -- and textured layer of grass. I invested in a bag of XXX, and a bottle of XXX spray glue.

I started by covering the brown and gray areas of the mountain, leaving the green sections exposed. I then sprayed a layer of glue onto the green surface.

I then sprinkled the grass onto the sticky surface. Some of it clumped a little, but that was OK. After I had thoroughly covered all the exposed surfaces, I went back over it with the spray glue, adding a second layer of adhesive. The glue dried clear, leaving no apparent trace. 

But that second coat ensured that most of the grass particles remained in place. Now the stage was set for the second phase.

The Forestation Drill

I purchased two different sets of trees from the Old Neighborhood Market. Since my goal isn't to create a super-realistic layout, I had the option of buying quantity, rather than quality. Not that the trees I purchased are bad, but they don't have the same level of detail as those used by more serious modelers. 

To "plant" a tree, I used a drill bit that was slightly smaller than the tree trunk, and drilled into the plaster surface. 

 I then put a dab of white glue into the hole, and then inserted the tree. The screen mesh under the plaster provided a base for the tree, while the white glue held the tree in the true vertical position I placed it in (after it dried, of course). 

Below are the results. By placing the trees in the green patches, I think I achieved some of the randomness one finds in nature. After all, most trees don't grow out of rocks. And while I could have put some in the dirt areas, I think having them exposed suggests erosion.

So what's next? I'd like to add some dirt to the brown patches, to give them more texture. And I'd like to do something to the rock faces to make them look less representational. But not yet. I'll need to think on that for a while.

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