18 January 2013

Scribing, Scalpels and Foamex

Hello all. I've been very quiet on the blog as of late, as I just haven't had time to do any modelling, or had any enthusiasm due to being just too darn tired of an evening. But! I've been given an injection of enthusiasm, reading the various modelling blogs and forums out there, so have delved back into the architecture aspect of Railway modelling. 
I've not given up on the Station Building, merely put it aside for a while as I investigate a new technique.
At work, we have an awful lot of offcuts, destined for the bin, of a product called Foamex, which is essentially a compressed polystyrene product that we use for mounting large format exhibition prints. I've used it before as a substrate for sticking printed wall sheets and indeed Air Drying Clay, but this time I decided to see whether I could successfully scribe onto it. 
Initial attempts were based on trying to make an alternative to the printed retaining walls I've been using on my layout.
Version 1 seemed to be quite good, but I thought a bit blocky:

I gave it a bit of texture by roughing it up a bit with 60 grit sandpaper and bashing it about on the garage floor, then hand scribing with a sharp scalpel blade, making the mortar gaps a bit wider with a screwdriver for added emphasis.

Version 2 with added individual carved stones:

I was initially happy with this, before I spent yesterday morning travelling to work on the train and passing through Dewsbury station (a look I'm trying to emulate) I saw that the stonework was smaller random Ashlar, so upon getting home, I set to work building a tunnel portal, scribing in the smaller ashlar stone work. This involved printing out a sheet of Random Ashlar from, sticking it onto the Foamex sheet, then using a scalpel to cut in the stone pattern. Once complete, I peeled off the print and went over all the lines with sharp scalpel, scratching in more detail. It took up a whole evening, but even unpainted, I'm very happy with this, so I'll continue with the build and get the parapets in, then have a go painting it up.


  1. It looks excellent. I'm looking forward to seeing it painted! I've tried scribing Kappa/foamex before, but obviously didn't do it with enough committment as this is very promising and looks like a very useful method.

  2. Ah so that's what foamex is. Very, very clever. Is the parapet foamex too? I want to build a viaduct for my layout but had wondered about how to create the stonework around the arches with plastikard. This looks like an option.

  3. Hi Chas - the whole lot is made from foamex. In this particular version, the portal is made from 3mm foamex, but for the later build I used 5mm, using 2 strips of 3mm sandwiched together for the buttresses. The thin raisedledge was made from a strip of 1mm thick foamex and the parapet walls and ledges from doubled up thickness 3mm for the parapet wall and a strip of 3mm for all ledges.

  4. is this a material i can source somewhere? the results look very good and the lightness would suit the micro layout i am building.
    thanks for an interesting blog, dave

  5. Hi Dave - thanks for your interest. I work in the exhibition design industry and we get bucket loads of offcuts, hence my use - but if you type in "Foamex" into ebay, there's quite a bit on offer in more manageable A4 pieces.

    For building shells you're looking for 2mm thickness, 1mm is great for brick walls where you want the depth of the window reveal and 3mm is great for structural support